Concert in Horsham with historic links

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The Friends of Horsham Museum and Horsham Borough Band can add some very specific information to your photograph (printed September 20) of Reading Borough Band marching in Horsham in 1906.

The photograph shows part of the 14th Annual Band Contest held by the Southern Counties Brass and Reed Bands Association.

Held every year on Whit Monday (June 4 in 1906) the competition had grown to involve around 30 bands when held in Horsham. Each band would first parade through the town playing a piece (‘March Contest’) before competing in a second, seated ‘Selection Contest’.

The crowds in your picture and the poster advertising the following year’s competition in Crawley’s Goff Park show the popularity of the event in our town.

Horsham’s own Borough Band, formed as the Horsham Recreation Band in 1900, had first played (unsuccessfully) in competition in September 1905 at Crystal Palace. They played in the First Section of the 1906 Southern Counties Contest in Horsham (the same section as Reading Borough Band) and gained a third place.

By 1907 they had stopped using any reeded instruments, bought a full set of silver plated brass instruments, renamed themselves ‘‘Horsham Recreation Silver Band’ and won two first place prizes at Crawley. The band, renamed Horsham Borough Band in 1974, continues to play and wins many prizes to this very day.

How do we know this?

The Friends of Horsham Museum (through a Heritage Lottery Grant) are currently stabilising and photographing the museum’s collection of historic posters and in the next few months will make these available on a website to enable everyone find out more about our local heritage.

We will include information about each poster, and need volunteers to help find this out (contact Horsham Museum if you are interested - subjects range from music, sport, commerce, events, politics etc). Some of the project’s first work is with Horsham Borough Band because there are many of their posters in the collection.

As a result the band donated its extensive archive to Horsham Museum earlier this year, and using the posters and this archive, we have discovered when over the years the band has played concerts to raise money for local and international charities. Find out more about this in an exhibition presently in a shop window in Swan Walk and at a concert we are jointly organising this Saturday.

The concert will be at London Road Methodist Church this Saturday, October 13, at 7.30pm. Horsham Borough Band will play modern and historic pieces illustrated by the Friends using posters from Horsham Museum’s William Albery Collection. Tickets (£7.50, £5 for students) are available in advance from the band (01403 263 620) or Horsham Museum.

We have not yet had time to find the report on the event that will be your newspaper’s archive in Horsham Library – an example of where a volunteer could help!

This should confirm that the bands marched from Horsham Park, along London Road (as pointed out by Mr Dancy in your October 4 edition) to the Carfax Bandstand.

I personally would like to know which 1906 competition the Recreation Band came third in, and how Horsham Town Band fared at that time. Did fewer bands compete 1906 (Reading Borough is band number 10 in your photograph, whereas in 1907 it would have been number 13)?

JONATHAN ENGLAND

Chairman, Friends of Horsham Museum, Causeway, Horsham