Monday, April 7, 2008

History of Beenham Band

The first Beenham Band is thought to have started over 100 years ago in 1890 and, according to Parish records, the original instruments were purchased by contributions from the members and by subscriptions from friends. The Bandmaster at the time, William Wigmore, appears as a Methodist trustee in 1891. An 1892 article in the Newbury Weekly News, reporting the Seven Sisters Show, states that:

'At two o'clock the Beenham Brass Band marched on to the ground playing an inspiring march and this opened the proceedings'.
During the Second World War, the band, along with many other social activities, had to cease. However, it started up again in 1946-47, primarily by the bass player George Gilbert, using the instruments from the original band.

It seems to have been particularly active in the 1950s and on Remembrance Day would start at the hall and march down to the church for the service. The 'Last Post' would be played and then they would all march back.

A picture of the Beenham Band, thought to date from 1948-49, showing that ladies too played an important part.

This one appears to be taking place in Theale in the 1950s with the houses in Englefield Road visible in the background. Leading the band is John Watts (standing).

From then, until as recently as 1963, Beenham Band would play at many of the village fetes and functions, as well as taking part in local and regional competitions.

One memorable occasion, in a competition at Cholsey, Beenham Band won the prize for the best march tune, beating the favourites Tadley into second place. They would also go around the various big houses in the village at Christmas time playing to raise money for the uniform fund.
A photograph, probably taken in the early 1950s shows the members of the Beenham Band marching through Theale, with the Crown Public House in the background. Leading the march is John Watts, followed by Fred Nurton (bass), Fred Allum (euphonium), Bert Churchill (1st trombone) and George Gilbert (bass).
On another occasion the band went to Westminster Central Hall to take part in a performance of mass bands being conducted by Harry Mortimer, a famous band leader at that time.

The instruments were all made from brass, hence the name, although some were plated with silver. The leader of the band for many years was John Watts, seen striding in front of the band in many of the accompanying photographs. Another popular character was William 'Bill' Brazier who played the big drum. Rumour has it that when he became too old to carry the drum himself he would co-opt a young lad to carry the drum while Bill strode along behind banging it!

At the height of its popularity, the band had more than 30 members actively taking part. Gradually however the members dispersed, some going to other bands in the area such as Tadley and Pangbourne, which still have their bands today. Sadly, Beenham no longer has a Brass Band but the picture below shows the band and its members in its heyday.

The present Beenham Band was formed in 1999 as part of the village's millennium celebrations, with the help of a grant from the Parish Council. From very modest beginnings (there were six performers taking part in the first concert in Beenham Church), it has grown to its present size of 35 members.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Photos from Ufton Court 2008

Here are a few photos from Ufton Court.

First Tom doing some impromptu conducting in the Great Hall.

Next playing penny whistle games in the Green Room.

Janette appealing to the gods for inspiration:

Fiona unable to control herself and falling out of her chair laughing:

And Charlie mesmerising Dave:

Next morning it was a fried breakfast, with ingredients smuggled in:

Then we had a new conductor ...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

February Newsletter


We are very pleased to be working with Andy Smets this term and thank him for all the work he is putting in to choosing the repertoire.

Dates for Your Diary
  • May 17th St Mary’s Mortimer
  • Beenham Church Saturday 7th June
  • Concert on the Rec 18th July 7.30 – 9.30
  • Englefield Flower Show 26th July 2-4pm
Friends of the Band

If there is anyone you know who would like to go on the Friends email list please send Eleanor their address at


7.30 16th March, St Mary’s Church Thatcham.

5pm church open

Please arrive no later than 5.30pm for 5.45 rehearsal.

6.45 clear stage

First half Andover Light Orchestra.

There will be simple refreshments (just wine and soft drinks) in the interval.

There will not be a raffle on this occasion.

Ticket prices: £8, £6 OAPs and children free

Dress code: ladies all black. Men black trousers, jackets and bow ties, white shirts.


Please note that due to a booking of the school hall, on 15th Feb we will be in the Victory Hall – just outside school. Parking is in the school playground, but please do not arrive before 7.15pm.


We are travelling by coach through the Channel Tunnel. We do not have details of venues yet but plans are now well advanced. We have to pay the remainder of the money soon so please pay Fiona the balance by 1st March. We can still take additional players – see Lynne Ellis.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome to Beenham Band

Combining the power of brass and percussion with a full woodwind and sax section, Beenham Band is one of Berkshire's premiere amateur concert bands.

Beenham band is delighted to welcome to you to its new home on the world wide web. Here you can keep up to date with the latest news from the band, get vital information about where the band will be perfoming next or learn about the history of the band. Why not get in touch to add yourself to our mailing list or read about which pieces the band is perfecting right now?

Use the menu on the left to navigate through the site. Enjoy you visit!

Be sure to join us for Journey & Celebration, the band's 2007 Corn Exchange Concert. Find out more, click here!

Find out about the band's last concert at St Mary's Thatcham with an exclusive interview with soloist Caroline Woodhouse!

Band Plays in Newbury

Last month the band played all night in a Guinness Book of Records record attempt.

They were almost successful in beating the Tooting Brass Ensemble's 13 hour 15 minute non-stop toot set on 21st January 1892, but unfortunately managed only 13 hours and 12 minutes.

Oh well, try again soon!