A brief history

Articles mentioning a band in Amersham can be found in the local press from as early as 1845 and the brass band movement was already some fifty years old when George Ward (1860-1943) established Amersham Band in 1890, under the title “Amersham Sons of Temperance Band.”

First photograph of Amersham Temperance Band on 28th July 1892 at Bendrose Farm Amersham
First photograph of Amersham Temperance Band on 28th July 1892 at Bendrose Farm Amersham

Within two years, however, the connection with temperance was severed, doubtless because continuous playing of some of these large brass instruments can generate a mighty thirst, and the Band became known as the Amersham Town Band. It flourished during the following twenty or so years, winning several prizes, most notably at Reading, as well as playing at many events and functions in Amersham and surrounding districts.

The outbreak of the First World War brought Amersham Band activity to a halt, and records show that at least two of the band members were called up to fight.  After the cessation of hostilities there was insufficient enthusiasm to re-start the Band. However, in 1928 the Band was eventually re-formed, under the musical direction of Herbert Fountain, who had been a pre-war player with the Band. The Band continued as before, to play at many local events and functions.

Amersham Band with MD Herbert Fountain at Chenies Annual Buffalo Parade 5th July 1935
Amersham Band with MD Herbert Fountain at Chenies Annual Buffalo Parade 5th July 1935

The perennial highlight was playing at Shardeloes House on Christmas Eve, then being invited in by Squire Drake for Yuletide festivities. A day to remember from that era was the celebration of King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, for which each Band member was issued with a splendid braided uniform (tailor made at a cost of twenty-five shillings) together with a peaked cap. There was a parade on that day and a torchlight procession in the evening, led by the Band. At that time the band owned its own practice hut, which the landlord of The Swan allowed them to erect in the orchard behind his pub for a peppercorn rent.

Once again it took a World War to halt the Amersham Band’s activity, but at the end of it, there was, again, not enough interest to re-start the Band. The instruments, which had been put into storage, were sold, together with the hut. Debts were paid off and the Band was again put to rest.

Amersham Band in 1978 following the reformation in 1977 with MD Nigel Tolliday
Amersham Band in 1978 following the reformation in 1977 with MD Nigel Tolliday

In 1976 at an Amersham Town Council meeting it was suggested that the Band should again be re-formed. There were no instruments and no money, but dogged determination, local financial help and enthusiasm saw the Band re-born in 1977, just too late for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The Band has since developed steadily, regularly visiting Amersham’s twin town, Bensheim, and performing frequent summer concerts in the Memorial Gardens. The band also started to compete in contests at the regional level, reaching the finals of the National Brass Band championships at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in 2000.

In more recent times the band has seen considerable success, launching a training band with the help of lottery funding. With growing numbers of players, this subsequently developed into a second full-strength band, Amersham Community Brass, together with a Beginner Group. Membership across all the bands today exceeds 75 players. The main Amersham Band has released several CDs and has reached the National Finals on a number of occasions, progressing up to the Second Section for the first time in its history.