Posts Tagged ‘band’

The Market Place – but when?

March 11, 2013

Here’s a photo of Market Lavington Market Place with some kind of parade lining up – both military personnel and youngsters in scout uniform.

A parade in the Market Place, Market Lavington

A parade in the Market Place, Market Lavington

It isn’t the best quality photo you ever saw and we haven’t fully worked out when it was taken, but it has much of interest.

A separately written caption tells us that this is an Armistice Day parade after World War 1. This could, technically be correct, but it certainly isn’t immediately after the first war. Take a look at the rear end of a car which is in the photo.


That bit of car looks to be about a 1937 model – or newer

Whilst we can’t positively identify that car, it looks to be something built from about 1937 onwards.

Now we are going to look at the hotchpotch of buildings at the back of the Market Place.

Where Fred Sayer kept his suite of buses and charabancs

Where Fred Sayer kept his suite of buses and charabancs

This had been where The Lavington and Devizes Motor Services had stored vehicles. The windows on what was left of the lovely old house to the right carry evidence of that usage.

We are adviswed to travel by bus or coach

We are advised to travel by bus or coach

There was can see the notices urging us to ‘travel by bus’ and to ‘travel by coach’. The middle window indicates that a phone had been used by the company. But this doesn’t help us with date.

Market Lavington Prize Silver Band

Market Lavington Prize Silver Band

A small contingent of Market Lavington Prize Silver Bandsmen are playing. The bass drummer looks to have a young admirer.

On the right of the photo is the main collection of people on parade.

Men and boys on parade in Market Lavington

Men and boys on parade in Market Lavington

It looks as though the soldiers are wearing forage caps which were introduced in about 1939. It seems to point to a time for this photo being the 1940s. Unless you know something different!

Band Account Book

February 22, 2013

It is surprising what can turn up and get given to a museum like ours. The latest arrival is a nearly 90 year old account sheet and book from Market Lavington Prize Silver Band. Only the first couple of pages were used for accounts. Other pages were used by John Merritt, band leader, as an aide memoire to getting the band tuned up.

Here’s the front of the book.

Market Lavington Prize Silver Band accounf book for 1924/25

Market Lavington Prize Silver Band accounf book for 1924/25

The original plate on the front of the book has been overwritten by John Merritt because he has copied J Ord Hume’s tuning instructions into the book.

Let’s take a look at the account page.


The accounts show a balance equivalent to more than £4000 in today’s terms

This page appears to deal with 1924 and 25 and it looks at the bank assets of a band which seemed to be doing very well financially.  The balance in the bank on 25th July 1925 was £86=7=8d. Using even the lowest inflation equivalence formula this equates with more than £4000 in the bank today.

As we understand the band owned most of the instruments and the uniforms, it would seem it really did do well back in those days.

How wonderful to have this record.

The book then has John Merritt’s handwritten band tuning instructions.


John Merritt’s aide memoire when it came to tuning the Market Lavington band

Interesting to see, but seemingly quite technical – and this is the first of a couple of close written pages.

The book continues with alternative fingerings for a number of notes on different instruments.

John Merritt was bandmaster for 60 years. No doubt he needed to know what was possible on different instruments.


High Street – 1978

February 7, 2013

1978 is now thirty five years ago. On the basis of a life span of three score years and ten, that makes it half a lifetime ago. Roughly half the people alive now won’t remember 1978. It is ancient history to these people.

But at least the folks of Market Lavington can see what their village was like back then because people allow us, at the museum, to have copies of photos. So here we have The High Street in 1978.

Market Lavington High Street in 1978

Market Lavington High Street in 1978

This photo was taken on a very wet day with a church parade in progress. We have what looks to be a Boys’ Brigade band marching. In some ways they are not the most interesting feature in the photo (with apologies to anybody in that band). They wore a uniform and there is little about it that tells us this was 1978.

At first glance, the street looks similar, but there are differences. Take The Green Dragon for example.

The Green Dragon porch went right across the pavement

The Green Dragon porch went right across the pavement

The porch outside ‘The Dragon’ goes right across the pavement. It would stay like that for the next twenty years and then a lorry brought it down. Probably a sensible decision was made – to rebuild a smaller porch that didn’t come under threat from 21st century traffic.

Across the road there are changes.


The people on the left would be outside the chemist’s shop now

The rather shaded people on the left, were they to take up the same position in 2013, would be standing outside the chemist’s shop. . Incidentally, had they been there in more like 1913, they’d have stood by Briant’s Restaurant. Things go full circle sometimes. The old shop and other buildings were pulled down in the name of progress in the 1960s. Then, in the 1990s, shops and other buildings were put back again. In 1978, that building-free gap was a car park. But beyond it there is an interesting sight.

Back in 1978, Market Lavington had banks

Back in 1978, Market Lavington had banks

Yes, it’s a bank – The Midland Bank. Market Lavington still had its own bank branches back then – Midland and Lloyds had premises in the village. The Midland was able to make use of what had once been Harry Hobbs’s shop. Of course, the branch has now long gone. So too has the name Midland Bank. Perhaps it didn’t sound grand enough for the 21st century. In 1999 it was taken over by HSBC – The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

Yes, Market Lavington changes, along with the rest of Wiltshire, the country and the world.

The E flat horn

January 22, 2013

We could soon be able to have a small museum band. We have had a cornet for a very long time and we know something of its history. It’s not in the first flush of youth, but a former owner of it – the person who gave it to the museum – visited recently and was still able to get something out of it.

One of the first things that happened as a result of starting this blog was that the bass drum that had belonged to our band was given to the museum. Actually, it is not really in usable condition. Now we have been given an E flat horn. Our donor has had it since he was almost the last man standing in Market Lavington Prize Silver Band back in 1958. Now he has donated it to us as something to help keep the memory of the band alive. And of course, there is now a new band in the village so all in all it seems to be a good time band wise.

For those who don’t know what an E flat horn is, we suppose we could say it is a mini tuba. It has that kind of shape but is distinctly smaller. It’s a mid-range instrument without the lowest of notes.

Here is our horn.

Eb horn formerly used by Market Lavington Prize Silver Band and now at Market Lavington Museum

Eb horn formerly used by Market Lavington Prize Silver Band and now at Market Lavington Museum

We are told it dates from between 1910 to 1920 – a venerable instrument! It was made by Boosey and Co and is a part of their Solbron range with serial number 106302.

Makers marks on the horn

Makers marks on the horn

I suspect someone with knowledge could do some precision dating based on the number.

Of course, Market Lavington Prize Silver Band were a marching band so it’s no surprise that there is a lyre for supporting music.

Lyre for supporting music. The Market Lavington band marched and played

Lyre for supporting music. The Market Lavington band marched and played

From the museum point of view the case is as interesting as the instrument. It’s leather which isn’t used these days.

The horn's case is as interesting as the horn itself

The horn’s case is as interesting as the horn itself

The sewn shape is an internal leather pouch holding accessories like the lyre.

The case carries the name of bandsman G N Alexander.

The horn was played by G N Alexandwer of Easterton

The horn was played by G N Alexander of Easterton

At the moment, all we know of G N Alexander was that he came from Easterton. We hope to be able to tell you more about him soon.

But for now take pleasure, as we do, in another fine donation to Market Lavington Museum.


Market Lavington Band – 1947

December 28, 2012

It is good to report that, once again, Market Lavington has a Community Band whose first public performance was at the carols in the Old School just before Christmas.

Older people recall Market Lavington prize Silver Band which packed away its instruments in the 1960s. Today we are looking at that band in 1947, by which time John Merritt had been its leader for more than 50 years. The mounting of our photo, taken by Burgess Brothers of Market Lavington has suffered damage, but the photo itself is in good enough order.

Market Lavington Band in 1947

Market Lavington Band in 1947

The photo dates from 1947 and was taken outside Beech House on White Street. Clearly cups had been won that were deemed worthy of inclusion in the photo.

When choosing this image for a blog page, we thought it was well captioned. Actually, it isn’t. The names attached to the back of this photo quite clearly don’t belong to it. It lists the people in four rows where, clearly, there are only three here. So having carefully started to transcribe the names onto this blog page, we had to stop.

We’ll now hope that somebody out there can give us names. Of course, there are some we recognise – like John Merritt sitting just right of centre as we look at it.

Even without names we have a handsome bunch of men (did they really exclude the female half of the population?) who look thoroughly proud of their status as bandsmen.

A Welcome to Lavington Community Band

December 20, 2012

It is close on 50 years since there was a band based in Market Lavington. But now the phoenix has risen again. A new band, Lavington Community Band, has been formed. Yesterday it made its first public appearance at ‘Carols in the Old School’.

The band, under the direction of Mervyn Smith, led the singers through a range of popular Christmas carols. Perhaps it wasn’t the bleak midwinter for it was wild and wet – that might explain the disappointing attendance, but it certainly was not calm or quiet in the hall as band and singers gave it their all.

Lavington Community Band before its first public perrformance on 19th December 2012

Lavington Community Band before its first public perrformance on 19th December 2012

That’s the band at the start, and here they are in full flow.

Lavington Community Band get into their stride

Lavington Community Band get into their stride

You can click here to hear and see a verse of ‘Hark the Herald’.

Well done Lavington Community Band. How wonderful to have a local band, once again.

The Flower Show Band Contest

November 8, 2012

The generosity of people seems endless at times. We have recently been able to copy lots of photos held by a former Easterton resident. His pictures cover many aspects of life all around the area. Today we are featuring a photo taken in the heart of Market Lavington – the Flower Show Band Contest

Crowds on Market Lavington High Street for an Edwardian band cotest

Here we see Market Lavington’s High Street. Or maybe we don’t see it because of the sheer number of people. Immediately on the left is the Market Place and as we can see, the old building on the corner was then the Post Office. Now we have a chemist shop there, but it’s a completely different building. The Post Office was there in Edwardian times, which seems to fit with the clothing we can see.

Viewpoints are interesting. There are a couple of people on the rather flimsy shelf above the butcher’s window. (These could be Mrs Laura Eldin, wife of the butcher and their daughter, Florence). Florence was born in 1893 and looks to be the right age for an Edwardian photo. There’s another person on the house next door. He appears to be a police officer

There is no one we can recognise with 100% certainty.

But what a fantastic turnout for a village event. There must be 300 or so people out to hear the bands – probably more because the crowds, no doubt, will also be in the Market Place.

Johnny Merritt Remembers

August 17, 2012

John Merritt is certainly remembered fondly in Market Lavington. He led the Market Lavington Prize Band for an enormous length of time. The man and his music are not forgotten even now, some 54 years since he died.

But today we are looking at his memories of the band as recorded in the WI book put together almost 60 years ago.

The relevant typed page from that book is shown below.

Page from the early 1950s WI book about market Lavington

Thanks to Marion who has been transcribing this book for us – we have Johnny Merritt’s extract below.

Brass Band in Market Lavington (from Mr. J. H. Merritt)

It is almost certain that there has been a brass band in Market Lavington for upwards of a century.  Mr. J. H. Merritt informs us that he joined the Market Lavington band in February 1882.  This band was an established one and had been in existence for some years.  The conductor was a Mr. William Andrews of Easterton, at whose home the band assembled for practice.

Previous to this there was a band in existence which was conducted by a Mr. William House who was the landlord of the Green Dragon Hotel.  The instruments used in those days were very different from those in use today.  For instance the part that is now played by the euphonium was performed on an instrument called an opheiclide which was an upright instrument with large flat keys.  I remember Mr. S. Moore of Easterton had one that was used by his grandfather.  The part that is played on the solo cornet today was played on a keyed bugle.  Mr. House the conductor of this very old band used one of them, and I have the very instrument he used in my possession today.

Coming back to the present band, this was reformed and put on a proper foundation on October 23rd 1899 and at this meeting I was appointed its conductor, a position I hold up to the present date.  From then on the band began to improve and made headway and August 3rd 1908 we attended our first contest at Marlborough and were awarded second prize of four guineas.  Great was the rejoicing in the village that evening when we returned.  We were greeted and congratulated by Lord Warrington at Clyffe Hall on our way up from the station, whilst I myself was carried shoulder high into the Market Place, where the band played to the excited mob.

Since that time we have won many prizes and kept a good band together until the present.  But unfortunately we are now in somewhat low water and yet this need not be so, as there are plenty of bandsmen in the villages and around to rebuild the old band up to strength again.  The younger element does not seem to be so keen for banding as in my early days.  I have tried a number of them but most of them have ceased to learn.”


(Mr. Merritt has appeared on television in his bandmaster’s uniform since writing this.  He is believed to be the oldest bandmaster in England).

Tuppence for the Band

March 26, 2012

Market Lavington Prize Silver Band really was prized by the locals. Those who remember the days when an all-local band performed at functions and events always sound very proud of the performers, under the direction of John Merritt.

Funding a band is always difficult. Instruments, music and uniforms are all expensive. For 1935, the band decided to produce a diary which was on sale to the public.

It had a pretty, pierced front cover and the Black Cat name suggests that owning the diary was designed to bring luck.

This small (and unused) diary can be found at Market Lavington Museum

This is a small publication – about 8cm by 5cm – something like credit card sized. There was a page for each month as well as pages of information.

Wireless stations and speed records - information pages in the diary

So here we have some wireless stations to tune to and some speed records. Just for interest, the quickest train we found on a timetable for 2012 took 56 minutes from Swindon to Paddington – so no change there in the last 75 years!

Public holidays and postal charges for 1935

Some useful information for 1935.

And how much did the public have to pay to own this little gem? The answer is on the back cover of the diary.

The back cover tells us that the diary was a fund raiser for the Market Lavington Prize Silver Band

Just 2d! That’s less than a penny on current money. Profit levels, to help with the uniform fund, must have been tiny.

Hospital Week – mid 1930s

August 2, 2011

Hospital week was carnival week in Market Lavington. It gave a chance for fun and games, yet with the purpose that money was raised for health care. This, of course, pre-dated the National Health Service in the UK.

A regular feature of the week was a jazz band comprising local ladies. They obviously relished the opportunity to dress up and have fun.

Ladies’ Jazz Band at a 1930s Market Lavington and Easterton Hospital Week event.

This picture was taken on Church Street. Mr Hayball, the draper, had premises there at that time, but later he moved to the corner of White Street and High Street. If you’d like to know more about this shop, then visit the museum and ask to hear the oral history in which Mr Hayball’s daughter, Rose, describes her life at the shop and in the village.

Women in the band above include: Margery Stiles, Mrs Hurkett, Vi Gingell Lotte Cook, Mrs Hargreaves and Annie Buckland (in the top hat).

A close up on some of the ladies, including Annie Buckland

If anybody really wants to know, the notice on the door only says, ‘Sorry, we are closed’.

Onlookers in the photo  are Bert Mundy and Ken Buckland.

Further information about people in this photo would be greatly appreciated. Please contact the curator