Archived Histories of Brass Bands 
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This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.

Oxted Band

Oxted Band was founded in 1901 although local musicians were meeting before that. The band's founder is given as one Arthur Paul Barry who is also described as the band's teacher. Is it Arthur Barry who sits proudly in the middle of this 1905 photograph, swagger stick on knees, side drum at his feet?

The early photographs of the band show men in military style uniforms, complete with peaked caps, and the presence of a bass drummer resplendent in his tiger skin indicates that the band was a marching band. Note also the clarinet players, the french horn player standing in the back row and the strangely shaped tuba held by the player on the left of the front row. This instrument has been variously identified as a helicon or a Bass saxhorn. (Tenor and Baritone saxhorns are still an integral part of the brass band instrumentation).

Early photographs also show that the band was a social as well as a musical institution. The band sports day with its races for children appears to have been a regular feature of the Edwardian era.

At some point around the time of the First World War, the band underwent a name change. Originally entitled "The Oxted and District Prize Band", a title of "The Oxted and District Silver Prize Band" can just be made out on the Bass Drum featured in photographs. This fact and the absence of clarinets in the line-up suggests that the woodwind have been banished and that Oxted was now in the ranks of the purely brass ensembles. According to the recollections of a former member, the band's instruments were dispatched to France during the Great War in order to equip the band of one of the volunteer regiments in Kitchener's new army. It is quite feasible that they returned in less than perfect condition and that this is the reason for the change in instrumentation. One other point to be noted from the photographs is that the uniforms are simplified, no more blancoed cross-belts, and on occasions dispensed with altogether. The MD in this picture taken at Crawley in 1927 is dressed as if auditioning for Dick Tracey, while two players on the left are in more workaday garb. Whether this change in dress was due to economic circumstances one can only speculate.

After the second world war the band are back in uniform. This picture is unusual, showing as it does little pillbox type hats worn at a variety of angles. Apparently the Band were requested to wear these to 'celebrate' the 1951 Festival of Britain. Brass banding though was in decline in the early post war years, and the fact that there are only sixteen musicians, of which two are percussionists, in this picture suggests this was not one of the band's stronger periods

Up until around 1960 the band was an all-male preserve but times were changing and Oxted Band benefited from recruiting from both halves of the population. Female players have played a key part in the band's continued success

You can guess from the earlier names of the Band that they enjoyed success at contests. Early photographs show the band performing at open air contests in places such as Crawley and Tunbridge Wells. This postcard view from the thirties shows the band, mainly out of uniform, posing for the photographer, while behind them the attention of the crowd is clearly on something else.

Over the years the band reached the National Brass Band Championships finals on three occasions. Here the band are proudly showing off their trophy as the London and Southern Counties Region 3rd section champions of 1977. Three of the band pictured on this photo are still full playing members some thirty years later. Unfortunately though the Band retired from contesting shortly after this photo was taken

The last decade or so has been quite eventful. In 1996 the band applied for and received a grant from the National Lottery. This award enabled the purchase of a complete set of new instruments and purchase of new music.

The instigation of the 'Stars of Brass' concerts with a guest soloist has been a great success and have featured Brett Baker (2002), David Childs (2003), Ben Thompson (2007) and John Doyle 2009. I wonder who will be the 'Star' in 2010?

Until recently the Band channelled all of their considerable energy into entertainment performances, whether at Eastbourne Bandstand, Pantiles Tunbridge Wells, Canbury Gardens Kingston, Carfax Horsham, Heritage Day at Tonbridge Castle or at any of the numerous summer fetes throughout the south east. However, in 2008 the Band re-entered the contest arena and have enjoyed considerable success. Look at the 'Performances' 'Contests' menu tab for further details.

As mentioned above the band's Autumn Concerts have become a regular attraction. The theme in 2003 'Music from the Movies' proved to be a blockbuster and included an adaptation of William Walton's Henry V film score. The concert met with a standing ovation and made news headlines

In October 2004 the Band changed the format by inviting Soprano singer Sandra Lissenden to share the stage for a mixture of classical music and light entertainment. And yet another variation in 2005 marked two significant anniversaries, the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar and the 60th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War.