Banding Wales

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by jpbray, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    Does anyone know what the name of the oldest band in South Wales and when banding first started to appear.
  2. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    I think the Llanrug band might be one if not the oldest band in Wales , this is some of the history , another source of information might be Geraint Jones MD of the Trefor Band who has written a book on the subject.

    Reproduced below is the speech given by the Band President The Reverend David Morris Jones who was the Chairman of the Band from 1947 to 1957 on the occasion of the Official opening of the Bandroom in Llanrug in 1957.

    I shall relate as much of the history of the Llanrug Band as is available. I will take you back 183 years to the year 1774, when the first Band was formed by four Brothers from Erw Fforch, Bethel . (Erw Fforch is a smallholding on the Bethel side of the river at Crawia, Llanrug).

    It is very little that we know about this Band. We don't know where they had their instruments, nor who the Bandmaster was. All we know is that a full Band at that time consisted of 11 members, compared with 25 today.

    At the next period we come to the Band was called " The Band of the Redcoats and Busbies".

    The Militia at that time wore similar uniforms and the Bandmaster took charge of the Militia Band as well as the Llanrug Band. He was called Mr. Titswell . He was being paid by the Dinorwic Quarries Management, and for many years one of the departments was named after him. But he made one mistake, which lost him his place as the Bandmaster of the Llanrug Band. He took the Militia Band to compete against the local band in a competition without informing the authorities.

    The next period was a very frivolous chapter in the Band's history. The Bandmaster was very popular, being the late Owen Pritchard , Cae'r Maen. I would like to record one incident, which took place during his term of office.

    The Band was engaged annually at Ysbyty Ifan to play in a procession organised by the "Local sick Club". At that time there was a Toll Bridge at Pentrefoelas. I should mention that the Band traveled in a brake drawn by two horses. On this particular day an old lady kept the toll, and for fun, one of the Bandsmen called out to her. "The General is coming behind, he's the one to pay". The old lady was taken aback and could not open the gates quick enough. Surely she must have thought they were an army Band as they still wore the Red uniforms. I am give to understand that the photo we have here tonight was taken in Mr. Pritchard's time.

    The next Bandmaster we have a record of is the late Robert Thomas , Bryngwyn, a local man and an outstanding musician. He was also the conductor of the St. Michaels Church Choir at the same time, and only about six years ago I was given a newspaper cutting recording a presentation concert given jointly by the Band and the Choir at the Glanmoelyn School to acknowledge the devoted service of Mr. Thomas to such worthy causes.

    I would like the young members present here tonight to take an example from this great man's sacrifice. I will record one example briefly. The local band was practicing for a competition to be held at Llanerchymedd on a Saturday afternoon. The previous Thursday evening Mrs. Thomas passed away, and naturally the members thought everything would be cancelled, but much to their surprise, Mr. Thomas took the Band to the competition, and as soon as they had finished playing he came home. The result was announced in the evening, and the Llanrug Band was placed first in the selection and the March. I think this sacrifice is worth emulating.

    After the days of Mr. Robert Thomas a considerable time elapsed when we did not have a Band at all, and the instruments were scattered all over the village. It was then that the present Band was formed and this is how it came about. A cycling Club was started by the late Mr. D. M. Pritchard , Post Office and Mr. Owen Edwards , Fron Chwith, having a membership of between fifty and sixty. Every Saturday afternoon the Cycling Club used to go on long rides, mainly to Anglesey and it was on these trips that they decided they wanted a Band again. They got together as many old members as they could (12 in all) and these members, along with the committee, organised a "Carnival and Sports". Though they raised a good sum of money by his event, it was not sufficient. Fortunately a local man lent them money (interest free) to enable them to order a set of Brass instruments. He was the late Mr. Owen Morris , Park Villa. I should mention that the secretary then was Mr. D.M. Pritchard.

    One can imagine the eagerness and enthusiasm of that Band when the instruments arrived at Pontrhythallt Station, and still more so when they were distributed to the members at the Bryn Eryr School , where they used to practice. Very soon a rule had to be drawn out that no instruments were to be played on the Streets, and that rule exists today. That took place in the year 1901, and the Bandmaster at the time was the late Mr. Richard Bryngwyn Pritchard. He was a very good cornet player, and being a local young man, had been under the baton of the late Mr. Robert Thomas, Bryngwyn.

    We can well say that the Band we have today has had an unbroken period, except for the duration of the two World Wars when the young men were called to the colours.

    Under Mr. Pritchard's baton was very successful and for the first time ever the services of a trainer were secured. He was successful in bringing the challenge cup from Pwllheli, and that cup is still at Llanrug. He died in the year 1909 and the Band had the honour of being present t his funeral under the conductorship of yet another old local bandsman, namely the late Mr. Evan John Owen , Pantirion. I should have mentioned that at this time the band obtained a silver set of instruments through the efforts of a Ladies committee in organizing a sale of work. This was held at Bryn Eryr School and lasted three days. They cleared all existing debts but the band was unfortunate in not having a regular conductor. Only through the kindness of the late Mr. Joseph Thomas of Cwm-y-Glo were they able to keep together. But very soon the late Mr. Thomas Williams of Llanberis took over and brought yet another series of successes to the village. He was conductor when the famous Mr. Anglesholder and Mr. William Halliwell were trainers. The band were placed first at Llangefni in the year 1914 - just before the First World War broke out- in three different sections. Mr. Williams died in the year 1930 at the age of 60. After him we had Mr . Alfred Henderson from Penygroes. The band won a cup at Criccieth for the Selection in the year 1931 and the first Prize in the Hymn section.

    We now come to the Second World War when most organizations were discontinued and we did not have a local band, only assisting in what was called the Home Guard Band.

    In the year 1948 the present Band was re-formed under the Conductorship of Mr. Owen Evan Owen but unfortunately he went to live at Llanberis from Llanrug and did not feel well enough to ravel here. He was followed by Mr. J. G. Jones, another local man.

    We now come to the year 1951 when the present Bandmaster Mr. W. T. Davies took over. Having secured a talented Bandmaster, the Ladies committee felt they would like to see the Bandsmen with better instruments and with their untiring efforts they have cleared a debt of over £400 and we are indebted to them for their great help. We are indeed very proud of our Band; they are always kept busy, either in Carnivals, Sports, Concerts, Competitions or on the B.B.C. We have also at present a Junior Band (which even the old Llanrug Band did not posses) of over 16 members. Their devoted tutor is Mr. R.J. Jones (solo horn), and he teaches them twice weekly. What strikes us here at Llanrug is that the founders of the Band came from Bethel . We have come together tonight to open the first Bandroom on record at Llanrug, and this Bandroom has come from Bethel .

    May the present Band carry on for many years to come, and always remember they belong to a Society worth living up to, and that they have a tradition to keep.

    Good luck to our Band, the Bandmaster Mr. W.T. Davies, the Ladies' and Men's Committee and all who are really interested.

    Llanrug Lineage of known Bandmasters

    Four Brothers 1774

    Mr. Titswell

    Owen Pritchard, Cae'r Maen

    Robert Thomas, Bryngwyn

    Mr. Richard Bryngwyn Pritchard

    Mr. Evan John Owen, Pantirion

    Mr. Joseph Thomas of Cwm-y-Glo

    Mr. Thomas Williams of Llanberis

    Mr. Alfred Henderson from Penygroes

    Mr. Owen Evan Owen 1948

    Mr. J. G. Jones

    Mr. W. T. Davies 1950's

    Mr O.T.Jones (Now Pen Parc)

    Meurig Parry

    Ned Needham 1972- 1974

    Frank Boylin 1974- 1999

    Paul Hughes 1999 - 2002

    Gavin Saynor 2002 - 2004
  3. SuperHorn

    SuperHorn Member

    I think Blaina band are the oldest band in South Wales.

    Cwmaman Institute Band were set up in 1876.

    Nick Jones you have certainly out done yourself, wow a fountain of knowledge or was it a cut and paste job?????
  4. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    pretty interesting subject to be honest...this information is available on the Llanrug website. am sure the Deniolen , Northop,Gresford colliery , Corris , Royal Oakley , Trefor and the Royal Nanlle Vale are bands formed in the 1800's
  5. dyl

    dyl Active Member

    Deiniolen. 1835.
  6. jamieow

    jamieow Member

    fair play Jonesey!!
    Had a few wkends in lately???!!?!?
  7. Pastit

    Pastit Member

    But only a couple of original members are still involved!! :biggrin: :wink:
  8. dotsguard

    dotsguard New Member

    Only 115 years old......

    Northop founded in 1892......same year J.P.Sousa formed his band; got to find some street cred for what must have been a watershed year in banding:rolleyes: .
    As a postscript relating to the original question...what was the name of the famous 'professional' band formed in South Wales by a tinplate magnate?
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

  10. Chris Thomas

    Chris Thomas Member

    The oldest all brass band?
  11. alexandria

    alexandria Member

    Oldest Welsh brass band

    According to our records at WAMF - this is baring in mind that the info given to us is correct, the oldest band on our books is LLanrug Band followed by:

    Radyr Band - 1789
    Royal Buckley - 1822
    Deinolin - 1835
    Harlech Band - 1845
    Blaenavon Town - 1850

    and so on.... have more dates if interested.
  12. dyl

    dyl Active Member

  13. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    I'm impressed by the wealth of knowledge displayed in an earlier post, however as another post highlighted is the post aimed for the first band or first all brass band. Blaina was mentioned, but if you read the Herbert book (Social History (2000)) or indeed the Taylor (Brass Bands (1979)) there is some doubt about the Blaina band as a factual statement. Nevertheless if there is solid evidence of them being the first all brass band then it would indeed be interesting to see. According to Herbert the notion that Blaina (formed with some association with the Brown brothers) was a comment made by Enderby Jackson in his article around the 1890s and in this article there are some historical facts that are not exact.
    Nevertheless, bands appeared before the 19th century but invariably they were wind bands that originated either as militia (Wait), Church, circus or military (volunteer and main army bands). Of what I have read there is a tendency, especially in local booklets on their respective bands, to draw lines of historical happenings that are only approximite i.e church band disappearing and town band appearing at the same time (a bit like Brighouse) The assumption is written that the band emerged from the church band, but did it really? The lack of concrete evidence, especially of dates of all brass conversion make it tough to say who was the first all brass band in Wales. I think I agree with Herbert in that, it cares little who was first but rather the interest lies in why there was a change and who were those that implimented it. Cyfarthfa band for example still had Viennese keyed instruments bought by Crawshay in the 1850s and 1860s when other bands had or were attempting to purchase the new Sax range of instruments.

    Interesting. If there is solid evidence in a town library somewhere it would indeed be fascinating. However, for the time being there are several texts, especially the Herbert (both books and an article in the Welsh periodical printed by the centre for Welsh music based in Bangor) that are worth looking at.

    Beware of theorising and approximating facts without clear data to prove its existence.:)
  14. alexandria

    alexandria Member

    Apologies, my mistake. I do know how to spell it, I was just in a rush.
  15. Daniel Sheard

    Daniel Sheard Member

    I didn't know tinplate was magnetic.
  16. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    Many thanks for your replies:D :D

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