Floating Bandstand in centre of picture. First Recorded Band Photograph
The Band on the floating platform 1909
Bedford Town Band Centenary Booklet
Price £3.50 Including postage within the UK
The   first   mention   of   a   town   band   to   represent Bedford   was   at   a   Town   Council   meeting   on   9th September,   1893.      The   Mayor,   Mr   F   A   Blades, felt   that   it   would   be   a   good   idea   to   have   a Town Band   “...Bedford   might   follow   the   example   of other    towns    and    obtain    a    good    band    which would   help   make   the   town   more   attractive   as   a place   of   residence....”       Other   Council   members felt    that    a    band    playing    in    the    park    on    a Sunday   afternoon   would   “draw   children   away from   Sunday   School.”    and   so   the   matter   was allowed to “.......stand over for a year” . However,   when   reports   of   the   Council   Meeting were   published   in   the   paper,   correspondence appeared   to   be   in   favour   of   a   town   band.      The town   already   had   the   Wesleyan   Band   and   so   it was    that    the    Wesleyan    Band    became    ‘The Bedford   Town   Band’   on   13th   April,   1894.      The newly   formed   band’s   first   engagement   was   on 4th   May,   1894   (Whit   Monday)   at   a   Grand   Fête in   Cardington   Road   under   the   baton   of   William Taylor,   the   former   conductor   of   the   Wesleyan Band. On   18th August   1894,   the   band   entered   its   first contest   in   Luton.      Such   was   its   prowess,   that the   Bedford   Town   Band   won   two   prizes,   one for   the   playing   of   a   quickstep   and   the   other   for the   test   piece   “Elixir   of   Love”.      An   auspicious start for the new Bedford Town Band. The   band   went   from   strength   to   strength   and was    successful    in    several    competitions.        In August    1896    Bedford    Town    Band    organised their   own   contest   in   a   meadow   in   Cardington Road.        The    event    was    successful    with    17 bands entering and around 1500 spectators.
At   the   Diamond   Jubilee   of   Queen   Victoria,   on 22nd   June   1897,      the   band   played   on   a   craft moored near the suspension bridge 1903      saw      the      Band’s      first      photograph celebrating their success at another contest. In    1907    a    floating    bandstand    was    used    but because   of   dry   rot   during   World   War   I,   it   broke up and went over the weir.  
Whit    Monday    in    1923    saw    an    incident    still talked    about    to    this    day.    A    platform    at    Mill Meadows   was   unsuitable   as   a   bandstand   and so     it     was     that     another     floating     raft     was produced.       In       front       of       “thousands       of Bedfordians”    the   Band   started   to   board   the   raft in   readiness   to   perform.      To   the   dismay   of   the bandsmen,   the   raft   began   to   sink   with   three   of the   nautical   musicians   diving   in   to   save   their lives.    Fortunately    no    lasting    harm    came    to bandsmen nor instruments and music! After   the   first   world   war   an   association   with   the well     known     Mortimer     family     began     and members      received   tuition   from   Fred   Mortimer. In   1921   and   his   famous   son   Harry   Mortimer appeared as soloist at the Corn Exchange. Following   the   second   world   war,   the   band   had some    difficulties    getting    re-established.        In 1948   Reg   Crane   took   over   the   baton,   he   had   a particular   aptitude   for   teaching   youngsters   and worked with the band until 1973. In   1974,   the   baton   was   taken   by   Terry   Hext,   a well    known    musician    and    Head    of    Brass Teaching   in   the   County.      The   band   went   from strength    to    strength    with    placings    in    many contests.
For   the   Centenary   of   Bedford   Town   Band,   a booklet       was       compiled       by       Barbara Summersgill   who   for   many   years   has   worked tirelessly    working    behind    the    scenes    on behalf of the band. Many    hours    were    spent    researching    the history    at    the    Local    Studies    Unit    of    the Bedford Central Library.
There   are   a   few   of   these   booklets   still   available and     they     can     be     obtained     by     contacting publicity@bedfordtownband.com     by    email    or phoning 01234 306676.
History
Established in 1894 Registered Charity Number 1173181  Bedford Town Band
An   early   and   excellent   quality   photograph   (date   unknown)   of   The   Town   Band   (Bedford   Town   Silver   Prize Band)   as   marked   on   the   drum   which   we   still   have   in   our   store.      If   anyone   can   name   any   member   please get in touch using the webmaster link below.  Photograph supplied by Peter Vardy
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