St Austell Band Club
The St Austell Sax-Horn Band was formed in 1838 under the patronage of J.S. Graves Sawle. The band competed as St Austell Volunteer Band in the 1870s under William Jago. In the early 1900s it was reformed as the St Austell Territorial Band and competed in the first West of England Bandsman’s Festival (Bugle Contest) in 1912.
By 1920 the band had changed its name again and was competing as St Austell Town Band. Conductors in the early 20th century included R. J. Bennett, J. G. Jubb, Tom Eastwood, George Nicholls and J. M. Hinchcliffe. The band moved from its first rehearsal room (The Drill Hall) to new premises at the Old Mill in Trenance in 1923, where it was directed by E. F. Woodhead, until the outbreak of war in 1939 when it was disbanded. The band competed at the Crystal Palace on three occasions in 1927, 28 and 29.
In 1943 the band was reformed under the baton of Mr Charles H. Baker, rehearsing in a converted bakery on West Hill. The band's first contest success came when it won the Second Section of the West of England Area in 1946.
1948 saw another name change, to St Austell Silver Band, and the band went through a difficult period competing in the lower sections. Cecil Brewer led the band to success in the Second Section in the 50s and then to compete locally in the Championship Section in the early 60s. Telfer Rule took over the baton from 1962-1966, in a period which included a trip to Kensington in 1964 for the Second Section National Finals. In 1967, now under the direction of A. G. Richards, the band won the Second Section at the West of England Area and then went on to win at the National Finals.
In 1968 the band purchased its own premises and opened the St Austell Band Social Club where the band is currently based. The club boasts two bars and permanent rehearsal/teaching rooms for the band and School of Brass.
In 1970 St Austell Band was fortunate enough to secure the services of Fred Roberts, who led the band through some of its most successful years. Fred Roberts played principal cornet with the Brighouse and Rastrick Band under Eric Ball and taught the legendary cornet soloist, Derek Garside. He later became bandmaster at the C.W.S. Manchester Band, with Derek Garside as principal cornet. He also had a long period of success conducting the Camborne Band in the 50s and 60s. Throughout his time with St Austell, the band had many successes on the contest stage including 2nd place at the WD and HO Wills contest in 1972 and several appearances at the National Finals, and in 1974 the band performed in the Royal Albert Hall for the evening concert following the National Championships.
Later in the 70s St Austell Band was conducted by Alan Jenkin and Derek Johnston Snr. and in 1979 Albert Chappell was appointed as Musical Director. Before coming to St Austell, Albert Chappell had a long period of success with The City of Coventry Band and later with Desford Colliery Band and many people remember St Austell’s time with him as their most successful. Contest wins included the Pontins Championships in 1981 and the Yeovil Entertainment Contest 1981 and 1983 alongside many local titles.
Throughout the 80’s the band was conducted by several well-known personalities in the brass band world including Ken Dennison, Derek Greenwood and David Loukes. The highlight of this era was a 6th place in the National Finals at the Albert Hall in 1987.
In 1990 the St Austell School of Brass was formed offering free music tuition to young people; this led to the Youth Band becoming one of the best in the country and, at one time, there were over 100 people learning brass instruments with the organisation.
Conductors through the 90s included David Loukes, Mike Cotter, Hugh Megarrell, Leonard Adams, Mike Faro, Denzil Stephens, Gwyn Price, Melvin White, Steve Sykes, Chris North and Frank Renton. In 1999 the band became winners of the French Open Contest held in Amboise under the baton of Frank Renton. Chris North also led the Youth Band to second place at the National Youth Entertainment Contest in Blackpool in 1999 and third place at the National Youth Championships at Salford University in 2000.
Kernow Brass was set up by a breakaway group from St Dennis Band and, directed by Alan Slaughter, it enjoyed success in the top section locally in the early 80s but was never graded higher than Second Section nationally. Kernow went through several name changes due to its changes in rehearsal venue before eventually settling in St Austell Band Club and becoming known as St Austell Kernow Band. In 2001 St Austell Town Band merged with St Austell Kernow Band, directed by David Pope (registering under the name of St Austell Town to compete in the First Section). This new band achieved second place in Class A of the West of England Bandsmen's Festival that year and won special awards for the best player in the section, best soprano in contest and best euphonium in contest. In 2002 the band won the First Section Regional Championships at Colston Hall and went on to come third at the National Finals. In the early 2000s the band was conducted by Leonard Adams, Steve White and Norman Pendray while Melvin White was engaged as Professional Conductor.
St Austell Town Band returned to the Championship section 2003 and managed to secure the services of David Loukes as Musical Director later that year. In 2005 the band qualified for the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall and, drawing number one, premiered John Pickard's “Eden”. In 2007 Aaron Harvey took on the role of Resident Conductor and the band once again began to engage professional conductors for contests, being fortunate enough to work with the likes of Roy Newsome and Richard Evans. Gareth Pritchard led the band to success at the West of England Bandsmen's Festival in 2008, when the band was awarded the Royal Trophy and special awards for Best Bass Section, Best Soprano Player, and Best Cornet Player. In 2010 a third place at the regionals ensured a promotion back up to the Championship Section for 2011.
After being relegated to the First Section in 2013, St Austell Band, directed by Melvin White, won the West of England Bandsmen's Festival (Championship Section) in the centenary year of the historic Royal Trophy. The band also won special awards for the best player in the section, best soprano in contest and best solo cornet in contest. Then the band's second placed performance at the West of England Regional Contest in 2014, directed by Steve Sykes, earned it a place at the First Section National Finals and a promotion to the Championship Section for 2015.