A couple of character sketches – literally

ugc02851. This is a sketch made of George Belton, bandmaster of Kilburn Brass Band in London, during a visit to the Ring O’ Bells Inn in 1870.

Kilburn Brass Band (Middlesex) – Active from 1868 at least. Bandmaster George Belton in 1870. The band organised a “Monstre Fete and Gala” to raise funds on 1 August 1870 at a large field adjoining Mr Bannister’s farm, Kensal Green Lane and engaged the bands of the 20th and 36th Middlesex Volunteers to provide entertainment.

They held a “Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert” in aid of the Kilburn Dispensary at the Queen’s Arms Hotel, Kilburn on 20 October 1870. In December 1872 they felt it necessary to remind the public that they should not make any payments to the band unless it was to an official representative with a signed card.

Officers included secretary Edmund S.G. Ronchetti in 1870, Mr Biggs in 1874. Conductor M. Seaman in 1871-1873, George Belton in 1877-1879. The band folded in 1879. A successor band (Saxby and Farmer’s Brass Band) being formed in 1880 with M. Seaman as conductor.

69647342_10156445449736961_1358320361258614784_o2. As I was transferring some old copies of the Musical Progress & Mail from box files to plastic archive boxes, a folded, torn poster fell out of a 1938 bound volume (not one I’d got round to reading/extracting data from yet). It features the solo trombonist of a band “who refused … invitation to … Cairo Red S … at Clacton … and so as not to let … band down. Cheers”. Below this (not shown here) was a hand-drawn map for a suggested route for Sunday, 10am from a location in Uttons Avenue to another in Glendale Gardens. This, together with other road names on the map, pinpointed the town as Leigh-on-Sea (which also fitted the Clacton reference). As the Glendale Garden location was the local Salvation Army the band is almost certainly the Leigh-on-Sea Salvation Army Band. I do have an image of this band, from around that period. I assume the trombonist gave up the chance to play with Cairo Red Shield SA Band, which was active during WW2, on its visit to the UK.


Leigh-on-Sea Salvation Army Band [solo trombonist on far right]

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Easter, brass, bunnies & chicks

ugu0881Easter cards of the past (before the usual bifold cards in envelopes of today) were usually sent as postcards, with a wide range of pictures representing some aspect of Easter – whether religious or not. As with other topics there were occasional cards which featured brass instruments, usually stylised rather than real depictions of actual instruments, and often in the hands of Easter rabbits or similar anthropomorphic devices. Here, for your Lenten delight are a selection of such cards.

The first two below depict two rabbits, one is a normal printed card, the other has some sort of fabric covering the “fur” of the rabbits on the card.



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The next two use the same image but with different messages:

The following two are a mirror image of each other, with messages in German and Dutch

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Cambridge Town Band 1927-1943

Having completed the digitisation of the records of the earlier Cambridge Albion Silver Band (1921-1927), I am now working (in the background) on the subsequent volume relating to the amalgamated Town Band. It covers the day to day details of their engagements, contest wins and losses, occasional notes on members and events elsewhere, with a selection of photographs, contest and concert programmes. The band performed well over this 17 year period under their talented conductor Robert Austin. The books (of which the second volume is in a very poor physical condition) have been offered to the current Cambridge Band (or the Cambridgeshire Archives) for long-term preservation once the digitisation and processing has been completed. Here are some sample items from the book.

See also: Cambridge Albion Band – six years of records

ctb 1928

ctb 1934ctb 1908

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The World’s Smallest Trombone

This tiny rendition of a slide trombone was discovered near the pad ring on a 1983 vintage Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) 7990 Ethernet controller integrated circuit. The letter “K” in the trombone bell is the surname initial of Stephen Kolbacher and was created by mask designer Teresa Lester, who drew it on a section of Mylar during down time in the design. At the time, mask design was being done at AMD both on Mylar and on the newly introduced Calma GDSII Cad system because there were more designers than computer stations with the software. Steve liked the idea of the customised trombone bell so he digitised it (making some spatial modifications to ensure it was design rule clean) and placed it on at least a dozen chips between 1981 and 1987.


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St Patrick’s Day – a quiet celebration of the bands of Ireland’s past

To mark St Patrick’s Day, as we probably can’t celebrate it as we normally would, here are a few Irish brass bands of the past, together with a few celebratory postcards – which I suspect were not produced by an Irishman!

Those wanting to find out a bit more about the bands of Ireland, whilst self-isolating or otherwise, can read the “Brass Bands of Ireland”

Sinn Fein Brass Band, 1919Victuallers Brass Band, LimerickKilfenora Brass Band, 1909Gurteen Brass Band, County LeitrimDungarvan Brass Band, 1909stp6a00e5509ea6a18834017ee95a5f1a970d6a00e5509ea6a18834017ee95a5ae5970d-500wi

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The Nationals in 1910

cp1910Now that the British regional contests are finished, the qualifying bands will be looking towards the finals in the autumn at Cheltenham and the Royal Albert Hall. Here is the programme for the National Finals of 110 years ago, at which Fodens took the first place, but also with 6 other sections on the same day at the various venues within and outside the Crystal Palace.

National  Finals Programme 1910 [pdf]

Details of the bands’ placings in 1910 can be found at:



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Louverne Ladies’ Brass Band – fleeing France during WW1

A recent post in the Australasian Brass Bands Facebook group about Hilda Tansey, leader of the Sydney Ladies’ Brass Band, led Eric Brisse, a French brass band enthusiast, to ask if there had been any French ladies’ bands. The only one that I am aware of is the Louverne Ladies’ Brass Band.

Louverne Ladies' Brass Band (French, in USA 1914) 2

This was a professional band that fled France during WW1 and toured the USA with the Billy “Single” Clifford Company, which provided musical theatre entertainment. The Band was used by Billy Clifford to advertise his evening show, of which they were part, by them giving a free lunchtime concert in whatever town they were appearing in. One report states that the 14 band members were originally studying at the Louvre Seminary in Paris, before fleeing to the USA, another that they had been playing for years in France before coming to the USA.

The band, together with some other, American, ladies [Ruth Coughlin, Florence Bentley (leader), Sylvia Kelly, Grace Fields, Evolena Guthrie, Cozy Lewis, Jessie West, and Glentora Wolf] made up the Imperial Orchestra.

Some of the tour dates that the Louverne Ladies’ Brass Band fulfilled as part of Billy Clifford’s shows were:

  • 19 September 1914 – Bristol, Tennessee
  • 29 September 1914 – Staunton, Virginia
  • 3 October 1914 – Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 5 October 1914 – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • 6 October 1914 – Durham, North Carolina
  • 16 October 1914 – New Bern, North Carolina
  • 17 October 1914 – Lumberton, North Carolina
  • 2 November 1914 – Salisbury, North Carolina
  • 9 November 1914 – Greenville, South Carolina
  • 4 December 1914 – Lakeland, Florida
  • 7 December 1914 – Orlando, Florida
  • 4 January 1915 – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • 25 January 1915 – Monroe, Louisiana
  • 10 February 1915 – Pawhuska, Oklahoma
  • 16 February 1915 – Chanute, Kansas
  • 28 August 1915 – Billings, Montana
  • 2 December 1915 – Lawton, Oklahoma
  • 12 January 1916 – Demopolis, Alabama
  • 4 April 1916 – York, Pennsylvania
  • 7 January 1917 – Jackson, Mississippi
  • 28 March 1917 – Columbus, Indiana

Also travelling with Billy Clifford, between 1913 and 1917, were the Weston Sisters (Carrie, Florence, and Juliette) who had performed as a cornet trio since around 1905 (after their father Sam Weston, a former minstrel artist, went blind).

WESTON Weston Sisters - Carrie, Florence, and Juliette - c1905

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