Bretforton Silver Band
Bretforton Silver Band is a friendly village brass band based in the Vale of Evesham in the county of Worcestershire. Affectionately known as 'Bret', the band is the only surviving village band in the county.
Their first mention in public records is on the 28th September 1895 where reference is made in the local ‘Evesham Journal’ newspaper to a public tea and concert in the village schoolroom to raise funds for the newly formed village band. Further research has revealed that the band was formed sometime between the 1894 and the summer of 1895 evolving out of the temperance movement which was popular at that time.
Known then as ‘Bretforton Band of Hope’ the band performed in the following few years on several occasions in local parades and the village chapel. Records indicate that in 1900 the band was officially known as ‘The Bretforton Temperance Band’. One notable performance was in 1897 as the band played a fanfare from the top of St. Leonard Church tower, Bretforton to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This fanfare feat has been repeated on only a few occasions, including marking Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee in 1977, Golden Jubilee in 2002 and most recently her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
1904 brought a change with the band leaving the temperance movement and carrying on under the title ‘Bretforton Brass Band’. This remained until 1937 when due to the number of silver instruments in the band; it renamed itself as ‘Bretforton Silver Band’ – still continuing up to the present day.
Subsequently following it’s founding in the late 1890’s the band performed at a mixture of events in the following decades, ranging from brass band contests to village fetes. Particularly in the 1930s and 1940s the band often played as a dance band and it’s often recalled that much of the success and the survival of the band during these times was due to the work of the late Stan Archer who was bandmaster between 1931 and 1960. He encouraged many young musicians to join the band as in 1931 there were only 10 members, today there are 38 playing members. This encouragement and support of young musicians has continued and is reflected in the fact that the band has its own training band that is completely free for all players (any age!) which over time has provided new players into the main band. Additionally, within the last year, band members have also been teaching brass instruments in the local village school.
The band has a very busy calendar particularly during the summer months and is entirely self-funded, receiving fantastic support from people living in and around the village of Bretforton. In addition to playing in local parks and at fetes the band organises large events of its own.
One of these is its ‘Annual Asparagus Auction and Draw’, a unique event held in May each year at the village pub, ‘The Fleece Inn’. It has been one of the bands fund raising events since it was first organised in the 1970’s to help raise money to purchase new instruments. Locally grown asparagus, including large exhibition bundles, are auctioned to members of the public and traditionally very large sums of money are bid. This event is often reported in the national media and has been featured several times on television.
Another reason of the success and the longevity of the band was once summed up by the late Michael Trollope, another bandmaster who said there is a spirit of ‘togetherness’ in Bretforton village – a community feeling and everyone has an interest in the band. As a result of this community support, in 1999 the band decided to hold a free outdoor ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ concert as a means of thanking local people for their support of the band for over 100 years. The first proms concert was such a success that the band felt compelled to make it an annual event and has it has now become one of the bands major events (still free to attend!) and in recent years each year’s attendance has been several thousand people.
The first overseas trip by the band was to a German village called ‘Löhrieth’, near the town of Bad Neustadt, in 1981. This event came about through the twinning association at the local town of Pershore. The band formed a friendship with their villages band, ‘Musikkapelle Löhrieth’ and have remained twinned with them since. Both bands regularly visit exchange visits every several years.
In 2004 the band, conducted by John Wood, recorded their first every CD, titled ‘Evergreen’ which aimed to give listeners a flavour of the band and entertain them with a variety of traditional and modern music. In 2014 the band recorded their second CD, titled ‘Isn’t this a lovely day’ which continued the aim of entertaining listeners with a variety of solos from members of the band.
Presently the band finds itself flourishing with members and is in the fortunate position of owning its rehearsal room in the village where the they have practiced since the 1960’s. However, due to the success of the training band in recent years (as mentioned above, there are currently 38 playing members in the main band) this has meant that they have out grown their rehearsal room and are in the process of raising funds to build a new larger room.
The band has recently made a return to contesting at the Wychavon Festival of Brass where they were placed 4th and at the Midlands Area competition where we were placed a pleasing 7th position out of 21 bands.