A look back at the Woodford Military Band in East London

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The creation of the Woodford Military Band was first suggested in 1890 and it was for the whole community. He was unrelated to the military but used that name to identify his combination of brass and woodwind instruments.

A leaflet was produced in 1892 requesting funds for the purchase of instruments stating: “The need for a good orchestra has long been felt, and we hope that its formation will be a source of pleasure to the inhabitants of the quarter, as well as culture and culture. refinement to the members themselves.

The objects of the group were to play “good and cheerful music…” and echoed a modern sentiment by adding that it was “to provide meaningful employment for a number of young men of Woodford… who, for want of something to interest them, hang around the corners of the streets and are therefore open to any ruinous temptation that arises.

A set of rules was established that emphasized intelligence, civility, and punctuality, and prohibited smoking and drinking during practice sessions.

The conductor was a Mr. Wickham who was military trained and had good musical knowledge as well as the ability to teach players and shape them into a team. He bought instruments, music stands and lamps, uniforms and auditioned some musicians.

Training courses were organized to mentor those who had no previous experience. Mr. Wickham received a salary and the many other expenses were offset by the generosity of some local patrons (Mrs. HFBarclay, A. Lister Harrison, Rev. A. Hughes, Andrew Johnston, Courtenay Warner are just a few of the names mentioned in this first year) and by a weekly subscription paid by the players. As the group improved, they were paid for certain engagements, and then players could expect a share of the profits.

In 1907 the group received £67 18s 1d. from subscriptions, pledges and collections, and his expenditure amounted to £66 18s 8½d, leaving a balance of 19s 4½d. The members had met 85 times for rehearsals and given 20 outdoor performances, mostly at a garden party in Knighton, the Woodford Green Men’s Club sports day, the Woodford horticultural show and the Chigwell Row School Festival. the SSBerlin Disaster Fund in March and the Woodford Cycle Meet on June 22. It was when a band playing in the local park was part of the social scene, but they needed a varied repertoire to host celebrations, like the one held in May. 1900 for the relief of Mafeking and more solemn occasions such as funerals.

The band continued to play well into the 1940s, but Essex Record Office records show they suspended operations from 1916 to 1919. A card printed in December 1915 states that the band “wishes all its patrons the compliments of the season and regrets that for the first time in the 23 years of the band’s existence, due to the number of members serving in the Forces or enlisted on munitions or working overtime at their trades, it will be impossible for the Music to make its usual visit with songs this year.

However, on March 18, 1922, a dinner party was held to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary when “a fine company, consisting of past and present members, officers and friends, sat down to an excellent meal. ..”

However, the group did not have the same support in the 1920s and 1930s, with new members harder to recruit and less frequent bookings. There is no doubt that the Edwardian period was the golden age of the Woodford military band.

Georgina Green has been involved in local history in Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the Epping Forest area for 40 years and was Honorary Secretary of the Woodford Historical Society from 1987 to 2000. She is the author of several books of local history and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2021.

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