Wicken Band to celebrate its centenary

IT’S 100 years since a make shift band was formed in Wicken to mark the coronation of King George V - and now Wicken Coronation Brass Band is planning to celebrate its centenary with a weekend festival that will include two concerts and reunion.

A Centenary Concert will be held on Friday 10th June at the Victoria Hall in Fordham, and the following day the band will hold a gathering for past and present players, along with an exhibition charting its history.

The band was formed for the Coronation on June 22 1911, when a plea went out for instrumentalists to come forward to form a musical group to lead a procession to the church.

Along came the owners of one cornet, one euphonium, two piccolos, one tin whistle, one flageolet, one bass drum and one violin. Leading them was to be a harmonium, with an experienced organist pulled along in a cart.

From this unlikely beginning, the Wicken Coronation Band was formed, and the original players were lent �35 by Vicar Rev Ernest Dibben to purchase the first set of instruments. After two years of playing under bandmaster Walter Bishop, that loan was repaid, and another �32 loan for uniforms was repaid 18 months later.

The band played at local events, including Hospital Sunday parades, and had success in many competitions, including the Championship of East Anglia in 1955. Wicken Youth Band was formed in 1989, and has also collected many awards for its musicianship.

The Centenary Concert on June 10 begins at 7.30pm. Admission will be �6.00 and tickets are available from any member of the band, John Pryke telephone 01638 720674, D N Jenkins in Fordham or Brenda’s Flowers in Soham. The band will be under the musical directorship of Glenn Thomas who joined the band in February this year. On Saturday 11th June starting at 4.00pm, the band will be holding a ‘gathering’ of past and present players and conductors. This will take place in the marquee on the green outside the Wicken Mission Hall and also in the hall where there will be an exhibition of the history of the band. During the afternoon there will be refreshments and a bar, a barbecue and cream teas. In the evening the band will be holding a free concert which will be conducted by present and past conductors starting at 7.00pm. Any ex-players will be welcomed to come along and take part, please contact Robert Peacock on 01353 723804 for details.

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It is hoped that a book about the history of the band will be on sale at the celebrations. Anyone interested in purchasing a copy can contact band president Laurence Finlayson on 01353 721863 or chairman Robert Peacock on 01353 723804.