A sextet of bandsmen in a field

A sextet of bandsmen in a field.

Possibly members of Coniston Brass Band. The word ‘Coniston’ can just about be made out at the bottom of the drum – though it is not 100% certain. There are six men, possibly part of the band, or maybe the whole band. Standing in front of a (cricket?) field, with a distinctive building in the distance, and some people picnicking in the background. Three of the men are wearing ‘white’ crosses in their lapels. At this time this was the symbol for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union – perhaps these were being worn in solidarity, or perhaps they signified something else altogether.

There were two Coniston bands – the first was active in the 1840’s through to the mid-1870’s. The second arose around 1890 and was still performing in the 1920’s.


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Byesville bands

These two ladies are members of the Byesville Ladies’ Band. Byesville is a village in Ohio that supported several bands in the first half of the 20th century, from at least 1900 onwards. Sadly there is little available information about them, other than the occasional photograph and brief mention in local newspapers. Just one of the thousands of such communities across the world, that raised bands from their townspeople which are, as yet, undocumented, but for which there is the odd tantalising glimpse of their histories.

See: https://www.academia.edu/72248717/Byesville_bands_glimpses_of_musicians_from_a_small_Ohio_village

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Band at the Rising Sun Inn

An unknown band standing outside the Rising Sun Inn, Broadwell, Coleford, Gloucestershire. William Baynham was the landlord (as named above the door) from 1911 to 1930. The band is likely to be one of several in the Forest of Dean area at that time, but I have not been able to match their uniforms to any contemporary images of those bands.

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Joseph Manton Smith

Joseph Manton Smith was a Victorian cornetist & evangelist. Joseph started his musical career in the London music halls but, after attending a Baptist college, dedicated his life to the ministry, where he preached and performed on the cornet, to the delight and acclaim of his audiences. He was a very popular preacher, and travelled extensively across Britain, visiting the USA in his later life, being closely connected with the Stockwell orphanage in London – raising funds for its upkeep and leading choirs of the boys on excursions where he performed with his echo cornet.

For more details see this article: Joseph Manton Smith

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Cynicus and the Big Brass Band

Martin Anderson (1854-1932) was a Scottish artist who produced cartoons and illustrations for many publications. He adopted the pen name ‘Cynicus’. and was particularly popular in the 1890’s and 1900’s, and his work mostly survives today in the form of the many humorous postcards he designed.

One such is his painting of a brass band, marching along a street, seen from the front. It was a very popular postcard, which had a variety of overprints with different verses and town names, which could then be sold in any locations. The examples below show the card being repurposed for a number of towns, as well as there being two variations of the ‘blank’ version.

It was not uncommon for some postcard designs to be treated this way – you could take a standard image and make it appear to be relevant to a particular town or location. A similar approach was taken with his postcard design for “Our Local Express”.

White, Tina – Life of a satirical postcard artist, whose pen name mirrored his tone – Dominion Post – New Zealand, 14 December 2019

Davidson, Flora & Reid, Elspeth – The Fortunes of Cynicus: Victorian Cartoonist and Postcard Designer – Forest Lodge, 1995. ISBN:  978-0952597902

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicus

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Thomas Raistrick – Champion Boy Cornetist

Tom Raistrick became the principal cornet player of the Shipley Brass Band at the age of 13 in 1905 and established himself as an accomplished soloist in his own right. He went on to direct the Band of the 6th West Yorkshire Regiment during WW1, and later conducted the Keighley Borough Band.

For more details of his life, see the article linked below:

Thomas Raistrick article

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The Tyler Family Band 1843-1889

Joseph Tyler, an accomplished clarinetist, had thirteen children with his two wives, and formed two Family Bands which toured the British Isles and France over a period of nearly half a century. In addition to performing in their own concerts, they took part in pantomimes and other music hall revues, were engaged as the ‘town band’ in Aberystwyth in 1873, 1874, and 1885; had six seasons at Harrogate, in 1845, 1846, 1872, 1877, 1880, and 1885; and also had the privilege of being the first known instance in the UK of a band’s performance being transmitted remotely to an audience, during a concert at the Bradford Technical School’s Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, in July 1882.

An article detailing their musical lives can be found via the link below:

The Tyler Family Band – a father and his two sets of children touring the British Isles, 1843-1889

Tyler Family Band at Harrogate, 1872
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Bramley Old Band

The Bramley Old Band, photographed in 1920 with a range of trophies from earlier contest successes. The West Leeds certificate and cup, in front of the bass drum, were won at the contest on 23 October 1909, where the band played their own-choice test piece, Richard Wagner’s “Rienzi”, arranged by William Rimmer, conducted by A. Fox. The National Band Festival certificate was from their second-place at the Crystal Palace Preliminary Shield in 1904. The two trophies on the left and right sides are unknown. The band did win at Stanningley, and achieved second place at Pickering, both in 1910. It is possible that left hand one relates to a fourth place at Whitwood in 1920. There are no other known successes that would explain these two cups around this time. The next time the band was successful in a contest, was when it gained second place at the West Riding contest in 1934.

The band was formed as a reed band in 1828, and after a few name changes and a merger with the Bramley Model Band (a.k.a. Bramley Christian Mission Band) in 1898, it eventually folded in 1936.

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A pauper school band

The Central London District School Brass Band, Hanwell.

This was a paupers’ school originally founded in 1849, but moving to new premises near Hanwell in 1856. The band was formed in March 1859, conductor G. Kuster, and at that time consisted of 16 boys. Boys were taught to play musical instruments and in the 1860s the brass band often accompanied mealtimes. The band was still active in 1914, conductor Charles Gregory. Later known as West London District Schools Brass Band.

The buildings in the background have been identified as the current Hanwell Community Centre – it’s the only Victorian Poor Law School left standing in London. Charlie Chaplin was once a resident there.

There were many boys’ bands in similar institutions from the 1850’s to WW2, from orphanages, asylums, training ships, reform schools, and ragged schools. Details of some of these can be found in my paper (linked here): Music of Discipline and Reform.

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Christmas 2021

For a festive-themed post I tried to find a vintage band photograph that portrayed Christmas or a similar winter celebration, but the only one I could come up with was the unknown, American band, below, photographed in a fake snowstorm.

The second photo is of the Snowflake Cornet Band, from Snowflake, Arizona – perhaps one of the more inappropriately named places in the USA. Best wishes for the festive season, and here’s hoping 2022 is a little kinder than the last two years!

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