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A short history of the TSB Band

At the turn of the 20th Century, Ada and Charlotte Phipps, daughters of the Towcester brewery owner, built and equipped ‘The Studio’, a club where young men could pursue art, woodcarving, sport and other activities. In 1910 Charlotte acquired a set of brass instruments and thus Towcester Studio Band was born.  Although the studio closed in 1919, the band continued under the leadership of Mr.William J. Bell. 

During the 1939-1945 War, the instruments were loaned to RAF Silverstone for use by the Station Band but in 1947, William Bell reformed the band which regained full strength in 1949. Thanks to sound financial management, the band was able to move into its own custom built band room in 1958.

In 1963 the band appointed its first professional Musical Director, Mr.William Scholes.  Bill Scholes conducted the band from 1963-1980 and by 1977 he had taken the band from 4th Section to the Championship Section and also established a fine reputation for concerts. 

On Mr. Scholes’ retirement in 1980, Martyn Brabbins became Musical Director from 1980-1984. Martyn started his musical career as a member of the Towcester Studio Youth Band rising to Principal Euphonium with the senior band. At this time the band was in the 2nd section and under Martyn’s baton the band had many successes, including being placed 4th at the 2nd Section National Brass Band Championships in 1981.  Martyn’s career blossomed as he went on to become a world-renowned conductor of orchestras and opera (further details of his career and forthcoming appearances are available at: www.intermusica.co.uk).

Peter Wain followed as Musical Director (1985-1998). With Peter, the band achieved a major ambition by playing in the Royal Albert Hall, again in the 2nd Section National Brass Band Championships, and also toured various parts of Europe.

Sadly the band was then without a resident Musical Director for almost twelve months, during which time many of the players moved on.

Adele Sellers took over in late 1999 and breathed new life and enthusiasm into the band. 2000 was a good year with two contest successes, a recording and a trip to Ireland. In 2001, the band went on to achieve an exceptional run of contest results with wins at the Midland Area (2nd section), Buxton, Leicester and Aylesbury contests, with a 3rd prize at the 2nd Section National Finals. The band continued to thrive under Adele’s leadership with prize winning performances in 2004 at the Midland Area (1st section), Milton Keynes, Wychavon and Pontins securing promotion to the Championship Section for 2005 and entry to the world top 200 brass bands rankings. Adele stepped down at the end of 2005 due to work and family commitments and the band was grateful to John Hudson (formerly of Grimethorpe) for his help and direction up until the appointment of Barrie Johnson as Musical Director in April 2006, followed by Huw Thomas in July 2007.

Huw Thomas left the band in the summer of 2009 and was succeeded by brass teacher Mark Waltho.  Mark had first joined the band after taking up the role of brass teacher at Sponne School and was seated as Principal cornet. Due to his previous musical director experience, Mark took on the MD role briefly until David Jones was appointed at the start of 2010.

David had joined the GUS Footwear Band in November 1967 on Soprano, only the third since the inception of the band in 1933, and he occupied this position for 23 - very successful - years for the GUS Band. Since retiring from playing David had been involved with conducting bands of all levels with a great deal of success and joined Towcester with a great reputation.

Amongst many other highlights, David conducted the Band’s Centenary Concert in September 2010 when we celebrated 100 years of making music in the local community.  The banding world suffered a huge loss when David died suddenly in June 2012.

Kevin Steward succeeded David Jones as Musical Director. Kevin originally hailed from Norfolk but spent many years playing for Desford Colliery Band in Leicestershire where he also conducted their Youth Band.  By this time, the band was playing in the 3rd section. 

In December 2013 the band appointed Bob Stradling to conduct the Band.  Bob’s long playing career has included spells with GUS, City of Coventry, Kibworth and Redbridge Brass Bands as well as symphonic, big band and theatre work.

In Summer 2014, Shaun Humphries was appointed Musical Director. Shaun was succeeded by Neil Brownless in 2015, who enjoyed a successful few years with the band, including attaining First Place at six contests.  Neil remained with the band until he left to undertake a Masters Degree in Cardiff in 2019.

After Neil’s departure we welcomed back Peter Wain as our resident MD, whose enthusiasm helped the Band through the difficult periods of lockdown due to the Pandemic when all performances were done at home alone but put together with the aid of technology.  Throughout the various lockdowns, the Band continued to support both local and countrywide events via social media with our virtual performances and also successfully contested through the Foden’s and the Cory Band’s virtual competitions.  We were at last able to play together in person in the summer of 2021 albeit outside. The Band was finally able to return to indoor playing and entered its first contest in two years in February 2022 at the Midland Regional Championships.

Peter resigned at the end of 2022 to concentrate on enjoying his retirement and the Band was delighted to re-appoint Neil Brownless as Musical Director, following his graduation from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a Masters Degree in Conducting.

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