Long Eaton Silver Prize Band

The Founding of the Silver Band

Long Eaton is situated in the southeast corner of Derbyshire close to the borders of both Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Once famous for its “Nottingham” lace, it also boasts a rich tradition of music, with a number of successful operatic societies, barbershop choirs and the Silver Prize Band.

In the early 1900s, brass banding was thriving in Long Eaton; local bands including the Salvation Army, the Mount Tabor (Methodist) Band, the Town Band, the Temperance Prize Band and just to the south the Sawley Brotherhood. However, it was in 1906 that a new band formed that was to eclipse them all: the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band.

The earliest surviving record of the band is a public notice in the Long Eaton Advertiser of December 7th, 1906 by the Long Eaton Temperance Prize Band:

We beg to inform the public that it is not our intention to amalgamate with any band. Also that we have not yet authorised anyone to receive subscriptions on behalf of the new instrumental fund. We shall not hesitate to take proceedings against any person or persons who unlawfully act in such a manner as would prove detrimental to our progress. On behalf of the band, Wilfred Winfield, A. Flindall, sec.

An article followed this on February 8th, 1907:

We notice that the late Temperance Prize band have ceased to be called by that name, having handed its resignation to the temperance society´s trustees. The members of the band have not disbanded and the band will be carried on under the name of Long Eaton Silver Prize Band. Orders have been placed with Boosey & Co London for a full set of silver instruments to cost £300 and subscription lists are out for funds to help defray this sum. Under the name of Temperance the band did a good deal of charity work and the appeal is made with confidence for help. Subscription lists are out and the smallest donation will be thankfully received. Subscribers are requested to get an authorised receipt for their subscriptions.

with the band making a formal announcement in the press the following week:

The Band Is Born

The Band Is Born

Little is now known of the Temperance Band, although it may have been of some age at the time of its dissolution. The Silver Prize Band is in possession of handwritten music by John Gladney, one of the early pioneers of brass band arranging, including his 1869 arrangement of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia for a contest in Bacup that year and Stiffelino (1874). This suggests that the history of brass banding in Long Eaton may extend back to within twenty years of the formation of the first brass bands.

The reasons for the band’s resignation from the Temperance Society to form the Silver Prize Band are now lost: the decision can not have been taken lightly, given that all the equipment was to be returned to the Temperance Society and that they now needed to raise £300 to purchase replacement instruments. Further monies would have also been needed to purchase music and cover other expenses. The band also purchased some instruments back from the Temperance Society: in 1927, it was recorded that “two of the original instruments of the Temperance Band are still used by learners”.

Local rivalries may also have played a part, for in 1906 the Town Band received an invitation to the prestigious Crystal Palace contest, whilst the Salvation Army also acquired new instruments. The band may have decided that abandoning the strictures of the Temperance Society, and upgrading from raw brass to the higher quality silver-plated instruments was the only way to remain competitive in attracting the best of the local musical talent.

The newspaper articles and notices leave some ambiguity in the actual founding year of the band. Clearly, the new instrument fund, essential for the future success of the new band, was under discussion, and indeed had become public knowledge in 1906. Thus, it is almost certain that the band by then had made its decision to split from the Temperance Society and reform as the Silver Prize Band. However, the first public announcement of the formation of the new band was not made until 1907. The matter may be simply one of due courtesy to the Temperance Society; the decision to form the new band was made in 1906, but prior notice was given to the Temperance Society before any formal announcement. Certainly, the band’s headed notepaper from the 1933 (page 17), at a time when some of its founder members still remained with the band, gives the founding year as 1906.

The driving force for the new band came from R. K. Hallam (the first treasurer and assistant secretary) with the assistance of A. Flindall (secretary), G. Flavell (bandmaster), W. Foster, G. Smith (president), J. Turner (later conductor of the Mount Tabor Band and Stanton Ironworks Band, now Ilkeston Brass), N. Winfield, Wilfred Winfield, Ernest Wood and Fred Yeomans (later conductor of Sawley Excelsior Band). The first conductor, George Hallam from Derby, was the conductor of the former Temperance Band. Having relinquished the facilities provided by the Temperance Society, early rehearsals were in R. K. Hallam’s blacksmith shop and later in Oxford Street and Broad Street. The council also gave the band permission to use the Green on Saturday nights, the Green at that time having electrical lighting.

Of the original instruments of the band, only the Hawkes & Co (not Boosey) G-trombone has survived. As described in the public notice, it is silver-plated and is engraved “Long Eaton Silver Prize Band”. It remained in regular use until the mid 1970s.

An early concert by the band was on May 19th 1907 in the Market Place (by permission of the council). Starting with Rimmer’s march, “The Cossack” (still a favourite today) and also featuring a cornet solo by Wilfred Winfield (cosignatory to the 1906 announcement, page 3), the concert concluded with a collection in aid of the “new instrument fund”. By now, the band had dropped the “Prize”, which it had inherited from the Temperance Prize Band, from its name, becoming the Long Eaton Silver Band.

Little else is known of these formative years other than that the band played to a high standard from the outset, coming second at a local contest in Shirebrook before winning in Bulwell in 1907 ahead of eighteen other bands. However, George Hallam’s death in 1907 or 1908 meant that the band, within two years of its founding, was already seeking a new conductor.

The Band’s First G-Trombone

The Band’s First G-Trombone

The Long Eaton Town Band c. 1910

The Long Eaton Town Band c. 1910

Unknown Local Band c. 1911

Unknown Local Band c. 1911