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A short history of the Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere bands
By Dave Higson - davehigson2001@yahoo.com

Ambleside and Grasmere bands were formed pre first world war.

Bill Hartley joined both bands in the 50's when they both had a fairly full contingent mainly made up of the same players playing in both bands. Our hard core contingent, from Windermere and consisting of five or six, would play in all three bands as well as Kendal Borough band. The Windermere players would also help out Langdale and Morecambe. The demise of Grasmere band came about mainly because of the music teacher at the local school, having started a brass band he taught the pupils there, some of whom were in the band. He was however, desperate for instruments, stands and everything else. Some of the parents of these pupils were on the band committee and having called an EGM, voted to let him have these things, all to curry favor for their sons. The teacher later left the school under a cloud and all the instruments, stands, music and effects, vanished.

The Windermere band, as with all bands was made up of members of two or three families. In the days before easy mobility people tended to stay local and as a result bands or sports teams etc were usually well supported. A well heeled benefactor could usually be found in those days, one such who lived at Storrs Park came into a fortune and being a musician started a brass band and dance band and built a theatre organ in his house. When this fortune was spent he was lucky enough to come into another one, this time as well as equipping the bands he built the bandstand on the glebe (Bowness), which was subsequently burned down by local youths. Whilst these were private bands the town band was treated to a brand new set of instruments, uniforms, leather march holders, stands and music. The persons behind all of this also built a house for the local nurse, set up the scouts and sea scouts and built a very good boathouse for them.

The latest Windermere band was set up by Bill Hartley in 1982 after all the other local bands had folded and whilst there were still some players around to form a basis for it to operate. The result was a good team of dedicated players, he also taught a class of learners who after getting to the stage of nearly being good enough to turn out by themselves suddenly discovered girl and boy friend's and very soon found other things to do!

We eventually found a bandroom which the council owned and with the unstinting help of Mel Jeffry the band spent thousands of pounds doing it up. It was a detached cottage with ample parking and was perfect for the job.

Whilst all this was going on, Bill was still playing at the Kendal band and by now the council had appointed a new conductor, the Kendal band was council funded and its main function was to march the new town mayor down to the church and back. The new chap wasn't a brass player however, and it must have been difficult to stand in front of a band and not have a clue. His main mistake was to slope off with the wife of one the players. By this time the members had had enough and refused to have him in charge. The council, in their wisdom, called a meeting in the band room and after an ultimatum of accepting him or else? The members of the band all resigned and the ones that weren't already playing with Windermere, asked if they could as well.

Again the instruments, having been handed in, vanished.

The Kendal music library was bought by Windermere and is now in the possession of Burneside Brass.

The end result of all this was that Windermere finished up with a good band and having purchased a set of uniforms from Morecambe some of which were new looked quite smart too. That didn't stop the council from selling the band room and surrounding land as a building site and, living in an area where any little room or building is a tea or gift shop that was the end of the band.