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Brass Bands of the Clay Country

The area comprising Cornwall’s Clay Country is blessed with some excellent brass bands and these, together with others which no longer exist, are a part of Cornwall’s rich brass band heritage.

Brass bands did not suddenly appear in a blue flash moment: no one said, “I know, I’ll invent the brass band”. Mankind’s appreciation of music began long before the days of the cornet or the euphonium and although we look upon this genre as being a part of our traditional musical world we can only trace it back to the mid-1800s when it emerged from the shadow of its true ancestor, the reed and brass movement.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, the brass band enjoyed great popularity and found itself firmly at the heart of every Cornish community. It had an unrivalled place and was in constant demand at the countless secular and religious events. The period became known as the Golden Age of brass bands and reflected the fact that almost every village and town clamoured to have its own. There was immense pride as your band competed against others on the contest stage and for the players there was real pleasure in taking part, a satisfaction in being a member of such an important group.

Brass bands no longer have that pivotal role in society but although the number of bands has reduced dramatically, the level of proficiency of both instruments and players has improved to such an extent that the standard now achieved would cause us to reflect that the true Golden Age of brass bands is still with us.

In this part of the Music from the Clay Country project we include what we know of the Clay Country bands: their important milestones, the type of events they graced with their presence and, where possible, the names of their players.

We have drawn on the work of the late John Brush, an enthusiastic researcher, and the records of the China Clay History Society which has made available its extensive range of photographs. Others have contributed and they have been credited in the many pages of this project. All of them deserve our appreciation for contributing to this permanent record of the brass bands of the Clay Country.

Summercourt is a village in the civil parish of St Enoder, five miles southeast of Newquay   This is yet another band where we struggled to find the date of its formation. We do know that it existed in 1870 as a report in the Cornubian and Redruth Times of
Whitemoor is a village in St Stephen-in-Brannel civil parish, northeast of Nanpean   Little is known of this band which is a great shame because it was a part of Cornwall’s rich music history. We do know that it competed in the Sixth Annual County Volunteer and Independent Brass Band
The origin of Mount Charles Band can be traced to their military ancestors, the Charlestown Regiment Volunteers Band which existed back in 1779. See Charlestown Volunteer Brass Band   1908: The Mount Charles Independent Brass Band under the conductorship of Mr W Trethewey. (2 July 1908 – Royal Cornwall Gazette)
Treviscoe is a village south of St Dennis Colloquialism = Visca)   With appreciation to Alan Blake. The first mention we find of Treviscoe Band, often referred to as Visca Band, is during the 1890s and following that, it seems to become a busy little band. The members were certainly
1837: “St Austell [Amateur Brass Band]. It gives us much pleasure to announce that several young men of this town have formed themselves into an amateur Brass Band, under the able tuition of Mr Colless, professor of music from Jersey, whose efforts to instruct them seem to be crowned with
Sticker is a former mining village in the parish of St Mewan: the nearest town is St Austell three miles to the north-east   1860s: Sticker Brass Band active. (John Brush) We do not know when Sticker Brass Band was formed but the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser of the
Cornish Brass Band Contest results are recorded separately and can be found using this link   We have not discovered when Stenalees Brass Band first began playing but we do know that it was taking part in contests by August 1888 when it competed in the 8th Annual County Volunteer and Independent Brass
St Stephen-in-Brannel is to the west of St Austell   It is thought that St Stephen Brass Band was formed during the 1850s and one of its earliest engagements was in 1857 when it played at a St Austell Cottage Gardening Society event. 1857: The band of the Royal Cornwall
Cornish Brass Band Contest results are recorded separately and can be found using this link   Barbara Seed of Par Old Cornwall Society recorded that St Blazey Amateur Brass Band was formed in 1838 and this was confirmed by the West Briton newspaper report of the 20th April of that
Par is a village and fishing port with a harbour on the south coast of Cornwall   Unknown formation date. No. 5 Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery Band. (John Brush) 1862: Par Volunteer Brass Band kindly tendered their services, and the event was celebrated in Par. (1 August 1862 – West