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Peebles Burgh Silver Band
The first reference found to date of the Town Band is in 1834, when subscriptions were gathered and around 20 musicians formed a band and the Town Council was approached for assistance.
This approach must have been successful as on 24 August 1835, the Band led a political procession of 2,000 people around the town. They continued attending all the public functions in the town, such as the laying of the foundation stones for St. peter's Episcopal Church (1836), New County Hall (1843) & Portmore House (1850). It could be noted here that the Band returned by invite in the year 2000 to play a programme at the houses's 150th celebration party.
In 1865 by public subscription, a sum of £51:12:6d was raised and a new set of brass instruments was procured. Records show "Paid to Thomas Glen for instruments less 19/- discount for cash £37:0:0 Paid for Bass Drum £3:10:6d Paid Teacher £3:19:8d - A grand total of £44:9:2d.
By 1870, the majority of the Band were members of the 1st Peeblesshire Rifle Volunteers and unofficially turning out as a Volunteer band. In 1871 the Town Council was approached and formally asked to hand over instruments to the Corps and this was done on the basis that the band would be available for all the public engagements in the town.
Between 1871 and 1888 the band was a Volunteer Corps Band, attending all the official army engagements, drill parades and all public engagements for the Town Council. With the national re-organisation of the Volunteer Corps of the Army Act (1888), the Peeblesshire Corps could no longer fund the upkeep of their Band.
A public meeting was held in the town and in 1889 an agreement was reached with the Army to return the instruments to Public care and by the end of the year, it was once again Peebles Brass Band, leading all the events and processions in the town.
The first contest was entered into in 1891 at Portobello under the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association. A new set of instruments was obtained in 1895. In 1897, the Band played it's full part in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the forerunner to the Peebles Beltane Festival.
In April 1902 the Band took possession of a new set of instruments from Messrs Boosey & Co. This was a full set (24) of Silver Plated, engraved instruments of the 'Class A' (as used by the British Army) at a cost of £319.00. The Band then became Peebles Silver Band.
Between 1900-1914, the Band attended National and Border Contests and played at town functions including; the return of the detachment of Royal Scots serving in the Boer War, the tradition of playing Christmas Carols around the town (1900), the opening of the new Golf Course in 1908 and parades around the town at 5am to waken the townsfolk for their day's holiday "The Big Trip" to such places as Ayr. Gourock, Rothesay and Portobello and to keep the bands funds and the Bandsmens's loss of wages in the black, a charge of 3/- (15p) per Bandsman for the day was made!
With the outbreak of the Great War (WW1) the band ceased to function due to so many of it's members on active service, so once again the Army took over the instruments, this time to the Royal Scots for the formation of one of their regimental Bands. A memorial plaque in the band Hall shows that 8 Band members fell during the conflict (25%), a high casualty rate for such a small organisation.
After the hostilities ceased, the instruments were returned to the town and the band reformed to play at the Beltane Festival of 1919. Through the 1920's and 1930's, they carried out public engagements such as the unveiling of the County War Memorial in the Quadrangle in 1922 and the opening of the War Memorial Hospital on Tweed Green. They also provided music for a number of occasions such as the Mill Picnics, School Sports Days, Formal Stage & Street Concerts and Sunday Afternoon Programmes in the Parks. On the Contest front, there was progress with the Band moving from 4th section into the 3rd section, by playing in both the National & Border contests.
A new set of instruments was purchased in 1923 for £412, to replace the much travelled and repaired set from 1902. Subscription lists were still being maintained throughout the District and an annual grant was being received from the Town Council. Just as everything was looking rosy, once more in 1939, war was declared on Germany and the Band stood down for the duration.
As in the period after the Great War, the Band was reformed in time to lead the Beltane Festival processions of 1946. In 1949, the finances were put on a solid footing when the Band was 'put on the rates' (in reality, a sub committee of the Town Council). The name changed to Peebles Burgh Silver Band the instruments refurbished and revalued at £2000.00 and proffesional Conductor and Teacher appointed, Mr James Amos who was to lead the Band for the next 17 years.
The highlights of many years of contesting reached their peaks in 1957, 1961 and 1991 when the "Toon Band" after the qualifying rounds went on to represent their town and country at the National Finals in London - great achievements for local musicians made possible by the backing and enthusiastic encouragement of the Council and the townspeople.
An enormous and significant step was made in 1970, when the first two girls were taken into the Band as learners due to the teaching of brass instruments in the local schools and an 'enlightened' attitude within the Brass band movement and today about 25% of the contesting Band and about 50% of the learner class are ladies.
The community spirit was carried forward further when in 1989 another full set of Silver plated instruments was purchased, this time at a cost of approx. £30,000 - a far cry from the first set of Silver instruments in 1902 costing only £319! Currently, the Band is engage in projects to raise fund for a set of new instruments to be delivered in 2002. With youngsters of the town being turned away from the learner's class, this will allow the present set of instruments to be handed down so that we can continue to encourage youth development. It is then hoped that through structured courses in music, we will have a complete, independent 'Junior Band' up and running in the near future.
A good start for the next 168 years of music in the town!