Winsham Coronation Band was founded in 1902, its founding members having been members of the Winsham Drum & Fife Band, which had existed for many years. References to this earlier group can be found in the Winsham School Log as early as the 1860s.
Over the next hundred years or so, the Winsham Coronation Band was always present at major village events, and old photographs indicate that during much of that time it had between twenty & thirty members. Its standards of performance were high, and from the mid-1930s frequently entered Brass Band competitions held in the South West, when it’s playing won recognition from time to time, and always earned the respect of judges and the other competitors. The Band also gave, over many years, concerts that invariably delighted its village audience.
Sadly the Winsham Band ended its activities in 2010, due to its failure to attract younger members. Although the Band tradition is continued in Chard and Lyme Regis, younger members drifted away either to join other bands or because other commitments in a changing world made demands on their spare time.
The Band’s first concert was given in June 1902, quickly followed by another on the 9th August 1902 to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII. It was to be this event that was to give the newly formed band its name. The celebration started with a march through the streets of Winsham, and the performance continued throughout the rest of the day, as part of the wider celebrations. In 1910, when the King died, the Band played outside St. Stephen’s before and after the memorial service, to a background of muffled bells.
The Winsham Friendly Society was an important village organisation, and for many years, its Annual Club Day was started with the Coronation Band leading its annual parade, which set out from Whatley. It would also play while the members enjoyed the repast that was an important part of the day out. Today, in the early twenty-first century, plagued by obesity and soft living, one wonders how the band members were able to march up the steep hill that separates Whatley from Winsham while playing their instruments!
From the earliest days the band encouraged children, boys in the early years to learn an instrument to a level of proficiency that would earn them a place in the band. It was not until after the Second World War those women began to make an appearance in the Band. Membership was often a family affair. Bert Spurdle, who joined the Band in 1918 was joined in the 1930s by his son, Gilbert, and his son-in-law. Later his grand-children, Ian Monckton, Gillian Grabham and Carole Marshall became members. The Frecknall family were also represented in strength-Roy Frecknall and his brother Clifford joined in the mid 1930s, followed by their sons, Peter and David respectively.
To celebrate the Band’s Golden Jubilee, a Fete was held in the summer of 1952 on the Recreation Ground. After a group photograph which included many past members, the Band paraded through West Street (now Western Way), Back Street, Fore Street, Court Hill and then to the end of Church Street, where the children of the village were assembling in all manner of Fancy Dress. The whole lot then combined, including the past members of the Band then processed to the Recreation Ground.
The Fete was then officially opened by Mrs Warren of Knapp House, one of the longest serving Vice Presidents of the Band. After that the fete got under way, with the judging of the Fancy Dress and many other activities to make it a very memorable day, which included an exhibition of the many photographs of the Band from earlier years, and a display of Prize Cards and other memorabilia. The Band played throughout the event.
In 2002 the Coronation Band celebrated its 100th Anniversary. The year, coincidentally that also marked the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
The celebration event was held in the Jubilee Hall, and spread over the greater part of the day. In the afternoon an exhibition was staged filling the hall with many people from the parish.
It included displays of memorabilia, including instruments going back over the hundred years of the Bands existence. It included one hundred and seventy photographs. One interesting element that emerged from the photographs was the manner in which the style of uniform had changed over the years. In the early days they were distinctly military in style, but as the century progressed a more relaxed style became the fashion.
In the evening the partying began, with some eighty people joining the revels, including past band members, a few of which having travelled considerable distances to attend.
The conversation was of times past. The Band had lived through two World Wars, and although depleted during those times it still managed to perform at concerts and events during those difficult times. After enjoying a wonderful buffet and many convivial glasses of wine, it was time for just a few formalities.
First to speak was Roy Frecknall, the Senior Member of the Band, with sixty eight years of service. After giving a warm welcome to everyone, he went on to talk about the spirit of Banding and how the members of the band, and the community had gained from this. He also talked about how important had been the support of non-playing members over the years.
James Goddard then spoke, supporting the points made by Roy Frecknall, expressing the hope that the exhibition held in the afternoon and seen by many of the younger members of the village might ignite a flame of interest in them that would lead to the regeneration of the Band and its spirit.
Chairman of the Parish Council, Colin Slade then underlined the importance of the Band to the Winsham community over the previous hundred years, and how proud the village was of its band and the manner in which it had supported and made more enjoyable many village events over the years.
The end of this more formal part of the evening was marked by Cliff Frecknall, on behalf of the present Band, making a presentation to Margaret & Roger Tett as a mark of the Band’s appreciation for the tremendous effort they had made in organising the day’s events.
Despite a rapidly changing world, the Coronation Band remained vigorous for most of the second half of the twentieth century. It completed the building of its own Band Hut in 1952, and was playing regularly at Village events until the 1990s.
Sadly, as the old Millennium came to a close, it was becoming increasingly difficult to attract young people into the Band. The Band played at the Street Fair in 2002, but for this it was necessary to borrow musicians from other bands in the area to make up the necessary numbers. Since then it has played at a few smaller events, and has played at the of the Winsham Christmas Tree lighting–up ceremony each year, but with the death of John Loaring in 2009, the numbers are now down to five, making recovery unlikely.
List of Band Masters
Acknowledgements: Especial thanks are due to Roger and Margaret Tett, and Cliff Frecknall, whose research and knowledge of the Bands history made this record possible. There is also available from Roger Tett an excellent Photo Story on DVD, containing a good deal of information not included on this Web site.