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Banbridge Silver Band
A meeting was held on Monday 22nd August 1892 in the Temperance Hall Banbridge with the idea of forming a brass band. That night the Banbridge Amateur Brass Band was born -- the forerunner of the present day Banbridge Silver Band. The chairman and first conductor was Harry Gill, the secretary was Frank Weir and the treasurer was John Dornan. After a second meeting these three men plus J. Derby, W. Close and R. Shooter were asked to collect subscriptions arround the town.
The band were asked to perform at various functions such as, church trips, agricultural shows, concerts, dances, parades of all kinds and even weddings.
All these events took a back seat at the outbreak of WW1 but at the end of hostilities the band got back to a busy life under their new conductor E. D. Mills who was also the organist at Seapatrick Parish Church. Arround this time many of the newer members bore names which were well known not only in bands but many other activities in Banbridge. There was W. Napier, W. Thompson, B. Magill, J. Clugston, W. McKnight, T. Napier, W. Lyons, J. Herron, E. Thompson, H. Adamson, W. McComb, J. Hayes, E. Lindsay, V. Price, R. Flagherty, A. Fyvie, J. McDowell, J. McClelland, J. Ferguson, B Hayes and T. Dunwoody. The conductors changed through the years and those who weilded the baton included, J. McClellend, C. Nelson, T. McComb, J. Clugston, W. Thompson and L. McDowell.
During WW2 the band didnt fully close down but performances were limited and a lot of the instruments were stored at the home of J. Hayes. John was amongst the bands longest serving members and retired from active band work in the 1960's but took a keen interest in its affairs until his death.
After the war the band changed to silver instruments and susequently changed to its present name.This was one of the bands most successful periods when L. McDowell was conductor recording much success and wins in junior and intermediate grades.
The 1950's saw another group of newcomers to the band. Names like L. Wylie, R. Graham, H. Anderson, F. Baxter, J. Fleming and J. Stewart. B. Acheson was the next conductor and was followed in that post by J. Douglas, A. Burns, T. Douglas, F. Mitchell, B. Davidson and the present day conductor A. Cooke. A history of the band would not be complete without mentioning B. Matthews, N. Martin, G. McClean and J. Robinson the present chairman. In the 60's and 70's ten members of the band played at clubs, dances etc and under the direction of T. Douglas where somewhat inaccurately labelled "Tommy and the Temperance Seven".
Banbridge Silver was formed 59 years before it had its first uniform. It was purchased for a Royal Visit to the town. Unfortunately the uniforms didn't arrive on time but the navy blue with red trimmings rig served the band until 1964 when it was replaced with bottle green uniforms. These uniforms lasted until 1986 when burgundy tunics and black trousers where bought. This uniform was replaced by the present uniform of scarlet tunics and black trousers in 2005. A new set of instruments were bought in the 1970's and in 1991 the instruments from the defunct Bruce Hamilton Memorial Silver Band were purchased jointly with Poyntzpass Silver.
It is not possible to mention everyone who has served with the band but one name that has to be mentioned is T Douglas. He became a member in the 1930's and served on committees, as chairman and was president at the time of his death. The band played at his funeral and led the cortege to his final resting place.
Banbridge Silver has been a true town band, and continues to serve the community. The list would be too long to mention but it can be seen many times in the year in the town providing music for events such as Rememberence Sunday, Seapatrick Parish Garden Fete, 12th and 13th July, Last Saturday in August and playing carols in the run up to Christmas. The band also travels to Downpatrick every year to join in the St. Patricks day parade.
The band has had a few band rooms. It started at the Temperance Hall. After WW2 it practiced in the former Fryers Place School and then the rooms at the rear of the First(NS) Presbyterian Church is where the band practice now.
Banbridge Silver is still on the road now 2009 and continues to serve the local community but unfortunately numbers have reduced over recent years. Hopefully this will improve in the future as the band trys to introduce young blood into its ranks and Banbridge can continue to be proud of it's Silver Band.