Band History

The Band's History.

There are conflicting reports on some of the band's history, this page tries to bring the details together and highlight any inconsistencies.

Gravesend Borough Band was originally formed in 1880 as a Brass Band. The Edwardian Era (1901-1910) was the heyday of the brass bands and the Gravesend Town Band, as we were then, had some success in the Crystal Palace championships. However the band did have some woodwind who presumably did not play in the brass band competitions, the earliest mention so far being a saxophone in 1908. By the early 1930s we were steeped in the full tradition of brass bands and took part in many competitions. (There is some doubt about this statement as elsewhere it is stated that woodwind joined the band just after the end of the first world war in 1918 and it turned in to a military band, however it could always have turned back to being a brass band, or had just the brass players attend contests.)

Fort Gardens 1935By the mid 1930s sufficient woodwind instruments had been added that the band became a brass and reed band. The music played was the same as brass band music, with woodwind instruments playing the same parts as brass instruments. In 1936, Counsellor Croft the Mayor of Gravesend donated a full set of musical instruments to the band, a number of which we still own and use. During the second world war the band was taken over by Gravesend Council to give young people left behind a hobby, but soon after the war it was handed back to the band committee.

In 1949 the first female member, clarinettist Vera Twist, joined the band.

Since the 1950s the band has provided the accompanying music for the towns Rememberance Day service at the war memorial in Clarence Place, Gravesend.

From the early 1950s through to the mid 1970s there were numerous young band members who benefited from a junior section of the band, where their normal instrument lessons were supplemented with help from more experienced band members, and where the youngsters were able to practice technique, scales, and general ensemble playing.

During the 1970s more woodwind players joined, and brass and reed music was supplemented with music arranged for military and concert bands. In 1980, our centenary, we officially became known as a concert, or military band.

From the 1950's to the early 1990s the band had a busy season of local winter concerts, performing at local hotels, schools etc, although since the late 1980s it has concentrated on its summer season around the various south coast resorts such as Folkstone, Eastbourne, Hythe, Deal, Herne Bay and other venues such as Hever Castle.

In 2004 a training band for junior members was reintroduced to help bring on new players, and in the hope that they join the main band in the future.

The musicians in the band are all amateurs, who play for the love of music and the enjoyment and satisfaction of playing a musical instrument. All give their time and effort freely. The bands longest serving member is chief clarinet Vera Bennett (nee Twist) who joined as a young girl (see above) and has been playing for over fifty years.

The range of music the band plays is so broad that it covers all categories: from Marches to Mozart, from early Broadway shows to the most recent West End shows, from Ballet to Star Wars and from Beethoven to the Beatles.

The band is looking forward to the future having celebrated its 125 year anniversary in 2005.

Over the years we have had a number of conductors, for those we have details of we have a roll of honour.