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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.



Harlow Brass Band

There was a brass band in the village of Harlow, which is now the Old Town, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Contemporary photographs show the members in full uniforms: high collars lots of buttons and complete with flat caps. However, the band didn't survive the ravages of the Great War where the huge loss of young fighting men must have much more than decimated band membership.

After the Second World War work was begun, circa 1948, on building Harlow New Town, whose first town centre was the Stow.

The late fifties established the new town. Around 1959-1960, an ex-army musician, Harry Crossley, had the idea of starting a brass band in Harlow. He invited other ex-army musicians with whom he had contacts to form the nucleus of the band (together with local musicians). They in turn were attracted to the prospect of employment at the factories being built at Edinburgh Way and of affordable, modern council housing: Harlow Council provided a grant for a set of silver and blue concert music folders, which are still in the band's possession. The Band began well and for some while performed in and around Harlow. However, it didn't become fully established, probably because of a shortage of new young players to provide continuity and fell into desuetude.

The situation changed through education. Harlow, as a new town, was designated an excepted district which meant it was given its own education budget separate from Essex County Council. Amongst other things, this allowed for instruments and peripatetic brass teachers. As a result, most children had the chance to try their hand at a brass instrument. Most eventually lost interest but those showing aptitude continued to play. The supply of young players resulted in the establishment of several good school bands including Netteswell Youth under Bramwell Taylor and Stewards School band under Tom Joudrey. Stewards School band became the present day Harlow Concert Band, which, as a wind band, has both brass and woodwind.

In 1967, a group of Netteswell Youth players who had reached school leaving age felt the need to be free of the constrictions of playing for a school-based band. They decided to start their own band. Eventually, they appointed Alan Moore, a peripatetic brass teacher as conductor. Alan Moore came from Washington, Tyne & Wear and had been trained as a musician in the RAF. He subsequently played Tuba for Morris Motors Works Band at Oxford.

The fledgling band approached Harlow Council for financial support. The Council replied by loaning the set of instruments of the defunct Harlow Band in return for playing a set number of Summer Concerts on the old wooden bandstand in the Town Park. This is when the band assumed its modern form and adapted a formal constitution.

The band now thrived with a mixture of adult players and many children from surrounding schools from as far away as Ongar Comprehensive.

In 1976, Jack Searles felt that the band was now an asset to the town and, as such, deserved the support of the council. After putting in much groundwork Jack Searles submitted a well-researched application to the council for a grant for new instruments. As a result, Harlow Council gave grants of ?6,000 each to the three main bands, viz. Harlow, Netteswell Youth and Stewards. The old instruments became property of the band.

The next few years were the high point of the band, winning several contests and, at one stage, running a junior band.

The name of the band has changed several times. The original Crossley Band was called "Harlow Band"? but the revived band of 1967 was called "Harlow Town Band"? because of the association with Harlow New Town.

Eventually, Harlow reached a level of maturity and was officially no longer designated a New Town? and Town? was dropped from the band's name. A continuing problem was that people had no indication of the type of band from its name and occasionally mistook the band for a rock outfit! The simple and logical step was to adopt the present name of Harlow Brass Band.

The Band's present conductor is David Sylvester, a cornet player who first played for Bishops Stortford Band. He continued to play during National Service and eventually conducted Epping Silver Band for several years which he took up to the 2nd Section Nationally.

David has now conducted Harlow Brass Band for some years where he has established a warm relationship with the band. In 2001 & 2002, David has taken the band to second place in their section in the East Anglian Brass Band Contest.

Despite the fact that Harlow Brass Band has been established for a relatively short time, some 35 years, it is aware of being part of a much older tradition. The cup they recently won at Norwich (East Anglian Brass Band Contest) had been presented for most years since 1932.

The band is classified nationally in the fourth section but endeavours to maintain high concert standards when playing for the local community at church, school and village fetes as well as at traditional events such as carol services and Armistice Day.

Although Harlow Brass Band enters a small number of contests for the fun and stimulus of competition, they have never allowed the stresses of an ambitious contest programme to undermine the essential friendly fabric of the band.