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Shaftesbury Town Band
Shaftesbury Town Band started life in 1869 and was known as "The Penny Whistle Band" (due to the fact that it consisted mostly of whistle pipes!). It later became a Fife and Drum Band. Early records as to who was in charge are sketchy, but it is known that from 1895 to 1898 Mr. Ben Strange, a local boot maker, took on the job of Bandmaster, handing over in 1898 to Mr. George Hillier, a watch and clock maker from Salisbury Street, Shaftesbury, when a Dr. Wilkinson of "Avishayes", Shaftesbury became Honorary Conductor.
It was in 1898 that the then Prince of Wales was visiting Shaftesbury, and for the occasion the Town Council became interested in the Band and assisted with the purchase of instruments and military style uniforms. It was then it became known as Shaftesbury Town Band and took on its format as a military style marching band. It is not known how well the visit went, but we have to assume that the Band made a favourable impression as they celebrated their centenary as Shaftesbury Town Band in 1998!
In 1903 Mr. Inkpen from Tollard Royal moved to Salisbury Street and became Bandmaster. He started technical classes for beginners and young men came in from many outlaying districts, (Motcombe, Tollard, Ashmore, etc.). We can only assume that it was some of these players who then kept the Band going during the 1914-18 war until a local plumber and decorator, Mr. Tom Wareham, took over as Bandmaster on his return from the war.
1949 saw another major change when Mr. Reg Dicker ? retired Corporal Major & Euphonium player of the Blues ? took over as Musical Director of the Band, with Mr. Charlie Butt as his Deputy. The work of these two men saw music being composed for the Band, and the re-introduction of technical classes for beginners (which have evolved into the current Brass Roots section). Twenty years later saw the centenary of the original ?Penny Whistle Band? with a special concert given in the Town Hall.
1973 was a milestone year for the Band when, having been moved from pillar to post, they were one of the first bands in the south of England to boast their own Band Hall. They now owned an excellent selection of instruments and a set of uniforms which made them a credit to the town, and they could now rehearse in the same space each week and store all of their equipment safely.
It was in 1975, after 26 years in charge, that Mr. Dicker had to retire due to ill health, Charlie Butt was unanimously voted in as new Bandmaster. Without a doubt it is due to the hard work and loyalty of Mr. Butt and Mr. Dicker that Shaftesbury Band has supplied the Forces with many trained musicians (male and female) and also one lady member to the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.
Mr. Butt retired as Bandmaster in 1993, though continues to play with the Band, and the unenviable task of taking his place was given to Mr. John Pritchard, who directed the Band and conducted, while the job of leading the Band on its many marches was taken on by Mr. John Pike.
1995 saw more changes when Mr. Stephen Hawkes was appointed as Musical Director. Mr. Hawkes stated his aim to return the Band to the contest circuit by the year 2000. In the same year Colin Gay took on the job of Directing the Brass Roots section of the Band.
Mr Hawkes stepped down in 2007 and the Band has had several years of upheaval with various changes of Musical Director - including the brief return of Mr Pritchard. In 2009 the post of MD was taken on by Rev Clive Thomas - percussionist with the Band, thus bringing the Band back to a more settled regime.