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Odhams Press Brass Band
The Odhams Press Band was originally formed in 1937 with George Thompson, previously of the famous Callender's Cable Works Band of Erith, Kent, as their conductor. (George would later have a distinguished career in the brass band world, particularly at Grimethorpe.) George's new band was only a few months old when he attended the first rehearsal. He quickly realised that, apart from a couple of half decent players, the rest were all learners. He later told writer Arthur R. Taylor, '…It didn't help either that they were playing on instruments that were a load of rubbish…'
But George persevered and eventually they were playing a few scales at their lunchtime rehearsal room near Ludgate Circus. Within a year the band had come on in leaps and bounds, so much so that it was entered into its first contest at a small local event in Surrey and came away with a top three placing. However, during the war years the band had to curtail its activities owing to its members being called up for active war service.
After the war, the band was reformed and carried on improving all the time. In 1952, it won the London and Southern Counties Daily Herald Brass Band area contest second section and then repeated that success again the following year. Further successes followed. George Thompson, now Musical Director, had taken the band from nothing to being a championship section band.
In the late 1940s, the Band was asked to perform at “The People” National Darts Teams Championship held at the Horticultural Old Hall in London. As part of the 'Grand Variety' entertainment, the Odhams Press Band was one of a number of acts that performed in between darts matches. For example, at the 1951 finals the Band played popular music between 6 – 6.20 p.m., that is prior to teams taking the stage for the first two matches in the quarterfinals. The Band then continued to play throughout the evening, presumably trying to make themselves heard over and above the cacophony of sound in the hall; the general chatter of the audience and the inevitable clanking of beer bottles and glasses.
In 1953, George Thompson left Odhams Band and was succeeded by his brother James and shortly afterwards the name was changed to 'The People Band'. This had nothing to do with the Band's success at the National Darts Teams final but more to do with publicity, an advert for “The People” Sunday newspaper which was part of Mirror Group Newspapers. The Band ultimately disbanded in the 1960s.