Brass Bands

Images of brass bands in the Hunter Valley are very rare from the nineteenth century. It is therefore difficult to know what the instrumental make-up of the bands was or how they dressed for performance. Extensive mining of the archives has revealed that the Lambton Brass band (which was sponsored by Thomas Croudace) wore uniforms from at least 1871 when the Newcastle Chronicle reported that the Lambton Brass Band, ‘in an exceedingly neat and becoming uniform’ performed at the inauguration of a new furnace at Lambton colliery. The Wallsend Brass Band commissioned new uniforms for the 1874 miners’ demonstration, described as ‘a tunic and trousers, and in shades of dark material, with white and silver facings’, again in the Chronicle. The instrumentation of the bands is harder to ascertain. There are references to purchasing saxhorns in the newspapers (1869) and to travelling to Sydney to buy a complete set of band instruments for 70 shillings (1878). These references suggest that the bands were predominately brass and that they used the saxhorn instruments that became part of the standard British style brass band from the mid nineteenth century. The image below is from 1886, the earliest known photograph of a Newcastle brass band (to this author). The players appear to be all brass players with no sign of the clarinettists that sometimes continued to play in Australian bands in this period

Waratah Brass band-1886
Waratah Brass band-1886

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