Book Review - Grandad played the Cornet3-Aug-2007
David Caldwell looks at the rich history of brass bands in North East Essex.
Everyone knows of the great brass band heartlands of this country of ours. The history of our movement was built in or around the towns and cities of the industrial revolution in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Scotland, the North East, Midlands and Wales. North East Essex doesn’t readily come to mind.
Thankfully though that has been put right by this wonderful booklet by David Cawdell.
Cawdell is no stranger to researching the movement having brought invaluable information to light on numerous topics that could have been lost in the midsts of time. This book adds another valuable chapter to his impressive body of work.
On something of a whim it appears (he found an old programme dating from 1905) he had assiduously delved into record books, archives, photo libraries, band records, local papers and more to find out information of over 30 bands from around the Colchester area; bands with fantastic names such as Thorpe le Soken and Tiptree, Kirby Cross & Great Holland and the Davey Paxman Standard Ironworks Band.
Some like Colchester and Clacton still survive, but others such as Wivenhoe, West Bergholt and Rowhedge are now just sepia tinted pictures, filled with ghostly images of young men and women, boys and girls all captured for an immortal moment pursuing their love of brass band music making. What became of them all we may wonder, although the effects of the Great War would surely have decimated many whilst others would have declined as the movement of adult industrial labour became more pronounced in the depressed inter war years.
On a lighter note you can’t also help wondering whatever became of Skipton Discharged Soldiers and Sailors, Horsforth Dole Band and the Seven Days Rest Society Band. Heaven knows, but thanks to the author their names will live longer in the memory banks.
Other aspects are covered too, from Salvation Army bands to bandstands, volunteer bands to Church choir bands. Each is given a respectful and warm appreciation of its cultural significance to the local communities from which they sprung.
For a movement with such a rich heritage to draw on such as ours, it may come as something of a surprise to find out that not a great deal of informed research has been undertaken at a local level to preserve its importance. David Cawdell should be congratulated by one and all for making sure that one small part of the UK has a record of its brass banding past preserved for generations to come to enjoy.
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