1930 1939

A timeline of news, stories and pictures from 1930 1939.

If you have stories, memories or pictures of the band we'd love to hear from you.

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Success at Belle Vue


1930 was, in my opinion, the highlight of the Band's career when the Band won 2nd prize at the May contest at Belle Vue, Manchester. We started off the year by retaining the association quartet championship playing 'Hymn to Music', as we had done at Bicester. The previous year (1929), we had played Hubert Bath's 'Sunshine and Shade', at the association contest. In April we also competed at Aynho in the quartet and again winning 1st prize playing 'Hymn to Music'. Then came that magnificent performance at Belle Vue where the Band played number seven out of twenty Bands. Blackhall Colliery from Durham who played last were the only Band to beat us that day. The test piece was 'Songs of Old England', and originally specially arranged for the Grand Shield section at Crystal Palace in 1922 by Hubert Bath (who also wrote the test piece 'Freedom', for the championship in 1922). This title might make it sound like an easy piece of music, but far from it! He had taken several old English songs, stripped them down to the bare melody, re-harmonised them and turned out a wonderful test piece. There were solos for soprano, solo cornet, solo horn, tenor trombone, bass trombone and euphonium. On top of all this the second and third cornets, trombones and basses were, at times, buzzing about like bees at a wedding. The last movement 'Here's a health unto his majesty', was a real cracker. The final chord FF diminuendo - crescendo FF and the solo cornets on a top 'C', what a finish! We played two sopranos that day, there being two soprano solos plus a cadenza and helping out the top cornets. There was a wonderful run down in fast quavers from the top of the Band right down to the basses leading into that last movement. The Band spent the weekend as guests of 'Denton Original Band', and gave two concerts in Denton Park on Sunday afternoon and evening. The secretary of Dent on Band was Ernest Clifton and brother of Charles Clifton, our secretary.JA


Thursday 8 May 1930

For the first time an Oxfordshire band competed in the May Musical Festival at Belle Vue, Manchester, when the Headington Silver Band took past on Saturday last 3 May 1930 . In spite of the difficulties of the undertaking, out of 21 competitors Headington was placed second, the winning band being that from Blackhall Colliery.

The band is to be congratulated on its success, which would enable it to compete in the July contests among a higher grade of bands. The heavy cost of taking the band there, however, makes it doubtful if funds can be raised, and subscriptions would be welcomed.

Prizes have been won by the band at Bletchingdon, Swindon, Witney, Fairford (five years), Oxford (seven years), Silchester, London and elsewhere, and if the band can raise the necessary funds it should give a good account of itself in July.

OXFORD MAIL May 8 1930 p.4

ODBBA Contest

Saturday 28 June 1930

The next contest was the association contest which was held on the University running ground. I am a bit hazy about this one as there were only three Bands in the top section which was won by Willesden Town from London. Morris. Motors were 2nd and we were 3rd. Now as the London Band were not members of the association (being outside the distance limit), they could not compete for the Frank Gray Shield which was for association members only, so Morris took this and we also had a shield. I believe what happened was that Willesden were the only entrants for the open section and ourselves and Morris the only entrants for the association, so it was decided to lump the three together to make a contest of it. The test piece that day was 'Coriolanus'. What happened about the lower section I do not know. There was usually a very good entry for that.JA
... section 1 open...
"Oxford Mail and Oxford Times Cup", "Frank Gray Shield for Highest placed association band - 1. Morris Motors (S.V.Woods), 80 marks; 2. ("Edmondson" Cup), Willesdon Town Silver Prize Band (C.McManus), 75 marks; 3. ("Hawkes" Challenge Shield), Headington Silver Prize band (A.F. Brookes), 70 marks.
... Section 1 - Test Piece - "Coriolanus"
Headington: In several places you have the wrong balance of parts. Watch for the constantly recurring theme. Very dramatic, but in one or two places (especially softer passages) lacking in the necessary artistic presentation.
OXFORD TIMES July 4 1930 p.14

Bournemouth Contest

Saturday 5 July 1930

Next came the Bournemouth contest Saturday 5th July 1930. On this occasion we only came 2nd on the march which was won by Radstock who were a very good Band indeed. In the second section we were placed 2nd, the test piece being 'Souvenir of the Opera', this being held in the Winter Gardens. Then we played in the top section, the test piece for this being 'Rienzi', and upon which the Band gave a very good performance, as did Radstock. Then came the shambles! This was Yeovil Band who had won the previous year. They were quite good to start with but then came the movement with a cornet solo. About halfway through, the soloist completely broke down and the rest of the Band gradually came to a stop. After what seemed an eternity, the Band started up again and struggled through to the end. The outcome was that the adjudicator (Manuel Bilton), a well known Army Bandmaster, awarded them 1st prize and also the cornet medal. There was sheer pandemonium in the hall at this announcement. Not from us! I think, we were just too dumbstruck by this result to say or do anything. All that the adjudicator could say above the uproar was 'For all I know the man might have been ill'. I do know that the Band said that they would never patronise such a contest again as it was felt that we had a raw deal the year before, but I won't dwell on that.JA

1930 Annual Contest

Saturday 16 August 1930

The Headington Silver Prize band hosts its annual contest. Only Sections 2 and 3 were held, probably owing to a lack of entries. Wolvertown won both sections, 2: Recollections of Schubert, 3: A Summer Day (Greenwood).


Crystal Palace Contest

Saturday 27 September 1930

There were, of course, plenty of concerts, mostly council, and one or two engagements which took us up to September when it was decided to enter the Crystal Palace contest. We were put into section 4 which was one section higher than 1924 when we competed in section 5. The test piece was not a very good one, 'Concert Suite', and did not really suit the Band whom, by now, had developed quite a big tone. Moreover, there was, at this time, an undercurrent of unrest in the Band and it was being left to me more and more to take rehearsals besides my own Band, Kidlington, whom I had taken over twelve months earlier. I had stated my intention of leaving the Band after Crystal Palace so as to enable me to concentrate on Kidlington who, incidentally, were paying me well so had first call upon my services.
Well, Crystal Palace, unfortunately, was a disaster in as much that the Band drew number one and, although given extra time by the stewards, we went on the stands a few players short. Quite a few players decided to go by car instead of the coach and were late in arriving. Some dashed on to the stand after we started playing and a few did not make it at all, including the Bandmaster, Mr Uzzell. Had I been Mr Brooks, I don't think that I would have taken the Band under those conditions. Mr Uzzell resigned shortly after I left which was a very sad end to a brilliant year. JA



I do not know a great deal about 1931 apart from the fact that a new conductor took over, a Mr Hammond (ex Royal Marine I believe). My brother kept me informed to a certain extent. The Band did take part in the association contest which was once more held at Shipton Manor in June and were 3rd to Aylesbury Printing Works with Morris Motors 2nd. The test piece was 'La Favorita'. I remember that the Band played well although I was not with them. I conducted Kidlington who were 2nd in a lower section and that was their first ever contest. I believe that the next contest the Band played in was at Banbury 25 July 1931 where they surprised everybody by winning against the same Bands as at Shipton and it was a thoroughly deserved win. They were conducted as usual by Frank Brooks although I am not sure who was the resident Bandmaster at that time, it may have been R.O.G Jenkins who played the second soprano at Belle Vue. He and his brother Eddie (a horn player) came from Maesteg in South Wales when Pressed Steel first started in about 1928-29. Headington Band were 2nd on the march that day in Banbury which was played on the march through the Town, all three sections were lumped into one section for the march and my own Band (Kidlington) were 1st to everyone's surprise. It was no surprise to me as I had an ex-corporal from the RAF drilling them on the march in the streets of Kidlington for a couple of nights a week for two weeks before the contest. Also I saw to it that they played a march that they could manage, how the giants fell on that day!JA

New bandmasters in 1931


Bandmasters: Mr. G. Pinch actually Pinchin was followed by Mr. P Hammond and then Mr. R.O.G. Jenkins who stayed in office until 1934.

7th ODBBA Solos and Quartettes Contest

Saturday 7 February 1931

The Headington band are reported to have taken part in the annual event, held on this occasion at Banbury Town Hall

Bucks Herald - Friday 13 February 1931

Banbury Hospital Fete

Saturday 25 July 1931

Banbury Hospital Fete

The Band Contest

The band contest proved to be a very popular attraction, and the high quality of the music was commented on from all sides. ... Prizes were awarded for marching and deportment and the judging was done between the Church House and St. John's Church. The bands played their "own choice" of march. The results were as follows: Marching and deportment. 1st prize £1 10s.. 2nd prize £1 1, Kidlington Brass; 2, Bletchington. Best Drummer's Medal—Kidlington Brass Band. Best Soloist of the Day—Headington Silver Band.

Section I

24 players. Test piece. ‘‘La Favorita." First prize. £10 and the "Norris" Trophy (held one year). 24 medals for players, 2 medals for conductor and secretary. Result - 1. Headington Silver Band (conductor. Mr. A. F. Brooks) ... Commenting on the performance of the Headington Silver Band, the adjudicator said there was some very fine reading of the music, and the playing of the solo parts was outstanding. The trombone was exceptionally good in tone and style. The euphonium was also well played. ...

1931 Annual Contest

Saturday 15 August 1931

The Headington Silver Prize band hosts its annual contest. The winners were: 1st Section: Birmingham Metropolitan, 2nd Section: Friary Brewery and 3rd Section: Watford Silver Band.


Crystal Palace 1931

Saturday 26 September 1931

Well now, I believe the next and final contest of the year (1931) was at Crystal Palace where the Band was promoted to section 3 owing to their win at Banbury where they beat at least two Bands who were playing in the Grand Shield (one section below the Championship). Two nights before the contest I was asked if I could help out as they were short of a first horn player, so I went along and played with them. My brother played solo horn as usual. In those days there was no such thing as a registration and the practise of borrowed players was rife. I, however, was simply filling in a gap in the Band which brought me up. The test piece was 'Gems of Melody', from the works of Liszt. No prize though!
One rather strange coincidence about the day that the Band played in the 3rd section at Crystal Palace in 1931. These contests first started in 1900 but as no contests were held between 1913 and 1920 owing to the World War No 1, the contest on that date became the 26th annual contest. It was also held on the 26th September which was my 26th Birthday and believe it or not the Band drew number 26 to play. I'm afraid I have no idea where we finished in order of merit.JA


January 1932

I have very little knowledge of the Band's activities in 1932 as I was again playing with Morris Motors (now in the Championship class) as well as still the Bandmaster of Kidlington. I believe that Headington were still organising their own solo and quartet contests and were most certainly still organising their carnival and Band contests which were held on Tuckwells Meadows in Grandpont. This carnival was first started in 1926 and attracted good quality Bands from far and wide with some wonderful trophies.JA

Oxford and District News

May 1932

Another band with a fine record is Headington. Although at the present they are somewhat under full complement. I have no doubt, however, that as in the past they will manage to overcome the diffculties and again shine on the contest field during the coming season.


1932 Annual Contest

August 1932

The Headington Silver Prize band hosts its annual contest at Tuckwell's Meadows, Whitehouse Road. The winners were: 1st Section: Birmingham Metropolitan.

I am sorry to hear that Headington has suffered a small loss as a result of their contest in August. The support from the junior class bands was not all that could be desired, but all those who competed gave a good account of themselves. From remarks I heard passed, this contest is considered as one of the best organised and most attractive contests in the country. Mr. Clifton and his commitee are to be congratulated on their achievements.


Oxford and District News

March 1933

Flu has hit many bands hereabouts very hard, but Headington has been hit most, I think. For the first time since the commencement of the contests they were unable to enter a single soloist or quartette party, much to their regret, and on top of this they had to cancel an arrangement to play at a United Service in the Cinema, as they could not raise a band. I am pleased to say that Mr. Clifton is now recovering from his accident, and he would like me to express his warmest thanks to all friends who havc written to him.


Oxford and District News

July 1933

Bands should now concentrate in their spare time on preparing for the Headington contest on August 12th and I hope to see a large entry in section 2 on "La Traviata" a fine testpiece and a most pleasing programme number. I learn from Mr. Clifton that all the competitors at the Association contest have decided to enter for this event. There are numerous other bands in the area who should follow suit. I understand 35 bands have entered, four in section one, ten in section two and 21 in section three. A fine entry which should provide an excellent contest.


1933 Annual Contest

Saturday 12 August 1933

The Headington Silver Prize band hosts its eighth annual contest at Tuckwell's Meadows, Whitehouse Road. The winners were: 1st Section: Callender's Cables, 2nd Section: Callender's 'B' Band and 3rd Section: Bletchington Band.

The principal local event during the past month has been the Headington contest and Carnival. ... A fair number of the local bands competed, but I think that there were a few others who could have put in an appearance as competitors. ... As usual, the massed band performance, under the baton of Mr. R. O. Glyn Jenkins, Conductor of Headington, was the titbit of the day and their playing was a real treat. Great credit is due to Mr. Clifton and his helpers for their able organisation of this event, now generally recognised to he the greatest thing of its kind in the Midlands.




The Band were struggling having lost a few players and my own business by now settled down somewhat. Walter Chapman (an ex-Salvationist) was at this time Bandmaster and I don't think the Band had contested for some time...JA

Oxford and District News

May 1934


The Ninth Annual Band Festival will be held on Saturday, August 18th, under N.B.B.C. rules. Trophies and cash prizes value £600. Three sections. Section 1 (open ) testpiece, "Rienzi" (W. & R.); Section 2, "Echoes of Spring" (W. & R.). Dress and deportment prizes. Entries close July 30th. All particulars from the Secretary, Mr. Chas. E. Clifton, 17 Parker Street, Iffley Road, Oxford.
Headington Band are now making great progress and from what Mr Clifton tells me, are getting back to the form displayed when it competed at Belle Vue May contest a few years ago. A fair number of engagements are being booked and recent parades were the Oxford Bus Company's Churc:h Parade and the Naval and Marine Association.

Oxford and District News

July 1934

Although bands are apparently not alive so far as contesting is concerned, there still exists some activity in other directions. During the past month, as is probably generally known, the Ancient Order of Foresters celebrated their centenary, and church parades took place everywhere a lodge existed. In the Oxford area the Headington Band headed the procession of Foresters to Christ Church Cathedral, and also played the music for the hymns during the service.



August 1934

Fewer bands Compete
But Many Attractions
Oxford's biggest musical carnival of the year-the band contest organised today on Tuckwell's meadow by the Headington Silver Prize band- was unfortunate in the number of entries this year.
Only nine bands visited Oxford to compete for the nine trophies, which usually attract some of the finest bands in the country, and the championship section, the premier award in which is the G. Herbert Morrell 100 guineas trophy, had to be cancelled through lack of entries.
Last year there were five entries to this section, and a total of 25 entries representative on 18 bands. Today entries totalled 13.
Nevertheless the 150 uniformed bandsmen made a brave showing as they marched from the centre of the city to the ground to open the carnival.
A number if new bands visited the contest for the first time, among them the Cambridge Railway band.
The sole Oxfordshire entry was Bletchington, in Section II, for the "Oxford Times" vase.
Besides the bands, there were many amusements for the thousands of visitors who came from all parts of the district.
Stage performances and acrobatic displays provided almost non-stop amusement. There was also a mammoth fun fair with dozens of competitions for which prizes were offered, and the evening will be concluded with a brilliant firework display.


Oxford and District News

September 1934

Engagements have been fairly numerous of late; indeed, this area is very fortunate in that respect, compared with many places. Among the number who have been busy are Headington, with the Foresters' Fete and Ferry Hinksey Flower Show, besides fulfilling their engagements under the Council in the Parks.

Headington are hoping to enter for the contest organised by the Guild at Reading, in October, and are rehearsing "Recollections of Verdi" for the event. I understand that Mr. A. F. Brooks will be giving them a few lessons on the testpiece and will take them to the contest, where they hope to meet and beat the "cracks " of the Reading district.
I regret to learn that entries for the Headington contest fell far short of what they should have been, especially for the first section. It is thought that the Orpington contest, held on the same day, may have in some way affected the Oxford event.


Saturday 27 October 1934

It was reported that Headington would play in the first brass section at the Berks, Oxon, Hants and Surrey Bands Festival Guilds festival to be help at Reading on 27th October 1934.

Surrey Mirror, Friday 26 October 1934

1935 Annual Contest Cancelled

Sunday 19 May 1935

At a committee meeting the the Oxford Annual Contest was cancelled this year owing to the number of other activities taking place in August.

Oxford and District News

January 1936

Headington report a playing membership of 31 with an average at tendance of 26 at rehearsals, but the top cornet end is still weak. A successful social was held in the bandroom, and a whist drive on 7th December, while they had a good attendance at the concert in the Headington Conservative Club on 15th December. A further social is to be Held in the near future, I understand, and another concert or two being arranged.




Mr. J. Alder took up the baton

At the beginning of 1936 I was asked to take over the Band as it appeared to be falling apart. I agreed to do so as long as it did not interfere with my business which was expanding. The first priority was the quartet contest early in the year which we managed to win. We played a quartet of my own composition which was titled 'A Springtime Phantasy', and was very satisfying. We later on went to a quartet contest at Saltley in Birmingham where I feel sure that we should have won. We had a fairly late draw but instead of staying close to the hall some of them decided to go shopping. Unbelievably seven quartets drawn in front of us dropped out so that some body had to go looking for them. By the time that our members were found and came racing back coughing and panting they were in no fit state to play. The result was a shambles. The solo cornet player of Birmingham Metropolitan Works Band came to me afterwards and said, 'What in God's name happened'. He said, 'I heard you in rehearsal in the work's canteen and I told Harry Heyes, our conductor, that nobody was going to beat that today'.
We played at Fairford contest and also in two sections at Banbury without gaining any prizes apart from the solo trombone being awarded the prize for best solo of that day. He was Tom Coulthard who had recently joined us from the North of England. The Band was in a pretty poor state and very few players of the Belle Vue days left. We carried out quite a few council and other concerts and then one or two players came along to swell the ranks somewhat and we were now almost back to strength.
It was decided to enter the top section at Reading as the test piece was 'Songs of England', the former Belle Vue test piece. We had nothing like the band of that time and it was going to be a lot of hard work to get the Band into shape for this one. As it happened the Band rose to the occasion and were awarded 2nd prize. The Band was also on the evening concert programme as a guest Band to give a solo item. We chose to play a selection from 'Lohengrin', and as a result literally brought the house down and turned out to be the star turn of the night. Very satisfying indeed.JA

Oxford and District News

March 1936

Headington played at a social held al the East Oxford Labour Club on 22nd February, and the band was rcsponsiblefor the local arrangements for the solo and quartette contests. I learn. from Mr. Clifton that it is hoped to hold the annual carnival and contests this year, although no date has yet been fixed.


1936 Annual Contest Cancelled

Saturday 16 May 1936

At a committee meeting the Oxford Annual Contest was cancelled for the second year running.



Mr. R.O.G Jenkins came back for another spell.

About three months into 1937, I had to relinquish my position with the Band owing to pressure of business and R.O.G Jenkins took over once more. This must have been very unsettling for the Band with all of this changing around. I have no further knowledge of the Band during that year.JA

Oxford and District News

March 1937

I learn that the Oxford City Council have increased the grants to the Headington and City Military bands for playing in the parks during the summer months, from £50 to £60. The bands concerned have to give some 12 to 16 concerts during the season for ths sum, so even now they are not overpaid, I think !




1938, R.O.G Jenkins was still in charge and I had a serious illness early in the year followed by a long convalescence during which time I looked in on the Band and was promptly pressed into service on the flugel. This was just before the association contest which was held on Botley Road Recreation Ground. I believe the test piece was 'Recollections of Balfe', and the Band was 2nd in both march and test piece, the winning Band in each case being Spring Gardens from Reading. This was a very good Band whom we had met on numerous occasions in the past.
We next went to the Banbury contest, entering both sections where we had a field day winning both sections plus solo cornet medal in each section and Frank Austin, our euphonium player, taking the trophy for the outstanding player of the day. We did quite a few concerts, and the next contest was at Reading which was outdoors and earlier than the annual contest held in the Town Hall. The test piece here was again 'Recollections of Balfe' and was conducted by R.O.G Jenkins and myself playing flugel, and we were again 2nd to Spring Gardens. Then in the march contest I was invited to conduct the Band playing 'Punchinello', and R.O.G Jenkins sat in playing cornet and we won 1st prize. After that I gradually got my health back and resumed work in my business so that I dropped out of the Band for the time being. At the end of the year R.O.G Jenkins resigned from the Band. For what reason I do not know and I received an SOS from the Band to take over once again. JA

Oxford and District News

March 1938

Headington gave a concert at the Headington Conservative Club on March 13th in aid of two old members who have been ill for some time past, but the attendance was poor. The band was in very good form and played a good programme, which included solos by Mr. J. W. Hine (cornet) and E. Jenkins (horn), both of their solos being taken from W. & R's. Journal, Mr. Hine's solo being "Wiederkehr," which earned great applause.


1938 Annual Contest Cancelled

April 1938

The Oxford Annual Contest was cancelled again... it was not run again until 1948.

Oxford and District News

September 1938

Headington, who were elated at their success at Banbury, where they won first prize in sections one and two, beating Finedon Old band (who had won section one three years in succession) have been busy lately with parks' concerts and other events. I hear that schemes for the erecrtion of a new and up-to-date bandroom are in the air.




J. Alder leads the band once again.

I took over the Band from January 1939. This turned out to be a very tragic year with the start of World War 2 later in the year. The Band played at two contests, Chippenham and the association, the test piece in each case being 'A Selection of the Works of Weber'. There was no prize at the Chippenham contest, but 2nd at the association which was won by Aylesbury Printing Works in both march and test piece. We played the march 'The Conqueror'. Kidlington were 3rd in each case. The Band gave several concerts in the Parks that summer before the war started on the 3rd September. We immediately lost a number of players to the armed forces as did Morris Motors to the extent that neither Band could function on it's own so that it was decided to amalgamate and help each other. This worked for a few months, in favour of Morris Motors. We helped them do a couple of BBC broadcasts and also a number of engagements round the various RAF stations and army camps in the vicinity known, in those days, as Garrison Theatre. This meant that any fees coming were going to Morris Motors whereas we were getting nothing. JA


Saturday 20 May 1939

I HAVE heard that Banbury contest will not be held this year, as it has been decided to give the public a change of programme. It is expected that the contest will be resumed next year; I am pleased to note this, it would be a pity to lose such handy little contest so near home. Incidentally, talk of Banbury reminds me of the little incident there in July, 1937, when Headington (Oxford) and Thraston bands were debarred from playing in one section of the contest because they arrived late (the long hospital procession in the streets being the cause). I noticed this week that Headington has another bond in common with Thrapston. As you may know. Thrapston Town Band was recently provided with an excellent band room by Mr. Sydney Smith, the managing director of Messrs. Smith and Grace, the Thrapston ironfounders. Headington recently held a successful social to celebrate the reopening of their band room after extensive alterations.

Northants Evening Telegraph, Saturday 20 May 1939