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Lydney Town 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 forestry and 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.
'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, 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.
These 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 . The price paid 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, 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 function again at full strength - under Mr Jimmy Imm, until Mr R A (Dick) Hodges took over in 1924.
In 1942, the requisitioning of the Lydney Tin Plate Works by the Admiralty as a result of the second world war, resulted loss of rehearsal facilities, and suspension of band activity, until in the spring of 1945, Dick Hodges, with Mr W Sterry as secretary, re-started the band, stepping 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 Championship Section three times between 1990 and 2003.
In 1989 financial support was provided by a local company, Lydmet Ltd., part of a major international group manufacturing automotive engine components, (now re-named Federal Mogul Camshaft Castings following aquisition by a USA Corporation). The band name was changed to the Lydmet Lydney Band, in acknowledgment of this sole sponsorship, which lasted 16 years, ending in 2005.
Former Managing Director of Lydmet, Mr Alan Dearden, has been past President of the band, resigning this position early in 2005. To-day's Lord Bledisloe, is band Patron, a position which has now been held by the family for generations
After the end of the successful sponsorship arrangement with Lydmet (Federal Mogul) it was decided to revert to the previous name of the band - Lydney Town Band.
To-day, another step forward in the band's history, is the emphasis being placed on introducing young people to the brass band movement, in order to ensure that this valuable community tradition will continue into the future. The Lydney Training Band is now going from strength to strength - it now has around 20 members aged between 6 and 14. It should be noted that older players are also encouraged to learn the art of brass playing and several parents join in learning the art of playing a brass instrument.