Origins of Llangollen Silver Band
It was called an excellent project. A hastily convened meeting was called on Wednesday August 17th 1904 under the chairmanship of Mr W.Pencerdd Williams at the assembly rooms Llangollen to consider proposals to form a Band for Llangollen that would fulfil a long felt and frequently expressed want in the community. The gathering was convened by Mr S.J.Henry the Bandmaster of H company 1st Battalion V.B. R.W.F. which was stationed in the Town, (a Pipe and Drum Band) Mr Henry had interviewed leading tradesmen in the Town on the subject of a Band for Llangollen, but the attendance which included Mr J Rowlands, Mr J.H.Davies, Mr Ivor Rowlands, and Mr J.D.Evans was disappointingly small.
In opening the meeting Mr Williams stated that the Welsh were a musical Nation and they should all feel ashamed of the position the Town was in today, having no musical organisations. So far back as he could remember there had been a Band in Llangollen but not today, with due respect to the Bugle band they were very good for the Marching stand point but they were for the feet rather than the ears. There was plenty of talent in the Town and all who had the welfare of Llangollen at heart should come forward and assist in forming a Band.
There had been plenty of talk as to the necessities of taking some steps to add to the attractions of Llangollen but strange to say that those who talked the loudest were most conspicuous by their absence when it was proposed to take any action. As one who had done a little towards musical training in the Town for nearly 30 years he felt keenly that they had not got a Choral society worthy of competing at the National Eisteddfod.
Where were the local tradesmen that night?, he was very sorry that there was not a larger gathering to hear the proposal which he called on Mr Henry to make. Mr Henry stated that during his stay at the camp he had made acquaintance with a representative of Messers Boosey & Co, who upon being acquainted with things at Llangollen offered on behalf of the eminent firm to loan to Llangollen, for a period of 6 months free of charge a set of Twenty Four musical instruments that had previously been in use for a Band at Pontypridd. He had some of the leading tradesmen in the Town approached for their comments and all spoke in favour of this project to form a Brass Band in Llangollen and might utilize these instruments, and several promised to subscribe to meeting preliminary costs.
Mr Henry volunteered to conduct the Band free of charge for the first 12 months and that he had had numerous offers of men wishing to join.
To put the matter on a proper basis they must have a body of Trustees appointed who will work together with a working Committee. After discussing the project for some time and heartily approving the suggestions made, it was decided to call a public meeting for 8.15pm Friday August 19th 1904. Again at a very low attendance it was agreed to accept a kind offer of the loan of instruments and to form a Brass Band in Llangollen.
Mr Jeff Williams
In this period we have the oldest attendance register of Band Members, and the first date in the register is March 1st 1910. We don’t know if there was a previous register, it is assumed that there would be, but we have no record of it. The only Names we can be certain of prior to these records is that of the founder; Mr J.C.Henry, along with the first Bandmaster; Mr Jeff Williams, players Mr John Henry Humphreys andMr Richard Ellis Evans.
The Band moved into the 1920’s with Mr Jeff Williams as Bandmaster, but in 1922 the records showed that Mr John Henry Humphreys took over the Baton, and held office until the end of 1930.
In 1931 the records show that Mr Richard Ellis Evans became Bandmaster, we are at present trying to ascertain how long he held this position for.
The Band took third prize at Belle Vue Manchester in 1933, Harry Mortimer Conducted the Band on the day, it is reported that Mortimer made a name for himself that day by conducting four Bands, and by winning Prizes with three of the four; Llangollen of course being one.
Band at Plas Newydd Gardens 1933
1940’s – 1950’s
There was no Band register kept for the years 1940/1 but there was one for 1942. It shows that Mr Richard Ellis Evans continued as Bandmaster through this period of time, we are still trying to confirm at what point he left office.
The first item of note in this era was the programme for a Massed Band Concert held in Rhos Miners Institute in 1944, the second half of the concert was of a Welsh theme and recorded for B.B.C Wales Radio. It’s sad to note that Coedpoeth Band and Rhos band are no longer in existence, but Llay, and of course Llangollen Bands are still very active
1958, Conductor Mr J.Daniels, Brick wall seen behind the Band is where the frontage of our Annex now is.
1960’s – 1970’s
This period was without doubt the most difficult time for Brass Bands, and as stated elsewhere on the site, many small Bands folded through lack of funding or lack of support in general. But for those Bands that did survive, it was the die hard loyal players that kept the band going. When only a handful of players remain it is hard to keep a good balanced sound, many players had to switch instruments, Bands found the conductor playing an instrument whilst banging his foot on the floor to keep a beat to follow, or playing with one hand whilst conducting with the other, not an ideal situation; and one that was not very attractive to young prospects!. Llangollen found themselves in this position, and thankfully managed to ride the storm, Bob Lube (Chairman’s remarks) tells us how in 1976 he was brought in to beat the drum as a time keeper. Good fortune graced the Band and it survived, making itself attractive to new players, a great deal of thanks must go to Mr Albert Hammonds for his addictive good humour and friendliness towards everyone, this must certainly have made even the most sceptical of persons feel relaxed and welcome.
1980’s – 1990’s
The Band has a list from December 1984, asking for a good turn out in our Christmas Carolling efforts that year. It is a significant piece of paper because it was the first step in an ongoing fund raising scheme, the efforts that were given by everyone paid rewards, and within 8 years of this first concentrated effort, there were many new instruments purchased, and also the much desired full set of new Band Uniforms had been bought outright. Some of the novel fund raising events through this period of time was a sponsored Beauty Spot blow. This challenge meant the Band playing a full 40 minute programme of music, in each of six local beauty spots. With the time travelling between the venues it took from 1pm until well after 6pm to complete, and there were some really tired lips that day. Another fund raiser was a 24 hour sponsored darts throw by Ian Hammonds, he threw darts starting on Saturday Morning with only a 10 minute break per hour for the next 24 hours, this was done in the Bandroom, and played 501, with someone recording the scores; just to keep the mind alert. We sold refreshments to those who called to cheer him on or who had come to check that he was actually doing it!, pop music videos were played, take away meals were brought in and eaten, and lots of support from rotas of players and committee members to keep him company with his efforts, it turned into a real social event.