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Cubbington Silver Band
The history of the Cubbington Silver Band falls into two distinct areas. There is the history of the original Cubbington Silver Band and the history of the reformed Cubbington Silver Band. As well as the authorised version of events telling the story of the band's formation in the 19th century up to the present day, there is a light-hearted account of banding in Cubbington from the Roman times.
The Cubbington Silver Band Begins
The formation of the Cubbington Silver Band is, to say the least, unconventional. The late 19th Century saw South Africa engaged in the Boer War and during this war, a number of towns were under siege by the Boers. One of these towns was Mafeking. The British in Mafeking were experiencing great suffering as a result of the Boers action. On the 18th May 1900, Mafeking was relieved and news of the relief eventually reached Leamington Spa late one Saturday. Two young men from Cubbington were visiting Leamington when the news came through and they made it their priority to let the village of Cubbington know without delay. As it was getting rather late, the two young men suspected that most of the villagers would have gone to bed. They decided that the best way of getting their attention was with a loud trumpet call. The father of one of the young men had been in a brass band and still had a number of instruments stored in his house. So, the two young men selected a couple of instruments and proceeded into the centre of the village blasting away on their instruments, not that they could play them of course! The disgruntled villagers were about to let the noisy pair know what they thought of them when the news of the relief of Mafeking was announced. The villagers threats turned to cheers on hearing the news. As a result of this episode, a brass band was formed.
The newly formed Cubbington Silver Band grew and provided entertainment in the village and surrounding area for special occasions and fetes.
In 1937, a young lad by the name of Dick Heath joined the band. He continued to play in the band until the 1950's along with his father Bill and uncles Arthur and Philip. Dick rejoined the reformed band in 1997 and is still going strong.
The outbreak of war in 1939 saw many of the players being drafted into the armed forces. With few players left, the band suspended its operations until the war was over. Although the band continued, by the late 1950's it was experiencing difficulty in recruiting young players. Eventually, the band decided to call it a day and disbanded in 1959, with some of the remaining players joined other local bands.
The Cubbington Silver Band are still trying to piece together the history of the original band. If you can help, or have any photographs or momentos of the old band, then why not let us know. You can contact us via the secretary.
The Modern Band
The current Cubbington Silver Band was reformed as a result of an idea between the Reverend Ken Lindop of St. Mary's Church, Cubbington and Mr. Don Robb, formerly the Musical Director of the Coundon Wedge Band, Coventry. An advert requesting players for the new band was put in the St. Mary's Church magazine, 'Contact'. As a result of the advert, six local people came to the church one Sunday afternoon in October 1995 to meet Don. Later that month, the inaugural meeting of the Cubbington Silver Band took place. Upon its formation, the band had twelve players ranging in age from eleven to sixty, with most of them never having played a musical instrument before. It was decided at the meeting that the new band should aim to by silver instruments rather than brass, hence the name, Cubbington Silver Band.
Don Robb was appointed Musical Director with Councillor Hughie Griffiths becoming Treasurer and Mrs. Sue Kendal the Secretary. To get the band going and purchase a few instruments, Councillor Griffiths provided a generous 'start up' loan, followed by grants from the Cubbington Freeholders, Cubbington Parish Council and Warwick District Council amongst others.
The band originally practised in St, Mary's Church on Friday nights. However, growing numbers of players necessitated a move to the Methodist Church Hall in early 1996. February 1996 saw the formation of a Management Committee, with the Rev. Ken Lindop becoming the bands Chairman.
The bands first public performance was held in April 1996, when they played at a Coffee Morning in Cubbington Village Hall. In August, the band played in the Jephson Gardens, Royal Leamington Spa, as part of the gardens 150th Birthday celebrations. By the end of the bands first year, they had played at twelve engagements and had twenty-six members.
The Band in 1996
The bands second year saw the band travelling further a field, playing at some twenty-one engagements. Notable amongst these were the 150th Birthday celebrations of the Queen's Head Public House in Queen Street, Cubbington. The Queen's Head Pub has had a long association with the Cubbington Silver Band. The old band at one time, practised upstairs in the Landlords lounge! September 1997 saw the band play at the Bandstand in the Royal Pump Room Gardens in Royal Leamington Spa. In October 1997, the band received a Highly Commended Certificate at the Warwickshire Village Venture Awards for "active involvement in the enhancement of community life in Warwickshire". Another nice event was the arrival of a new member, Mr. Dick Heath, a cornet player. Dick had joined the original Cubbington Band back in 1937 and continued to play for them until the 1950's. Dick's father Bill and his uncles Arthur and Philip were also in the original band.
1998 saw the bands busiest year with no less than thirty-one engagements and the number of players had increased to twenty-nine. The band also registered themselves as a charity. The major feature of the year was the staging of our own concert in the Methodist Church Hall in October, which was a sell-out!
The following year, 1999, was one of mixed fortunes for the band. We were lucky enough to receive a large donation from the British Telecom Telephone Engineers Club as a result of them winding up their affairs. It was decided that this would be a good opportunity to apply for a National Lottery grant to buy instruments and to use this grant as our part of the application. The band had also decided to enter a competition for the first time. So, in February, the band went to the Milton Keynes Festival of Brass Bands and competed in the Fourth Section Entertainment's Competition. By Summer, it had become apparent that our Musical Director, Don Robb, was becoming ill. We held another of our own concerts in the Methodist Church Hall in October, but the failing health of our Musical Director meant that the Assistant Musical Director, Paul Johnson, had to conduct. It was with great sadness the the band learnt that on the 24th December 1999, our Musical Director died from his illness. Don's contribution to the band, both in helping to form it and guide it through its formative years is incalculable. He his greatly missed.
The coming of the Millennium saw the band at the Village Hall playing in the New Century accompanied by the villagers and a seemingly endless volley of fireworks. Paul Johnson was appointed Musical Director and once again, the band entered the Milton Keynes Competition in February.
The Band in 2000
By September, the band had learnt that they had been unsuccessful in their National Lottery Application. The Lottery Commission had changed its priorities and decided that it would no longer give grants to brass bands for instrument purchase. Although this came as a heavy blow, the band decided to use the money in other ways. A number of instruments were bought and the remainder was used to purchase a complete set of new uniforms. The band once again played to a full house at what has now become its Annual Concert in the Methodist Church Hall in October. As the band was now in its fifth year, a recording was made of the concert and to mark the occasion, a special Fifth Anniversary CD was produced. Each member received a free copy with many requests for additional copies being made. The band also finished band practise early to celebrate the anniversary with a party. The band also decided it would be a good idea to launch our own Internet Web Site. Work started on this with a launch date of early 2001 in mind.
In January 2001, the new band uniforms arrived. A special rehearsal had been booked in the Royal Spa Centre as part of the preparations for our competition entry. The opportunity was also used to wear our new uniforms for the first time and we invited our sponsor from the old Telephone Engineers Club, John Curtis, to come down and see how we had used their generous gift. The local press were also in attendance and gave us a feature page in the local newspaper. February came and again the band went to Milton Keynes to play in the Entertainment's Competition. This year though, we had considerable success, being placed sixth. This is quite an achievement for a five year old band. Especially so as the majority of players have had no previous musical experience before joining the band and that nearly half of the band are youngsters.
In late February, work had finished on the Web Site and it was officially launched on the Internet at Annual General Meeting. The site has now to be registered on the Brass Band Web Ring along with links from other local organisations such as Leamington Online etc. It was hoped that the Web Site would increase public awareness of the band and attract new concert bookings and players.
The Band in 2001
February saw our AGM and the loss of our longstanding Chairman and co-founder of the band. Reverend Ken Lindop had decided not to stand for re-election because of ill health. This was a sad blow for the band. Nigel Bishop, Vice-Chairman for a number of years was elected as our new Chairman. Also announced at the AGM was a generous donation by the Cubbington Freeholders. The Cubbington Freeholders have been a great support to the band over the years, especially at the beginning when a grant furnished by them enabled the band to get started.
Now, there has been a band of sorts in Cubbington for many centuries, although not quite as we know them today. The whole brass band movement has been an evolution. As new instruments were invented, they were added into the band and old ones made redundant. The process continued over the centuries and by the 19th century, we had a recognisable brass band. However, lets have a look at how banding started in Cubbington.
What did the Romans do for Us?
Well quite a lot actually, apart from the aqueduct, sewers, schools, police, science, etc. The Romans arrived in England about 43 AD, although it took them a bit longer to reach the Midlands on account of some poor roads, well, no roads really. When they came they bought a lot of their culture with them, which included music. Now, when the Romans settled in the area one of the first things they did was to establish a band. The musical director was an ex-Centurion called Gesticulatus Stickus, a former player with the Caesar Silver Band in Rome. He was quick to get a lot of top players into the band such as his good friend and bass player, Blastus Maximus. It was said that the English could hear Blastus Maximus practising on the French coast just before the invasion. The other bass player, for they only had two in those days, was Raucous Bassis. The early band were quite fond of marching, made easier by some of the roads the Romans built, such as the Fosse Way and Watling Street. Concerts were a popular form of entertainment and our band were often performing at the local prestigious venue, The Lunt, in Coventry. One of the best solo players the band had was a former legionnaire, Euphonius Tuberous. As you might expect, he was a cornet player. The other main soloist was Cornus Melodious , a euphonium player. These were not quite the same as we know them today. A big difference was the fact the Romans used square tubing, giving a distinctly odd look to the bell. The other oddity was that Roman sheet music was actually carved on to stone tablets. The librarian had a bit of a job sorting all this out. Percussion was essential in the early bands and a really big drum was used. This needed a big chap to play it and the Cubbington Band was lucky to have a veteran of Egyptian Campaign, Mannus Mountainous. Nobody got in Mannus Mountainous' way, although he was quite a softie really. Another notable player of the period was the band's sackbut (or trombone) player. A former brickie, Slydus Aboutus, came south after he had finished building a wall for some bloke called Hadrian. The Roman band survived in one form or another for nearly four centuries, until, sometime in 443 AD they all packed up and went back to Italy to a nice little village near Florence. That is, all except Mannus Mountainous. He liked England, took a wife and settled in the village in a villa on Queenus Streetus.
The Invaders from across the North Sea
Pillage and plunder on a grand scale upset the area with the arrival of the Vikings. The ferocious Scandinavians quickly subdued the area and established a permanent presence. When all had quietened down, the Vikings had time for leisure and re-formed the village band, led by an outstanding musician, Erik the Tanktop, as he was known. The Scandinavians had unusual instruments, they tended to be wooden, made from pine in fact. But the most unusual feature was that they were self assembly and came from a supplier in Sweden called Mus-Ikea. There were drawbacks with these instruments though, sometimes a bit was missing and Sven the Bass had to go round without a bell for sometime. But the engineering was cunning, no-one else has ever mastered the flat pack tuba. They were also available in a variety of finishes. Pine was the most popular, but you could also get black ash and mahogany, nice! Erik the Tanktop was quite a character, he had the typical Viking helmet with a couple of horns on it. His conducting style was flamboyant to say the least. You see, he conducted with his axe and one night, he managed to decapitate the front row with one of his flourishes. The band sat a little further back from then on.
The Arthurian Times
After the Vikings, the band fell apart for a while. All was in disarray until a new unifying force appeared in the form of King Arthur. Now some say Arthur was legend, but we reckon he was real. One of King Arthur's knights was a keen conductor and he left Camelot for Cubbington. His quest was to re-form the old band. His name, Sir Wayvelot de Baton. Sir Wayvelot soon got the band reformed and managed to tempt some good players from other areas.
His front row cornet section was brilliant, with players like Sir Splyt le Note, Sir Givvus de Chance and Sir Coq le Solo. The trombone section was a family affair with Sir Slydalot le Bone and his wife Mary! The bass section was the envy of kingdom with such legendary players as Sir Blastalot de Toob, Sir Raucous sans Pitie and local hero Sir Mann de Mountaine. Percussion was in the capable hands of two chivalrous characters, Sir Bashalot le Skynn and his assistant Sir Hyttit de Bitt. The band was a fine sight in their shining armour with Sir Wayvelot conducting with his lance. These were mystical times and as such, each band had their own necromancer. Cubbington was fortunate to procure the services of a magician called Mervyn. Now although Mervyn had studied under the kingdoms best known wizards, he had a bad memory and would often get his spells a little confused. One such story is of a competition held at Joyous Gard. Sir Wayvelot be Baton was keen to use a little magic to improve the bands chances, so he instructed Mervyn to do his stuff. However, Mervyn got confused with his eye of newt and wing of bat. The result, Sir Wayvelot's lance went limp just as they were about to begin, much to the amusement of all present. However, the band rarely won as the best band at the time were the Knights Templar. The band took part in most local events and the village fete was no exception. This was hosted by the local landowner, Sir Bigg of Gaff, in the grounds of Cubbington Castle every August Bank Holiday. A popular event, the fete had all the usual attractions of jousting, sword play and the mace bash. Presided over by Sir Big of Gaff's wife, the Lady Ginanbere, competition was stiff and attracted knights errant from all over. The band carried on for years until a new fad caught the imagination of the knights, the Quest. The idea of a quest was to search for something valuable or rare and was believed to have been started by King Pellinore. Caught up in the moment, the Cubbington band decided to go on a quest for the Holy Quaver. The Holy Quaver was something special, if put at the beginning of a piece it was supposed to give grace to the music. So off went all the knights, well all except one, Sir Mann de Mountaine who stayed in the village. The knights were never seen again and no-one knows if the Holy Quaver was ever found, we certainly haven't heard it. So the band disappeared from the scene and it was a few more centuries before we hear of them again.
Norman Helps Out
In A.D. 1066, a group of Frenchmen arrived on our shores on a day trip from Northern France. Landing near Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex, they decided they like England and decided to settle here. Newspaper reports of the period are a little sketchy, but as far as we can make out, the groups leader was some chap called Norman, or something. They gradually subdued the English and Norman's rule was established. It took a few years after this before they settled down and got on with the serious business of everyday life. A group had arrived in the Midlands, some settling in Cubbington and one of the first things they did was to reform the band. History tells us that the band had a different name at the time, it was called L'Ensemble du Cubbington d'Argent. The Musical Director of L'Ensemble was a chap called Willie le Conker. As an experienced MD, he soon sorted out the band and acquired some good players. The bass section was actually looked after by a local man who had changed his name to French, a certain L'Homme de Mont. He was a big chap and certainly made his presence felt. Brass banding became very popular, so much so that in 1086 A.D., Norman carried out a census to find out how many brass bands there actually were and put them all in a big book. Norman started this census on a certain saints day, St. Dume, the patron saint of bad things. Over the years, this has become known as the Doomsday Book. Unfortunately, the brass band pages have been lost, but Norman's descendants are still involved in the brass band world. Competitions were quite popular at this time and a local castle owner from Kenilworth, Mr. Simon de Montfort, sponsored a lot of them. In fact, he was so keen that he built a special hall in his Earldom near Leicester which was named after him. This proved to be a popular venue and was used for many years. One of the more popular tunes of the day was French Military March.
After Norman had gone, the band had fell apart a bit. The local peasants, bored with their turnip picking, decided to form a band. In fact, this turned out to be Ye Olde Cubbingtone Silvery Bande. Founded by Archie of Grubbe in a hovel behind the ale house, the villagers soon rallied around the new band. The main problem was instruments, being quite rare and expensive, a bushel of turnips didn't run to much. Some of the instruments were not at all like modern brass. There were a few saxbuts, horns and lutes. One intrepid local man, known as the Old Man of the Hill, found an old organ. Now this might seem a strange thing to have, but the band were short of instruments, so anything would do. Marching with the organ needed quite some co-ordination. Six local heavies had to man handle the thing around on their shoulders whilst Richard of Offchurch would play. But hang on I hear you say, where did the wind come from? Well, our old mate, the Old Man of the Hill, discoverer of the instrument, was the only bloke big enough to supply the wind. As it happens, a London company, Messrs. Bosley & Hicks of the parish of Edgware, purveyors of fine brass thingys, made a custom mouthpiece for the Old Man. You can imagine the band was quite a sight on the march. Headed by the band mascot, a tame haggis known affectionately as Jock in the capable hands of its handler, Ivor Leedforrit, followed by the wenches on the curly walking stick doohickies. After this came the lads bashing the the living daylights out of the pigs bladders followed by the saxbuts. Then came the organ, what a sight and what a noise! Calamity struck during one parade through the village. The band mascot slipped its lead and ran amok through the village. Ivor Leadforritt didn't manage to catch the beastie and neither did anyone else. The occasional sighting was made of the haggis on Cubbington Heath, but no-one ever managed to catch it. Since then, there has been a native population of haggis in Cubbington and they can be occasionally seen by the stealthy.
The demise of Ye Olde Cubbingtone Silvery Bande came when a new fad hit the land. It suddenly became popular to go abroad and do the European Tour. Travellers would get the ferry to France and then ride overland to Turkey, whereupon they would promptly beat up Johnny foreigner. It seems strange to us now, but this is what they did. One of the great proponents of the tour was Richard Lionheart. The band decided to join his party and booked a month with Crusader Tours, a specialist in this field. So off they all went, all except the Old Man of the Hill, he was a bit old and had some decorating to do. No-one ever heard of the band again and it was some time until history records music in the village.
The mid-1600's saw a revolution in banding. The old way of doing things was about to be swept away by new ways. The first inkling something was afoot was when a competition in Nottingham spilt over into violence. The old order tried to raise the standard but a new band with radical ideas called Oliver's New Model Dance Band raised objections. The New Model Dance Band tried to reason with the old order but to no avail, finally walking off in disgust complaining about their cavalier attitude. Things didn't stop there though, news of the altercation spread throughout the land and squabbles broke out everywhere. Fringe groups also appeared trying to impose their views. One such group were The Levellers. Their view was that no one note should be higher or lower than another, everything should be put on an even level. An interesting idea but the music was a little boring! The leader of Oliver's New Model Dance Band was originally a chap called Oliver Cromwell, however, he left to go on to better things and left the band in the capable hands of his deputy, General Fairfax. Fairfax had previously been involved in an associated group, nicknamed the Roundheads on account of their distinctive uniform hats. These troubled years didn't have a direct impact on the Cubbington Silver Band, but others in the locality suffered. The local castle owner in Kenilworth managed to loose a wall of his house and the Warwick faction couldn't make up their mind which side to be on. Things eventually settled down with the restoration of normality.
The 17th Century
The 17th Century Cubbington Silver Band was seemingly always suspected by the authorities for wrong doing. History doesn't tell us if the facts were true, perhaps we'll never know. However, the band at the time was under the leadership of a chap called Richard Turbine, a flamboyant character in his tri-corn hat and cape. This capable MD had to contend with a band struggling to buy instruments and other equipment. Fortunately for the band, Richard Turbine always seemed to come to the rescue with anonymous donations. He never said where they came from, stating that the donators wished to keep their identity secret. Now, the other problem in the village centred around highwayman, a group of mysterious bandits who would attack travellers on the local turnpike in the woods just outside the village. These masked men would ambush the unwary holding them at flintlock point demanding money and valuables. The reason why the Cubbington Silver Band was suspected as the perpetrators was because the victims would claim that they had been told to hand over or suffer a quick concert. The connection was never proved and the band did manage to prosper in these difficult times.