- Sat, Feb 24, 2018 -
Syston must be one of few brass bands that can trace its origins to before the development of valved instruments. It began life in the early nineteenth century as a works concertina band. This evolved into a Fife and Drum band, then, with the advent of the valved bugle became Ellmore’s Cane and Basketworks Band.
At the end of 19th century (for reasons that remain obscure) the band lost its Ellmores connection. But drawing players from the villages of Syston and Thurmaston the band continued, though its name at this time remains unknown. What is known is that in the early 1900s they won their first contest and promptly became the Syston and Thurmaston Silver Prize Band.
In 1914 the outbreak of war saw most of the players enlist. But as soon as peace was declared Walter Ward of Syston saw to it that the band reformed. It continued to be a presence in the area until war once more forced it to pack away its instruments. And once more when peace was declared the redoubtable Mr Ward was a driving force in its re-establishment.
Fortunes floundered in the fifties and for a period trustees were appointed to look after the band’s assets. One member, a Mr Hickling, continued to teach brass to local youngsters until 1970 when ill health forced him to call it a day. Reluctant to let brass in the area die the trustees, together with well known cornet player Henry Shipley, made a concerted effort to rally local brass players – and in 1971 the Syston Silver Band was reborn.
Practices first took place at the Dog and Gun in Syston. Then in 1972 the band accepted an invitation to use the newly rebuilt Syston Royal British Legion Club as a base and they became the Syston Royal Britsh Legion Band. 1995 saw another move, to their next home at Syston Working Men’s Club. The band moved again in April 2014 and continue to flourish in their latest 'home' fondly known at 'The Hut' on Syston Memorial Park and now play under the name of Syston Band.
With a history spanning three centuries it is inevitable that – like all bands – Syston’s fortunes have waxed and waned. But one thing remains certain. With its present base less than two miles from where it began –and the town’s name always proudly proclaimed - Syston Band can truly be called a local brass band.