Aldbourne Heritage Centre
Exploring the Village Story

Aldbourne Band: Harry Sheppard Transcript

ALDBOURNE BAND HERITAGE PROJECT TRANSCRIPTION

HARRY SHEPPARD BY JANET ROE

HARRY:        I’m Harry Sheppard and I’m signing this for the Heritage Project. I’m just about to sign it.

JANET:         Harry, would you like to tell us how you first got involved with Aldbourne Band?

HARRY:        Well it’s pretty simple, really. My father played in the band from about 1918 up until the war. And so naturally he had a cornet there. He played soprano cornet, in actual fact. And then there was a chap called Ralph Bridgeman who wasn’t fit enough to go in the services. And he started a few youngsters on, about 1942 or 3. The instruments were about from the old band, of course. And he…he was always a very keen cornet player. And I imagine he thought it’d be good for the youngsters, and so I came on, really, with the second wave of those, and I think I started probably when I was about…ten or eleven, something like this. I started on the horn, funnily enough, because he thought that was a good instrument to start with. And so I played the horn for a couple of years and then he gave me a cornet and so I went on with that. And by the time the band got back from the war and they started to think of getting the band going again, I can’t remember whether they started in ’46 or ’47, that’s the trouble, but I went down with Father for the first time they met. And so I was…by that time I could sort of read music a bit and play and…I was then on third cornet and sort of getting along, really.

But out of that lot, I don’t think now there’s hardly anyone left really at all, except myself. There was a chap who came…I saw him the other day. He came. He was one of the first lot. That was…what was his name now? I’ll think of it later. And the other…two or three have died since.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        That was Cyril’s brother – he was one of the ones that started. Sid. There was David Smith, Dennis Keene, and I think that was about it. And UNCLEAR [0:02:26.8] is still alive, who started with me, but he’s now been very, very bad, very poorly really the last few months…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …years actually. It’s very unfortunate. So he hasn’t played the cornet for ages. And that was about it, really. So I was nearly the start of the band after the war, I suppose you’d say. But which year you’d have to find out in history what it was because I’m not sure.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        It started down at the Chapel down at Lottage Road. That’s where we started. And a chap by the name of Mr Jerram started it, who played with the band before the war. He went through the First World War and he then conducted the band to start with. He was still about…he didn’t go in the Second War of course…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …but he was still about and then when the band come together again, rejoined, he was the bandmaster.

JANET:         Is that any relation to Barney? Little Barney in the back row?

HARRY:        Well yeah, it was his…they was brothers.

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        Jerram brothers. There was George, Fred, Frank and, um, Wilf, and it was Wilf who took the band. But, um…Frank Jerram is Barney’s grandfather – his great-grandfather, I don’t know which it…no, great-grandfather because Gerald Jerram was his grandfather, Paul’s father, and that’s right. It’s his great-grandfather.

JANET:         Ah.

HARRY:        That was Frank Jerram. And he played trombone, funnily enough. But he was on G-trombone if I remember. ‘Cause I can remember a lot of these chaps as a youngster because I was that age and they weren’t that desperately old, but they were in their fifties by then, of course.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But Wilf took us then and we stayed then in the Lottage Road for…uh…some time, really. But then the stables which belonged to what they call the Old Rectory now, it was always called the Old Manor, so how it changed, I don’t know. No, it was always the Old Rectory and it changed it to the Old Manor now. They had stables at that time and we actually had a stable for a little time. It was a…and it was very good ‘cause we could leave our stuff there and that was just up the road on the left-hand side as you left the village. And we stayed there until they wanted to rebuild it or…and so, and so we moved, funnily enough, across the road into what they call the Church Restroom, that was then! And we stayed there for quite a time. In fact, we probably played there longer than anywhere until we moved up to the hall.

JANET:         So when did they move to the hall?

HARRY:        Um…I would say it was…uh, probably…late 50s, towards the end of the 50s, yeah.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        So we didn’t really stay anywhere too long. Because I think what happened was there were singers down at the…we were in the, sort of like the Sunday School room down at the Chapel, down Lottage, and they were doing things, and then we had the chance of the stable, they thought was a better job because we could just leave all the stuff there without moving it around or anything.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And then they wanted to rebuilt, so how long we were there, I…as a child, you know, I was growing up there…I just went there [LAUGHING]…

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        …and they say, ‘We’re moving somewhere,’ and you sort of went there ‘cause if Father went there, I went there. So how long we were there, I don’t know. But that’s where…and by the time we moved to the hall, Father had finished playing anyway.

JANET:         What did he play?

HARRY:        Cornet. He played cornet then but he was soprano cornet with the band before the war, he was, and when they won at Crystal Palace he had the soprano medal for that.

JANET:         Ooh!

HARRY:        It’s funny, really. But I never heard him play, when he was playing when I heard him, of course. He’d got past it completely, really and he just sort of started playing ‘cause I started playing again really, I suppose.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        After the war. And that’s why he came down. But it’d be interesting to see what he sounded like when he was in his prime, really, but I never would, really. That’s just one of those things. No one recorded it then, did they? So anyway, we stayed there like that. And it was when…Joe then took over – Joe Alder took over – and I don’t think Wilf did take the band too long, ‘cause I think he realised he wasn’t going to do the job. And then Joe came on the scene and he took over. And it was then that I became solo cornet really because Cyril Winston was up here – solo cornet at the time – and um…I was on the top by then. I was about…I don’t know what age I was then…um…uh, probably eighteen or something like that. But by the time I went into National Service, I didn’t have to do National Service…

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        …because I worked for Father on the farm, he could…

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        …have stopped me, but both daughters, my sisters, had both been away to grammar school in those days. They were quite a bit brighter than I was! [LAUGHING] They always say I never tried properly – that was right!

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        But they both turned teachers…they were both teachers in the end, but…the middle one was very bright. She was very, very good at maths and you took her in maths…all she did in Pure and Applied Maths. Oh, she was quite a bright person. And…and, uh…so I thought, well, the army’d been about here a lot, of course. I’d seen a lot of UNCLEAR [0:08:19.1].

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        Went down the camp with them. Got a sort of liking and so when I said, ‘Well I’ve never been away,’ so I go away. So I went away for a couple of years and spent about seventeen months in Germany. So…

JANET:         Did you still play?

HARRY:        No, no.

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        I could have done if I’d have gone for three years.

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        I could have joined a band where I was in the Prince of Wales Dragoon Guards.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        Tank Regiment. But as soon as…I said, ‘Is there any chance to join?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, if you sign up.’ But I said, ‘No, I only want to do two years.’ Sometimes I wish I had signed up. I’d have been a lot better cornet player when I came out. But I didn’t want to. I was just in there to, uh…it made a change, that’s the thing, and I’m glad I did in a sense because it broadened my outlook completely…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …because I was…lived in Aldbourne all my life, not been anywhere. The thing was with the band, of course, I saw more of the countryside with the band than I did anywhere.

JANET:         Yeah, yeah.

HARRY:        Because, you know, we contested at different places and it was a great thing for a younger person…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …it was, to get on a coach and go somewhere. And we went down to…up to Manchester once and Brighton and London. Down to Bristol. I mean, I’d never have done that unless I’d been with the band.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        Anyway, what happened was eventually when I came back out, Cyril was still solo cornet and I went on then. When I was about 23 or 24, Cyril and Joe had a…an argument about how a piece was going to be played…

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        …and Joe said, ‘No more!’ He said, ‘I’ve had enough of it.’ He said, ‘Either Cyril goes or I go – one or the other!’

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        He wrote a letter to the band, you see. Which I was a bystander. I was just listening to it at the time. I wasn’t taking that much notice ‘cause I was still very keen on football, really. I was a sort of a toss-up between, really. And anyway, Joe of course, well he said, ‘We can’t do without Joe as the conductor…’

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        …so he said, ‘Right, you’re going to be solo cornet,’ to me, which was most amazing! [      LAUGHING] So that’s how…if Cyril had stayed, probably I wouldn’t have been solo cornet at that time. I might have done later.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But I got thrown in at the deep end and he said, ‘You’ll be able to…’ ‘Cause I went to Joe for lessons, so he knew what I could play like really and…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …after I came out the army I went down there.

JANET:         So was Joe from Aldbourne as well?

HARRY:        He was born in Aldbourne, yes, he was born there.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        And what…I don’t know if he was born here but he lived here. He might have been born in London because the family worked in London, that’s…because they play for the…oh, some band in London. The Railways or something.

JANET:         At Paddington? Great Western?

HARRY:        Yes, Paddington Railway…

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        …so he played for them. And then he came down and he was solo cornet up there. He was a good cornet player, undoubtedly, of his time. And then he married an Aldbourne girl, you see, so whether the family originated from Aldbourne and went up there and Joe was born, I’m not positive, but he came back, married and of course played with the band. Before the war. And then of course…I don’t know if…I’m not sure about that. I’m only surmising. But whatever happened, he…oh, he was taken to GWR, that’s what happened. And then what happened was…I sort of thought, ‘Well perhaps we could do with him, really,’ this is what the thought was. So he packed up with GWR and…

JANET:         What, the Swindon band?

HARRY:        Yes, yeah.

JANET:         Oh right. Yeah, okay.

HARRY:        Yes. He conducted those quite a few years, he did. And that’s how he got to know people like Len Carpenter and people like that, you see. Because Len came up for a time after…when Cyril was there. But he didn’t last too long because I think he found the going backwards and forwards too much. But then he had a bit of illness, didn’t he, Len? He didn’t…I don’t think he lasted…I think he died in his thirties, I think. Something like that. So that was unfortunate. He was a good cornet player, though.

So anyway, then I was sat there and I stayed there really until I packed up…I think I was about 33 when I said I’d had enough of it, really. ‘Cause I’d taken over from Father on the farm. Well not quite, but I was doing more and more…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …and Father was President at the time and he would just leave the hay crop to go to band and I couldn’t see the sense in that, personally! [LAUGHING] ‘Cause if it rained the next day, you didn’t get it!

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And I’m too much of a farmer, really, for that.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And I said to Moira in the end, I said, ‘Look…’ – ‘cause she was as keen on banding as I was…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …there’s no doubt about that. She loved the band, ‘cause her grandfather conducted the band for a long time, you see.

JANET:         Oh right.

HARRY:        He was a conductor for well over fifteen years, he was. From early 1900s until about…well, probably about twelve or fourteen. So it was him got Moira into the band thing. She just loved it. And that’s how I became a Friend…a Chairman of the band, a Friend of the band. Because I wasn’t even going to the meeting. I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll manage without.’ But she said, ‘No, you’ve got to go!’

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        And so she was the pusher there. But no, I mean, while I was in the band I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met quite a lot of people and we had some good times and there were a lot more Aldbourne people in there, that was the thing.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        We had quite a few from Swindon but the bulk was Aldbourne. Or they lived in Aldbourne and they might have moved to Ramsbury or Adlbourne or something like that.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        Swindon.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But they were Aldbourne people…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …if you know. And we had a great…you know, it was a great band, really, as far as being together that way.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And it was funny, I was talking to old Peter the other day about women playing in the band, you see. And I think I remember the first woman ever played in the band and that came about and it took a long time for them to decide. You remember…I don’t know if you remember Ivy Benson, a woman’s dance band?

JANET:         Yes, yes. Well I didn’t know her but I know of her. [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        Well I never saw them, tell you the truth, but I’d heard of them, of course. There was a girl who was at East Woodhay in a band there, and she wanted to join. But she had…I don’t know if she realised she had to get better. So she asked if she could come and play for about three months with Aldbourne Band to get her up to speed more. Gawd. Quite a discussion that was! [LAUGHING]

JANET:         So when would that have been?

HARRY:        Well I would have said to myself it was sometime in the 50s, late 50s.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        And after a great discussion it was decided to have it to me, as a younger person – it didn’t worry me whether it was or not, to tell you the truth – I’d just look and see what was you like, really. But anyway, she came and she did three months up on the top, and she got…she went into the band, so it ended up pretty good, really. But that, as far as I can see, she didn’t actually join the band as such…

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        …but she played in the band, and I think that was the first woman I ever saw in Aldbourne Band.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        When the first woman did actually come, I don’t know. She wasn’t there when I packed up.

JANET:         Would it have been Don’s daughter, Jill, on percussion?

HARRY:        Yes, I think it was. But the point is, of course, Don was then…he was still playing with me. It was…he was…I mean, I relied on Don a lot, I must admit. ‘Cause he was a good reader.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And that was one thing I was lacking, really. I didn’t spend enough time, really, on secondary parts because I was getting on and they said, ‘Well go on up.’ And I find reading still a little bit of a problem, especially new music. But Don was a wonderful reader. And if we had a new piece come, I would say to Don, ‘Just run it through first, Don!’ [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        And he’d run it through, and once I’d heard it I was alright. And of course then he’d say, ‘Are you alright?’ I’d say, ‘Yes now!’ [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        We got on so well, Don and I, we had some real good times. And Tony Beatty – that was Tim’s – was another one I got on really well with.

JANET:         Is that…is that sat next to you, is it? Is that Tony?

HARRY:        That’s Tony, yeah. That’s Tony.

JANET:         Yeah. Pete went through with me, the pictures.

HARRY:        He was in band, you see. Both of those did three years in the army.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And they were both good readers, that they were. Tony was a very good player and neither of them wanted to be soloists, that was the trouble. And I wasn’t too keen but they kept on saying, ‘You’ve got to be the soloist,’ and Addie [0:17:32.6] and Comley says to me…he comes up with some very strange things! [LAUGHING] He still carps on the back old days, you know? He said, ‘You three on the top,’ he said. ‘You had the tone, Don had the technique and Tony was an all-rounder!’ [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        He does make me laugh sometimes, he does! But anyway, that’s how it was and, as I say, we had a lot of the band there, of course. But a lot of those were local people, of course, that they were.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But I mean, then started old Bill…Janaway…they came up…

JANET:         Bert? Bert Janaway?

HARRY:        Bob Janaway.

JANET:         Bob Janaway.

HARRY:        Yeah. He came up for quite a time. He was a very good cornet player. He kept playing, that was the thing. There was no word about him losing his lip at all. Bob Marsh – he was a solo horn here for a time. Harry Carpenter came up on solo euphonium until he let us down completely one contest. We never saw him again.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        He was…we went to Reading. It’s strange how things…I mean, you wouldn’t believe it. And he hadn’t told us that unless we were drawn in the first ten, he couldn’t stay. So we drew about fourteen and he said, ‘Well I’ve got to back and play in the Salvation Army!’

JANET:         Huh!

HARRY:        So we never actually played! In the contest!

JANET:         Oh my goodness! [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        [LAUGHING] So the chap who was second man in had to play the solo or something. So we didn’t see Harry again. It was a very strange job, that was. But some of these things, it’s hilarious when you think back on it. And it’s not…I mean, we used to practice, of course we practised, but nothing like they do now.

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        I mean, I don’t think I could…I wouldn’t have stood it. I mean, I couldn’t have done it, actually. But one thing that Jesse did – you know, Jesse was a great bandsman, always on to me were I not on time – ‘I don’t know why you’re not here on time,’ and all this sort of thing. Well I just looked smart about it really. I didn’t ever fall out with Jesse ‘cause I…he refereed me many times when we were playing football! [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        And so…Ashley was at school and they said…’Can Ashley come up and stay with you on the farm for a week?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s okay. We’ve got a bedroom spare, and so we can have Ashley up there.’ And Jesse came and he said, ‘Oh, I might be up for a couple of days. Not to stay, but I can come up and I’d like to see how it goes.’ So he was on…have a few days off and he came up and afterwards he said, ‘I shall never moan at you again for being late!’ he said. [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        He said, ‘When I see what you’ve got to do, I’ll never complain!’

JANET:         Ah.

HARRY:        ‘Cause at that time we had six or seven hundred pigs at the time we were running as well. And he never knew what they were doing, and that’s why in the end…it was a relief when I packed up, a complete relief.

JANET:         Mmm, mmm.

HARRY:        The band couldn’t believe it. Moira got dirty looks everywhere she went. And everyone thought it was Moira and I said, ‘It’s got nothing to do with Moira.’ She wanted me to stay. But she knew the problems and the pressure. It just…I couldn’t do the job really properly, either.

JANET:         So who took over when you left?

HARRY:        Tony…no, Chesty. John Chesterman.

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        Yeah. He was solo cornet with Highworth.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And he came up and went straight in as soloist.

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        And he was a very good player.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        That he was, yeah. I liked Tony. I got on well with John.

END OF TRANSCRIPT 3, START OF TRANSCRIPT 4A

HARRY:        Have you got something to say?

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        Yes, Don took over then. I did go back a couple of times – three times, in fact. Bob was taking us then. Bob took over from Joe.

JANET:         Yep.

HARRY:        Don’t ask me what year that was. I played under Bob. I was playing under Wilf, Joe and Bob, and I played under a chap by the name of Scholes. He used to be the bandmaster of Rushton Temperance when they were in the Championship. They had a very good band. The euphonium player was the champion euphonium player of the country at that time.

JANET:         Oh right.

HARRY:        Very good player. He came down and played solos once or twice when we had a concert. Very good. Ernie Dent was the solo cornet, I remember him. And, uh, one amusing thing was…when we were going up to Manchester, as I said, and we were playing Indian Summer. We were about the third section, is about where we were.

JANET:         Eric Ball.

HARRY:        Eric Ball, yeah. And he said, ‘Oh, unfortunately I’ve got a radio programme with the band that day.’ But he said, ‘Eric Ball will take you.’ We thought, ‘Oh by crike!’

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        So we got to Manchester. We practised in the Manchester CWS’s room. Well we had to be out at a certain time because they had to be in. And I learnt a bit about banding from them, that I did.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But anyway, Eric took us and one amusing thing was one of the bass players…and you know Indian Summer, it starts off with the last boom-boom-boom-boom-boom with the basses. Well we’d always gone b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m, like this. Well Eric Ball started on b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m—b-o-o-m – that’s how he wanted it. The chap said, ‘Wait! We’re not used to playing it that fast!’ [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        Well he said, ‘That’s the speed we’re going to play it.’ So off we went again. The remarks were that although the band played well, he didn’t think that’s how the person who actually wrote the…oh, what is it?

JANET:         The composer.

HARRY:        The composer would like it played! [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        I thought that was wonderful, that! But perhaps he didn’t like how it was played! He’d probably think it wasn’t how we wanted it played either! And then I went back…Ian couldn’t do a contest and I did soprano, which was pretty hard – I only had the soprano for about a month. So I didn’t do too well. The remark was, ‘I think the young soprano player, when he gets older he might get better!’

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        [LAUGHING] But then I played flugel and that was okay, and I played solo baritone once when they were short. But that was it then. I said to Bob, ‘I’m not coming back any more. I said…that was too much of a good thing, that was, just going in just for a short time…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …and picking it up, really. I didn’t mind the flugel. That was okay. Baritone was a bit difficult. And soprano certainly was. [LAUGHING]

JANET:         So what would you say was your…the best concert or contest you played? Your sort of best memory?

HARRY:        Well as far as I was concerned, the New World Symphony was, of course, because that’s when we won at Oxford and I got Best Soloist for that.

JANET:         Oh right.

HARRY:        Yeah. That was the best.

JANET:         When would that have been?

HARRY:        About ’61 or ’62, I would say. Yeah, Best Soloist and I won it. But that was my best, as far as I was concerned.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        One or two people said I should have gone on…I had chances possibly but I had no interest in it whatsoever.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        It’s another ball game. You see Lyndon…Lyndon’s about two years younger than I am, three years. Now…but we played against each other quite regularly, and I said to Lyndon, ‘I hope you realise, of course, we played against each…quite a lot we played against each other.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, and you usually beat us,’ he said. And that’s what he said. ‘Cause we always beat…he played for Lydbrook.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And I don’t think they ever beat us, to tell you the truth.

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        But at that time we never, ever thought we’d meet again. And now he’s playing with Aldbourne. I mean, that was something…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And he, of course, then went up to Manchester CWS.

JANET:         Yes.

HARRY:        At Ascot. I mean, he was undoubtedly a good euphonium player then.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And that’s how it was. If I’d have gone somewhere like that I’d have probably been a very good cornet player, but that’s what you had to do. But I didn’t. Had no interest whatsoever to me.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        I was quite happy with what I was doing and I enjoyed what I did and that was it. And no matter how much I liked it, I wanted to pack it in at that age because I wanted to do something else and…

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        …my great love was farming.

JANET:         So did it…was it you moved away from Aldbourne?

HARRY:        No. We had James and Vicky here until…we didn’t move ‘til ’82. Then we moved from here down to Somerset for thirteen years, and of course then we bought the farm back on the edge of Marlborough. So hence I’m here.

JANET:         So how did James get involved then? Was he playing before you went?

HARRY:        James started…Donnie started a junior band…

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        …and that’s when Ian started playing. And James went on trombone. He sort of always fancied a…I think Moira always fancied a trombone really! [LAUGHING] But she got James to play a trombone, and he was getting on alright. And then someone else took over and it all sort of fizzled out, really, eventually it did. And so we then went down to Priddy, which is only six or seven miles from Wells in Somerset, of course. And they had a band, see, Wells had got a band. And I said to UNCLEAR [0:06:10.1] one night, it was in the middle of winter, there wasn’t much doing, we’d got all the corn in and nights, I said, ‘I wouldn’t mind to go down and see if I can have a blow with them,’ you see. So I started playing with them and when James said one night, ‘I wonder if they’ve got a spare instrument,’ out the blue. I didn’t think about it at all. And I said, ‘Well if you come down we’ll have a look, see what they say.’ So we went down there and they said…I said, ‘Look, he used to play a trombone a bit,’ and I said, ‘He does UNCLEAR [0:06:45.7]. He can read music ‘cause he had piano lessons, so…that’s no problem,’ I said. And he said, ‘Well we’ve got nothing except the double-B, you see.’ So I said, ‘Oh, I’ll take that home then!’ It took him a little while to get the valves sorted out. And you know what? Ever since then he’s absolutely loved playing that instrument. He says it’s the best band instrument in the band, he reckons! [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        But when we came back, he…he sort of…they had a spare E-flat bass, so he sort of played with the band then. He didn’t play with the band – he did a bit of practice with them. And he sort of, as I say, as he could read music it was just the playing side of it and he gradually got better and someone left and they said, ‘Why don’t you join?’ As I say…I mean, on E-flat for a time then. And then the B-flat left and the E-flat player would come in, but he didn’t want to play B-flat so James went on there and he’s been there for years now. I don’t know how many years he’s been playing double-B now, I’m sure. I got back in ’95 and I should think I was playing with the band about ’98, something like that. So probably ten years at least. Twelve years, probably.

JANET:         So where did the idea of Friends of the Band come from then?

HARRY:        Well it was brought up…it had been…it started once before. That’s what happened. The band started it. And they had a chap who was running it. But he was then working at Bristol – Rob. I can’t remember his surname now. Tall chap. Used to play…used to play bass and then he went on the drums.

JANET:         Rob Williams?

HARRY:        Williams, was it? Williams?

JANET:         Rob Williams. Fairly recently?

HARRY:        Yes, yeah.

JANET:         Yeah, Rob Williams, yeah.

HARRY:        Yeah, it’s him.

JANET:         Right.

HARRY:        Well then he decided to take it over and he was going to send it out. But of course the trouble was, what between his job and one thing and another, people started sending money in and then they never heard anything.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        He might have sent a receipt. But I mean I don’t blame him really ‘cause he was trying to do it himself, but also he was over at Bristol a lot, every day, and also he was playing with the band. And people then said, ‘Well are we going to have another reminder that we’ve got to pay again? Who’ve we got to pay?’ sort of thing and in the end it just sort of finished.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And then we had some, like…um…Pam and Gavin, they came to the village and they’re very interested in music or anything like it. And they got together some of us and said, ‘Well why don’t we start it again?’ So that’s how it really started. They’d heard of it and…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        I mean Moira pays for it and she was a bit dissatisfied because nothing happened after you paid it. We didn’t hear anything after that really. A couple of times and then it just sort of finished. So she was quite keen to go. And so we had a committee meeting and there was Gavin on and John Jacobs and people who…knew…loved the band but they weren’t known people. And they was on about, ‘Well we’ve got to have a Chairman,’ and whose name cropped up but me! ‘Well everybody knows you, you’ve played in the band, you’d be ideal for Chairman!’ [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        I said to Moira, ‘Did you know this was happening when we went? And she…I’m sure it’d been worked out a bit before I’d got there, if I’d only known.

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        So of course that’s how I came to be Chairman of it.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But in that sense I suppose it was right because people know me more than anyone in the village nearly…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        Out of the committee definitely. And Alan, of course. Well he didn’t get on the committee but he was there sort of pushing it along. And…but Gavin’s a very great help, there’s…

JANET:         Mmm, mmm.

HARRY:        …and Pam – they’re very good indeed. And Emma was very good to get it through the charity.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        She worked hard. She’s a clever girl, actually.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        She’s an engineer. You wouldn’t believe it, would you?

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        Funny really what these people do, isn’t it, these girls?! [LAUGHING]

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        But anyway, she did that and now of course she’s just expecting her third baby, so it’s understandable she can’t keep on doing it.

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        So now we’ve got Don Burgess come on and…

JANET:         Yes.

HARRY:        Which is unfortunate for John because we’ve now changed from…they’ve changed from Lloyds to TSB just the same time as…and they’re absolutely useless! Well of course no one told them anything about TSB, so we’ve had to start virtually from scratch.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        It’s been hard work for him but he’s stuck at it. He’s a good chap, he is.

JANET:         But it’s actually helped build up the band’s following, hasn’t it?

HARRY:        Oh it has. Well we’ve got 141 members now.

JANET:         Really?

HARRY:        And we had a meeting here a week last Monday – we usually have it here – and David Aston said…I mean, he’s been in a few bands, he said, but he’d never known anything like this. He said it’s incredible what the band…and we ought to be really thankful for it because…

JANET:         Oh yes.

HARRY:        …to have that number of members, he’s absolutely staggered with it.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        He’s absolutely staggered with it. He said he just can’t believe we get such a following and what money they put in to help.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        So he’s full of praise, he was.

JANET:         I think the band is an integral part of the village, isn’t it?

HARRY:        Oh yes, that’s right.

JANET:         Part of the village’s history.

HARRY:        Always has been.

JANET:         Yeah. The entity of the…

HARRY:        This is why we never, ever push for sponsorship.

JANET:         No, no.

HARRY:        I mean, we’d like people to give some UNCLEAR [0:13:00.0] to us – £3000 a year or something or other – but we don’t want any name with the band.

JANET:         No.

HARRY:        Because we’ve seen too many bands go that way and we’ve always been against that. And the village as a whole do support the band very well.

JANET:         And I think the band supports the village, doesn’t it?

HARRY:        Oh, that’s right. We get a lot of support from outside. Swindon people are quite proud of the Aldbourne Band – that they are. It’s surprising. When we played the Christmas Cracker – you’ve been there, haven’t you?

JANET:         Uh…

HARRY:        Not likely!

JANET:         …no! [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        [LAUGHING] But I mean last year…I didn’t go last year ‘cause I wasn’t here, of course – I was in New Zealand. But the time before, all the…the Kentwood went off and they just played the piece and I don’t know how many stayed to hear it and they wanted more. And we played two more pieces and they were still there.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        So it just shows that they’ve got a following, really.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        At least a good half stayed.

JANET:         So in the past, what events in the village were the band part of?

HARRY:        Well I suppose we always played the Pond. That was a sort of a regular thing. We always did fetes, which sometimes there were two fetes – we had a Church and a Chapel fete and this sort of thing. And so we always did the carolling. I mean, the carolling everybody liked because they always got money for it but they liked the band going round and sort of carnivals you always marched with them. It was a sort of recognised thing – you marched at carnivals.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        This sort of thing. It wasn’t anything other than that, really. I mean, sometimes they’d say, ‘Oh, there’s something special – we’ll have the band.’ See what I mean? They’ve always had the band here to rely on…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …and do things like fetes. We always give Christmas concerts at the church. We always did that. Sometimes another concert. But it was a sort of recognised thing we do, concert. Now this concert that’s going up now on the 4th, where they’re…is it…?

JANET:         14th?

HARRY:        Oh, 14th is it? 14th? That is for the churchyard fund, see, which we always did. Which is again something that bands think they ought to do. Well we thought we ought to do because we used to play at an ordinary concert in there. So it’s those sorts of things and it’s always been a fabric of the band. I mean, it’s been here 150-odd years.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        It’s just…sort of part of the village, really.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        Like I said to many people, Aldbourne’s taken me around the country more around with the band than anything.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        I mean everywhere. I was up in Blackpool this last time and I was talking to a Scots chap and he supported the band that came second and he said, ‘Who are you with?’ and I said Aldbourne and he said, ‘Oh, they’re playing a good band, aren’t they?’ Now he was right up in Scotland, so he’d heard us, about Aldbourne, so…it’s surprising, isn’t it?

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        It is. So it’s…it’s great, really. I’m pleased about the Friends because there’s people work…Kath Hughes, she’s now Secretary of the Friends, getting the money and that sort of thing, which has taken a lot off of Gavin, so that’s one great thing.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        So…but on the whole it’s going very well, and of course you’re doing a very good job with the youngsters, that you are.

JANET:         [LAUGHING]

HARRY:        I mean, that’s what we’ve always looked for. That was one of our main aims…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        …when we started. But we just could not find that person, that was the trouble. We looked round a lot of places.

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        But they’re not easy to find – a) they’ve got to have time, b) they’ve got to have all the paths and everything what you’ve got to do now with children…

JANET:         Mmm.

HARRY:        And, you know, I was very grateful for you to do that sort of thing, that they are. ‘Cause without you I don’t think it would have got off the ground, that’s what I meant, so.

JANET:         Well I’ve got lots of support and it’s really nice having you and Pete and John in the band…

HARRY:        Well I know that but you’ve still got to come up here and do it, haven’t you?

JANET:         Yeah!

HARRY:        That’s the thing!

JANET:         Oh, I enjoy it – it’s great!

HARRY:        And the point is, without you – without someone like you – then let’s put it that way, it wouldn’t have happened.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        That’s what I’m saying.

JANET:         Yeah.

HARRY:        And now we’ve got youngsters who hopefully are quite interested in playing. They’re always here now, most of them, aren’t they?

JANET:         Mmm.

END OF TRANSCRIPT