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Pangbourne is a village of about three thousand inhabitants, situated on the south bank of the River Thames at its confluence with the River Pang and about five miles west of Reading. The history of the band begins in 1893 when a fife and drum band used to rehearse in a shed behind the water mill. During the First World War the band dispersed but it is thought to have played at the celebrations of the Armistice in the River Meadow in 1919.
From then until the outbreak of the Second World War the band had a very eventful history and gave concerts on Saturday evenings in the Village Square until increasing motor traffic dispersed them. It gained the title of Pangbourne Silver Prize Band because of its successes in district competitions.
During the Second World War many of the bandsmen served in the Armed Forces and the instruments were held in storage. The Rector of Pangbourne appealed in 1948 for the band to be re-formed but this did not happen until 1962.
Instrumental to this revival was the late Mr. Henry Fuller, who, in the winter of 1961 had been approached by Mr. Jem Holloway, who asked if Henry could teach his son Trevor to play the cornet. Within a few weeks other boys came along who wanted to "blow something"; Bill and Pete Osman, Paul Fuller and later Howard and Colin Boynton. These lessons took place every week in the living room of 75 Horseshoe Road and very soon the lack of suitable instruments became a problem. Many people were approached; older bandsmen who had given up playing (although many later returned), other bands who may have had instruments they were willing to lend and anybody else who might have an instrument around the house. Some instruments were found in barns and attics, jet black and requiring a great deal of scouring and cleaning in the bath.
By Christmas 1963 these six boys had been taught to read music and could play a number of tunes. The first carol playing venture took place that year - £8 was collected and this was the first earned income for the Band funds.
By this time, Jim Tappern, an ex-Army bandsman and friend of Henry joined in with an offer of help and it was decided to hold a meeting to put things on a more official footing. A meeting took place in February 1964 at the Working Men's Club and was attended by about a dozen people. At this meeting, Jim Tappern was elected Musical Director; Colin Willmott, Secretary; Henry Fuller, Chairman; and a small committee was formed. At this time, the Manager of the National Westminster Bank was Mr. Waring and he accepted the office of Treasurer. The £8 was placed in the bank to open the Band's account.
On 19 September 1987 a concert and social evening was held in the Village Hall to celebrate twenty-five years of happy banding and many past and present members attended. Similarly, the Fortieth Anniversary 'Pangbourne Past and Present' was celebrated on 5 October 2002 with a concert given by fifty past and present players, with the late Don Lusher as guest trombonist.
The band has made a number of overseas concert tours in recent years: 1987 - Bitz Easter Festival, Baden-Wurtemberg (Germany); 1991 - Handel Brassband Festival, Noord-Brabant (Netherlands); 1999 - German Rhineland; 2001 - Salzburg (Austria); 2005 - Wernigerode, Sachsen-Anhalt (Germany). Pangbourne Village's twin is Houdan (Yvelines) and we have arranged to give a concert there on 29 August 2011.
In a typical year the band gives a spring and an autumn concert, plays at village fetes and outdoor shows, at parties and weddings and for church services. In December it plays traditional Christmas carols in shops and public houses and in the streets of Pangbourne. The band is a registered charity for musical education and is a member of Making Music, the Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association and the Oxford and District Brass Band Association. It aims to test its skills twice yearly at regional contests. Two years ago it started the Pangbourne Youth Band for local children, which has already given several concerts.