Sandhurst Silver Band was started in 1908 by the Coombs family of Albion Road, and in the early days, musicians largely came from Sandhurst’s Royal Military Academy. By 1912, a substantial band was playing under the baton of Mr Fred Bennellick, and a uniform had been obtained. By 1920, the band had become a real family affair, with many players’ relatives joining in. During the 1920’s Sandhurst Silver Band competed in national championships.
Although very short of players in the 1950’s, with conductor Gerry Hughes on occasion playing solo cornet whilst conducting, contesting successes included two wins at Reading and first prize at the Southern Counties Contest at Cirencester.
In 1958, the bandroom in Green Lane (now Brookside) was built by band members, who included a bricklayer, a plasterer and an electrician. In the same year, Brian Attewell became band Secretary, a position he held for over 40 years. In 1999 Brian was elected Life President in recognition of his long and dedicated service.
In 1968, former Royal Marines conductor Roger Palmer became Musical Director. Under his direction the band did well at numerous contests, winning five trophies at the Southern Counties contest at Portsmouth Guildhall on the same day.
In the early 1970’s Albert Lack, of Grimethorpe Colliery Band, became MD, taking the band to 3rd place in the Second Section of the National Area Contest. At this time the band had 35 registered players and was entering numerous contests. Mr Lack only stayed for a short period, and Jim Brewer, who had an orchestral and choral background, took over the baton for a number of years.
In the late 1970’s Jack Clark, formerly soprano cornet with the Morris Motors Band, was appointed conductor, later followed by John Reeves, a cornet player with the Royal Military Academy Band.
Steve White, formerly a horn player with Maltby Miners Welfare Band, conducted for the second half of the 1980’s. Player numbers swelled considerably in this period in response to Steve’s enthusiastic approach.
From 1990 – 1995 Bernard Curtis Williams was the band’s musical director. A teacher by profession, he built up the junior membership of the band considerably. In 1995, Bernard emigrated to Canada.
Roger Burke, Musical Director, from 1995 to 2007, had a highly successful career in the Royal Corps of Transport Band. Early contest successes included first prize in the 4th Section of Reading Contest in 1995 and 2nd place at the Southern Counties Spring Contest in May 1999. In both 2001 and 2002, the band won its way through to the 4th Section of the national championships by winning the area qualifiers. A third place in the 3rd Section in 2003, first place in 2004 and first place in the 2nd Section in 2005 meant five successive visits to the finals.
The band was promoted to the 1st Section in 2006, and succesive good results, leading to a second place finish in 2009, have resulted in the band being promoted to the Championship section from 2010, for the first time in its 101 year history. Under the baton of Ian McElligott, the band’s current MD,Â the band continues to thrive.
Training of new players has always been part of the Sandhurst scene, and today this continues in the shape of Sandhurst Community Brass, which rehearses regularly on Thursday evenings. In 2006 this group had progressed to the point where it could fulfil its own engagements with minimal help from main band players.