In 1890 the officers of the “Yiewsley Band of Hope” reported that sufficient funds had been raised from the inhabitants of Yiewsley and West Drayton for the establishment of a brass band. The first rehearsal was held on Wednesday 13 August 1890 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Yiewsley, then a village of just 2000 inhabitants. Twenty players signed up, and a conductor was appointed.
The first recorded engagement was in December 1890 when the band played at a Christmas party for the children of the Wesleyan Society. Fund raising and a busy diary of local events dominated the early years.
In 1894 the band severed its links with the Wesleyan Temperance movement and, as a result, the name was changed to the “Yiewsley Brass Band”. A new rehearsal venue was also adopted, this being Yiewsley’s “National Schoolroom.” From this time the band was an independent village group enjoying considerable general support from the inhabitants of Yiewsley and West Drayton.
The Band’s first recorded attendance at a contest was at Wembley Park on 27th June 1903. They did not win any prizes on that occasion, but their fortunes were soon to change.
During the period 1911-1953, the “Golden Age”, the band met with considerable success, consistently winning prizes in local and national competitions. The crowning glory came in 1952 when the band was a finalist at the Daily Herald National Championships, held at Belle Vue, Manchester. It was the second time that they had competed at this level, having won a challenge cup in 1904. The band would have to wait 50 years before achieving similar heights.
The Golden Age can be attributed to two long serving musical directors, Mr Allen (1911-36), and most notably, Mr George Turner (1937-55), who were both dedicated to the best traditions of brass band music. They ensured that Yiewsley and West Drayton were always a strong force in the brass band world.
The years that followed were difficult. They were dogged by problems all too familiar to many community bands of similar status. There was a shortage of funds and a difficulty in finding and retaining players. A rapid turnover of musical directors did not help matters. It was down to the continued loyalty of a core of players and the support of the local community that the band was never in danger of folding. Accordingly, the band was able to fulfil a certain number of community events, which provided the main focus for the band. But participation in competition, that essential part of life in a truly active brass band, was patchy. However, the band did win a number of prizes at local competitions during the 1980s.
An upturn in the band’s fortunes commenced when Chris Cole accepted the band’s invitation to become their new Musical Director in 1994.
His ambition and drive quickly revitalised the band, attracting new players, and developing the band’s sound. As confidence grew, they returned to regular contesting, achieving in recent years a string of successes. In 2002 the band was a finalist at the Third Section of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, held in Torquay. It was almost exactly 50 years since the band had last qualified for the Nationals. In March 2009, their outstanding performance of Daniel Price’s “New World Sketches” at the Regional Finals, earned them another trip to the National Finals, this time in the second section, and a promotion to the first section.
Since promotion Yiewsley and West Drayton Band has continued to achieve respectable results in competitions, whilst still maintaining a year-round programme of concerts and community events. The band has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and attracts an ever-increasing quality of player, ensuring future successes, no doubt, in the years to come.
A history authored by Ken Dixon recording the first 100 years of the band’s existence was published in 1990.