The Reporter 02/04/1976

The following article appeared on page 39 of The Reporter, Friday, April 2, 1976, Story: Roger Ryan, Pictures: Martin Turner. The photographs were taken on a practice night at Gravesend's old Town Hall, probably 25/05/1976. The information given here would have been supplied by Eric Turner, a long serving band member, and provides an insight in to the band's history. Many subsequent newspaper articles have been based on the information given in this one.

Come on along, come on along just listen to this band...

FOR nearly 100 years Gravesend Borough Band has been making music, and over the years thousands of people have enjoyed their concerts throughout the area. Many musicians have passed through the ranks of the band since its formation as a brass band in 1880, and some have gone on to achieve great success in the world of music. During the early 1900's the band took part in all the leading contests, and in one National Championship at Crystal Palace gained prizes in the championship section.


About 1918, the band changed to a military band, with brass and reed instruments, and bandmaster at the time was George Chapman, who remained in charge until 1932. He was still playing cornet in the in the band at the age of 84! A Mr. Snelling took charge from 1932 until 1935, and then Mr. W. Stopford, who was bandmaster of the 2nd Battalion Royal North Lancs. Regiment at Gravesend, took over until 1948. Arthur Townsend was bandmaster from 1948 to 1960, and until 1973, William Goodwin B.E.M. who had been a Band Sergeant in the Grenadier Guards Band was in charge. The present bandleader is former Inniskilling Fusiliers bandsman Benny Sweeney who took over in 1973.

In 1936, a new set of instruments was purchased and this was mainly due to the efforts of the then Band President Alderman George Croft. The then Secretary, Bill Green, was also involved in the arrangements for the new equipment, which was presented at a special concert in the Fort Gardens, Gravesend.

There was always a close connection between the band and army bands stationed at Milton Barracks, and until the Army gave up the barracks, the band had a regular flow of musicians from there. Some of the band's former members have enjoyed great success in Army bands after their experience at Gravesend. Captain Douglas Turner, A.R.C.M., brother of present Band Secretary Eric Turner became bandsmaster of the Royal Scots Greys, and later Director of Music of the Kenya Rifles. While bandmaster of the greys he composed and conducted fanfares in York Minster when the Duke of Kent was married.


John Relf and David Phyall became Sergeants in the band of the Royal Scots Greys and Derek Taylor a Sergeant in the Staff Band of the Royal Engineers, Chatham. One member who has recently left the band is Glyn Briggs, and he has joined the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

Gravesend Borough Band is in its 26th season of 'Bandtime' concerts, which started at the Clarendon Royal Hotel, Gravesend, in 1951. But since 1973 they have been held at St. John's School, Denton. Singer Evelyn Johnson and pianist Lillian Pemberton have taken part in each season's concerts since they started and are still with the band. The band rehearses every Thursday evening at the Old Town Hall, and on Tuesday evenings a learners' class is held for brass players. There has been quite an influx of young players, and at present six members of the band are under 14. Only two members are left from the pre-war band, and they are Bob Mealin with 46 year's service and Secretary Eric Turner with 40 years' service. Mr. Turner has been Secretary of the band since 1948.

Coronet [sic - Cornet]

The band is proud of the record set by Jennifer Gillingham, who was principal coronet [sic] for 14 years, during which time she became a member of the National Youth Band, and was their first female principal cornet player.

The band has some vacancies, and any brass or reed player will receive a warm welcome at the bandroom on Thursdays from 7.30 p.m. or can contact the Secretary at Gravesend 65067.

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