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St Pinnock Band
Little is known of the early days of the Band. We do know that in 1866 the St. Pinnock Band of Hope was formed. They required a marching band to lead them and so naturally, the “St. Pinnock Temperance Band of Hope” came into being. The Band donned a peaked cap and the Blue sash to show they had taken "the pledge" and renounced the “Demon Drink”. Tales are told of the Bass drum being kept on top of a cupboard in St. Pinnock school where it served as a target for the well aimed Pasty crusts of unruly school boys.
The members of the band were drawn from the workers of the Lead mines and Gunpowder mills in the area. The Lead and Silver mines eventually failed however the Tamblyns, a local family, had produced charcoal for making Black powder, but the fall in charcoal price lead them to investigate building their own gunpowder mills at Herodsfoot. To finance the project they approached the Elliots of Liskeard, who being a Quaker family agreed but on condition that the gunpowder be used for mining and quarrying and never in armaments. This provided employment in the area for more than a century. Just how popular the teetotal Band were amongst the miners and gunpowder workers of St. Pinnock and Herodsfoot we will never know, since there were four public houses in Herodsfoot alone, and little else! However in 1907 they are still wearing their Blue sashes and had just been joined by Victor King.
Mr King had played in the Band as a boy, but had left to play cornet professionally in America. When he returned to the area he set about improving the band, along with his two brothers. They used to practise in the Engine house of the saw mill in East Taphouse which was owned by fellow Bandsmen, the Pearse family. The Saw mill engine house had the big advantage of being a warm place to play of an evening.
1910 was a good year, with the Band purchasing the old uniforms of the 14th Hussars, however as storm clouds gathered in Europe, the band had its own turmoil when Victor King returned to America. This did seem to cause a bit of an upset, however in 1914 a proper Band committee was formed, with a set of rules for bandsmen and a constitution. Henry Lobb the school master at St. Pinnock became bandmaster, Mr Salt Chairman, Mr Vennard Vice-Chair, Mr Pearse Treasurer and Mr Tamblyn Band Sargent.
That initial meeting decided to ask Messrs Pearse Bros to construct a music blackboard, properly ruled for use in the instruction of the Band. It appears that Victor had taught the band by ear, and since non of them appear to have been able to read music, it was time to remedy the situation. They were given permission to use the Bethal School room, initially for free, but they elected to pay a rent of 5 shillings per year as a good will gesture. Henry Lobb , Bandmaster, taught the band to read music!
By 1915 they felt able to charge for their services, and the Band fees were as follows:
1. A free tea
2. 10s for Conan, Bethal and Broadoak jobs
3. £1 all other jobs, plus the cost of hire of a brake to and from the event.
A Brake being a wagon with seats drawn by a team of horses. The band had to get out at the hills though so as to spare the horses, all being on hire from Mr Edmonds of Liskeard. (1921 saw the introduction of Charabancs which at least stopped the need to get out, although they were definitely not a comfortable means of travel, being in effect an engine on the front of a wagon).
The band committee worked hard to keep the band going doing the Great war and when peace came they were able to commence again without too much delay. Mr Hedley Lobb resigned as Bandmaster in 1922, to be replaced by Fred Salt jnr. Interestingly, reflecting the membership of the time, and probably the secretary's problems in finding Deps in the summer (some things never change) the committee passed a rule that no engagements or rehearsals were to take place for one month after the start of the summer harvest each year.
The 1924 uniform consisted of a badge to be worn at engagements, however by 1930 the band raised money to buy a uniform which would last to the 1950's and took the big step of paying for a band tutor to come and train the band for contests, Mr Marsh Kevell. His fee being £20 pounds per year plus a share of engagement fees
Little information remains of what competitions were entered in the interwar period, however people in the village remember the band used to catch the train from Doublebois form up at Redpost and march back to the village to the cheers of the residents of East Taphouse cups broadly borne in front.The second world war saw the suspension of the band due to the blackout restrictions, but they restarted after the war, only for Mr Salt to resign due to ill health. The band played on and in 1965 was able to secure the services of Mr Joe Armstrong who had retired to Cornwall having been Grimethorpe Bands Euphonium player. This had the immediate effect of enabling the band to win the 3rd and 4th section at Bugle contest in 1966. And by 1968 the band had purchased a new set of instruments
The Band has gone from strength to strength and weathered the usual storms that afflict all bands; players and conductors come and go, but the Band plays on. In 1971 Women were allowed in the Band, and in 1977 the Band purchased the Chapel at Bethal as its perminant home only to sell it twenty years later to build a Band room in East Taphouse. Which, by coincidence, is almost next door to the Saw mills where Victor King rehearsed the band back in 1907. The Millenium funds enabled the band to extend the new building and car park by allowing the village to share its facilities. Players now come from all over South East Cornwall and beyond, but the band still plays for Herodsfoot Church, St. Pinnock Church and Conan Chapel, keeping in touch with its roots and giving a sense of continuity to the band, its family of players and the wider local community.
It is true however that players in the band no longer take the pledge to renounce the "devils brew"!