This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.
Driffield Silver Band
History records that Driffield Town Band played on the occasion of the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 and again on 10th May 1863 being the wedding of the Prince of Wales. There is also a record of 'Sir Tatton's lot fra Malton and Driffield' taking part in the first ever Brass Band contest in the grounds of Burton Constable House in July 1845. Whilst it is not known if this was an appearance of Driffield Town Band, almost certainly some members would be present at the contest.
One instrument belonging to the band of those early days was the ophicleide, or Brass Horn; it resembled the bassoon in shape, had a mouthpiece like that of a trombone and was a member of the cornet family, but quite unlike the modern cornet. The ophicleide is now obsolete, though there are two in existence. Some years ago, one was hanging on a pillar in Tavistock Parish Church in Devon, the other in a museum in York.
It appears that there was a change from military to brass-band, for Ross, in his history of Driffield writes that an amateur brass-band was formed in 1857.
In 1860 a volunteer Rifle Corps was formed and their parades were headed by the Driffield Town Band. The local Volunteers, also had a band who shared their practice room with the Driffield Town Band, but in 1908 these Volunteers became the Territorials. Then in 1914 when men were being called up to serve the King and Country, members of the Town Band obeyed the call and with members of the Territorials became the 2/5 Prince of Wales Regiment. In 1918 after the cessation of hostilities from the 2/5 the Prince of Wales Band emerged Driffield Town Band again.
In 1928 the band traveled to London to compete in the National Brass Band contest, the test piece was 'Accrington, hymn and variations'. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful in winning a trophy. In the 1930s Driffield Band had their own contest at Driffield, on the Recreation Ground. Some local residents may have wondered what was going on, hearing bands playing in different parts of the town and some marching along to the Recreation Ground, to the contest.
On another occasion the Town Band entered a contest somewhere in the East Riding and came back with three trophies. Yes, perfectly true. They won first in the march section, second in the selection, and third with the hymn. There were three bands entered in the contest. In the 1970s, the Band was successful in winning first prize playing 'Rural Suite' at York. The conductor was Henry Crouch. The following list of gentlemen served as Band Master, Mr George Potts, Mr Charles Wagstaffe, Gerald Ellison (a former member of the famous St Hilda's Band) Mr Victor Yeadon, Mr Alf Stevenson, Mr Henry Crouch, Mr Stephen Searby, Mr Bob Dales and Mr Andrew Grace.
Bands seem to practice in unusual places, Driffield Band being no exception. They have rehearsed in Westgate, the Black Swan, in a garage, in a car park at the Royal Oak, Victoria Road, in a Temperance Hall, a room in the Falcon yard and from there to the Bell Hotel. It can be said that Driffield Town Band have played in every town and many villages of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The band had a smart uniform during the early part of the century, but after the Second World War 1939-45 it was found to be worn and needing replacement. For a few years the band played without uniform, but a band without uniform does not look smart, especially on the march.
In 1958 the new Secretary was appointed. At the first Committee Meeting it was decided to have a new uniform. So the first item on the Secretary's agenda was fund-raising. It may sound strange but the Secretary was given a 'free hand' to get engagements at the best price he could. The band got their uniform and the account of £200 paid within two years. One of the engagements was to head a parade from Westwood, near Valley Bridge to Corner Cafe on the North Promenade Scarborough for the sum of £12.
Of the members, there were some 'real characters', but they worked hard and practiced regularly. Band practice was a must and it took priority over many other things. Could they? - would they? - accept engagements at short notice? One Sunday morning as the band was practicing, Captain Robert Campbell arrived and asked ''can the Band head a Parade at Kilham this afternoon?'' '' What time?'' ''2:30pm'' There was not a full attendance at practice, but on a cycle, the secretary went round to inform the others, also to order a coach. The band was there to head the parade on time.
There came a time when membership began to fall; some members were getting too old, and juniors left for further education. Fortunately the band was able to accept engagements, but with the help of borrowed players. The Secretary had a book containing a list of players who could come and help us, and who were pleased and willing to do so. A small group of players managed to keep going, despite some people saying ''Why don't you call it a day, you can't carry on like this'', but the group did carry on, they were not pessimistic. There is a saying that 'every cloud has a silver lining', this they believed.
Mr Ronald Mustoe, Principal of the Evening Institute, came to our aid by providing a course for learners. This proved most helpful because people did come along to try to play an instrument. Some came back the next week saying that they could not play what they had previously taken, so another instrument was issued, and gradually progress was made, and the band began to grow again.
Readers might be interested to know the group who carried on were -
Victor Yeadon, Jack Yeadon, Barry Yeadon, Bill Marshall, Jack Lomax, Roland Massey, Charles Stead.
Speaking of the characters who were in the Band, many stories can be told of their doings.
First there was George Pegg the Bb bass player who always spoke of his instrument as his piccolo. When walking, George took a long stride, and of course, being a B? player, he was on the front row when on the march. Because of his strides some players found difficulty in keeping pace. The Bandmaster becoming aware of this in future walked in front of the band.
It is a well-known fact that Band bandsmen (maybe not all) like a glass of beer, or more, which has an effect on some of them. Jack Pay the Bass Drummer whilst wandering round the field after playing, noticed a barrel of beer on its side on a stand, the tap of which was dripping. Someone else noticed that Jack was lying on his back with his mouth open under the dripping tap.
Mick Dunning was a trombone player who was good to get on with but his language spoiled him. There would be swearwords in nearly every sentence he spoke. The band purchased a piece of music 'Tiger Rag'. The band had never played anything like that before. However the conductor said "Come on let's have a go". When Mick saw his copy and had played a few bars, strange sounds were heard, his language became much worse and I understand that there was chaos. That piece of music was never played outside the bandroom.
Then there was a Bill Marshall, Euphonium player and Librarian. He was old fashioned in his choice of music and seemed to have a dislike of new arrangements. He had a method of his own with regards to the library. It had been known that when the band rehearsed a piece of music which Bill was not keen on, when next that piece was requested from the library, 'certain parts were missing and no one knew where they were'. After the band had fulfilled an engagement in a country village and drinks had been served, Bill was seen walking and playing along the middle of the beck. A group of children asked him to "Do it again Mister!".
Let us not forget Harry Roe, a cornet player and one-time secretary. There were times when during practice when Harry played a wrong note, or something not quite right in his playing. Harry was stopped- "Harry, something amiss?" Harry replied "Aye! that's right Victor!", but played the same next time. One evening the band were invited to play at the officers' mess a week or two before Christmas. After a few drinks, Harry said that he would play a solo, so he got up on the settee and began to play. After a few bars, he fell backwards over the settee, much to the amusement of all. At about 10.15 that night the officers wanted the band to play round the parade ground, but that did not come off. Eventually the party broke up. Harry got on his cycle and off he went, full speed home. Some of the bandsmen said that they hoped that nothing would get in his way before he reached home. The next day when he returned home for dinner, his wife was displeased with him and gave him a telling-off. When Harry asked what was a matter, he was told that the sheets on the bed had to be changed. "What for?" enquired Harry "What for?? When you come home you should take your boots and leggings off and get undressed", came the reply. Harry must have been very tired that night.
Jack Yeadon was always ready to do his best for the band. Starting at the age of eight on a cornet he joined the band on the back row of cornets. Eventually he got to the front row and for a while played solo cornet. Then whenever there was a shortage somewhere, Jack would offer to the fill the gap. So he played cornet, euphonium, trombone and baritone over his long association with the band. He was never in a bad mood; he always saw the funny side of a situation. Jack was always there when required and hardly ever missed a practice. He never bothered about music and could 'busk' a part as good as anybody. To use a biblical sentence, we can say of Jack 'Well done thou good and faithful servant'.
There have been a number of people who have served as President.
Albert Spencer allowed the band the use of Temperance Hall for a bandroom, a plentiful supply of brown paper from his warehouse for covering sheet music and other items which will never really be known.
Major Lee Smith subscribed to the equipping of a room in the Falcon Inn Yard for a practice room, and also presented a conductor's music stand. When he came to declare the bandroom open, there was a look of disappointment on his face. Yes, he was quite willing to help equip the room, but the location was too near a pub. He ceased to be President after that, and the band lost a good friend.
Neville Bristow presented the band with a set of music stands and helped financially in other ways.
George Riggs, the current President, is a very good friend to the band and allows the band a room in which to practise; a room for committee meetings and the use of the Old Town Hall for concerts, all free of charge.
Quite a lot of work goes into the smooth running of a Band and thanks and appreciation is owed to many - Presidents and Vice-Presidents for their generosity and good will, to Players for their time and talents, Conductors for time spent in preparing for rehearsals and engagements, Chairmen, Treasurers and Secretaries for time and skill in administration, without which there would not be a band.
Therefore I say: To present members - be encouraged to keep on the good work, practise, for practice makes perfect. To officers - keep the machine running smoothly. To Presidents and Vice-Presidents - keep your interest in the Band. Your kindness and generosity, together with the town's giving is an essential part of keeping a Band going. The Band needs music, instruments, uniform and other items, all of which are costly. Keep on the good work which has gone on for so many years …and Long live Driffield Town Band
The minutes of the very first AGM
In the year 1828-9 a list of subscribers towards a band of music for the town of Great Driffield was started. The amount of their subscriptions collected was £48.7.6d.
On the 15th December 1828, a meeting was called for the purpose of appointing a Committee to choose the instruments and to determine some plan for preserving and keeping the same instruments in and for the use of the town of Great Driffield, held at the House of Mrs Mary Witty, the Red Lion Inn, Mr William Porter (in the chair).
Resolved that John Drinkrow, Edmund Wade Conyers, Francis Jackson, Thomas Atkinson, George Sherwood, Thomas Scotchburn, John Foster, George Forge and John Walker to be the Committee. That when bought the instruments shall be handed over to Mr William Fox and Mr William Harrison, Churchwardens of Driffield and that a list of them, together with the price of each instrument be entered in the churchwardens' books and that the instruments shall be vested in and become the property of Mr William Fox and Mr William Harrison for the time being Churchwardens.
That they be authorised to place the instruments in the hands of William Clark of Driffield, bricklayers, or of any other person or persons who will be engaged to find a sufficient number of musicians to play on all public occasions in Driffield, particularly on the annual festivals of the Benefit Societies for such sums of money as the Committee shall think proper, provided that such allowance be never less than three guineas for each Society.
All lost or damaged instruments to be replaced.
A list of instruments and prices as per invoice of Messrs Oppenheim and Son, London.
4 Tipt R Clarinets @ 25/-each
2 3rd.Flutes @ 5/6d
2 6th Flutes @ 4/6d
1 Piccolo 3/6d
1 Kent Bugle 6 Keys & crooks £2 10s
1 Concert trumpet 3 crooks & slides £2 15s
2 Bassoons 8Keys @ 65/- each
1 G. Trombone £4 0s
1 Pair Concert Horns 8 crooks & Slides £11 10s
1 Brass Bass Horn £7 0 0
1st, 2nd,3rd,Sets Webs Marches @ 9/-
4th Set 12/1
1 Drum of Mr John Walker, Driffield £4 0s
1 Serpent of Mr Wm. Clark, Driffield £2 0s
23rd March 1829