Recent extracts on the Sibford Website from the Stevens Diaries have covered the year 1884, and have included comment about the Sibford Brass Band which was founded in June 1884 by the diarist, Reverend Edward T Stevens. Subscriptions from the band members and donations from the wider public were collected. Mr Henry Norris of Swalcliffe Park said he would donate a sovereign – but suggested that a rule should be made to the effect that there should be no performance of the Band on Good Fridays, as that was done at Shutford, much to the annoyance of the inhabitants!
The band members, mostly young agricultural labourers, subscribed half-a-crown a week towards the instruments which were supplied by Messrs Besson. Mr J Griffin was the first Bandmaster, Thomas Lamb the Treasurer and R Gaydon the Secretary. The first instruments arrived late in 1884 and the first public performance was in February 1885. By the end of 1885 the members’ subscriptions amounted to £59 9s 6d, with further donations of £19 9s 7d. The instruments had cost £50 17 6d and, after payment of other expenses, a balance of £12 8s 0d remained which was put towards the uniforms.
The original uniforms were made of heavy warm cloth with a high-necked tunic-style jacket which was decorated with braid. This style of uniform had a small matching ‘kepi’ cap. By 1920 the uniform had been updated and the bandsmen wore a collar and tie under a lapelled jacket. The cap was replaced with a smart peaked cap.
By 1893 the conductor was John West and by 1903 J Scruby had taken the conductor’s baton. The band used to practise in the Band Room above the Old Post Office and some of the uniforms were found there. When the Band disbanded many of the instruments were retained by the players but the side drums were loaned to The Shipston Town Band. We were fortunate to be able to display the uniform and some instruments, including the original bass drum and euphonium at the exhibition in 2018 celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.
I hope you enjoy reading these snippets of life in the Sibfords as much as I enjoy researching and writing them. Wishing all readers, a very Happy Christmas with a great year to come reflecting on Sibford’s history.