Over the years the band has been known by various names: Gravesend Borough Band, Gravesend Town Band, Gravesend Town Prize Band, Gravesend Town Silver Band, and even Gravesend Town Silver Prize Band. From Gravesend Corporation minutes, the band appears to be known mainly as the Town Band with a range of other names also being used. For many years now the band has been known solely by its current name.
Although there are some differing accounts of the band’s history, the information below endeavours to bring together the salient details to provide a timeline of the band’s history that is as accurate as possible.
Gravesend Borough Band should like to thank the librarians at Gravesend Library, members of the Gravesend Historical Society and local historians for their help and suggestions in relation to researching the bands composition, concerts and history.
1880: Gravesend Borough Band was originally formed as a Brass Band.
1901-1910: The Edwardian Era was the heyday of brass bands and during this period Gravesend Town Band, as it was then known, had some success in the Crystal Palace brass band championships. The band did have some woodwind (the earliest mention of a saxophone being in 1908) but presumably the woodwind section did not play in these brass band competitions!
1930: By the early 1930s, the band was steeped in the full tradition of brass bands and took part in many competitions. Although it is stated elsewhere in the records that woodwind players began to join the band around 1918 just after the end of the first world war (meaning it would then have been known as a military band), it may well be that the band still competed in competitions without the woodwind section. By the mid 1930s sufficient woodwind instruments had been added that the band became a “brass and reed band” although the music played was the same as brass band music with woodwind instruments playing brass instruments parts.
1936: The Mayor of Gravesend, Counsellor Croft, donated a full set of musical instruments to the band, a number of which the band still owns and uses. During the second world war the band was taken over by Gravesend Council to give young people left behind a hobby. Soon after the end of the war it was handed back to the band committee.
1949: The first female member, clarinettist Vera Twist, joined the band.
1950 – 1970: Since the 1950s the band has provided music for the towns Remembrance Day service at the war memorial in Clarence Place, Gravesend. The band embarks on a busy season of local winter concerts, performing at local hotels, schools etc, a tradition that lasts through until the 1990s. Through the mid 1970s there were numerous young band members who benefited from a junior section of the band. Instrument lessons were supplemented with help from more experienced band members enabling youngsters to improve technique, scales, and general ensemble playing.
1970s: More woodwind players joined and “brass and reed” music was supplemented with music arranged for military and concert bands.
1980: To mark its centenary, the band officially became known as a concert (or military) band. Since the late 1980s the band has concentrated on summer seasons around various south coast resorts such as Folkstone, Eastbourne, Hythe, Deal, Herne Bay and rural venues such as Hever Castle.
2004: It was decided to reintroduce a training band for junior members to encourage young players into the band and so better safeguard the future of the band.
2010: The band celebrated its 130 year anniversary and looked forward (still looks forward!) to a promising future.