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Lydmet Lydney Band
Lydney is situated on the west bank of the river Severn, south of the City of Gloucester, and much of its history and culture is derived from mining roots associated with the nearby 'Forest of Dean'. In the past, almost every small town and village in the area has raised a traditional brass band, many of which still survive today.
An earlier 'Lydney Drum and Fife Band' is known to have taken part in celebrations on Lydney Town station as the first steam train left on the inaugural run across the Severn Railway Bridge in 1879.
In 1892 however, the wooden flutes were changed for brass instruments and Lydney Town Band, as we know it today, came into being, with Mr Tom Bevan as founder conductor.
The first brass instruments, bought by the individual members of the band, were said to be found inferior during competitions, and a better set was obtained, funded by subscription and donation . Records show that the purchase price for this new set of 18 instruments, with cases, was £197, less £30 allowed on the old set. Through the generosity of Viscount Bledisloe of Lydney Park Estate, a Mr R Beaumont Thomas Esq., JP, and others, £74 was raised towards the cost. Eventually, the balance was cleared, and the name changed to 'Lydney Town Silver Prize Band'.
During the 1930's the band was invited to compete in the Crystal Palace Contest on no less than four occasions, and later at Alexandra Palace, which became the main London contest venue, following the destruction of Crystal Palace by fire.
The First World War resulted in several key members leaving to join the armed forces, and not until their return, was the band able to again function at full strength - under Mr Jimmy Imm, until Mr R A (Dick) Hodges took over in 1924.
The Second World War again saw a reduction in numbers, as bandsmen put aside their instruments to take up arms. Dick Hodges continued as conductor until 1942, when the requisitioning of the Lydney Tin Plate Works by the Admiralty, resulted in the suspension of band activity. With the prospect of peace arriving in the spring of 1945, Dick Hodges, assisted by Mr W Sterry as secretary, re-started the band, building it up, until his own failing health as a result of war wounds, compelled him to step down in 1951.
Remarkably, only five conductors covered the first 66 year period of the band's existence, Mr Tom Bevan,(1892-1902), Mr Jack Marfell (1902-11), Mr Jimmy Imm (1911-23), Mr Dick Hodges (1924-51), and Mr E Brown.
Over the past 30 years, the list of conductors includes some well known names in brass circles, Bill Sterry, Ken Andrews, Eric Pryme, John Peacock, Eric Jones, Graham Watkins, Trevor Watkins, Jim Cooke, Ian Dickinson, Andrew White, Graham Lewis, Ron Carr, Adrian Hill, Kevin White, Brian Hurdley, David Maplestone, David Bishop-Rowe, Wayne Rushton and Bryn James, resulting in rapid rise from lower sections, right up to First, and currently Championship Section, for the second time in just a few years.
Since 1989 the band has received financial help in the form of sponsorship by the formerly named local company, Lydmet Ltd., part of a major plc and international group manufacturing automotive engine components, (now re-named Federal Mogul Camshaft Castings since 1998 when the parent group was acquired by a USA Corporation). The band name was changed to the Lydmet Lydney Band, in acknowledgment of this sole sponsorship.
Former Managing Director of Lydmet, Mr Alan Dearden, is now President of the band, and to-day's Lord Bledisloe, Patron, a position which has now been held by the family for generations.
Past and present employees of Lydmet, including several senior management figures, have been active band playing members.