Verwood Concert Brass band is a successful Championship Section band in the West of England region and is Dorset’s highest ranked band and one of the county’s oldest surviving too. It is part of the thriving Verwood Concert Brass charitable organisation which also includes Verwood Town Band (West of England 3rd section), Verwood Training Band (Wessex Training Band champions 2020) and Acorns (New starter group), and has in the order of 100 members.
Heritage of over 150yrs
The band’s heritage dates right back to 1864 when Jessie Shearing formed a band which was to become known as the Verwood Temperance Band, following many bands of that era who supported the strong temperance movement of the 1800s. Verwood, which is in East Dorset just north of Bournemouth, had a population back then of just 950 and whose own heritage stems from the making of earthenware pottery and bricks.
The band has always been a big part of the Verwood community, which despite the demise of the pottery works in 1952 and the Verwood railway station closure in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, now has a population of well over 15,000. Archive newspaper cuttings reveal many an event supported by the band including this snapshot of village life celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 “Headed by Verwood Brass Band, villagers met a Church Hill and sang “God save the Queen”, they proceeded to a field where they were bountifully supplied with cake and tea.”
Part of the Verwood community
Today the band is still involved in community events such as leading the Verwood Carnival parade which it has done so since the carnival started in 1929, providing musical entertainment at the Verwood Rotary Rustic Fayre, the privilege of joining the community in the Remembrance Sunday commemoration service and parade, and of course many Christmas carolling events. The band also puts on free open air concerts at the local recreation ground during the summer and performs formal concerts at the Verwood Hub on a quarterly basis.
Encouraging grass roots banding
The band has a policy of encouraging anyone of any age, gender or ability to join and follow the organisation’s motto of “Making Music Together”. The four band structure enables this to happen and not uncommonly, numerous members of the same family end up joining the one big family that is Verwood Concert Brass. Having a top performing Championship section band not only encourages top players from the area to join but gives encouragement for home grown players to move up though the banding structure. Each of the other bands is led by players from the Championship band.
Contesting in the blood
Contesting wise, over the decades the band has meet with various successes. Its change of name from Verwood Temperance Band to Verwood Prize Band in the 1920’s is perhaps a reflection of the emphasis then given to contesting during this time. Archive records from then show many successes not only for playing ability but also for “dress and deportment while marching through the streets”. “Dress” was clearly an issue though just after WWII but not the playing ability as this 1950s press report shows “Verwood’s brass band did not look as smart as the rest of the competitors at Wessex Brass Band Contest at Poole Stadium. They tuned up in lounge suits, flannel trousers and sports jackets, while the rest were in braided uniforms. But, when Verwood started to play, the judges woke up. Verwood got first place”. Needless to say a concerted effort was then made to purchase new uniforms and today Verwood Concert Brass players wear their green with gold braided jackets with pride.
From 4th to 1st Section in 4yrs
In more recent times (and having changed its name to Verwood Concert Brass in 1977) the band achieved a meteoric rise from the 4th section by winning that section at the West of England regional finals in both 2005 and 2006 and accordingly competed at the national finals. 2007 and 2008 saw a 3rd and 1st place respectively (coming second in the national finals). 2nd in the 2nd section for 2009 and another trip to the nationals with promotion to the 1st section from 2010.
Competing at national level
With current conductor Kevin Smith (Principal Bass Trombone of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) becoming musical director in late 2011, he guided the band to promotion to the Championship section from 2016 with a 3rd, 4th and 3rd at the 1st section regionals in 2013-2015. Since then, not only has Kevin and the band cemented a place as one of the top Championship bands in the region, the campaign to compete at a national level has gone very well. Competing at the Wychavon Festival in 2018 qualified them for the 2019 British Open Spring Festival (Senior Trophy) where they were placed 3rd, gaining immediate promotion to the 2020 British Open (Senior Cup).
Onwards and upwards
With more than 150 years of brass banding heritage behind it, Verwood Concert Brass has every confidence for the future. All the while people continue to enjoy making music together in a brass band and the community of Verwood and beyond continue to appreciate the music that is made, then Verwood Concert Brass will always be here.
|Bell||125mm (4.9"), Rose Brass|
|Lead Pipe||Rose Brass|
|Triggers||2 Triggers, Main and Third with Mini Ball Release|
|Valves||3 Stainless Steel Piston Valves (Top Sprung)|
|Inner Slides||Nickel Silver|
|Outer Sliders||Nickel Silver|
|Tuning Slide||Rose Brass|
|Finish||Lacquer or Silverplated (Optional)|