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The Pillowell Brass Band in 1938 and memories by Robert Watkins.

Pillowell Band

Pillowell Brass Band 1938

This photo is very similar to the Pillowell Brass Band photo in "The Muscial Tradition of Dean" Volume 1 - by Maurice V Bent (1997).
The names are taken from the photo in the book.

Row 3: 1 Seymore Jones, 2 Lendy Howells, 3 Enos Truman, 4 Cliff Thomas, 5 Stan Morse, 6 Fred James, 7 Bill Sterry.
Row 2: 1 (bandsman standing with hands to front) Reuben Jones, 2 Ray Jones, 3 Tom Morse, 4 Arthur Andrew, 5 George Evans, 6 Fred Wintle, 7 Frank Beddis, 8 Perry Lane.
Row 1: 1 (boy standing behind drum) Reg James, 2 Fred Watkins, 3 Ken Watkins, 4 Albert James, 5 Bert? Ambtey, 6 Carl Deakin, 7 Charles James, 8 William James, 9 Bert Richards, 10 (boy standing) Frank Truman.

Memories of Pillowell band 1930 - 1939.

by Robert Watkins

I was never a player in Pillowell Band, father was a life long supporter, as were most of the Watkins family. Father did play the trombone, but seems to have given it up when he got married. My brother and I never joined as we were destined to learn the piano [Aunty Gert was a piano teacher].

My father and his brother religiously went to Sunday Practice whenever they could, in any inclement weather. They would sit in The Band Room purely as a listener, and pay their membership - fee probably to few pence. The Band room is still there a red galvansed single room in Lower Yorkley near the wood and Captain's Green, and when the band was at Double Forte it could be deafening.

Of course the two brothers had to be on the committee, what for? - to tell the conductor how many wrong notes the band had played I expect. In the summer when the sun was shining the practice took place in the open, on the Rudge, [as we would say] the large wooden music stands erected in a circle. The conductor with his baton in the centre, would count 1,2,3, and off they would go, I hope all the youngsters had done their practise in the previous week or else after the first couple of notes they would be left behind. 'Twas a free music concert, no seats, standing only, unless you could do the colliers quat, swot, [ Forest Slang!!!] They always had a good audience and my brother and I had to be in with it. On second thoughts there could have been a couple of benches to rest your legs on.

As you can see by the photograph (above) in 1938 it was a very good band, always in competition with The Yorkley Onward Band. Prior to the war there were a lot of activities - local concerts to raise money for this and that charity. One such charity was Lydney Hospital. On certain Sunday nights The Whitecroft Male Voice Choir and the band would give a evening concert in different villages, open air, in my case, on one of the Pillowell open spaces. It always collected up a good crowd and the hat would go a round for the collection.

The hospital worked on contributions to keep running. I remember when starting work I paid sixpence now and then, which entitled me to some free treatment. There were also the competitions - The Band Contests. The one that I remember was at the Whitecroft Veg. , Flower, and Band Contest. Many bands competed some came from as far off as Wales, this caused a lot of rivalry; all there to win, They were judged on a march through the village, then the big one; the Selection Piece in the fete itself.

Coming back to Father and his support of the band. If perchance they did not win and especially if the Yorkley Onward Band beat them, there was always an inquest into what went wrong, as there were great rivalry between them. Pillowell Band was very fortunate to have befriended a professional conductor Mr Thomas Powell who had his own band in South Wales (forgot the name), I expect that he would have been approached for tuition in the first place; he no doubt liked the Forest enough to come and stay with Mr Thomas Morse at Whitecroft on many occasions, and no doubt gave the band some free instructions. I see an old friend Reg James, behind the drum, about the same age as me 10 or 11 years, who unfortunatly never lived to a ripe old age as I have, all very devoted to their band and lots of them related to us.

By kind permission of Robert Watkins, Lydney, Glos. (May 2014)

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