Wimbell's famous brass band

Discussion in 'Extinct Bands' started by craig t, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. craig t

    craig t New Member

    I'm wanting to find out about about a Wimbell's brass band, of which my great great great grandfather Charles A'Court (1808 - 1885) was a member. Charles' son Samuel (1843 - 1913) came to New Zealand in the early 1860s. Some time after Sam's death his journalist daughter Lucy wrote a series of newspaper articles about her father's life; the following is a quote from one of the articles:

    "Old Charley was a great musician. His instruments were the cornet and the largest brass instrument. He played in Wimbell's (sic) famous brass band and on Sunday mornings in the church. As a change, he went on tour with a circus as a player in their band"

    Sam and his father were blacksmiths and both were born in Galhampton, Somerset. Sam's first boss was George Parsons who also played in a band with Charles, although it is unsure whether this was Wimbell's. There is some question over the spelling of "Wimbell's". Until the end of his life Sam spoke in a very broad "Somerset drawl" so it's possible that what he was pronouncing as Wimbell's had a different spelling. I have tried googling every version of Wimbells I could think of to no avail. Nor is the band mentioned on the Brass Band Genealogy website. Charles had thirteen children and was a blacksmith so one presumes (or hopes) his brass band/circus days were before he got married in 1831! If Wimbell's was truly famous I guess it was so in the 1820s although of course it could have been later.

    Any information you can give me would be much appreciated.

    Craig T
    New Zealand.
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Active Member

    It's likely you mean Wombwell's Circus band. Wombwell's was a very famous (in its day) travelling circus - actually more of a travelling animal menagerie or zoo. It was founded by George Wombwell in the early 1800s and finally closed sometime in the 1930s. In its heyday around the 1850s there were 3 branches of it travelling the country and it's arrival in a new town was often heralded by the circus's very own brass band, occasionally playing on carriage drawn by exotic animals (camels have been mentioned!). Competition between rival menageries and circuses was fierce, and having the best players in the respective bands was part of that; the virtuosity of players in Wombwell's band, along with players like the Distin family (part of Jullien's famous band of the mid 1800s) had a big influence on playing standards and techniques in the nascent brass band movement.

    There's a potted history of menageries here: http://www.fairground-heritage.org.uk/newsite/learn/learn-menageries.html

    A picture of the band being pulled in a cart - by an elephant! - here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/sites/newtown/pages/davidpugh_oldpictures.shtml?12

    Google "Wombwell's Menagerie" or "Wombwell's Circus Band", you should get some interesting results.
  3. craig t

    craig t New Member

    Thanks for your help.
    Craig T.

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