'SNAPSHOT' from History
How it all began
'The want of a good band - Complaints are constantly being made that there is an almost complete absence of good music in the town. It is hoped that before long stops will be taken to see that music is provided for our visitors such as the can be obtained at other watering places.' So said the Isle of Man Examiner on June 18th, 1887.
On November 15th
Thomas Gale wrote to the Douglas Town Commissioners - 'I have been requested by a number of persons (who have until recently been connected with the band of the First Isle of Man Volunteers, and now forming a brass band in the Town) to ask your permission to adopt the name 'The Douglas Town Band' . . .' Permission was granted to call the band as requested.
On Monday night
last the order for the instruments for this band was placed in the hand of Messrs. G. Thornlet & Son, Finch Road... and was duly forwarded. On Thursday a telegram was received stating that the full set would be sent off yesterday. They would arrive by Monday's boat and will be exhibities in the windows of the following tradesman for a few days. . .
Saturday, December 24th 1887
- We understand that the newly formed Douglas Town Band intend playing a programme of music on the Harris Promenade on Monday afternoon
next. The band is making rapid progress under the tuition of Mr. G. Thornley.
Ten Years on
On 7th August, 1897 the Town Band played a Sacred Concert on the bandstand on the Promenade in aid of the Hospital Fund. The hymn 'Harvest of the Sea' was among the pieces played.
Bone Trio in Concert
On 31st March, 1898 the Town Band gave its first annual concert in the Grand Theater in aid of the new instrument fund. The band was supported by the Peel Glee Club, Mrs. Alma Sale, a celebrated Douglas singer, and a 'Bone Trio!' You will be disappointed to learn that strenuous efforts to engage a bone trio for tonight's concert have failed.
Of this concert the Times music critic said 'Though awaited by certain of the the musical experts present with some amount of trepidation the Band's performance was a success of a pronounced character. Tone, tune and attack were all good and balance was maintained . . .' May it be so tonight!
Town Band on Parade
Those who find the present Mayor's Parade a long haul please note that on June 11th, 1898 the Band accompanied the Forster's Parade from Circulate Road to the top of Douglas Head, playing on the march and giving a concert on arrival - all in 'bad weather'.
Manx Band Association
This society met in Crookall's restaurant on October 1st, 1898 under the chairmanship of Mr. G. Thornely and formally affiliated Ramsey Town Band and Crosby Diamond Jubilee Band, making seven members in all. come on Crosby, use your proper title!
Brass Band Concert
In the early days these contests were quiet separate from the Guild, being organised by the B.B.A. In the contest held on 14th November, 1898 the Town Band were place third in the quickstep section but were first in the selection contest. A Town Band player won the Trombone medal. Even then there were complaints about the adjudicator's defective hearing - some things never change! Band taking part were Douglas, Castletown, Ramsey, Volunteers, Foxdale and Metropolitan, which was a separate band in those days. The sensation of this contest was the disqualification of Metropolitan for playing a professional trombone player.
Thirty years on - 2,000 in the Villa Marina
In October, 1928 over 2,000 people, many standing, attended a concert given by the Town Band in the Villa Marina. Admission was 6d., 1/-, 1/6d., and 2/- and the band made a profit of £60. The conductor of the band at that time was Mr. Issac Perrin.
In the same year the band purchased new uniforms, based on those worn by Besses O' Th' Barn, at the price of five guineas each.
At the A.G.M. In 1929 Mr. Perrin exhorted the band to raise funds to build it own bandroom. It took another 53 years to achieve this.
During the Second World War all able bodied bandsmen of military age were away and in an effort to attract younger players the band changed its name to The Douglas Brass Band School of Music. This succeeded to some extent but lead to confusion with visiting bandsmen and others asking to be shown round the school! Ten years later the band reverted to its original name.
In August, 1944 the question of reparining the blackout in the bandroom then used (at Wlllington Square) was raised but it was decided to defer this as 'the war was progressing favourably'!
At the 1954 A.M.G. a parent was reported as congratulating the band that 'my boy has never heard anything at rehearsals that we would not like him to hear at home'. What kind of home could that have been?
In 1948 the landlady of the premises in which the bandroom was placed barred the door (obviously a music lover) so the band had to seek new premises - above Mr. Wade's plasterer's shop in Peel Street. At this time the band badly needed new uniforms and had the funds to buy them but clothing coupons which were still needed made this impossible.
The 1938 inventory shows a certain Robert Crennell as having been issued with a uniform and an E flat bass. There is no mention of a bass strap - it took the band another 48 years to buy the lad one of those! Shortly after this Bobby departed for Burma and points East. During the 1940's and early 50's the 'Boys' Band' was trained by Mr. C. W. Rimmer, related to the famous William Rimmer of Foden's etc. This did not prevent our Rimmer from being heavily criticised by committee in 1951 for lack of discipline and failure to teach the boys how to hold their instruments properly. One of C.W.Rimmer's pupils at this time was a Robert Corrin. There is some difference of opinion as to wether he has yet learnt to hold his instrument properly! This possible disability did not hinder the young fellow's rise to fame as in 1947 he was made librarian, in 1953 elected to committee, and in 1958 became treasurer. What even greater things were yet to come?
In April 1958 Mr. A.Clarke was made a life member of the. And, having served for 60 years. He had lately had an operation resulting in the removal of a leg, but had resumed his faithful attendance at rehearsals as soon as an artificial limb had been fitted. At the same time concern was being expressed at the lack of loyalty shown by younger members of the band!
In 1939 Jimmy Crosbie had been issued with B flat cornet number 121342, and by 1944 he had been appointed sub-conductor (whatever that may have been). In 1963 he became deputy conductor to Mr. E. J. Nicholls. By 1966 Jimmy took the band to the Belle Vue contest in may 1966, taking first place and winning the Daily Mirror Trophy. Jimmy remain one of the most successful conductors the band has known until his untimely death in 1981.
In earlier days it was the custom to finish the brass section if the Guild with a massed band concert with the adjudicator conducting all the competing bands. In 1986 the Town Band was unable to take part in this massed band concert as it was the only band to have its instruments converted to the new lower pitch and so would have been out of tune with the rest. I am confident that we shall have no such problem in tonight's concert.
If these jottings form the past of Douglas Town Band have whetted your appetite for more, then look forward to a fuller, more complete, history of the Band which I hope will be completed by the end of the Summer.