Back In Business
The first attempt at Brighton also organised by the ‘Daily Herald’ resulted in the Band being in the prizes out of 24 bands competing and, as in the London contests, going on until eventually creating a record that has never been broken – that of winning both the second and third sections in the same contest (July 1955). This came after winning the Wessex Summer Contest at Eling the week before when the Band won the Selection and were twenty clear points in front of their nearest rivals, also winning the march contest award and gaining all three medals awarded that day (Solo Cornet, Euphonium and Trombone).
One amusing engagement at which the Band took part in 1947 was a stunt motorshow ‘Crash Cavanagh and his cars’. The Solo Cornet player had to keep sounding fanfares at the start of each stunt. At the close, the man Crash Cavanagh thanked the members very much, and that was all the band were paid for the job! Sometime later, we found out that the show had in fact gone bankrupt.
Another venue for the Band to contest was at Oxford. At the first attempt they were placed second in the contest and won the cup for deportment on the contest platform. As the Band now had a Corps of Drums, they were requested to march through the City of Oxford to the War Memorial, and back to the Contest Hall. This was repeated the following year, but unfortunately the prize winnings were not.
The uniform of the Band had changed now to a dark green with silver facings. To pay for these, several money making schemes were devised, one particular scheme raising quite a considerable sum. After the Band were fitted out with the new uniform, it was decided to have the older ones discarded, cleaned and offered to the highest bidder. They were advertised in the press and the answers to the advert were read out in Committee. A certain gentleman (who had taken the uniforms to be cleaned) got in touch with one of the repliers and sold the uniforms to them. It was quite a while before the Committee knew of this, the matter being brought to light when they were investigating a discrepancy – the gentleman concerned was charged and sent to prison for six months.
At about this time a learners’ class was started from which quite a number of first class musicians emerged. The class was still going strong in 1975, kept together by Mr. Ernie Allen, who put in hours and hours of very patient work.
The Band has, from time to time, lost several of these likely lads to the Services, the Royal Marines taking most. One such learner is now Band Corporal in the Coldstream Guards and in the last year, two boys have joined the Junior Leaders Regt. of the Royal Armoured Corps – almost straight from the learners’ class.
In the year 1955 when the Band had in one hectic week won four firsts and three medals, they were under the direction of Mr. W. Breeze LRAM who had recently been demoted from the Royal Marines and Band Sergeant. He was with the Band when the annual engagement at West Down School was resumed. This was to provide music at the annual cricket match played between the scholars and their fathers, the parents playing with a narrow bat. This school is situated quite near Winchester prison, which reminds the writer of an engagement there in 1938, unique in one way, because playing Solo Cornet at that time was a Mr. Charles Rhodes, a Police Constable (one who arrested) and the Chairman at this concert was Alderman A.E. Udall, a magistrate (one who passed sentence).
During the Coronation celebrations of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II the Band had its usual quota of engagements, one being a parade through the town up-to the Common. Leading the procession, pride of place was given to a Royal Marines Band, with the Albion leading the Old Contemptibles. On another date in the celebrations, they were engaged to give a performance at Shirley Recreation ground, a new venue for engagements of this kind.