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Wolverton Town Band
As the oldest brass band in Milton Keynes (founded long before the city was thought of) we have a long and broud heritage. The band in it's current format owes so much to those who have gone before.
Nobody seems to know for certain when the first brass band appeared in the towns and villages around modern Milton Keynes, but band activity in the area is documented from around 1830. Looking at the influx of people from Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland and Ireland coming to work for the extension of the Birmingham line to London in 1833, it is not surprising that the brass bands developed so distinctively in this area.
Few people know that Wolverton Town Band has its origins in the old 1st Buckinghamshire Volunteer Rifles. The Bandmaster was Harry Brooks and among the musicians was a Joe Lovesey, whose son went on to form the locally famous dance band of the second world war years.
Due to the new Liberal Goverment of 1906 and its changes, the Territorial & Reserve Army came into being. In 1908 the Rifles band was disbanded and the Territorial Army took over. A breakaway group was formed by three members of the Rifles band, Fred Grace, Jack Bates and a Mr. Carvell, and this group eventually became the Wolverton Town Band.
Mr. Dave Baker remembered when the first instruments were handed out in the organ loft, as it was then called, at the rear of the North Western Hotel. In the loft was the old organ belonging to a Mr. Harper that was formerly in St. Georges Church. He was only 13 years old then.
In 1920 the band entered the National Brass Festival at Crystal Palace in the 4th section with the test piece "Il Trovatore' by Verdi. They gained 3rd place amongst 25 bands competing. In 1922 they again came third, this time in the 2nd section. Being immensely proud of their band the people of Wolverton presented every band member with a medal, which they paid for themselves.
During World War two the band had to stand down as men were called up. Players and instruments became part of the Local Defence Volunteer Band. In 1940 the Wolverton Home Guard Military Band was formed, with Doug Dytham as Bandmaster. It was a very unique band, being the only Home Guard Band in the country. After leading the Stand-down parade through Wolverton at the head of the Battalion in December 1944 the band passed into history.
The band changed its name to Wolverton British Railway and Town Silver Band in 1951 to acknowledge the strong links between the works and the town. They used to meet in the engineering canteen to practice. As the Railway Works began to reduce numbers of workers and a lot of the buildings were demolished, the band had to look elsewhere to find a room to practice. In May1989 they then changed their name back to Wolverton Town Band and adopted the Wyvern dragon symbol on their name board when the school gave them the practice room they needed. In November 1992 the band moved to another new home, this time the newly completed Old Bath House and Community Centre in Wolverton.
After finding themselves in a finacial low in the late 1960's Syd Dytham appealed to the ladies supporters group for help. These took the fundraising matters off their hands and left them to concentrate on performing.
Massed Band Concerts took place and the ladies committee started to organize the well liked and remembered Old Time Dances and Sequence Dances. With this and the numerous jumble sales, bazaars and raffles ticket sales the band soon found themselves back on their feet with their funds. New instruments were acquired, some with the help of the council, and repairs could be undertaken again.
Boy of the year section was won by Alan Bruce in 1972 and Robert Wills won the first section and received the Aston Martin challenge cup. Caroline Lack won the John Lawrence cup.
Under Roy Lack the band took part in a contest on Radio Oxford in 1973, organized by the radio station. Their opponents were Marsh Gibbon. New uniforms were shown off at the Wolverton Carnival in September (see bottom photo). A Thank You concert was given by the Band at the Radcliffe School.
Having been rivals for many years the Wolverton Town Band and New Bradwell Silver Band gave a Massed Band concert at the College of Further Education in Wolverton in 1974.
In the1980's lots of Old Time and Sequence Dances were held in the works canteen, as well as the Annual Junior Contest. At Stantonbury the band performed in the Sound of Brass Concerts.
In 1981 the band raised enough money with the help of the local people to buy new uniforms which they still wear.
In August1987 the band was still officially known as the Wolverton Town & British Rail Silver Band. In October they went on a day trip and evening concert to Porthcawl, South Wales. The last Old Time Dance was held in the works canteen.
In January 1988 the band moved its rehearsal facility from the works canteen to the Veteran's Institute. In February they came 6th out of 13 entries at the MK Contest and in March they moved again, this time to the clubhouse of Wolverton Town Football Club. Denzil Stephens conducted a rehearsal of the specially commissioned march (Wolverton Pride) for the Wolverton 150 celebration in August and in September the band held a concert at Euston Station.
In 1989 news of another rehearsal room, this time at Wyvern School. The band also changed its name to Wolverton Town Band. They gained 2nd place in the 4th section at the Brighton Contest. In May the band introduced the Wyvern Dragon Symbol to their names board in recognition of their link with the school. In September the WTB enjoyed their first Germany trip (Koblenz). In December Roy Lack stood down as conductor after 18 years.
The band's own newsletter, the 'Mouthpiece', Editor Keith Jones, produced a 100th Edition, which reviewed a few matters over the years. Here are just a few of them:
The January issue 1990 reviews 1989 and how one of their members was stopped and searched by the police on his way home from band practice, thinking his trombone case might contain some swag.In February Bram Wiggins was engaged to take the band to the area qualifier, the test piece was 'Summer Fantasy'. The Band was placed 12th out of 28 entries.
April covers a major upheaval caused by the resignation of the Lack Family. The band lost Musical Director, Secretary, principal cornet, principal euphonium, solo trombone and back row cornet in one go. July announced the appointment of Colin Stevens as new Musical Director. A foreign tour is being considered.
In February '91 the MK Contest was postponed due to heavy snow. In March the WTB placed 16th out of 28 at the area contest.In April the victory at MK Contest hit the headlines. Band placed first in 4th section, with Simon Gee winning the soloist prize for his rendition of 'Sugar Blues'. The WTB plays at unveiling of the Bloomer Steam Engine outside the CMK Railway Station in October.
1992 was a busy year in contesting and in August the band went on the Rheinland Reise in Germany to play in Koblenz, Ruedesheim, Bad Neuenahr and Boppard. In November the band moved to a new home, the than recently completed Old Bath House and Community Centre.
1993 proved to be equaly busy. Susan Snoxell joins the band in January, followed by Byron Cox in November. Ben Cox won the beginners class, Alex Weston the learners class and Susan Snoxell the open section at the intra-band contest in March. Deep joy in October: 2nd place at the National Finals in Wembley. Richard Birchall came out of retirement to give a quality performance on BBb Bass.
Next to the usual contests in 1994 the band was represented on the Three Counties Radio Quiz and the 10-piece group made a recording for transmisson later that year.
In 1995 the WTB did not participate in the MK Contest, but won 6th place at area contest. This year reported on a German Oompah Evening, the 50th anniversary of VE Day celebrations, prestigious engagements at Blenheim Palace and Abington Park and a burning float at the Banbury Carnival. Julia McManus, Bill Holding, Mike Sanders and Dave Horton all were welcomed to the Band.