|The Formative Years - 1886-1909|
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Nothing can exceed the vigour with which the local Salvation Army pursue their religious duties, and the ardour of its members. In their marches out they are now led by a band consisting of 4 cornets, a violin, flute, triangle and drum, which instruments impart a degree of fervour to their supporters, which may not be so highly appreciated by the peaceful residents of the village
The eight players mentioned here comprised the first Pokesdown Salvation Army Band, and it was from this unit that Boscombe Band later emerged. Although their enthusiasm was much admired, musical ability was often questioned, with the band being referred to as
untutored, though decidedly lively
If the Salvation Army wish to retain the goodwill of the residents here they will endeavour to restrain the ardour of the man with the big drum. It is very annoying for paterfamilias to be roused from the 40 winks he generally indulges in after his Sunday dinner and for materfamilias, just as she has succeeded in getting her olive branches to settle down for the night, to have them frightened out of their wits by the banging of the drum. Less noise and more music would be more creditable to the band, and pleasanter to those who are obliged to be hearers
Visiting Ringwood for the farewell meeting of Captain Daly in September 1887 the band - combining on this occasion with Winton - was confronted for the first time with physical violence. Having enjoyed a big tea they set off at 7pm for a march during which it is reported that:
Time after time the skeletons, howling like wild beasts, broke into the ranks. They gratuitously showered upon us mud and rotten eggs, but throughout this trying time our soldiers kept perfectly cool and never once returned a blow
In October 1887 Jack Pond was appointed bandmaster taking over from Bandmasters Glass and Langridge who had each served in this capacity for a short time.
Formerly one of the band's three clarinet players, Jack Pond set about increasing the size of the band and improving the quality of its music making. His success was confirmed by the Bournemouth Guardian on 13th April 1889 which for the first time refrained from making derogatory comments about the band's playing:
The Salvation Army at Boscombe have started a new movement. It is to play in the streets as a regular town band, and take up the usual collection. Rumour has it that the band play unusually well, and are very successful in catering for the public, and that, disassociated from their surroundings of noisy religion, the innovation is not all disliked by the public.
The War Cry, which had earlier said of the band
The bandsmen blow, sing, speak and pray. They're nicely saved I'm glad to say
went on to praise it further in 1889
The Corps Band is a credit; the instrumentalists do not shirk work and are very unselfish
The Founder's daughter, Lucy Booth, visited Bournemouth in August 1889 with the Household Troops Band, and she too had a favourable opinion of Boscombe Band:
We the Household Troops Band No. 1, upon our disembarkation at Bournemouth, swept through the aristocratic seaside resort with quite a blaze of Salvation music, fairly taking the place by storm. Along the line of route to Boscombe all was in one continual whirl of excitement. While marching round the town we were joined by the excellent little Boscombe Corps Band
She went on to comment
there was plenty of drum as might be expected from a man who evidently is possessed of the idea he has a mission and the standard of the instrumentalists was far above the ordinary
On 22nd February 1890, the drummer was given a special mention once again by the Bournemouth Guardian, under the headline:
Boscombe was filled with the diversification of sounds
It appears that Boscombe Band (town band, not S.A.) were playing near the Arcade when two organ grinders struck up in opposition, one on either side of the band. This, coupled with the sound of Salvation Army choruses and the assiduous banging of the red jacket at the big drum being borne down Palmerston Road by the wind was noted to be plenty of music, but precious little charm.
By this time the band had increased considerably in size, with membership now totalling 27. During the hard winters many of them would be unemployed and would use much of their spare time playing around the streets, collecting for the relief work of the corps. One bandsman would spend much of his time carrying the officer around on his pony and trap, collecting and delivering food.
The corps itself had also increased considerably in size, so much so that the Shelley Road barracks soon proved inadequate for the size of congregation that wished to meet there. As a result of this the corps split into two, with Pokesdown Corps being re-established on its own territory in Woodside Road in March, 1891. Those that remained at Shelley Road formed Boscombe Corps, retaining the original Pokesdown corps number. Likewise there occurred a split in the band, with some bandsmen going to Pokesdown, but the majority seemed to stay at Boscombe.
On 3rd August 1891, Bandmaster Pond took the band to his home town of Swanage to assist in an openair ministry. About 140 Boscombe Soldiers and bandsmen boarded the S.S. Empress, with the band playing en route to defray their expenses. Upon landing at Swanage they played several pieces before retreating from the showers into the local barracks. After refreshments they held an afternoon musical praise and prayer meeting which was attended by about 1000 people on the beach.
Interesting mention is made of Boscombe Band in the Musical Salvationist, October l895. In a table shewing the strength and formation of some of the best known Army hands at the present time Boscombe is shown to be the 9th largest band in the country, after Clapton Congress hail, Nunhead, Bristol 1, Barrow 1, Portsmouth 1, I.H.Q., Penge and Northwhich.
Its 31 players consisted of 2 cornets, 4 horns, 4 baritones, 4 trombones, 2 euphoniums, 2 Bb bass, 1 Eb Bombardon, 3 Bb clarinets and 3 percussionists (bass drum, side drum and cymbals).
It is interesting to note that according to all photographic records the band has never fallen below this figure of 31 bandsmen in its subsequent history - a remarkable achievement.
The continued growth of the corps led to new premises being required and in February 1899 a stone-laying ceremony took place at the site of the new hall in Palmerston Poad. The adjacent thoroughfare was completely blocked by large crowds of interested spectators and the police had some difficulties in maintaining free passage for ordinary traffic. The vicinity of the site was made gay with pennants and bunting and the scaffold poles around the platform were draped with coloured muslins. Prior to the commencement of the stone-laying ceremony by the Mayor, W. Hoare, the band paraded down Palmerston Road, then led the singing of When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.
Just two and a half months later the building was complete, and Jack Pond had the honour of leading the corps procession from the Shelley Road barracks, with music items provided by Boscombe and Watford bands. Arrived at the Citadel, a short service was conducted outside the building by Col. Kilbey, Chief Secretary British Territories. After unlocking the door he said in his address
This edifice is evidence that the Salvation Army is not marching to the grave, as a good many people imagined, but is going on, as much alive as ever
In 1906 the band had the honour of playing for the Founder as he passed through Bournemouth during his Inverness to Plymouth Motor Campaign. Arriving in the square on 25th August, having travelled from Fordingbridge, the General's white car forced its way through a crowd estimated at 3000 while the band continued to play to its biggest ever audience.
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