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.

Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band

The origins of the Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band date back to the 18th century when a ladies' sewing circle at the Spring Gardens Mission raised sufficient funds to purchase brass instruments for the Spring Gardens Wesleyan Mission Concertina Band.

Records show that the band became a Brass Band in approx 1904 and went from strength to strength winning many contests. However in 1933/34 it severed its connection with the chapel because of a dispute over the selling of scent cards and football tickets to raise money for the purchase of new uniforms and instruments, which the leaders of the chapel objected to.

In 1937, George Watkins was appointed as Musical Director and rehearsals were moved to The Cross Keys pub in Reading town centre.

As the Second World War began many of the band members were called up to the Forces. The remaining members joined the Home Guard's Band, re-named the Home Guard Bands. With Captain Millward in charge, the uniform changed to traditional military khaki and George Watkins was re-instated as Musical Director. At the end of the Second World War the members who had joined the Forces returned and the band reverted back to The Reading Spring Gardens Band. Their uniform then became a replica of the Guard's scarlet tunics with brass buttons, black trousers with a scarlet stripe and a peak cap edged with brass.

George Watkins conducted the band until 1976 when he retired. During this 38 year period they won many contests and also qualified for the National 2nd finals in the early 1950s. Ted Watkins, George's son, took over as the band's conductor, having been it's principle Cornet player and assistant conductor for many years.

Between 1977 and 1998 the band moved to many different practice venues around Reading until in 1998 an ideal location was found at Berkshire Young Musicians Trust Centre at Prospect School, Reading. During this period our uniform became the uniform it is today; blue and maroon jackets (fleeces for colder events!), black trousers and electric blue ties.

Ted Watkins died in 2000, aged 80 and the band had to appoint a new Musical Director for the first time in 25 years.

Since this time the band has had a number of musical directors including:

Anton Gwilt, who had just retired after 17 years in the Central Band of the RAF;
David Barton, hailing from the USA and a retired College music teacher;
Andrew Porter, an army musician in the REME Band at Arborfield;
2007 - 2008, Louisa Davies-Armstrong an amateur turned aspiring professional conductor.

In 2008 long-standing principal cornet player, Lorraine Rogers was appointed as new Musical Director. Since appointed, the band has gone from strength to strength and at the present time in 2008 has nearly 30 players and continues to play at a wide range of concerts and engagements in Reading and surrounding areas throughout the year.