Blue Plaque marks Iles spirit of brass band entrepreneurship

The unveiling of a Blue Plaque has marked the incredible contribution to the brass band movement of the great impresario John Henry Iles.

  The Blue Plaque will now be erected on the 1893 marital home in Bristol

In a quiet corner of a pretty public park in Bristol on the weekend, the life of John Henry Iles OBE, perhaps the greatest brass band entrepreneur in history was celebrated with the unveiling of a 'Blue Plaque' to mark the house in which he lived for a time in the city.

It was undertaken by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councilor Lesley Alexander in the presence of his grandson, John Iles and great granddaughter, just a few yards in front of 'Rockleaze' in which he lived with his wife Eleanor, after they got married in 1893.


Before the ceremony, music was provided by the City of Bristol Band, before an affectionate snapshot of Iles life was given by his grandson.

"His was a wonderful life, colourful and well lived,"John Iles said as he listed some of his incredible achievements — from business entrepreneur, brass band contest impresario and amusement park owner, to Justice of the Peace, world tour organiser and first class cricketer to name just a few.

Until now it has also been a his life that has not particularly well chronicled, but thanks to some fine, but rather fortuitous research by local industrial historian Martin Bolton into Iles' son, Gordon, who invented an early flight simulator during World War Two, it has been recorded in detail.


Martin told 4BR at the ceremony that the more he looked at Gordon's father the more he became engrossed in his story.

"I research industrial technology and history, so Gordon's story was of interest to me. However, his father seemed to be a quite incredible character, so my research went in another direction too.

It's taken about five years to get to today, and although I'm not a brass band aficionado, I'm delighted to have shed some light on someone who seems to have been a leading figure in its early 20th century development."

although I'm not a brass band aficionado, I'm delighted to have shed some light on someone who seems to have been a leading figure in its early 20th century developmentResearcher, Martin Bolton


The case for a Blue Plaque was taken up by Steve Ellis, the Chairman of the City of Bristol Band before being presented to the Bristol Civic Society for consideration.

They have erected over 20 roundels in the city over the years, with their Chairman Simon Birch telling 4BR that the case for John Henry Iles to join the Bristol pantheon was, "one of the most comprehensive and detailed we have ever received."

Find out more

The Blue Plaque will now be erected on the front of 'Rockleaze' near the entry to St Andrew's Park on Sommerville Road in Bristol (BS7 9AE).


The greatest brass band entrepreneur of all — The rise and fall of John Henry Iles: http://www.4barsrest.com/articles/2018/1713.asp

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