Gavin HolmanIBEW Research
Historical research and digital archiving
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
Citations since 2016
141 Research Items
Researching vintage brass bands from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s. Their formation, histories, pictures, contesting, memorabilia, recordings, publications etc. All material is made available for all to access via the IBEW archive: www.ibew.co.uk. Any comments, feedback or information about the history of brass bands world-wide is very welcome. Currently working on a range of projects including player biographies, ephemera, and archived histories of bands.
December 2002 - October 2012
The British Library
- Responsible for corporate server, storage, database, voice and data networks. Supporting an infrastructure of some 500 virtual and 250 physical servers, several petabytes of data and the WAN/LANs spanning the two main BL sites.
March 2002 - October 2010
- Gateway Project Reviewer
- OGC Gateway Team Leader and Reviewer for project reviews across government departments – 19 completed
Of the many brass bands that have flourished in Britain and Ireland over the last 200 years very few have documented records covering their history. This directory is an attempt to collect together information about such bands and make it available to all. Over 19,600 bands are recorded here, with some 10,600 additional cross references for alterna...
Many brass bands have flourished in Britain and overseas over the last 200 years, but very few have documented records covering their history. For those wishing to delve into the history of brass bands there are various sources available, both primary and secondary. These are also published histories and individual bands’ memorabilia and records. I...
A band that helped to fund the Bethany Home for Crippled Children in Kinver during its 13 year existence.
Investigating this band, following the discovery of a document gifting the band's instruments to the parish council
An example of the brass bands established by various children's homes, orphanages and similar institutions, around the world in the early 20th century. This French orphanage fanfare band was founded on charitable principles, to give the children musical training and discipline, and to help raise funds for the home.
This band, the first such to be organised in Australia, existed for a mere six months. Consisting of students, many of whom had never played a brass instrument before, it reached a good standard in time to perform at the five-week exhibition, which was held to celebrate the art and work of women in Australia.
A brass band was formed among the workers at the Broadwood piano factory in 1860, which originally supported to the local rifle volunteer company based at the works and, over the years, converted to an orchestra, before returning to brass instrumentation in 1893.
A band created among the women and girl workers at the Roy Graves Canning Factory, which processed various fruits.
A review of the early ladies’ brass bands in Michigan over this fifty year period, and a directory of the bands.
A few photographs and contemporary reports that shed a little light on the musical bands of Byesville in the first half of the 20th century
A collection of illustrations of medals won by brass bands and solo instrumentalists.
Joseph started his musical career in the London music halls but, after attending a Baptist college, dedicated his life to the ministry, where he preached and performed on the cornet, to the delight and acclaim of his audiences.
Thomas Raistrick became the principal cornet player of the Shipley Brass Band at the age of 13 in 1905 and established himself as an accomplished soloist in his own right. He went on to direct the Band of the 6th West Yorkshire Regiment during WW1.
Joseph Tyler, an accomplished clarinettist, had thirteen children with his two wives, and formed two Family Bands which toured the British Isles and France over a period of nearly half a century. In addition to performing in their own concerts, they took part in pantomimes and other music hall revues, were engaged as the 'town band' in Aberystwyth...
A collection of illustrations of badges issued by and supporting brass bands
In the picture postcards of the early 1900's. which were printed to send New Year's greetings to friends and family, it was not unusual to find depictions of brass instrumentalists, playing or 'heralding' the New Year. This document shows over 100 such images.
The story of Napoleon Bird's 48-hour marathon piano performance to raise funds for the London & North Western Railway Employees Brass Band (Stockport) in 1906
Agnes Mary Squelch (familiarly known as Daisy) was taught to play the cornet by the Black Dyke cornetist, John Paley at the age of 14. Having mastered the instrument, Daisy went on to become a well-known soloist on the concert stage, eventually moving to the music halls, where she excelled in various productions, touring the country from 1909 to 19...
A look at the bands that provided musical entertainment in the city of Sterling, Illinois.
A look at the various types of bandwagons constructed for the town bands of the U.S.A. and also some of the ad hoc transports they used
Various incarnations of the Fraserburgh Brass Band, together with various military bands, provided entertainment to the inhabitants of this north-east Scotland fishing town from the 1850's to WW1
A contribution to National Poetry Day 2017. [updated July 2021] Several brass bands have been immortalised in poetry over the years. From those lauding their heroes to the ones which are critical or even insulting. From the earliest days poets have found something in the music of the bands and the people who play in them to inspire their muse. I th...
The Congo Cycling Club of Jarrow developed a musical arm in 1904 The Congo Navvies' Band quickly became a much loved (and laughed at) feature of cycle meets, carnivals and parades. Aside from their bicycling pursuits, the Band managed to raise significant sums for various national and local charities in the twenty years they existed.
Like many towns and cities in Britain, Harrogate got caught up in the roller-skating crazes that emerged at three times from the 1870's to the 1920's. For a brief time on each occurrence, this new sport, pastime and entertainment was an opportunity to exercise and 'be seen'.
From 1852 to the end of the 19th century, this band was one of a number of successful initiatives providing education, training and recreation for the employees of the Press. It was one of a small group of brass bands associated with the publishing industry.
Cleora Miller was a multi-instrumental musician, who toured with her parents in a musical trio, before becoming the figurehead of the show and a much loved and admired solo artist in addition to her ensemble work, eventually leading a multi-act variety show that was greatly sought after in the American mid-west in the early 1930's
Hazel was a trombonist and saxophonist who, after touring with Helen May Butler's Ladies' Brass Band, joined a vaudeville brass sextet on the theatre circuit for a further six years
Charles Godfrey, bandmaster of the Royal Horse Guards, was a prolific arranger of music for brass and military bands, and also adjudicated many brass band contests. However, an unpleasant experience at the British Open contest, in September 1888, led him to refuse to judge any further band contests - a decision which would last until 1897.
One of the many institutions set up in the late 18th and 19th centuries to cater for sick, orphaned, destitute, and criminal children. This Reformatory was established in 1856 and the education and training activities for the boys included the school’s brass band. This was active from the late 1880’s through to the late 1920’s
Nettie Goff was an African-American trombone soloist and actress who toured the eastern and southern USA with a number of different minstrel shows in the 1890's and 1900's. With her husband, Will Garland, she also undertook various European tours.
Rothesay, the main town on the Isle of Bute, became a popular tourist destination in the Victorian era. Tourists wanted entertainment and the town council initially provided professional bands for the summer season from the mainland. A local brass band was established in 1875, which took on some of the musical duties required, and a successor band...
A look at the touring performances of 'Lynn and Lynda', who gave multi-instrumental concerts and turns, with their various brass instruments, on stages across the British Isles during the 1920's.
The anecdotal tale of the pig which was placed on a wall to observe a band marching by, is attributed to various locations and bands across the country. Just one of several 'humorous' accounts of the trials and mishaps of brass bands that seem to be linked to multiple bands.
Roller skating was a pastime that became very popular in Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century. The initial skating rinks were established in London in the 1850's and, with the introduction of the 'modern' roller skate in the 1870's the craze took off, with rinks being opened in all the major towns and cities. Many of these establish...
Flockton Brass Band was a typical Yorkshire mining village band. The local colliery employed many of the menfolk and, although the pits were shallow, unlike the deep pits of other regions, the work was still hard and dangerous. The Band was established in 1838 and produced a small Centenary Booklet in 1938. The wider history of the band is examined...
When a band official resigns or retires, they are often presented with something to show the appreciation of the members of the band for their work and service. In some cases this takes the form of an object - perhaps a clock, or watch - usually something that relates to their position (conductors often received engraved batons). In other cases a c...
The acquisition of a single faded photograph, certainly the only example I have seen, sparked an investigation into the life and times of the Lamberhurst Brass Band, which kept this Kent village entertained from the early 1870's through to the 1930's. Their first conductor, Walter Bailey, remained with the band in various roles, including cornet, t...
Of the many brass bands that have existed in the USA over the last 200 years very few have documented records covering their history. This directory is an attempt to bring together information about such bands and make it available to all. It is an expanded extraction from my earlier "Brass Bands of the World". Over 8,700 bands are recorded here, w...
Family bands were not uncommon in the later 1800s and early 1900s. They were most prevalent in the USA but other countries had their fair share, including the UK and Germany. Some bands were amateur in their activities, and remained resident in their local area. Others adopted the professional mantle and travelled the country giving concerts, appea...
Brass bands have been a musical force across the world over the last 200 years. Mainly concentrated in Europe, North America and Australasia, they were predominantly male, and the members were largely working class. The female brass band is a somewhat rare beast, even today, though it did enjoy a “golden era” during the late 1800s and early 1900s i...
From the middle of the 19th century Royal Navy warships, especially the larger vessels, often had bands aboard. These were generally brass, with occasional woodwind instruments and/or fiddles. Their ongoing upkeep was usually the responsibility of the individual ship's officers with a modicum of support from the Admiralty. This paper lists some of...
During the 19th century, many travelling entertainment shows criss-crossed the country as they thrilled audiences with their various acts. Circuses, menageries, waxworks and minstrel shows usually had a band attached to them to provide exciting music, drawing in the punters and emphasising the acts themselves. In addition to these bands, other stat...
A receipt for the hire of oil lamps and an account sheet for a charitable concert, in the Bath Record Office, led me to the Bath Post Office Band leading me to dig further into the story of this band. Over the years there have been some 50 or so bands associated with the British Post Office - from Aberdeen to Exeter. The Bath Post Office Band exist...
The story of the first recipient of a gold medal for a cornet soloist at the 1900 National Brass Band Championships, in the Royal Albert Hall.
The British police forces have been protecting the population for over 200 years. What is not so well known is that some of them have also been entertaining audiences through their brass and concert bands. Originally established in the late 1850's, some 75 police bands are documented here, including the nine which are still active today.
Beatrice Pettit was one of many accomplished female brass musicians who made a career out of their music in the 19th century and early 20th century. She started to perform at the age of 15, and her first appearance in public was in November 1888. She went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music, and became a soloist on cornet with a number of...
Albert Wade, a successful conductor of several British bands in the 1890's and early 1900's, including Wyke Temperance, accepted an invitation to adjudicate at the Ballarat contests in Australia, leaving the UK in 1905. He was quickly accepted in Australia, and made his home in Queensland. In 1906 he adjudicated at the Rockhampton contest and gave...
An anonymous article, posted in the IBEW in the late 1990’s
Charles Henry Balliette, and his wife Martha, had eight children, four girls followed by four boys. In the mid-1890’s Charles formed a family quintet, with himself and his four daughters, which spent the next eight years performing in and around Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The girls were Hope Amanda (Bb cornet, b. 1879), Vesta Helen (Eb alto horn, b. 1...
Richard Taylor was a bandmaster and band trainer in the north-east of England. Having had a successful musical career in the UK he emigrated with his family to Australia in 1926 to establish a further series of musical endeavours. Thanks to his grandson and family members in Australia we have some insight to his life.
Originally founded as Wormholt Silver Band in 1927, it went on to become the "official" band of Hammersmith Borough, supported to a small extent by the Borough Council. A term as a Home Guard band during WW2 and its later disbanding and reformation in the early 1960's, before finally folding in the late 1970's
The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain was founded in 1952, and this paper shows a number of early photographs of the band taken at its residential courses from 1957 to 1962
During the Second World War various civil defence forces were established, in particular the Home Guard. Many of these had brass bands associated with them, with members partially or entirely from local bands. This paper gives details of more than 150 such bands that supported the Home Guard and other forces during parades, various military engagem...
Using the Attendance Book for the Hambledon Brass Band (1920-1925) as a starting point, this paper looks at the brass bands in Hambledon, and a surprising link to the “cradle of cricket” and the composer Peter Warlock
An article in Scientific American in 1896 concluded that the playing of brass instruments induced more baldness in players than other instruments – i.e. stringed or wind. This paper looks, a little sideways, at this and subsequent results/reports.
Originally known as the Brompton Boys' Institute Band, from the New Brompton Orphanage in Kent, its proprietor Henry Allen developed the band from its formation in 1896 into a touring set of brass ensembles - the "Lads of Kent" that raised money for the bands and the home. They were very popular in their time, but towards the end of the band's exis...
Representations of cats and dogs and their anthropomorphic appearances as brass players in various postcards and similar published material. Here I have selected a number of such “cat” cards and a much small set of “dog” ones – why the difference in popularity/availability I wonder?
In December 1937, James Southern, band manager of the famous St Hilda's Professional Band, announced it would be disbanding. In an article he outlined the history of the band from its earliest days in South Shields attached to the local colliery to its outstanding successes in the 1920's, subsequently turning professional and its decline in the 193...
Methil Brass Band was active from 1870 through to WW1. Not much is known about its activities prior to the 1890's, but the discovery of a tenancy letter from North British Railways, and some poetry written about the band, give a brief insight into its activities during that period.
A look at the lives of Antonia Gonzales in New Orleans and Marguerite Dufay in Paris
A series of formal photographs of each of the National Brass Band Champions from 1900 to 1951, with brief notes on their achievements
Some ideas to help people keep fit and alleviate boredom during lockdown in the Covid-19 pandemic, arising from Joseph Strutt's 1810 masterpiece: Sports and Pastimes of the People of England
This band was formed in Auckland, New Zealand following the success of an earlier drum and fife band associated with the Ponsonby Boy Scouts Association. It undertook several country-wide tours on both islands during the 1920’s and was a very successful and sought-after musical organisation.
Alexander Owen conducted two bands at the 1908 British Open Brass Band Championships, when the test piece was "Souvenir of Grieg". This paper looks at the conductor, the music, the arranger and the bands that made up this unique situation - as this piece was never again used in a contest.
In December 1910, the Camberwell Temperance Silver Band promoted a brass band contest at the Pilgrim Hall, New Kent Road, London. It followed this first successful event with similar contests in 1911 and 1912. A look at the competing bands and their activities around that time.
The band celebrated its founding in 1854 (although it was actually 1859) with the publication of two booklets, for its centenary in 1954 and its 125th anniversary in 1979. This document extracts relevant sections from these publications with an introduction covering some other aspects of the band’s history.
The formation of "county band associations" was originally promoted as early as 1882 by William Seddon and other high profile bandmasters, but it took some years for the ideas to bear fruit. Apart from an early association in Glasgow in 1863, most did not form until the 1890s or later. Some fell by the wayside over the years, but a good number are...
Some notes on the history of the band, from the band's extinct website, together with scans of two books of minutes of the old Llangollen Town Band which were discovered some years ago as part of a parcel of books in an antique shop in Yorkshire. It is not known how or when the books became "lost", but the original books now reside safely with the...
The Shotts Foundry Brass Band was founded in June 1829 and survived through to around 1960. A typical industrial "works" band, it provided entertainment for the workers at the iron works, and at one time was one of three brass bands in the small town.
The Cambridge Albion Band was formed on November 18th 1921. During its short independent existence it only appeared to have entered one contest, at Kings Lynn in September 1926, winning first prize. It merged with the Cambridge Town Band in January 1927, to form the Cambridge Town Silver Band. The following document is compiled from scrapbooks and...
Brass bands in the Africa have been in existence since the 19th century after the various colonial powers had established their presence across the continent. The history of such bands is very sketchy and limited, and the small amount of information I have collected so far is presented here. I hope that future researchers will be able to open up mu...
Over the years there have been many outstanding child musicians who have excelled at their particular instrument(s). Some of these went on to become accomplished adult artists and/or composers, others disappeared in the mists of time. During the 19th century in particular, children who showed musical promise were often exploited, as solo artists or...
Among the many institutions that were established in the 18th and 19th centuries to provide for the various segments of society which did not fit into "normal" life, were those that provided for the physically and mentally handicapped. A number of bands were established, despite the challenges the players and organisers faced in learning and perfor...
Prior to the advent of cigarette cards, and subsequent food product collectors' cards (e.g. tea, bubble gum), Victorian companies often included trade cards advertising their wares with various pictorial images. Some of these included brass instruments and players, many of which are featured here.
From the earliest days of brass bands in the British Isles, they have been supported at various times and to differing extents by businesses and their owners. In some cases this support has been purely philanthropic, but there was usually a quid pro quo involved where the sponsor received benefits – e.g. advertising, income from band engagements, e...
Over the years the brass bands in the UK, and elsewhere, have appeared numerous times on screen, whether in feature films or on television programmes. In most cases they are small appearances fulfilling the role of a “local” band in the background or supporting a musical event in the plot of the drama. At other times band have a more central role i...
Of the 762 brass bands I have records of from County Durham, around 130 were colliery bands (and more of them would have been directly connected to the local colliery, even if not specifically named after the mine or mining company). This article looks briefly at the history of the Durham Miners' Gala and the colliery bands that performed at it.
As brass bands gained in popularity, composers and arrangers naturally produced pieces to supply the ensembles with the music for their craft. It was not long before some of those pieces became arranged for solo or piano performance, sometimes with words attached. These first appeared in the 1870s through to the early 1900s. A little later, songs w...