Potterspury Excelsior Prize Brass Band

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Extracts from Potterspury - the story of a village and its people

The village band was in existence in the late 1800s, and in 1904 entered a contest organised by the Gentlemen of Dunstable. The band travelled to the contest on a horse-drawn cart and won the first prize - a silver plated cup. The contest was never held again, so the band held the cup which is now kept with the church plate for safe keeping.

Between the wars, in the summer, the band would give regular Sunday evening concerts on the green by the cross-road on Watling Street, opposite the Anchor pub.
Band practice was held in the Cock club room (now the restaurant). A popular story of the time related how, arriving late for practice one night, one of the bandsmen was so impressed with the sound of his colleagues playing that he went into the practice room and said, 'That sounds great - come outside and listen'. Whereupon they all put down their instruments and went outside!

The band ceased to play during the Second World War but started again in 1946. By 1953, with Reg Atkins as conductor, the band was very active, playing at numerous village fetes in the area and leading church parades for Remembrance Sunday services, when they would march four abreast via Sanders Lane, Blackwell End, Watling Street, High Street and Church Lane (with no parked cars in the way!).
Another old village tale recalled that when Pury band marched by the pigs were sat on the wall to listen. (This tale was well known in all the surrounding villages!) The Coronation parade through the village in 1953 was led by Syd Holloway pushing a model of 'The Pig on the Wall'.

There was of course much rivalry between Pury and Yardley bands and Pury used to say that one Christmas when Yardley Band went round playing carols they played outside one 'house' where the collectors could not find the door. They walked round it several times before they realised it was a hay rick!

As the number of bandsmen from the village dwindled, more and more had to be transported to practice from the surrounding area. By 1961 it became beyond the financial means of the band to continue to transport the players to practice and the band had to close down. Some of the bandsmen went on to play with Wolverton Band and the remains of the band's funds were paid over to the Parish Council for the general benefit of the village.





(c) 2012 Mark Russell - www.potterspury.org.uk

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