THE MARCHING BANDS OF THE PRESTON DISTRICT

Most of the following information has been gleaned from local papers over the past twelve years . It is not complete in its content and any further information can be added if it is sent to me at peter-vickers@lineone.net.

EARLY DAYS

The earliest dates for which marching bands are reported locally begin around the coronation of George the Fourth in June 1821. "The various banners, flags etc. were exposed to the public gaze upon the steps leading to the obelisk, the THIRD LANCASHIRE MILITA BAND playing martial airs, and the sound of various trumpts (sic) added greatly to the scene." A few years later, in 1828, it was reported that "When Mr. Green will make his 54th Balloon Accent on Whit Monday, a BAND OF MUSIC will be in attendance." These early bands did not have the valved instruments that where the object of experiment at this time. Keyed brass instruments, some reed instruments, serpents, drums and percussion instruments were the only musical instruments available at this time that were suitable for a parading band.

Following the Whitsuntide parades in 1830, there is no report of any bands playing, however, The Constitutional Society dined at the "Three Jolly Tars" and following the toasts the OLD PRESTON BAND, together with part of the choral society, were in attendance and contributed to the conviviality of the meeting with their professional endeavors. By 1833 both the Church of England and the Catholic Societies were accompanied by MILITARY BANDS and this remained the pattern until 1836 when the Temperance Society parade included THE TEE-TOTAL BAND.

In the Summer of 1836 THE PROMENADE BAND played a series of concerts on Avenham Walks, Winkley Square and at Mr Tomlinson's Pleasure Grounds at the bottom of Frenchwood Street, in order to give pleasure and amusement to the ladies and gentlemen of the town. This was done by subscriptions from many young gentlemen of the town.

Notice was given in The Chronicle on the 27th August 1836 that THE HARMONIC BRASS BAND was engaged to play at the Regatta at The Bridge Inn where the rowing matches were to start at Penwortham Bridge, sailing matches from Chain Caul Road. Trevor Herbert writing in "Bands, The Making of the Movement", refers to the PRESTON UNITED INDEPENDENT HARMONIC BRASS BAND who petitioned Mr Thomas Clifton on Lytham Hall to use the band "one of the finest in the country. Our band consists of 10 in number it is a brass band." Details of charges are included. Mr Herbert suggests that as the fees asked were substantial they might well have been working as professionals, amongst the earliest brass band musicians to play for fees. The leader was Edward Kirby of 31 Alfred Street, Preston.

At this time Whit Tuesday was celebrated by the good people of Preston at nearby Goosnargh. In 1838 The Preston Pilot tells how "On this occasion there was an increased attraction, a report for some time having been in circulation that a number of members of the Independent Order of Oddfellows intended making a procession , the truth of which was fully verified by the appearance of a considerable assemblage of persons to the very numerous and respectable body in full Uniform headed by the PRESTON PROMENADE BAND." (Referred to later in the paper as PRESTON OLD BAND.) The rapid increase in the popularity of playing in a band can be gathered from the facts that in the year immediately following THE WOODPLUMPTON BAND OF MUSICIANS played at Goosnargh whilst at Garstang CATTERAL AMATEUR BRASS BAND and THE GARSTANG TEMPERANCE BAND played. The Temperance parade in Preston had three bands with THE BAND OF THE TEMPERANCE SOCIETY in uniform.

At the"Goosnor Woke" in 1841 The Friendly Society had the OLD MILITIA BAND from this (Preston) town. "At about 11 o'clock was heard the enlivening notes of the OLD MILITIA BAND. The clever performances of which added much to the pleasure of the day." In the years immediately following there were bands at Goosnargh but they were not named in the papers.

Whitsuntide Celebrations in 1844 witnessed a further blossoming of local bands with the first mention of the "newly formed" CHURCH OF ENGLAND BRASS BAND playing in Preston on Whit Monday for the Church of England School Sick Society procession and on the following Tuesday at Goosnargh where "The Amicable Sick Society was preceded by the excellent CHURCH OF ENGLAND SCHOOL BAND from Preston." THE CHIPPING BRASS BAND also played at Goosnargh, at Longridge there was a BRASS BAND FROM HURST GREEN, at Leyland THE LEYLAND BAND and at the school treats at St Wilfred's and at St Augustine's the ST WILFRED'S GUILD BAND played.

In May 1845, on the Whit Monday, the Church of England School Sick Society were lead by the CHURCH OF ENGLAND BAND in their beautiful uniforms. The BLUECOAT JUVENILE BAND OF FIFES AND DRUMS and also the ST MARY'S CHURCH BAND took part in the processions. In a further report of this event the Rev J. Cousins, the incumbent at St James’s, expressed his pride at being preceded by the SUNDAY SCHOOL BAND which was formed entirely of adult youths who received instruction in the school and "whose formation was solely owing to the generosity of one individual (Mr. Miles Myres). He concluded by hoping that they would not disgrace the true blue uniforms that they wore."

TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENTS

In the early 1840's, a complete family (soprano to bass) of homogeneous valved bugles or saxhorns was created. Saxhorns were named after their creator, Adolphe Sax, the well-known Franco-Belgian instrument maker and inventor (who developed saxophones, a family of woodwind instruments). John Distin was a trumpet virtuoso whose four sons were also brass players. When the youngest was but 12, the family began touring the British Isles. Equipped with new saxhorns by Adolphe Sax, Distin's flair for publicity, allied to Adolphe Sax's advance technology saw the beginnings of a new era for valved brass instruments. In 1845, Distin became the agent for Sax's instruments in London, Again referring to the writings of Trevor Herbert he suggests that several factors brought about this proliferation of bands; this introduction of mass produced valved brass instruments with a range of pitch from the highest cornet to the lowest bass or bombardon, the increase in retail outlets for such instruments and the opinion held by many in authority that the the taking up of a musical instrument provided a rational and refined amusement for classes whose leisure time would have been less credibly spent than in learning and listening to music.

IMPORTANT CONCERTS IN THE TOWN

The Distin Family performed at The Theatre on a number of occasions, before and after the presentation of the new silver saxhorns by the King of France. The impact of the new instruments, not to mention the patronage of royalty, must have made a great impression on the influential patrons of the arts. In a similar manner the annual visits of M. Jullien and his large orchestra must also have made a tremendous impression. For example in December 1848 the notice for the Theatre Royal of Monsieur Jullien's appearance read; " MONSIEUR JULLIEN has the honour to announce to his Patrons, the Nobility, Gentry and Inhabitants of Preston that he intends giving one grand concert on Thursday next the 28th accompanied by the elite of his Unrivalled Band, including Messrs Koenig playing cornet-a-piston." The instrumentation also included violins, the viola, monstre ophicleide, flute and clarionet. The programme was to include works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven and of course Jullien himself.

 The patrons of the Arts gathered at The Institute at Avenham for a season of concerts and at one of these, in December 1852, were witnesses at the performance of a small saxhorn band. Clearly from the report things did not run too smoothly with problems of tuning causing a lack of harmony. What is most significant when looking at the history of the brass band in Preston is that at least three of the performers, Messers Whewell, Collinson and Markland all formed their own brass bands.

BACK TO THE STORY

 Many of the bands formed in the mid-nineteenth century were fife and drum bands, not military or brass bands. Amongst the earliest of these  was  ST MARY'S SCHOOL BAND, who were mentioned earlier; playing in the Sunday School Processions in 1849 "The members of it were dressed in very gay uniforms, and had obtained considerable proficiency on their instruments already."  Also in this parade Park Mill School were accompanied by THE BAND BELONGING TO THE MILL who played several airs. In June 1849 at the Preston Whitsuntide Walks. The Catholic Guilds had ST AUGUSTINE'S BAND and HOGHTON LANE BAND.  In May 1850, at the laying of the foundation stone at St Walburge’s Church The PRIMROSE HILL FIFE AND DRUM BAND, BLACKBURN BRASS BAND, St WILFRED’S GUILD FIFE AND DRUM BAND, COLLINSON’S BAND, HOGHTON LANE BAND and GRAY’S AMATEUR BAND played.

With churches, factory owners and would be musical professors forming bands throughout the Preston Area it is more convenient to deal with them individually as by the turn of the century as many as forty bands could play in a single parade at Whitsuntide or more particularly at the Preston Guild.

  1. Barton's Brass Band
  2. Brownedge Brass Band
  3. Calder Vale Brass Band
  4. Collinson's Brass Band.
  5. Gray's Brass Band
  6. Temperance Brass Band
  7. Joseph Haslam's Quadrille and Brass Bands
  8. Woodplumpton Brass Band
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