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Knaresborough Silver Band
There is little concrete evidence of the band before the turn of the century. There are however a number of references in the local press, the first being in 1842. On 13 October of that year, following a cricket match in Otley, it was reported that "the match terminated in favour of Knaresborough by the small number of three runs. The Knaresborough men on their return home were hailed by the excellent brass band of music and welcomed by a demonstration of public feeling". The late Joss Todd, who conducted the band from 1949 to 1962, confirmed that his father played in the Band during the 19th Century.
The first real evidence of a regular band in Knaresborough is a photograph taken at Ripley show in 1900, showing a fine body of 15 uniformed men complete with brass instruments, drum, flute and clarinet. Other early photographs, of which the Band has the originals in its archives, have been published by local historian Dr Arnold Kellett. These show the band in 1911 again at Ripley, and in 1914 at Knaresborough Station.
The first written records date back to 1927 in the form of cash accounts, and statements to the Annual General Meeting. The band were by then well established at the rear of the George & Dragon in Knaresborough, where they remained until moving to the Knaresborough Football Club about 10 years ago. They played most weekends between May and September in the Knaresborough Castle Yard, collecting up to £1 per performance. These collections were however the main source of income. The band also played at the local cinema and took part in several brass band contests. In 1928, when the new bandstand was opened in the Castle Yard, the collection amounted to over £5! At that time, bandsmen were paid for their attendance, and an annual allowance was paid to the Conductor. Professional tuition was provided free of charge to the bandsmen.
A new set of brass instruments was purchased at prices ranging from £13 to £38: these were made the subject of a Trust Deed dated 22 April 1931. New uniforms were purchased in 1934, perhaps in preparation for the Jubilee of 1935.
The band also had an active social life, with trips to Blackpool, Whitley Bay and South Shields. These may have coincided with band contests, for the payment of an entrance fee for a pageant in Blackpool coincided with the band's annual trip.
After the war, the band was again raising money to buy new music and instruments, and to repair existing instruments. The band held regular whist drives to help boost the funds, and was once again performing in Knaresborough and the surrounding areas. Players were no longer paid, but tuition was still provided. At many events, the band played free of charge as a service to the town and local community.
The Band now is a very different organisation to the all male preserve described above. The focus now is on a family membership, with players often joining whilst at primary school, some bringing their parents with them, and several families are now involved. This can be a little traumatic as youngsters continue to improve and then outshine their parents in playing ability. Adult members are also involved, continuing as long as they feel able, well after they have retired from employment.
However, anyone with enthusiasm is welcomed whatever their ability, and complete beginners of any age are given instruction until they feel confident to join the main band. Not only is there no charge for instruction, but instruments are provided free of charge too.
Nor is membership confined to Knaresborough, and although most of the members live in the town, a number travel in from other towns and surrounding villages. We are also pleased to welcome holiday makers to Knaresborough, especially those who visit the town regularly, and can play with us on a regular albeit infrequent basis. We also welcome back those who continue their further education away from home, and are able to join us during their vacations.
Those who enjoy brass band music but have no wish to play are welcome to help with the social side of running the band, and helping raise funds, organise events or help administer the Band.
The Band's engagement calendar changes from year to year, though as the Town Band, we take part regularly in the life of Knaresborough. We are invited to play at Civic occasions, especially Remembrance Day as well as St George's Day, Children's Day, the Great Knaresborough Bed Race, Spring Fayre, Edwardian Day and the Carol Service in the Market Place when the Christmas Tree is lit. Some of these involve playing at the head of a parade, but we do not exclude those players who are unable to march. Some engagements involve the whole band, but on many occasions, particularly around Christmas, a full band would be overwhelming, and only small groups are required. Sometimes we join with other organisations, whether they be other brass bands or other musical groups. We also participate in festivals and local competitions, and are involved with local schools, nursing homes, churches and charitable organisations.