Swineshead Silver Band 1886 - 1986


"At a meeting held on the 28th July 1886 it was proposed by Mr J.L. Nunnington and seconded by Mr A.R. Sparrow and carried unanimously that a brass band to be called the Swineshead Brass Band be organised.

The following attended the meeting:- Mess'rs. Morgan, J.L. Nunnington, A.R. Sparrow, W .S. Barratt, F. Cone,J. Cone, W. Cone, A. Sparrow, N. Ceasar,J. Favell,J. Lind,J. Woodward, and F. Greetham. Proposed by Mr Morgan seconded by A.R. Sparrow that Mr. Nunnington act as Secretary ."

The above is the first entry in the Minute Book, thus the "Swineshead Silver Band" as it is now known came into existence.

Reading further one finds that the running of a self funding band posed the same problems in 1886 as it does in 1986, the biggest problem being raising money to buy instruments and music. This becomes apparent on page two of the Minutes. "Proposed and unanimously carried that 1/- (one shilling) be paid by each member on the first Saturday in September 1886 and that 6d be paid in each following month on the first Saturday and that 6d additional be paid into the instrument fund by those who wish to buy their instrument out.

The first public playing the band undertook was Christmas Carol playing that year in the Village, lamp carriers were paid 6d each.

Most of the early Minutes were concerned with money in one form or another. In a list of Rules drawn up in 1893, Rule 1 states that "the Conductor is to have complete control and anyone not obeying his orders shall be fined 2d each." Rule 2 stated "anyone being late for rehearsal shall be fined 1d and if absent fined 3d." "Anyone found giving an incorrect statement of his absence shall be fined 6d." It would seem that Bandsmen in 1893 had to be quite well off or at deaths door to miss rehearsal.

These early meetings were held in the Red Lion public House, in 1895 the venue changed to the Green Dragon and then alternated between the Red Lion, Green Dragon, Elephant and Castle and The Bull, so it appears that bandsmen have always had an affinity with Public Houses, a tradition that continues to this day.

In the late 1880's the band seems to be going from strength to strength, playing for Parades, Garden Fetes etc., In the local villages. The band fund was growing, Membership was growing, and with the Membership fee of £1, and 1/- per month being paid by members, the band could afford to pay the Secretary 10/- a year salary.

There are no Minutes for the period 1899 - 1907, perhaps the Secretary wasn't paid his 10/-.

On August 6th 1907 a meeting was called to re -organise the band and accept new members. Those present elected Mr. W. Booth to the Chair, Mr. A. Motson Secretary and Mr. J. Favell Treasurer. Mr. Booth was also Conductor.

Again the bulk of the Minutes are concerned with money, music and instruments, 1n 1908 the band purchased four new instruments.

In 1909an entry for two members expenses to Nottingham to buy new instruments was paid, the sum 17 shillings.

The lamp carriers at Christmas at Christmas Carol playing were paid 5/- for their selVices at this period In 1910 the band entered two contests, the first at Lincoln, the second at Grantham, no mention of position gained was entered in the Minutes, so we must assume that they didn't "get in the frame.."

In 1912 the band organised a contest with a view to raising money for new instruments. "The Contest to be held on the Saturday previous to Bank Holiday Monday. The test pieces to be "Apollo" and "Maritana " and an own choice Quickstep Contest Test Piece from the Champion Journal".

Several fund raising events were organised to finance the contest; skittle competitions., concerts, Bowls competitions, etc.

The bands invited were:- Burton Latimer, Spalding, Crowland, Sutton Bridge, Whaplode Drove, Kirton, Boston Excelsior, Abbotts, Hornsleys, March, Clowne, Menai Bridge, Sutton in Ashfield, Ripley, Holmfirth, Sleaford, Ruskington, Kettering, Boston Railway, Lincoln Mallable Sheaf Works, South Notts., Albert Hall, Rushden, Gainsborough, Hucknall, Sissons, Heathfield, Felton and Keal Coats.

Unfortunately the outcome of the Contest is not recorded.

The band continued with the usual summer activities - Galas, Fetes etc. Carols at Christmas. new members joined, some members left, or were expelled for a variety of reasons, non attendance ,not paying subs, and the like.

During the 1914 /18 war the band continued to rehearse. At a meeting dated Feb 2nd 1915 it was decided to "darken the windows of Central Hall and recommence practice on Monday Night".
During this time the Minutes contain names, some of which are still connected with the band. Nameslike H Thorpe, H. Ceasar, F. Atkinson, J. Eaglen, F. Green, A. Beecham, F. Hammond, C. Middlebrook, H Woods, F. Cox and many more, some of whose descendants are still "blowing" with Swineshead.

One of the more amusing entries is for a meeting of Nov, 3rd 1924. (Names have been omitted to protect theinpocent) "Proposed by ( ) sec. by ( ) that as from Jan 1st 1925 that each member of the band shall pay 3d per week and rise to 6d in the summer, if members then think fit, the proceeds to go towards an outing for himself, wife or fancy lady as the case may be - Carried."

Things must have been going quite well financially in 1924, not only were the members still taking their cut from the money earned during the summer, they also ordered new uniform from Mess'rs Evans.. A set of rules were drawn up to cover the wearing of the uniform, to which everyone appended their signature.

The middle to late 20s were occupied with Galas, Fetes, Whist Drives and Dances, all raising cash to support the band, with the usual names cropping up again and again, much the same as today.

In 1927, two members in default for reasons unstated were asked to return their instruments to the Committee. Band membership was still £1.00 with an extra levy of 6d. per month paid by members on the first practice of the month.

In 1928 two more members were written to about attendance at practice, no mention of them being made after this one assumes they didn't take heed.

1930/31 saw Mr. H. Ceasar elected Deputy Bandmaster, he was elected by a 6 votes to 3 majority from Mr. L. Thorpe. The Balance Sheet for the year showed:- Income £88.16.4d. Expenditure £67 .13.3d. so the band had £21.3.1d. in the bank. Two years later it. looked a little different, with the figures reading, Inc. £100.1.5d. Exp. £100.1.7d., the band owed money!

In 1933 Mr. F.E. Hammond resigned from the band, a long time member, having been both Conductor and Chairman, and was indeed both at the time of his resignation. Mr. F. Atkinson was elected Chairman in his place. Mr. H. Ceasar was made Bandmaster, a position he was to hold on and off until 1979.

Mr. J. Eaglen was elected Chairman in 1936. Those present at the meeting including a Mr. Hammond, so we must assume that he regretted his decision to resign two years earlier. The band must have appreciated his return as they elected him Bandmaster again, in fact he was proposed by Mr. H. Ceasar. In the same year the band attended the Spalding Contest on September 10th, winning two First Prizes.

1937 saw Mr. F. Atkinson elected Chairman once more.

On November 5th 1940 the first mention is made of Swineshead Silver Band.

During the years leading up to the Second World War the band continued raising money for music and instruments in the traditional way, Garden Fetes, Galas, Christmas Carolling etc., to the non players reading this, garden fetes and galas usually consist of sitting in a field, with a gale blowing, playing musical selections and arrangements to crowds of people who aren't in the least bit interested.

The band continued playing throughout the War, some members were called up. Others who presumably worked on the land, which exempted them from service, carried on playing.

On November 10th 1944 the band took over the room at the Methodist Chapel as a practice room, the rent was £5, per year. The first payment being due on 10th Nov 1945. On the 3rd of December 1946, Mr. H. "Herbie" Thorpe was elected Secretary, He held this office, uninterrupted, for the next 30 years, until his resignation in 1977. The longest continuous serving officer in the bands history, his contribution to Swineshead Silver Band cannot be praised too highly.

Band fees for engagements in 1946 were, 2/- per hour from leaving the band room to return. One quarter was retained for band funds, the rest being shared among the members.

During the late 40s the usual fund raising went on, Whist Drives, Dances, sitting inft~tds1ngales etc. The usual members held office, H. Ceasar, J. Eaglen, H. Thorpe, F. Atkinson, F. Green.

During the 1950s The Band Played On, so to speak. In 1952/3 the members invited some of the local farmers and business people to become President and Vice Presidents. Mr. A.G. King became President and the Vice Presidents were ;- Mess'rs H.H. Bowser, C.E. Smith and A Oliver.

In 1954 the Quadring Band was paid £3. for a set of music stands and some music. We can only guess at the cost today, probably £150 or thereabouts.

The band entered the Leicester Contest held on Easter Monday 1956 and were awarded 160 points out of 200. The following year the Leicester Contest was entered again ,..but no record of points or position is recorded.

In 1960, seventy four years after its inception, the band purchased a building in South Street, Swineshead, which in its time had been variously used as a carpenters shop (in which, among other things, coffins were made) chicken shed and potato store, the price being £110. The money was raised by three or four members begging donations from local farmers. They then set about converting it into a practice room, which the band still uses to this day.

During this period the band members grew quite a bit, the old names being augmented by names which crop up again and again. Names like R. Patchet, R. Butler, B Pinner, B. Eaglen, J. & W. Pordham, Frank Green was Chairman, R. Patchet was Conductor, Herbie Thorpe was still Secretary.

In 1962 a new post was created, that of Band Sergeant...the first being Mr. R Papworth who continued in the post for three years after which he seems to have left the band. His position was taken by Mr. B. Pinner who held the office for two years after which he too appears to have left, the office of Band Sergeant was discontinued after this, possibly to ensure that the number of members didn't fall too drastically.

In 1968 the present Chairman, John Holland, was elected and has continued in various roles to the present day. Without the drive and enthusiasm of people like these many village bands would cease to exist.

1973 saw the first of many young girls join the ranks of the band, (although a Miss W. Patchett is mentioned in 1960) they were Beverley Fletcher, Lynne Ulyatt and Sally Johnson. Mr. Ceasar became Bandmaster again, having held the position first in 1933. Also in the same year, our Presedent, Mr. H. Rickett was elected. His help and enthusiasm over the last 13 years has been greatly appreciated by all members of the band.

At the A.G .M. of 1977, Mr. H. (Herbie) Thorpe resigned as Secretary after serving 30 years in office, his contribution to Swineshead Silver Band cannot be underestimated. Mr. John Percival was elected Secretary in his place and served for the next seven years.

Life Memberships were introduced in the same year for Members over 65, qualifying were :- Mess'rs H. Thorpe, H. Ceasar, F. Atkinson, J. Eaglen, A. Simpson -Shaw and A: Hollingsworth. The first four having become members respectively in 1920, 1921, 1926 and 1928.

In the mid 1970s Mr Roy Sales, the Headmaster of Swineshead Primary School became a member of the band. It was at this time that the number of players increased considerably as many youngsters from the School started playing brass instruments. The girls seemed to have more interest and determination, a trend which continues to this day, as the female members of the band outnumber the males.

In 1979 some new names appear in the Minutes, among them is that of the Conductor, Mr. Derek Stephens. Having moved to Boston from Leicestershire and being a keen player from the age of eight, one of the first things he did was to find somewhere to have a "blow", luckily he chose Swineshead. Having played with many good bands and at the time playing front row cornet for Isbtock Building Products Band, a Championship Section outfit, he came with fairly good credentials, so they let him join.

As one hardworking member was entering the band another was leaving. Mr. H. Ceasar decided to retire after having given 51 years of loyal service to Swineshead Brass and Silver Band both as Conductor and player, his contribution to the band must be second to none.

At the A.G.M. of 1979, on a vote, Derek Stephens was elected conductor, a position he has held until he was forced to relinquish this post due to ill health. He is currently the Band Honorary Musical Director.

In order to boost funds, the band held a "Play In" which consisted of 12 hours continuous playing, this was achieved and raised more than £500 for band funds and no doubt a few swollen lips.

Quite a lot was going on at this time. The band purchased a set of secondhand basses from the Fairey Aviation Works Band, at a cost of £3000 which was begged or borrowed from various sources, they registered with the N.E.M.B.B.A. and The Brass Band Registry with contesting in mind. The band entered its first contest for many years, it being the N.E.M.B.B.A. Contest on the 20th April 1980. Of course during all this activity the usual round of fetes, galas etc were being attended.

In 1980 a Ladies Committee was set up with the aim of raising money for the band, a task at which they proved to be very adept, under the Chairpersonship of Janet Stephens they boosted the bands finances by many hundreds of pounds, if not thousands.

During the early eighties the band members worked very hard, the aim being to renew all the instruments. In consequence most weekends during the summer they were to be found playing at galas and fetes, sometimes Saturday and Sunday, on occasion playing three engagements in one weekend, over the next three years their aim was achieved, although the money involved gave the Treasurer a few sleepless nights, the band continued to enter contests, not as many as some would like, more than enough for others. Not much success was achieved (although higher placings were being gained) until 1984, the band came second in the N .E.M.B.B.A. Annual Contest at Chesterfield winning The George Winfield Memorial Trophy and £100. Spurred on by this success the band has continued to enter contests but so far a second appearence"In the frame" had eluded them. Most of the band enjoy contesting if only to read the adjudicators remarks afterwards, some of which are quite amusing, others of which are unbelievable!