March’s spotlight is part of a history written by Brian Edwards who has just celebrated 75 years playing with Royston Town Band (amazing!).
“My association with Royston Town Band started in 1942 at the age of eleven. Many of the regular players had joined the Forces, and Frank Greenhill, who had been conductor of the band since 1933, came up with the idea of forming a junior band. That was, however, a wonderful idea as so much time was available from school children and instruments were there ready for learners to take up. As a band trainer Frank filled the roll admirably, and was ideal as long as you didn’t play too many wrong notes!
He was determined to keep the band going in Royston, and as so many instrumentalists were missing, the band needed as many replacements as possible to fill the gaps. This was quite an attraction to the youngsters, however, as so many of the instruments were available on which to practise. Frank’s method was quite simple and exercises, scales, and easy marches, were soon coming from the bandroom, which was on loan to us rent-free by Nash, Son & Rowleys, the auctioneers at the top of Fish Hill. This arrangement was used for a number of years. The redundant premises are now a funeral parlour and Council hall.
The idea of putting music in front of the youngsters’ eyes, and teaching them something which in thoses days was not available in the schools, became quite popular, and after a seemingly short period, marches such as ‘Slaidburn’, ‘Sussex by the Sea’ and ‘Col Bogey’ were being played with vigour, and with a few easy waltzes and simple melodies added, the juniors soon made performances possible.
Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings were found to be the ideal times for practices with the few regular players left in the town, because of their age being over 40! Made them too old for military service. Many of the new young recruits would find the positions in the town favourable because the bakery (still a bakers at the bottom of Fish Hill), was owned by the trombone player Cyril Craft, who would often give cakes or newly baked bread for the ever hungry young players to devour. Cyril was also an usher at the Priory Cinema, but I don’t remember any free seats being offered!
Before the war ended the band was offered premises owned by a tailor Mr Sid Cooper, sited at the bottom of Lower King Street. At that time the band had outgrown their uniform and Mr Cooper, who was very fond of the efforts being made by the band, offered to make one for indoor performances, and so the band was seen in a short ‘monkey’ jacket and cummerbund, which no doubt, suited the band and changed its style from an outdoor marching band to a stage performance band. After some time the band had to leave these premises and once again, because of rebuilding, a new bandroom had to be found.
At that time many of the village bands in the area had to finish performing for the lack of players. Two bands, such as Shepreth and Buntingford, provided necessary cornet and euphonium players, and a trombone player, who remained with the band for many years after the war. Even at the age of 80 Cecil Adams from Shepreth, would cycle regularly to Royston for the Thursday evening and Sunday morning rehearsals.”