A Means Of Enlivening The Community
Chapter 7 - The Half-Way Point
The Second World War was again to disrupt the social activities of the Hodder Valley and the Band no doubt found engagements scarce. By December 1945 the Band again had revived its activities:
“At long last the Slaidburn Silver Band is on its feet again. A number of new recruits have joined and are diligent in practices. Under the able leadership of Mr. Oddie, the Band will soon be competing at Band Contests. In the meantime, the band needs financial support. On Boxing Day the Band will tour the village with this end in view, and it will once again be good to hear Christmas music played in the street.”
The Rev'd Castle's magazine article sounds very encouraging --- "soon be competing at Band Contests" --- but no records of this happening exist. At least the old tradition of touring the village playing Christmas Carols to elicit funds was revived. In the same edition of the Parish magazine another old custom was also revived --- the ringing of the curfew at the Parish Church, 30 strokes on the 5th bell before the clock strikes eight, then the tolling of the days of the month on the first bell. Not only did the Band tour the village at Christmas, but the Carol Singers also turned out to and the Parish Church acknowledged the services of Mr. W. Eastwood and Mr. H. Clements for "augmenting the choir with their instruments."
Through the late 1940s the Band continued to turn out for the Whit Festival and for a new engagement connected with the Parish Church --- Rogation Sunday, the day when prayers were offered for God's Blessing on the land. The Band played for the Service in church and then led the procession to Duckmire where the land was blessed by the Rector.
In 1948, which may have been marked as the Band's 50th Anniversary, the Band presented 2 concerts, one at Grindleton School, the other at Clitheroe Congregational Church for which programmes survive. The musical content is interesting: besides expected items like "Slaidburn", and "Rimington", the Band was also including items like "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs" which was relatively up-to-date as Disney's cartoon was fairly new at the time. Also included in the programmes were the services of vocalist Irene Souvain, elocutionist Elsie Kershaw and comedian Mr. J. O'Donnell. Band soloists were named as Mr. T. Wilson and Mr. T. Stewart. Admission to both concerts was 1/6d.
By 1950 the membership must have dwindled again for in 1951 the Parish Magazine again reports another revival:
“From all sides we hear nothing but genuine praise of our re-formed Silver Band. Under Mr. Harry Clements much progress is being made and their music during the Garden Party gave very real pleasure and satisfaction --- in fact we all felt rather proud of them in front of our visitors.”
The name of Harry Clements was to appear regularly in reports of the Band's activities and coupled with a newer member of that time, John Wooff, these two men were to be responsible for the running of the Band through "thick and thin" until the mid-1960s.
As always, the traditional local events were still undertaken throughout the early 1950s with fees being received for the Whit Monday Festival (£10-0-0d in 1951 and 1952) and the Hodder Valley Show (£5-0-0d in 1951 and £10-0-0d in 1952). The playing of Christmas carols around the village of Slaidburn raised usually between £9 and £12 around this time and to supplement the Band's income a fund-raising "concert and film show" were given in November of 1951 which also raised £9-17-0d.
1953 was the Coronation year of our present Queen and the band found itself with extra work at a number of villages although John Wooff recollected that the Band struggled to muster enough players to fulfil the engagements and had to "borrow" players from other bands to fill the gaps. In addition to playing at Slaidburn's Coronation celebrations (fee £5) the Band also played at Tatham (fee £15) and Sawley (£17). These would be the last major events that the Band would perform at for some 11 years. Christmas 1953 saw the usual tour of the village to raise funds and the Band also took the opportunity to have 2 cornets overhauled at the workshops of Thomas Reynolds, well-known instrument dealers and repairers of Manchester, at a cost of £7-10-0d. It is questionable as to how much use these repaired cornets got over the coming years as the Band was now struggling to continue and records show that it only played at Christmas in 1954 and 1955 probably to raise enough cash to pay the day to day running costs such as heating and lighting in the bandroom. John Wooff recalled the instruments not in use hanging from pegs on the bandroom wall gradually becoming tarnished on the outside --- the challenge of cleaning these instruments was something that future band members would find out!