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.

Soundhouse Brass

It is reported that the band was first formed in 1928 by two brothers, Charlie and Bill Welsh, who had been members of the Plymouth Congress Hall Salvation Army Band. A number of the original members of the band had also been members of the SA band and indeed Bill had been the Bandmaster at Congress Hall...

It is not known what caused the decision to form a separate band from the Salvation Army particularly when the new band allied itself to the City Mission in Bath Street supporting the very similar aims and activities of the Mission. Indeed the Band even kitted itself out with uniforms that were identical to the Salvation Army band!

However, with their new uniforms and conducted by Bill the band commenced it's new life of bandstands, concerts and performances at fetes etc. giving it's first public concert at the Seamen's Bethel on the Barbican sometime in 1928.

The band continued until the outbreak of World War II when it was disbanded and it's instruments were stored at the premises of Welsh Brothers in Portland Square (where the above photograph was taken). Ken Hooper of Higher Compton in Plymouth tells how his father Alf Hooper (front Row 2nd left) and others joined the Home Guard and he recalls hearing them during the war playing at a fete at Marsh Mills.

The Band reformed after the war under the direction of Charlie - Bill having died earlier - and took the name of 'Plymouth Silver Band' - which name was to last until 1981.

During the early 1960's the band practised in a church hall just off Exeter Street before moving to the Tothill Community Centre beside Tothill Park and continued to develop and increase in size now attracting players from outside of the city. This proved to be a very stable time for the band and it was kept very busy performing at many contests and concerts.

The year 1969 proved to be memorable for 'Plymouth Silver'. At the annual area championships the band had an early draw at no.8 out of 33 bands playing 'The Malvern Suite' as the set test piece for the 3rd section. The section was split into two halves with the junior section playing in between. After a long wait for the result the band had not been forgotten by the adjudicator and were placed 1st (and 3 points clear of any other band) reaching it's first ever National Finals at Fulham Town Hall later that year.

During the 1980's the band continued to develop by now being conducted by Viv Willcocks. The Band had accepted an offer in 1981 from the Crownhill branch of the Royal British Legion of the chance to make it's base at it's club in Tailyour Road and changed it's name to reflect this move.

In 1989 an excellent performance at the Area Championships of 'Royal Parks' (composed by Cornishman George Lloyd) saw the band qualify for it's second ever National Finals in London where it acquitted its self extremely well although not figuring in the prizes.

Over the next few years the band had a number of Musical Directors including amongst them Peter Westaway, Howard Taylor and Viv Willcocks again but failed to maintain its position as Devon's premier brass band sliding slowly down the rankings.

The Millennium saw a number of important changes for the band and a reversal in their fortunes. Initially under the musical direction of Steve Williams and then Denzil Stephens the band secured a string of important contest results (including a win at the West of England contest in Bugle and another appearance at the National Finals in the 3rd Section in 2002).

The Royal British Legion were unable to continue to offer the band a home and, therefore, a search for a new home was required. This resulted in an offer being received to base the band at the new, purpose built and Lottery funded, facility "The Soundhouse" at Estover Community College. The band moved its operation there in 2003 changing it's title again to reflect it's new home - thus becoming Soundhouse Brass. This fantastic facility affords the band top class rehearsal facilities and a concert hall to promote it's own concerts.

2007 saw a number of further changes as the Band stepped up the gears in it's improvement with the appointment of ex Royal Marines Bandmaster Gary Pumford to the position of Musical Director, the appointment of Emma Heard to develop the Youth Band and the subsequent appointment of some new players into the band. This period of change resulting in a number of contest results that secured the Band promotion into the national graded 1st Section for the year 2009. In 2008 Chris Spreadbury took over the direction of the Youth band who have been going from strength to strength.

Previous Musical Directors (approximate dates)

Bill Welsh c. 1928 - 1939
Charlie Welsh c. 1945 - 1959
T.D.Lee c. 1960
Dave Carthew c. 1960 - c. 1968
Viv Willcocks - 1972
Jim McCulloch
Captain Bert Farlow
Evan Howells - 1985
Viv Willcocks 1985 - 1987
Peter Westaway 1987 - 1989
Barry Cole 1990
Evan Howells 1991
Howard Taylor 1991 - 1992
Barry Cole 1994
Viv Willcocks 1996 - 1999
Len Hodgkiss 2000 - 2001
Steve Williams 2002
Denzil Stephens 2002 - 2007
Mike Faro 2007
Gary Pumford 2007 - present