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Newmilns & Galston Band
NEWMILNS BURGH BAND came into existence in 1833 with 17 players under conductor William Smith. Until its amalgamation with the nearby Galston Band it was the oldest band in Scotland still using the same name, but had two short breaks, when the staple industries of the district suffered setbacks.
IN THE 1870's the handloom weaving trade declined. Many band members had to leave the town and, in 1878, the organisation collapsed. But in June 1880, the magistrates and town council met and agreed to reform then Band. The machine lace industry had been established locally and people were returning to the town.
Dean Castle, Kilmarnock - Click for more information THE BAND PROSPERED until the 1st World War, winning many area contests, including the Ayrshire Championship, and became permanent holders of the trophy, still owned by the Newmilns & Galston Band, but now on show at Dean Castle, Kilmarnock. Get Directions to Dean Castle
THE GREATEST PERIOD up until now, was under the guidance and tuition of bandmaster George Hawkins, fine musician and arranger of music, who was persuaded to come from England as professional conductor. At that time the finances of the organisation allowed a small town to engage a leading man in the brass band world.
A 1904 picture of the Band THE NUMEROUS LACE mills in the town collected 1 penny, and later 2 pence per week, from each worker, for the Band. The town council provided a band hall and gave financial assistance. It could also provide a house. Between the wars George Hawkins took the Band from 3rd Section in 1928, and from 2nd Section into the Championship 1st Section in 1931, until it became runner-up to the S.C.W.S. Band in the Scottish Championships in 1934.
IT CONTINUED AS A leading outfit up to the 2nd World War, winning the Strathclyde Charities (then the Glasgow Charities Contest), and many solo and quartet events. It was also in great demand for leading engagements, including BBC Radio, and made records of some of these.
THE BAND SUFFERED during the 2nd World War. The Band Room was taken over by the Army for billets and, in any case, most of its members were in the services. After the War it very soon regained its position in the 1st Section by winning the 2nd Section in 1950, under conductor John Hoggans. But difficulties lay ahead, with most of the young men leaving for two years National Service, soon after gaining proficiency, and many of the old players ready to retire. Above all, the lace trade was in decline and finance difficult.
THE BAND PLAYED in its last Championship Contest in 1960 and, by 1965, it had again become defunct. In Newmilns there had been a long musical tradition of vocal and instrumental excellence, and the legacy of George Hawkins and its effect on the townspeople led, once again, to a move to reform the Band, including a number of players who had been influenced by his work in the community.
IN LATE 1978, three players and three Community Councillors formed a committee to rebuild the Band from scratch. The Band Hall had been demolished and the instruments and music library given away. Within four years a new Band had been formed, instruments and music bought, and promotion reached from the 4th to the 2nd Section.