The 19th Century
A brass band called Ashbourne Brass and Rifle Corps Band was known to be in existence in the town since 1861. Throughout the years bands came and went and during one period around 1889 Ashbourne was able to boast four bands namely, Ashbourne Band, Ashbourne Volunteer Band, Bells Band and Rechabites Band. It is thought that these merged and eventually became just the one band. Until the 1990's the band believed that they were formed in 1892 as this is when three new instruments are known to have been purchased for the total sum of £24.10.0d !!
The 20th Century
The Band went through a number of name changes throughout this period. In 1925 it was known as the Ashbourne Town and Old Volunteer Band. Then in 1932 it changed to Ashbourne Old Volunteer and Town Silver Band. Finally in 1936 the name was changed to the Ashbourne Town Band which it has been known as ever since.
In 1936 the band led the procession through the town for the memorial service of King George V. In the September they also took part in the Drumhead Service organized by the Ashbourne branch of the Royal British Legion and held in the Memorial Gardens. 1936 was also a significant year for the band as it was when Arthur Chadwick joined. He later went on to be the Musical Director for many years and was an honorary member of the Committee up until his death in 2008.
During the war years the band struggled with dwindling numbers before finally having to cease its functions. Fortunately the band's trustees, Ashbourne's Ex-Service Man's Club, were able to retain the instruments to enable the band to reform in 1949 under the baton of Arthur Chadwick.
1945 saw the death of one of the bands most gifted bandmasters, Cyril Collier. He was instrumental in re-forming the Ashbourne Town Band in 1936 and composed some of the music played by the band including the concert march Ashbournian which the band resurrected at its 2005 Christmas concert. This march has been superceded by March Ashbourne composed by George Allan as it is more suitable for playing while marching, and now features in many of the band's events.
In 1952 the bandstand was officially opened in the memorial gardens, Ashbourne. Since then the band has played there on numerous occasions and it is the backdrop to the cover of the record which we released in 1977 to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee. At this time the band was made up of 29 members 14 of which were under the school leaving age.
The original badge of the band included the cockerels of Ashbourne (by kind permission of the Cockayne family) (left). In 1969 the band adopted the image of the lyre into its banner (centre) which evolved into the Ashbourne Town Band emblem (right), as worn by the players today.
In 1986 a new base drum was given to the Band in memory of Jack Sweeney, former Chairman of the Band.
During the 1980's the band enjoyed two visits to Lauterbach in Germany, Firstly in 1982 and again in 1986. These trips were part of an exchange programme between the two towns.
The band continues to take occasional trips to various parts of the country to help local charities, increase the profile of brass bands and of course to socialize.
In 1992 the Band celebrated what it believed to be its Centenary by holding a concert in the St. Oswald's Church, Ashbourne. They were joined on the night by the Ashbourne and District Pipe Band and the Ashbourne and Thorpe Singers both of which played joint pieces with the band. It was only after this event that the origins were traced back to 1861 and it was actually closer to 150 years old than 100!
One of the Band's best claims to fame in recent years is their appearance in the title sequence of Songs of Praise which was shown every Sunday for about a year.
The Band marked the Millennium by holding a concert in St. Oswald's Church in Ashbourne. All past members of the Band, that could be contacted, were invited to play and those that were there would agree that it was a great success. Several past members, after years away, enjoyed being back so much that they decided to rejoin the Band.