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Royal Spa Brass
Royal Spa Brass is the Town Band of Royal Leamington Spa and our roots can be traced back more than 100 years. Throughout the last century it has provided a musical tradition enjoyed by thousands of members of the local community either as players or listeners.
The original Royal Spa Brass, under the baton of (Al)Fred Titcombe was dissolved during the First World War most likely as the result of losses on the battlefield as was the case with so many bands of the time. The remaining musicians dispersed to play with other local bands including Kenilworth, Bishop's Itchington and Cubbington,keeping the local brass band tradition alive for the next forty years.
On April 6th 1955, in an initiative masterminded by the euphoniumist and secretary Ken Bowers, the band was reformed under the name of The Royal Leamington Spa Silver Band using the instruments and including many of the players from the Kenilworth Town and Bishops Itchington Imperial Bands. The Leamington Town Entertainments Committee lent the band £180 for new uniforms and in return the Band agreed to play eighteen engagements over two years in The Pump Room Gardens - each engagement to be considered as a £10 reduction in the loan!
Throughout the fifties and sixties the fortunes of the band waxed and waned but a valuable tradition was preserved, not least by the efforts of one stalwart bandsman, Arthur Frodsham who had played with Kenilworth Town Band since joining as a young cornet player in 1925, aged 11. In 1956, a young lad called Paul Russell followed his friend Kenneth Owen to band practice, intrigued to discover the contents of a mysterious black box he was carrying. The box was duly opened to reveal a shiny cornet. Paul was welcomed by Arthur, persuaded to join the band and was taught to play the cornet by William Bastock, an ex-army bandsman. Arthur took over the baton in 1963, Kenneth is still in the band and we all know what happened to Paul Russell. Kenneth and Paul recently celebrated their 'Double Gold' of more than fifty years of banding.
The Leamington Band was wound up for a second time in 1970 but was soon re-started in 1973 by Paul and Greta Russell. Rehearsals were held in a variety of local venues as the band continued its performances and activities. In 1984, the fridges and slabs were removed from the Old Mortuary in Riverside Walk (dead centre of town) and for the first time in its history the band had a permanent home in which to rehearse. Under Paul's baton the band achieved considerable success as winners of the Midlands Area Championships of the second and third sections and reaching the National Finals.
Reverting back to its original name of Royal Spa Brass in 1992, the band has more recently concentrated on Concert rather than Competition performances. By 1995, the perennial problem of players leaving to pursue job opportunities, university courses, and have babies once again reduced the numbers to a point where Paul Russell considered hanging up his baton, closing down the band for a third time, and retiring to a Rest Home for Old Bandmasters in North Wales. However, the more enthusiastic members of the band were certainly not about to allow 90 years of tradition to whimper to an end just as the New Millennium was approaching ! It was time for some vigorous action and to revitalise and lift the activities of the band to new heights that would ensure not just the preservation but the prosperity of Leamington brass and percussion playing into the next century.