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Gislingham Silver Band

Gislingham Silver Band have been providing music to the local community since 1885 making it the longest established brass band in Suffolk. New players are always welcome – all ages and abilities.

The band practices every Tuesday evening from in the band room in Mill Street, IP23 8JT.

The Training Band from 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Main band 7.30pm to 9.30pm

During the year we perform at various concerts, fetes, open gardens etc.

Musical Director: Adrian Waite
Secretary: Peter Lucas

How you can get involved

Contact the secretary Peter Lucas on 01379 788411 or by e mail or simply come along to one of our practice nights. You will be very welcome.

A short history of the band

The first record found of the band is the Diss Express newspaper dated Friday 29th May 1885 when the band paraded through the village on Whit Monday.

One person who was the backbone of the Band for over seventy years was Cecil Carter – a local farmer. Without Cecil’s generosity, perseverance, tenacity and determination the band would have folded on several occasions. Cecil joined the Gislingham Brass Band in 1929 at the age of 16 because there was nothing to do in the village of an evening and he was keen on Lily Ruffles whose father, Joseph, and her brother ‘Puffer’, were both members of the village brass band. Cecil was earning ten shillings a week and he saved up three pounds and ten shillings to buy his first trombone, by mail order, from Boosey and Hawkes of London. Nobody else in the Band had every played a trombone so he had to teach himself to play. In 1932, at the age of 19, Cecil became the band secretary – a post he was to hold for nearly seventy years! The band were donated a side drum and a bass drum and became The Gislingham British Legion Band playing for rallies and parades (a tradition that continues to this day.) Cecil Carter was in West Suffolk Hospital for his 90th birthday. The band was given permission to play on the ward for him. Cecil did not return home and died on the 25th May 2003.

The band met in the Old ‘Free’ School in Mill Street for over thirty years. The ‘Free’ School was sold in 1959 and the band moved to The Mission Hut in Mill Street that had been redundant for several years. Originally the Mission Hut was a First World War army hut. After the war it had been purchased by Mr Edmund Broadbent of Oak House to be used for missionary meetings and services. Later it was sold to Tom Fisher who kindly allowed the band to use the hut rent free. Tom Fisher died in 1976 and his wife two years later and in 1982, Eric Fisher, the vendor, sold the Mission Hut to the Trustees of the Gislingham Silver Band for £1. The conveyance relating to the drive and car parking area to the rear of the hut was completed in 1989 – purchase price £1.

The band were becoming restless being tied to the British Legion and dictated to as to what they could and couldn’t do so they broke away and became the Gislingham Silver Band as most of the instruments were silver plated.

Ron Wright joined the band in 1983 as musical director. Ron had played as a lad in the Markham Main Colliery Band and joined the senior band at the age of twelve. After doing his National Service in the Army he went to Bretton Hall College, at the age of twenty-six, where he specialised in music. He took up a teaching post, at Eye Secondary Modern School, as Head of the Music Department in 1970. Here he encouraged many pupils to take up an instrument and join the School Band. Many of his were later to become Gislingham Silver Band members.

To anyone entering the band hut it is like entering a time warp. The walls are lined with photographs of the band performing over the years. Anyone interested in social history would enjoy the book ‘Cecil Carter and The Gislingham Silver Band’ that details Cecils life and how he managed to keep the Gislingham Silver Band going. Copies of are available from Peter Lucas for £12.95. (plus p&p)