Gislingham Silver Band
SUFFOLK'S LONGEST ESTABLISHED BRASS BAND
The Gislingham Silver Band was formed in 1885 as the Gislingham Brass Band. The first newspaper article about the band appeared in the Diss Express on Friday 29th May 1885 that reports: 'On Tuesday the children belonging to the Sabbath School, headed by the newly formed brass band, paraded the principal streets, and then adjouned to a meadow, kindly lent by Mr. T. Edwards, where various games were indulged in till tea time, when they were again re-formed with the Band and marched to the chapel.'
The first Bandmaster was Harry Southgate followed by Mr David Ellinor, grandson of band member Percy Ellinor. David was to be the Bandmaster of Gislingham Band for well over 50 years.
Press Cutting dated 1887 reporting the band playing for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Celebrations in Wickham Skeith.
(In 2002 the band played in the same location to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee).
This enthusiastic band came back from the brink of extinction around 1920. It was revitalised by three stalwarts, Harry Southgate, and Percy Ellinor, Ted Steggall.
In 1929 Reg Pollintine and Cecil Carter joined the band. Reg remained a band member until his death in 1993 aged 82 years. Cecil beat his old friend by outliving him. He died in 2003 aged 90 years having played for 74 years in the band! There is more information here: Cecil Carter
One of the band's earliest photographs taken at Martlesham in 1926.
In 1932 the band were donated a side drum and a bass drum and subsequently became "The Gislingham British Legion Band" playing for rallies and parades (a tradition that continues to this day.)
In the late 1960's it assumed its present title of the "Gislingham Silver Band".
The band used to practice every Monday night in the old "Free" School in Mill Street, a thatched building that had become redundant after the building of the new school in 1870, it was not in the best state of repair and very cold in winter. The first player to arrive at band practice had the job of lighting the fire.
The 'Free School' building was put up for sale in 1959 and the band were given notice to quit. Cecil Carter spoke to local shopkeeper, Tom Fisher, who owned the old redundant Baptist Mission Hut, Mill Street. This had started lfe as a First World War army hut that had been purchased and transferred to Mill Street in 1919 and had been used for many years as a Baptist Chapel. Tom Fisher kindly agreed to let the band use the hut as their headquarters rent free. The hut had no electricity so it was lit by paraffin lamps as late as 1969.
Tom Fisher died in 1976 and his wife two years later and in 1982, Eric Fisher, the executor, sold the Mission Hut to the Trustees of the Gislingham Silver Band for £1.
The conveyance relating to the drive and car parking area to the rear of the hut was completed in 1989 – purchase price £1.
Ron Wright joined the band in 1983 as musical director. Ron had played as a lad in the Markham Main Colliery Band and joined the senior band at the age of twelve. After doing his National Service in the Army he went to Bretton Hall College, at the age of twenty-six, where he specialised in music. He took up a teaching post, at Eye Secondary Modern School, as Head of the Music Department in 1970. Here he encouraged many pupils to take up an instrument and join the School Band. Later many of these pupils were to become Gislingham Silver Band members.
Ron retired as Gislingham Silver Band's musical director in Sept 2010 after 27 years of faithful service but took up the baton again in January 2012 when the musical director resigned.
At the Annual General Meeting in January 2014 Adrian Waite was appointed musical director at Ron's request so he could do a bit more playing.
You are very welcome to visit us on practice nights at the band room in Mill Street and listen to the band rehearsing
There are over 300 photographs of the band taken at the various events over the past 80 years hung around the walls.
Special visits can be arranged via the Secretary Peter Lucas.