Memories of Stan Hawton

I think I joined in 1934 and I believe a Mr Williams was the conductor.  My first experience of contesting was at Crystal Palace (or Alexandra?) and the test piece was Handels “Water Music”.  As far as I can remember there were only 32 bands in our section, and we came about half way up (or down!).


Much of my early banding took me to the Dell where the Saints now play.  I remember playing in the centre of the field when a drunk staggered up to the cornets and started sucking a lemon.  Result – a flood of saliva – ruining any more playing until said drinker was removed.


The highlight of that period was our entry in the Wessex Contest at Salisbury.  Up until the Friday of the contest week, our march choice entitled “Amparito Roca” by Texidor had not arrived.  Well – it eventually arrived on that Friday – we played it at practice, played it at the Dell the following day, climbed aboard the bus at Archers Road and made our way to Salisbury, where we WON the damn thing!  If only they had known.  One of the solo cornet players had to fork out money for about 30 bags of chips, for he said we had no chance!  Bill Barnes will fill you in with the details!


During the Second World War, the Albion Band played at the Guildhall on a Sunday evening for the Armed Forces – all were invited and we often played to audiences of 2000 or more.  Mr Stockwell conducted us at the time.  On the particular evening I’m thinking of Mr Stockwell asked me if I’d mind playing the cymbals as we had included the finale from Orpheus in the Underworld in the programme. The bass drummer was a little grey haired man who was supposed to be deaf and when he saw me with the cymbals he said  – “get over the other side Stan I can’t hear myself think if you are bashing them things!!”


It wasn’t all funny in those days, we played at one Guildhall programme, where one of the vocal soloists was a US army corporal, about 6 foot 5” in height stood up to sing the vocal arrangement of “The Lords Prayer”.  Talk about Paul Robeson – he was marvellous!


I believe we played the tone poem “Lorengo” at one contest and came 3rd.  The point was the 2nd and 3rd cornets had practically a whole page of triple tongue semi-quavers, and when we started we couldn’t STOP!  We practically choked ourselves, but it was fun.


I am getting too old (72!) for first class playing, but I do enjoy the company of a brass band man or woman!  They are the salt of the earth.


Joke: A village bandmaster having conducted the overture ‘Poet & Peasant’ (Suppe) said to his band: “Now we’ll have ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ please.”

1st horn player: “Blimey, I’ve just played that!”