Book published for 100th anniversary of Wicken Band

PICTURE the scene - it’s Wicken in 1911, King George V is about to be crowned, and the village has no band to celebrate that momentous event.

PICTURE the scene - it’s Wicken in 1911, King George V is about to be crowned, and the village has no band to celebrate that momentous event.

So, with great resourcefulness, villagers decided to step up to the mark, and create its own band for the coronation.

A call went out for instrumentalists to make up an impromptu band - and along came one cornet, one euphonium, two piccolos, one tin whistle, one flageolet, two drums, a violin and the chapel harmonium to be carried along on a cart.

From that humble beginning Wicken Coronation Band was formed, and to mark the band’s centenary this year, a book has been published, called “The Story of Wicken Coronation Band 1911-2011.”

The band’s story is told in numerous unique pictures, charting its first march in 1911, through to the present day.

The book tells how the band’s original 22 players were lent �35 by the Vicar, the Rev Ernest Dibben, to buy its first set of instruments. After two years, playing under the direction of Walter Bishop, the band had paid back the vicar for the instruments, and a further loan secured as set of uniforms.

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Those uniforms were sent by rail from Huddersfield to Soham on April 12 1913, and were worn for the first time in Burwell on Whitsun Saturday.`

Before the First World War, the band’s concerts in the village hall were essential entertainment; and the band always turned out for the Hospital Sunday Parade.

The band celebrated its silver jubilee in 1936 by winning a cup at the Cawstom and District Brass Band Contest, and had success in many other competitions throughout its history, including its greatest achievement in being declared Champions of East Anglia in 1955.

Wonderful pictures in the book include one of the seven Avey brothers, all bandsmen in 1951; another poignant picture is that of former bandsman Fred Bailey, who was killed in action in 1945.

The books charts the history of the youth band, and has photos of the band celebrating its 50th and 75th anniversaries.

The book says: “The rise of brass bands across the Fens reflects the social and economic changes over the past century, and it is a tribute to the commitment of band members and their supporters that Wicken Coronation Band is in fine shape to move into its second century.”

The book costs �9.99 and is available from local book shops, from band secretary Beryl Peacock (01353 723804) and from author Anthony Day (01353 720159).


WICKEN Coronation Band celebrated its 100 anniversary in style, attracting capacity audiences to two concerts.

There was a special cake, and band members past and present welcomed members of the public to an exhibition of photos and memorabilia.

“The celebrations were an overwhelming success,” said band chairman Robert Peacock. “The band committee would like to thank everyone for supporting the centenary events and for making them such a fitting tribute.”

Celebrations began with a concert in the Victoria Hall in Fordham, when the band under the direction of Glenn Thomas played a superb programme to a capacity crowd. Bandswoman Sylvia Greenaway had baked a special cake, which was distributed to the audience during the interval. A special presentation was made to bandsman Bill Jeffery, to mark his 60 years with the band. The event raised �1,000 for band funds.

Celebrations continued the next day in Wicken, with an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia, tracing the band’s history. Six previous conductors of the band took part in an evening concert.