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Moston and Beswick Manchester Band
The Forming of Streetfold Band
Memories of Arthur Hall as he neared his 93rd birthday. Arthur Hall died soon after his 93rd birthday in 2000.
“By tradition Streetfold Methodist Church took part in the Whit Friday Procession of Witness following the Beswick Prize Band, who charged a fee. My father, George Hall, who was the Sunday school secretary, collected a penny a week from the members of the church, so that the cost was spread over the twelve-month's period.
The Primary Sunday school led the way followed by the church banner with the senior girls holding the banner ropes. The banner depicted Holman Hunt's “The Light of the World”. Behind this walked members of the Sunday school followed by the church members.
After the First World War, although some of the young men had died in action, a number returned and felt that if other churches, for example Culcheth, had bands, they could found a similar band.
It was decided to contact Boosey & Hawkes to find out how much a complete set of instruments would cost. The figure was a little frightening but my father and some like-minded folk said they would raise the money. Each member of the group provided an interest free loan of £10 (which was approx. 1 month's pay for a manager and 6 week's pay for a labourer). The loan raised rather more than £2000 and it took four years to raise the capital. Not only did this money but the instruments, but it paid for the church to be wired for electricity and coke-fired central heating to be fitted. The last £500 paid for the installation of the organ, a gift from the family of a young man from Chester, Lt. Smith (?) who was killed in the Great War. On the front of the organ, behind the pulpit, was a panel of eleven dummy pipes which, with a brass plate, constituted the War Memorial to the eleven soldiers from Stretford who were killed in action between 1914 and 1918.
Having got the instruments, the problem remained to find teachers. Because of the long association with Beswick Band, and appeal was made for help. Mr. Nelson and Mr. Cartwright came to take on the job. It is not clear if they got paid or just got expenses, but they were good at the job.
Mr. Nelson became bandmaster and Mr. Cartwright his assistant. Mr. Cartwright had special responsibility for the trombone section. On the night that the instruments were issued I was at the Manchester College of Technology following a course in building and quantity surveying. However, I became the temporary owner of a Flugel horn whilst Donald Whittaker and Eddie Bethell were in the trombone section. Mr. Youd, who was a very good player, led the cornet section.
Having the instruments we now needed music stands which my father provided from 3 x 2 uprights and tongue and grooved floor boards, It was the job of the first members on the scene to see that the stands formed a square with Mr. Nelson in the centre giving encouragement and at times admonishing the naked but enthusiastic talent.
The trombones were now joined by Fred Eastwood and they made good progress. We later found out that they had marked the notes on the slides with scratches.
The band progressed and it was with some anxiety that the Whitsun walk approached. The band had no uniform so we decided to wear straw 'kaydees' which were in vogue as head gear (at this time Culcheth wore top hats and were known as the Culcheth Tall Hat Band).
The band lined up for its first public appearance and as we moved towards the Ben Brierley Public House, at the corner of Kenyon Lane, the heavens opened and it was like hailstones beating on top of the 'kaydees'. Needless to say, we survived.
On Saturday afternoons, those of us that could be present, used to go to Johnny Brook's farm near the Bluebell Hotel. There were only cows to complain if you played the wrong note. Mr. Youd was in charge of the motley but enthusiastic group of players.
As time passed, the band became better and better and we started to enter band competitions. We were up against some of the top bands in the country who used the small events on their way home from garden parties to boost their prize money. However, the day arrived when in competition we won the contest and became Streetfold PRIZE Band. Someone had fixed a sign on the front of the big drum and Mr. Nelson was presented with a bandmaster's coat by a firm who made band uniforms. At the same time, the euphonium player won the gold medal for his solo. The band had arrived.
At this juncture due to pressure at night school, I had to withdraw from the band. It was good fellowship and whilst I maintained my friendship with individuals, the band had to take second place.”