History of Coleshill Town Band
As with most brass bands throughout the country, Coleshill Town Band has had an up and down past. It has struggled and survived through two world wars and has seen many musical directors, and even more players come and go.
The band was formed in 1902 when a group of bandsmen from the neighbouring village of Water Orton decided to establish a band in Coleshill. It is believed that £103 was spent in acquiring the Band’s original instruments. The number of band members grew steadily over the years following formation, although the outbreak of World War I in 1914 halted the Band’s progress, with several players losing their lives in action.
In 1938 Mr Percy Green, Chairman of Maxstoke Ex-Servicemen's Club, became involved in the running of the Band. The band began to rehearse at the Club and also took the Club’s name.
Between 1939 and 1945 World War II threatened the future of the band although a few members managed to carry on despite the conflict in Europe.
Picture: 1940. Band in front of New Club building with Mr S Gascoigne in front row. Some band members were away in the forces. Several young boys in band, and even one lady.
After the war however, the band went from strength to strength. Mr Harry Hayes and Mr W Keddle, both experienced bandsmen, moved into the Coleshill area and shared their knowledge and experience with the band to help improve the quality of musical performance. Soon afterwards Mr M Clayton, at the time sole Euphonium with the City of Coventry Band, was appointed as conductor and by the early 1950’s
the band had developed a considerable reputation and won several prizes at the famous Belle Vue contest in Manchester.
In the mid-fifties several key members of the Band, including the conductor moved on to pastures new. As a result band performance suffered and the contest winning performances of previous years proved increasingly difficult to repeat.
The band continued throughout the early sixties and in 1966 Mr George Lewis together with a few other member of the Atherstone Miners Welfare Band came and joined forces with the Coleshill Town Band. As well as benefiting from this new influx of musical talent, the band also benefited from the new members kindly donating their previous band instruments and music library. At this time the band became known as the Coleshill Silver Band, although rehearsals continued to be held at the Coleshill and Maxstoke Ex-Servicemen’s Club.
1976 finally saw the return of contest success for the band, with first place being claimed in the West Midlands Brass Band Association contest held at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
In 1978, disagreement between band members resulted in a majority of players moving away from Coleshill to Shirley, taking band music and instruments with them. A few loyal members remained in Coleshill to try and fulfil existing band engagements –
something which they managed to do by clubbing together to buy a few instruments, and borrowing a few more. As a result of the split the players remaining in Coleshill became known as the Coleshill Concert Band.
At the end of 1978, Alan Morris, a playing member of the band between 1948 and 1952 agreed to take up the position of Musical Director with the band.
In 1979, the breakaway Coleshill Silver Band (then based in Shirley) dissolved and the three remaining players, together with most of the band’s instruments and music, returned to Coleshill.
By 1980, the benefits of Alan Morris’ appointment had become self-evident. Not only did the band qualify for the National Brass Band Finals in London, they took first place in the West Midlands Brass Band Association Contest held at Bedworth Civic Hall, an award which they retained the following year when the contest was held at Warwick University.
The obvious success of the band on the contest stage also helped to generate interest from potential sponsors and in November 1980 the band agreed a sponsorship deal with Ansells Brewery. The band became known as Ansells Coleshill Band and in return the
brewery provided new band uniforms and financial support. The sponsorship agreement with Ansells lasted until 1992 at which time Coleshill Town Council kindly agreed to take over the sponsorship of the band.
1983 was an important year in the history of the band as that is when it began it’s twinning with the Ensemble Orchestrale de Chassieu, which has progressed into a regular cultural and musical exchange. Since this first visit the band has visited their friends
in France a number of times, the most recent trip being made in 2009.
In 1996, it’s current Musical Director Mr Stephen J Fagg (BMus) was appointed. The band progressed, gaining a full complement of players and a junior band policy.
In addition to exchange visits with L’Ensemble Orchestrale de Chassieu, the band has also made two visits to Sweden, three visits to the Arts Festival in Tenby, a trip to Dublin and more recently in April 2001 an exchange visit to Usingen, near Frankfurt where the band made many lasting friendships.
The band re-entered the contest arena in the year 2000, with very succesful results, a third place at the Whit Friday March Contest and second place in the fourth section at the Wychavon Festival of Brass ( repeated in 2009 together with 1st prize for Percussion). In 2009, the band also returned once more to a very wet Whit Friday contest, this time winning two deportment prizes. This was followed up in 2010 and 2011 with more success, this time winning 4 deportment prizes in both years.
In Autumn 2010, Coleshill Town Band went on tour to Luxembourg. Earlier that year, they band became the first Fourth Section band in the UK to perform Handel's Messiah with choir and organ. The fruits of the youth programme also became evident this year as Coleshill Youth Brass became Training Section Champions in the National Youth Championships of Great Britain.
In 2012, Coleshill joined forces and forged new friendships with Yarwell and Nassington Band which has family ties with CTB. The bands put on a concert in Coleshill and then Nassington the following week. Both concerts were well received with calls for follow up events to be held. This year Coleshill will also taking part in the Brass the Baton event where brass bands across the UK handover the honour to play 'Going the Distance', written especially for the Olympics by Paul Lovatt Cooper.
The band, now consisting of Senior, Youth and Beginner's with over 100 members, performs many engagements each year in the area with the quality of the music and entertainment provided being highly commended.
On 2nd June 2015, the Queen’s birthday honours were announced. In amongst those honours, the Coleshill Town Band organisation was recognised by way of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, an award considered to be a collective equivalent of an MBE.