Ashbourne Town Band
The 19th Century
A brass band called Ashbourne Brass and Rifle Corps Band was known to be in existence in the town since 1861. Throughout the years bands came and went and during one period around 1889 Ashbourne was able to boast four bands namely, Ashbourne Band, Ashbourne Volunteer Band, Bells Band and Rechabites Band. It is thought that these merged and eventually became just the one band. Until the 1990’s the band believed that they were formed in 1892 as this is when three new instruments are known to have been purchased for the total sum of £24.10.0d !!
The Early 20th Century
The Band went through a number of name changes throughout this period. In 1925 it was known as the Ashbourne Town and Old Volunteer Band. Then in 1932 it changed to Ashbourne Old Volunteer and Town Silver Band. Finally in 1936 the name was changed to the Ashbourne Town Band which it has been known as ever since.
In 1936 the band led the procession through the town for the memorial service of King George V. In the September they also took part in the Drumhead Service organized by the Ashbourne branch of the Royal British Legion and held in the Memorial Gardens.
1936 was also a significant year for the band as it was when Arthur Chadwick joined. He later went on to be the Musical Director for many years and was an honorary member of theCommittee up until his death in 2008.
During the war years the band struggled with dwindling numbers before finally having to cease its functions. Fortunately the band’s trustees, Ashbourne’s Ex-Service Man's Club, were able to retain the instruments to enable the band to reform in 1949 under the baton of Arthur Chadwick.
1945 saw the death of one of the bands most gifted bandmasters, Cyril Collier. He was instrumental in re-forming the Ashbourne Town Band in 1936 and composed some of the music played by the band including the concert march "Ashbournian" which the band resurrected at its 2005 Christmas concert. This march has been superceded by "March Ashbourne" as it is more suitable for playing while marching, and now features in most of the band's events.
In 1952 the bandstand was officially opened in the memorial gardens, Ashbourne. Since then the band has played there on numerous occasions and it is the backdrop to the cover of the record which we released in 1977.
The original badge included the cockerels of Ashbourne (left). In 1969 the band adopted the image of the lyre into its banner (right) which evolved into the Ashbourne Town Band emblem (centre), as worn by the players today.
Late 20th Century to present
To mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 the Band released its first record. At this time the band was made up of 29 members 14 of which were under the school leaving age. In 1986 a new base drum was given to the Band in memory of Jack Sweeney, former Chairman of the Band and father of one of our current band members.
During the 1980’s the band enjoyed two visits to Lauterbach in Germany, Firstly in 1982 and again in1986. These trips were part of an exchange programme between the two towns. In 1991 the Band went on tour again, this time to Falmouth and was able to raise £400 for local charities.
In 1992 the Band celebrated what it believed to be its Centenary by holding a concert in the St. Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne. They were joined on the night by the Ashbourne and District Pipe Band and the Ashbourne and Thorpe Singers both of which played joint pieces with the band. It was only after this event that the origins were traced back to 1861 and it was actually closer to 150 years old than 100!
The band continues to take occasional trips to various parts of the country to help local charities, increase the profile of brass bands and of course to socialize.
In 1994 the Band visited Southport and raised £700 for a local charity;
in 1996 they raised another £600 for charities in Llandudno, in 1998 the band visited Newquay & raised £700 for a charity which dealt with drug addiction & homelessness in young people. Some of this was raised thanks to the Band’s musical director at the time, Mike Wareing,who famously agreed to shave off his beard (for a fee)
In 2000 the band visited Tenby and raised £900 for the local branch of the RNLI;
In 2002 the band visited Bournemouth.
In 2006 the Band crossed the Solent to the Isle of Wight. They played at various venues on the island including a joint concert with Shanklin Town Brass Band.
In 2008 the band visited the seaside town of Morecambe, accompanied by (the then) Mayor Steve Bull and family. The band joined up with Morecambe Brass band and raised over £500 for the Morecambe Bay RNLI
One of the Band’s best claims to fame in recent years is their appearance in the title sequence of Songs of Praise which was shown every Sunday for about a year.
The Band marked the Millennium by holding a concert in St. Oswald’s Church in Ashbourne. All past members of the Band, that could be contacted, were invited to play and those that were there would agree that it was a great success. Several past members, after years away, enjoyed being back so much that they decided to rejoin the Band.