Long Eaton Silver Prize Band

The Glory Years

Following the death of George Hallam, the band engaged Harry Evetts, a successful conductor and trainer of many bands in the early years of the last century, who was to remain with the band until his death in 1950.

The early success established under George Hallam continued, with contest wins at Belper River Gardens (1908), Selly Oak (Birmingham), Derby Agricultural Show, Castle Donington (all 1909) and Codnor (1910). At some time between 1911 and 1915, the band followed the tradition of the day and publicised its successes by reverting to its original name: the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band.

The highlights of these pre-war years were the invitations to the July Belle Vue contests in 1909 and 1914 (the band still retains copies of the test pieces for these contests, Zampa and Die Vestalinn). These contests were the forerunners of today’s Grand Shield contest and, as now, the qualifier for the British Open, Britain’s premier brass band competition. The band played particularly well in 1914, with the Long Eaton Advertiser reporting:

“The failure of the band to secure a prize at Belle Vue on Saturday was disappointing, but there is no need for discouragement. The competitors at Belle Vue include the finest brass bands in the country, and any combination of musicians accepted for this annual event are not to be despised. The Silver Band, according to information to hand, played remarkably well, and critics anticipated the band being among the winners, but it was not to be.”

Few details of the band’s concerts during this era have survived, although they will have played an important role in the life of the band as a means of raising revenue for paying the debt on the original purchase of the silver instruments (the “new instrument fund”), further new instruments and music, and for Harry Evetts’ services.

The pre-war months of 1914 were particularly busy (and the following are just the known engagements):

17th January

Long Eaton Silver Prize Band Annual Dance in the People’s Hall

18th and 25th January

Sacred Concerts in the Picture House (in aid of band funds)

February

The Quartet are 2nd at Ecclesfield

12th April

Easter Sunday Open Air Sacred Concert in Broad Street

3rd May

A second Open Air Sacred Concert in Broad Street

early June

Won the Coalville Urban District Charity Parade and Gala Brass Band Contest Cup ahead of eight other bands:

12th June

Contest on West Park (test piece Songs of the Sea)

14th June

Long Eaton Annual Parade (with Sawley Brotherhood, Mount Tabor Mission Silver and the Salvation Army bands)

11th July

Belle Vue contest

12th July

Concert on West Park

1st and 2nd August

Concerts in Albert Road (2d entry and collection)

4th August

War declared

The Sacred Concerts (in aid of band funds) were particularly controversial, since pre-war Sunday entertainment was almost unheard of, particularly in the venue for the January concerts: the Picture House! The horrified letters to the Long Eaton Advertiser make for interesting reading, with the attempt to circumvent Sabbath austerity with a sacred concert failing to pacify many readers. Nevertheless, the concept gained acceptance, as evidenced by the Easter Sunday concert in the April. Sawley Brotherhood band also presented a “Sacred Concert” during May 1914.

At this time, the band also had a highly successful quartet comprising F. Parker and Harry Evetts on cornet, J.H. Smith on tenor horn and Wilfred Winfield on euphonium. One major success was winning the inaugural “Grand Brass Instrumental Quartette Contest” in the Council Schools, New Sawley ahead of 13 other quartets, including Fodens (one of the top bands in the country, then and now).

At Coalville, the band received a fulsome tribute from the adjudicator, Lieut. J. Ord Hume, a noted composer of brass band music, who stated that:

“Long Eaton was an easy first, their performance being almost faultless.”

The band first played in West Park in 1913, inaugurating a series of concerts that has now lasted 94 years, the latest having been on 4thJune this year (2006). Over 3,000 attended the contest on 12th June 1914, whilst at the concert on the return from Belle Vue the following month:

The Silver Band surpassed all previous performances on Sunday, and gave one of the best concerts yet on West Park, and the vast concourse of people (it was a record attendance) were delighted. The programme included the Belle Vue test piece, “Die Vestalinn” and the selection was finely interpreted. The other items were also played with taste and precision, while the attack and volume was maintained throughout. Mr. F. Parker gave an admirable cornet solo, “The Better Land”.

This attendance, in excess of 3,000 (some reports state 5,000), is almost certainly the band’s record audience and is one that is unlikely to ever be challenged. The teams playing on the cricket pitch now adjacent to the bandstand will certainly be hoping so! Today, the band is delighted that the audiences at our West Park concerts increased from ca. 30 in 2000 to over 150 in 2006; we have a long way to go!

Unlike many bands, Long Eaton Silver Prize managed to remain active (albeit on a reduced scale) during the First World War, even winning the Coalville Urban District Charity Parade and Gala Brass Band Contest Cup outright in 1915. This cup is now in the possession of the North East Midlands Brass Band Association (NEMBBA) where it features amongst the trophies awarded in its annual February contest.

The band was also present at the inauguration ceremony of the Long Eaton war memorial outside St. Laurence Church on 23rd October 1921, playing Chopin’s Funeral March at the conclusion of the dedication.

During the early 1920s, the band staged a number of joint concerts with choirs and singers, such as with the Stapleford and Sandiacre Harmonic Society in the Victoria Cinema on Sunday 29th January 1922. Other concerts included one in the Long Eaton People’s Hall for the N.U.R. Orphans Fund with Misses D. Napier and A. Clark (soprano) and Mr. E. Wright (baritone and a member of the band), and a Sullivan concert in the Empire Cinema on Sunday February 26th. Sunday concerts were now fully accepted! All three concerts received extensive coverage in the Long Eaton Advertiser.

Advertisement for the All Sullivan Concert, 1922

Advertisement for the All Sullivan Concert, 1922

Following the war, the band’s status had declined a little, with the next invitation to Belle Vue (in May 1922) not being to the Grand Shield, but to the newly inaugurated Junior Section contest (now the Senior Trophy), two sections below.

As now, the band membership comprised mainly of players living within a few miles of Long Eaton. Unusually for the band, William Halliwell (of Black Dyke Mills fame) conducted rather than Harry Evetts. The band was unplaced, and did not repeat this experiment five years later, when Harry Evetts was to conduct to the band to its greatest success. The band members who played at Belle Vue were:


Soprano

W. Smedley
J. Spiers

Ilkeston
Derby

Solo Horn

J.H. Smith

New Sawley

1st Horn

E. Tideswell

Sandiacre

Solo Cornet

E. Duro
J. Duro
E. Curtis
H. Gerrard

Ilkeston
Ilkeston
Derby
Derby

2nd Horn

E. Crowe

Long Eaton

Baritone

F. Walker

Long Eaton

Euphonium

E. Selby
W. Wheatley

Ilkeston
Ilkeston

Repiano Cornet

E. Henton
A. Bayes

Beeston
Long Eaton

Trombone

S. Tideswell
J. Mee
E.G. Wright

Sandiacre
Long Eaton
Long Eaton

2nd Cornet

A. Walker
T. Few

Long Eaton
Sandiacre

Bass

F. Holland
R. Crowe
F. Yeomans
J. Middleston
A.E. Smith

Long Eaton
Long Eaton
Long Eaton
Derby
New Sawley

3rd Cornet

G. Richards
A. Wain

New Sawley
Long Eaton

Flugel Horn

J. Embry

Stapleford

A more successful outing was to the annual contest organised by Spondon Grange Brass Band in 1926, the band finishing second in both the march and test piece contests. Of the bands that entered the contest, only Long Eaton Silver Prize Band, Dove Holes Public Prize Band andPleasley Colliery Band survive; the other entrants were Heanor Miners Welfare Band, Middleton Victoria Silver Band, Sandiacre Brass Band, Stapleford Silver Band, Sawley Brotherhood Band, Swadlincote Town Silver Prize Band and Ripley United Silver Prize Band (later known as the Riddings Band).