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.

Penrith Town Band

There have been Brass Bands in Penrith for well over a hundred years and the present Town Band can trace its history back as far as Penrith Oak Sons of Temperance Band, formed in 1894. As its title suggests, the band was formed to encourage sobriety and this band refused to play anywhere where alcohol was served! The main members of the band came from a group of temperance musicians who played with Penrith Volunteers Band under their conductor, Bandmaster Moffat.

These experienced players formed the core of the new band and the band grew until 1899 when a new conductor, Joseph Varty took up the baton. In 1905 the Volunteers Band collapsed and instruments, music and equipment became the property of the "Oak" band.

The Band's activities during the First World War are poorly documented but it appears the band failed to function during this time, probably because Band members were at war.

The Band was reformed after the War in 1920 and there followed a crisis period with the retirement of Joseph Varty, followed by two subsequent conductors Mr Wannop and Mr John Varty. New instruments were purchased in 1931 from Besson; it took the band nine years to pay for these but meant the Band had a good quality set of instruments.There was an influx of players into the Band when the Subscription Band folded in 1938, which strengthened the Band's numbers. The retirement of John Varty in 1939 led to Mr Wannop taking over as conductor again

With the outbreak of the Second World War, many band members went into the war effort and it was only musicians coming out of retirement that kept the Band alive. In 1943, the Band came under the control of the Fire Service as the Division N.F.S. Silver Band. Basil Watson became Band Master in 1945 and all ties with the Sons of Temperance were severed.

At the end of the war in 1946, the Band became the Penrith British Legion Band and John Varty's son Jack Varty took over musical direction of the Band followed by Mr C. Wannop in 1959. All connections with the British Legion were severed in 1962 and the band was renamed Penrith Town Band. Ken Braithwaite took over leadership in 1962 until 1972 when Derick Woods became conductor. The band has continued to grow and develop until the present time with the arrival of Alan Stobbs as bandmaster in 1982 followed by our own Ian Butterworth who rose through the ranks to Musical Director. In 2000 the Band won a Lottery Grant which allowed the purchase of new instruments. This has had a great impact on the quality of playing in the Band and the Band continues to repair, overhaul and upgrade instruments to the present day.