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Mid Sussex Brass Band
Back in the late 1800s Mr. George Hilton, a staunch member of the Brotherhood Chapel, got together a group of brass and reed musicians and called it the Brotherhood Band.
Since then the band has had its ups and downs. It has gone through changes in size, name, venue and instruments, but the Haywards Heath Town Band, as it is now known, has weathered the storm and is still a thriving part of the town.
Mr Hilton financed the band, buying both the uniforms and instruments. The members used to practise behind Sussex Road's Brotherhood Chapel, later the Methodist Church.
Charles Mitchell, of the High Street, Cucklield remembers as a youngster the Brotherhood Band. He said: "My father was in the band when I was a toddler. I do not remember learning music - I was brought up with it."
During the First World War the band broke up.
It re-formed in 1922 as the Haywards Heath Town Prize Silver Band, without the reed section.
The Town Prize Silver Band played on until the mid 60's, when support rapidly fell. The band wrote a letter to the Mid Sussex Times begging for help because lack of cash and a limited intake of youngsters -at the time there were only about seven to ten playing members.
Mr. Lawrence Burtenshaw, a local J.P., and bugle player in the Royal Marines Band, saw the letter and offered his services. The comrniffee nominated him secretary and he worked hard to rebuild the band. He visited schools to recruit new members, who he and others in the band taught to play, often from scratch.
Within two years the band was regaining its strength, with nearly 30 playing members, a remarkable achievement.
Mr. Burtenshaw managed to secure the council chambers in Haywards Heath for practice, a welcome change from the cricket pavilion which was cold and damp in winter and frequently invaded by cricketers in summer.
The band began to take part in contests and were quite successful, winning many under the baton of Mr. Ron Atkin.
Four years after Mr. Burtenshaw took over he had a stroke and was unable to continue. Mr Pat Goodchild, a member of the band took over for a short while until he joined the R.A.F.
In May 1978, Mr. Paul Homewood, a trombone player in the band, took over as secretary. He managed to have band members fitted with new smart red jackets and many instruments were replaced. The committee decided to rename the group the Haywards Heath Town Band because, due to the cost of silver instruments, many of the new ones were brass.
Tony Cripps, who used to play for the City of Chichester Band and is a Euphonium player, became conductor in 1979. His efforts to improve the band's performance have resulted in merits gained by the young members in the East Grinstead Music Festival in spring of that year.
However over the next few years support dropped away once again, and in 1986 the Band merged with Burgess Hill Brass Band.
Burgess Hill Brass Band was formed in 1890, and although its early history is unclear, it was a very active and successful band in the 1970/1980 period, at this time it's most successful Musical Director was Arthur Chapman, and the Band was very strong in contests. In the early 80's several of the senior players left to reform the then defunct Handcross Band and the fortunes of the band fell for several years.
The combined entity of the Burgess Hill Brass Band and the Haywards Heath Town Prize Silver Band was renamed the Mid Sussex Brass Band.
Mid Sussex Brass Band has had mixed fortunes over the years and at present is performing well under the instruction and baton of Andy Wooler our current Musical Director.
The Band is a subscription Band, which means that the players pay a weekly or annual subscription for the privilege of playing in the Band.
There are still several members of the old Haywards Heath Town Band playing with Mid Sussex.