Skip to main content

National Band Champions

In January 1927, the Western Gazette reported the death of Charles Hunt the last surviving member of Blandford’s award winning town band. He was one of four Hunt family members in the band. In 1863, they had secured the prestigious National Brass Band Championship at the Crystal Palace against some of the country’s best bands. It was evident the Blandford Band was well placed because they had won a major contest in Exeter two years earlier. While in 1862, they had been placed fourth in the National Championship. First prize in 1863 was £30 together with a fine cup worked in aluminium gold. There was also a contra-bass and ‘various other apparatus’ which were presented to Blandford’s bandmaster.

Bandmaster was owner of the Crown Hotel, Wimborne born Robert Eyers. He was a talented musician. In days gone-by he had driven a horse drawn coach between Wimborne and Blandford. Many a time the passengers took the reins so he could cheer them on their way with his bugle. He had many contacts in the entertainment world and the hotel’s supper room was full of autographed  images of well-known musicians. Later, he took over the Greyhound Inn and also became a Mayor of Blandford. Local newspaper, the Western Gazette listed all the band members. They were C, F, J & T Hunt, C Eyers, J Purton, W & J Skivington, G Hewlet, F Blanchard, H Monkton, R Nicholls and J Baker.

Charles Hunt’s brother, Thomas was recognised as the best tenor soloist of the day and was presented with a valuable gilt baritone horn. Apparently, this instrument was still in existence in 1927 but ‘sadly in need of repair.’ The Blandford singer was taken to Drury Lane where the great singer, Madame Patti pinned a blue ribbon to his chest with one of her brooches. Madame Patti was an Italian opera singer. Adeline Patti (1843-1919) earned huge fees at the height of her career. A shrewd businesswoman she always insisted on being paid in cash before she performed. Appropriately Adeline taught her pet parrot to say ‘cash, cash!                                                                                                                                       

When they arrived back at Blandford station, the award winning band was given a rousing reception.  They were met by the Rifle Corps and Drum & Fife Band who accompanied the prize winners through the town’s crowded streets on to the Crown Hotel.  On 12 October 1864, there was a celebration of the success of the Blandford Town Band. The Western Gazette reported:

‘The company began to assemble at about six o’ clock and soon after sat down to a very excellent dinner placed on the table in first class style by the worthy host of the Crown Hotel who also provided a bountiful supply of champagne.’


(Illustration: Blandford's Award Winning Band & Adeline Patti)



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

True Lovers Knot - a Tragic Tale

True Lovers Knot public house describes itself as a traditional  inn set in a picturesque Dorset valley in Tarrant Keynston. Yet, this historical hostelry is said to have gained its name from a particularly tragic tale and still to be haunted by a distressed former publican. This publican’s son met and fell in love with the daughter of the local squire. Because the young lad was not from the gentry they decided to keep their relationship secret from her father. Unfortunately, a stable hand saw the two young lovers together and told her father. Set firmly against this friendship the squire made plans to send his daughter away from the district. Not able to face up to life without her boyfriend, the young girl decided to commit suicide and hanged herself from a tree in the village. So upset was the publican’s son of hearing of his girlfriend’s death he too hanged himself from the same tree. The Tarrant Keynston publican had, himself lost his wife at child birth and now losing his son b

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the