Tredegar Band has a rich and evocative history; from its first published mention in a regional newspaper in 1849, through to the present day.
This timeline will be researched and broken into five significant eras to give a snapshot record of how the band has developed from its earliest times. Through further research each entry will be linked to a more detailed explanation to place the each entry in greater historical context.
1849 – 1876
Processions, challenges and first success
The first mention of Tredegar Band is reported in the Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper at the opening of Samuel Homfray’s, ‘splendid new mill’ in the town.
‘The very efficient Tredegar Brass Band’ plays ‘introductory music’ ahead of the first running of the Bedwellty steeplechase meeting on the land at a local Rhoswen Farm.
The Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper reports that the band, under the leadership of Mr. William Sewell, ‘…had scarcely finished at two o'clock, when the bugle sounded, and in a brief period, six prancing steeds were paraded in front of the stand by their picturesquely-clad riders, to compete for The Bedwellty Stakes’.
‘Tredegar Brass Band’ performs at Bedwellty House for a gathering of the children of iron workers and their parents who sent them to a local day school.
The ‘Christian gathering’ of over 500 people promoted the benefits of ‘education and morality’, whilst it was reported that the ‘well known Tredegar Brass Band... delighted the hearers with the performance of some of the most favourite airs of the day’.
Tredegar Brass Band leads an Oddfellows Society procession in Beaufort to the new British school room.
Tredegar Brass Band leads a procession through the town to the Sirhowy Inn for an anniversary meeting of the Benefit Society.
It is noted that Tredegar Brass Band heads a procession of about 150 members on the first anniversary of the Royal Albert Friendly Society to the King’s Head pub in the town.
A Grand Foresters Fete in Abergavenny arranged with the North Western Railway Company boasts a ‘monster excursion’ – ‘one of great attraction to all classes’ including train tickets from the local Nantybwch station in Tredegar.
Alongside ‘Wheel-barrow Racing, Quoits, Aunt Sally, Jumping in Sacks, and other popular Amusements’, the Tredegar Brass Band is engaged to lead the procession through the town alongside a drum & fife band and two string bands.
A concert is given in Tredegar ‘...in aid of the funds of the brass band, which has recently been originated in the town’.
‘The new brass band’ led by Mr. Gwyer plays ‘an overture and some operatic selections’ at Mr Caird’s Annual Concert in Tredegar.
Tredegar Band, led by Mr Jospeh Gwyer wins first prize of £1 10 shillings for the ‘rendering of a collection of Welsh Airs’ at the Tredegar Eisteddfod. The performance was ‘highly commended’ by the adjudicator.
It is reported that; ‘Tredegar brass band is now in a very efficient state. Under Mr Gwyer they are hard at work preparing for the Swansea competition meeting on Whit Monday’.
It was hoped that the band would secure ‘fresh laurels for the first time in the Vale of Glamorgan’.
The first reported mention of Mr Tidswell, ‘… a newcomer, and, as a performer on the cornet, has few equals in the Principality’ in a concert at St George’s Church, Tredegar.
The report in the South Wales Daily News adds that it, ‘…augers well for the future prosperity of the Tredegar Brass Band No. 1.’
The Cardiff Times reports on the possibility of a ‘playing match’ between Mr Tidswell of Tredegar Band and Mr Davies of Ebbw Vale Band, to find out who should be considered ‘the finest player’ for a ‘good round of money’.
It went on to state: ‘If not accepted by Ebbw Vale in seven days time, Mr Tidswell will be considered ‘cornetto primo of the hills’.
Tredegar Band wins first prize at the town Eisteddfod playing ‘Hallelujah to the Father’, whilst Mr Tidswell is awarded £1 for his ‘excellent trumpet obligato’ alongside Mr Evans of Rhymney performing ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’.
The demise of ‘the old Tredegar No 1 Band’, results in a County Court case arising from a dispute between members who wished to form a new Tredegar No 2 Band.
It concerns the alleged non-payment by one of five ‘seceders’ to the new No 2 Band of his share of the £10 cost of the instruments they were to buy from the disbanded band.
A sports day was held in Tredegar ‘for the benefit of the town band’.
It was reported that; ‘Tredegar Band, under Mr J. R. Tidswell, played some fine operatic selections. Mr D. F. Williams, of the Tredegar Arms, provided the creature comforts, and generously handed over all profits to the band fund.'
Under the direction of Mr J. R. Tidswell, Tredegar Band wins first prize and a gold medal at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham, with a performance of ‘La Fete Musicale’ by Smith of Hull, ‘…that surpassed the other six competitors in point of tone, time, brilliancy, and general excellence’.
The band remained in Wrexham for three days to play an agreed series of concerts – receiving £10 ‘for each day’s service’.
In recognition of their achievement in winning the National Eisteddfod title, it is reported in the Star of Gwent newspaper that, ‘…members of the town band have presented their leader, Mr J B Tidswell with a handsome diamond ring for the able services he rendered them.’
It is reported in the Star of Gwent newspaper on the 9th September that; ‘At an influentially attended meeting held in the Town Hall on Tuesday 5th September, a committee was formed to manage the affairs of the (Tredegar) band and place it on a firm basis’.
1877 – 1904
The Western Mail newspaper reported that the annual sports day races took place at Wainypound near Sirhowy.
It stated: ‘The Tredegar Prize Band, led by the now bandmaster, Mr T Hardy, of the cavalry depot, played choice elements of music during the day.’
The Monmouthshire Merlin reported that; ‘The town brass band, under the their newly-appointed bandmaster, Mr T. Hardy, of the 8th Hussars, has been serenading the principal residents of the district during the past few weeks.
The music performed is classical in style, and as three practices are held weekly the band will assuredly make its mark and sustain the prestige earned at Wrexham when Mr Tidswell was leader.’
The South Wales Daily News reported on a fete and gala that took place in Sirhowy ‘...in aid of the fund to provide uniforms for the members of the Tredegar Fire Brigade.
The officials were lent by Mr D. E. Williams, of the Tredegar Arms, who is captain of the brigade, and the town band, ably led by Mr Hardy, played a selection of music.’
The Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper reported from Tredegar that ‘Our band’ appeared in their brand new ‘Hussar uniform’, at the fete at Wainpound Farm and ‘looked remarkably well’.
It stated: ‘Their playing was highly enjoyed by those present, and several of the pieces were repeated by special request, during the day. Mr T. Hardy, the indefatigable trainer of the band, was personally complimented for the musical proficiency attained.
We understand Mr Hardy purposes marshalling his men before the adjudicator at Swansea eisteddfod on 31st August next to compete for the prize offered for Handel's ‘Hallelujah.’ They have already commenced practicing for the occasion.’
The Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper of 5th September reported on the band’s success in winning the brass band class at the South Wales Eisteddfod held in Cardiff.
The Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper reported that the band accompanied a local juvenile excursion to Hereford of young members of the Court of Britannia, ‘...playing popular tunes’.
It is noted that later the same week, they also headed to mid-Wales, where under the direction of conductor Tom Hardy they won a contest in Presteign ‘for the grand prize of £20 and a gold medal’.
Under the sub-heading ‘Promenade Concerts’, the South Wales Daily News reported on '...the first of a series of entertainments took place on Thursday at the Town Hall, kindly lent by Mr Colquhoun, manager of the works.
There was an hour devoted to music by the band under the direction of Mr T Hardy, and at nine o’clock the affair assumed the form of a soiree dansante, and the company enjoyed a couple of hours in a pleasant way.’
It is reported in the Cardiff Times of 3rd September that Tredegar Band wins first prize at the Conservative Fete and Gala in Cardiff.
A report is given in the Cambrian News & Merionethshire Standard newspaper of ‘The National Eisteddfod’ held in Merthyr Tydfil where ‘4,000 people attended’.
Tredegar Band under conductor Mr Tom Hardy competed at the brass band contest against five other bands...
The Western Main reported that ‘...the Mechanic’s Arms Lodges of the Ivorites of Dukestown paraded the principal streets in full regalia headed by Tredegar Band’.
The Abergavenny Chronicle notes that the Christmas festivities in Tredegar saw the church service at St George’s followed by ‘a monster party’, where the Town Band ‘...showed up in good form’.
Tredegar Band under Tom Hardy plays at the funeral of Bandmaster Carbury.
The Western Mail newspaper erroneously reports that it was the Ebbw Vale Band, but a letter to the editor from ‘A Member of Tredegar Band’ points out the error and that ‘...the amount they received for doing so was handed over to the widow of the deceased’.
Tredegar Band is the only entrant in the ‘Grand Musical Eisteddfod’ held in the town on Christmas Eve under the patronage of Lord Tredegar.
A prize is given to them of £5 for their rendition of the set work ‘We Never Will Bow Down’ from Handel’s ‘Elijah’.
The South Wales Daily news reported that the Tredegar brass band headed a procession at The Circle (the site of the town clock) to Bedwellty House ‘...to escort a distinguished party to the exhibition buildings in order to perform the opening ceremony’ of a Fine Art Exhibition.
One of the party was the renowned industrialist and ironmaster Crawshay Bailey, who it was reported told the audience to great applause that ‘...he would tell all he met that they ought to come and see the wonderful display of talent on the Tredegar Hills’.
The weekly Mail newspaper reported that the Grand Chair Eisteddfod in connection with the Tredegar Art and Industrial Exhibition was opened by the vicar of Tredegar.
It followed a 8.30am procession formed at the Temperance Hall of the Cymmrodorion Society, which, headed by the Tredegar Brass Band, wended their way to the vicar's residence.
It stated: ‘A selection of tunes having been played, the procession reformed and marched to the hall, where a crowd of visitors was assembled. The band played a few selections, after which the doors were thrown open.’
The Cardiff Times & South Wales Weekly newspaper reported the visit of Pencerdd Gwalia to perform in a grand concert at the Temperance Hall, Tredegar.
‘The Tredegar brass band, conducted by Mr Tom Hardy met two of the featured soloists Mr John Thomas, ‘the celebrated harpist’ and escorted them to the hall accompanied by an enthusiastic crowd.'
A comprehensive report was given in the Weekly Mail newspaper of a brass band contest held at Penydarren Park in Merthyr Tydfil, in which Tredegar Band conducted by Tom Hardy took part.
It contains a report on what was a fractious contest under the heading; 'The Recent Brass Band Contest at Merthyr Tydfil – Detailed Criticism of the Adjudicator’, including the adjudicator’s comments on Tredegar’s unsuccessful performance of ‘Moses in Egypt’.
An advertisement was placed in The Merthyr Express newspaper for ‘A Grand Concert’ to be given at the Temperance Hall in Tredegar on August 7th - the proceeds of which were to go to the purchasing of new instruments for the band.
A letter of correspondence to the Editor was printed in the South Wales Daily News on Friday 22nd August 1884 under the heading ‘The Mendacity of the Western Mail’.
It attacks the newspaper’s recent report that stated Tredegar Brass Band was ‘...less musical but a more noisy band than the one that led the Rhymney contingent’.
It was signed - ‘One of the Audience’.
The Merthyr Express newspaper reported from Tredegar that the Town Brass Band, ‘...played some appropriate selections’ to help send off the Rechabites’ Excursion to Weston.
‘A little after three o'clock hundreds were on their way to the station and by five o’clock 450 were comfortably seated in the excursion trains of London & North West Railways.’
The South Wales Echo reported on Tredegar’s involvement in the brass band competition at the Cardiff Musical Eisteddfod held on Good Friday.
The band competed against Penrhiwfer, Cymmer, Mountain Ash, Ebbw Vale and Cardiff (Burn’s) on an arrangement of Mozart’s ‘Seraglio’.
The report stated: ‘The bands made rather difficult selections for amateurs, but the adjudicator expressed himself as pleased on the whole with their performances.
No hesitation was experienced by Mr Glover in awarding the prize (£10) to Mountain Ash.’
The South Wales Echo reported on the fourth ‘Chair Eisteddfod promoted by the Tredegar Cymmrodorion Society’.
The Tredegar Brass Band headed a procession to Bedwellty House.
The Weekly Mail reported that Tredegar Band headed a procession started at the Town Hall that marched to Sirhowy Station to meet Councilor Vaughan of Cardiff who had come to open a Swiss Fair and Bazaar.
The event was held to help ‘liquidate the debt’ of the Wesleyan Church which had built a new school and renovated their church. The backdrop to the opening was provided by 6,000 square feet of canvas painted to represent a Swiss village.
The Weekly Mail reported that Tredegar Brass Band conducted by Mr Tom Hardy led the procession for the fifth ‘Grand Chair Eisteddfod’ in connection with the Tredegar Cymmrodorion Society held at the town’s Temperance Hall.
The South Wales Daily News reported that the ‘annual demonstration of St George’s Church Sunday School took place.
‘The processionists, 900 in number (headed by the Tredegar town band conducted by Mr Tom Hardy) march through the principal streets and also through Bedwellty Park. Tea was afterwards provided in the vicarage grounds, over 1,600 partaking thereof.’
The South Wales Daily news reported that ‘The Tredegar Town Band under the conductorship of Mr T Hardy, headed the Liberal Association, and the band of the National League in procession’ through the town.
Earlier in the day a meeting at the Town Hall had heard speeches from amongst others, C.M. Warmington MP, the President of the Junior Liberal Association.
The South Wales Daily news reported on the visit of Mr Henry Broadhurst MP to Tredegar, where ‘...a large gathering assembled under Sirhowy Bridge, and an imposing procession was formed, headed by Tredegar Brass Band under the leadership of Mr T Hardy, and marched though the town to the Tredegar railway station.’
The Pontypool Free Press & Herald of the Hills reported on the Grand Bazaar at Abertillery, ‘...under the distinguished patronage of the His Grace the Duke of Beaufort’, at which Lord Tredegar was in attendance.
Attractions included a ‘special feature of a telephone connection between Pontypool and Tredegar arranged by the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company’, before going on to state: 'On Thursday evening the company was entertained from Tredegar by the Town Brass Band.'
It was reported in the South Wales Daily News that: 'The annual demonstration of St. George's Sunday School took place, the procession, which numbered about 800, being headed by the Town Band, conducted by Mr Tom Hardy.
Tea was provided in the vicarage grounds, and was followed by the usual sports.'08/
In a letter to the Editor of the South Wales Daily News it was reported that the band’s second place finish at the recent Hirwaun Contest has been overlooked:
The Weekly Mail reported on the second annual band contest in connection with the South Wales and Monmouthshire Brass Band Association contest held at Penydarren Park in Merthyr, where Tredegar competed in a field of 15 bands.
The Merthyr Times & Dowlais Times & Aberdare Echo newspaper contains the advertisement:
‘The Tredegar Town Band are ready to receive Engagements for Club Feasts, Fetes and Galas, &c. Terms moderate.
Apply, Secretary, Town Band, River-row, Tredegar.’
The notice remained in the newspaper until February 1896.
It was reported in the South Wales Daily News that a new wing to the Tredegar Workmen's Institute was opened.
It stated: ‘The town itself was elaborately decorated, bunting being very generally exhibited, while at the most important cross-roads and junctions triumphal arches of evergreens, bearing appropriate mottoes, spanned the thoroughfares. The town band was part of the procession on the day.’
The South Wales Daily News reported the visit of Sir William Harcourt to Tredegar - described as ‘...the distinguished Radical Leader’ and MP for West Monmouthshire - to speak at what was called ‘a great demonstration’.
Harcourt (who later became Chancellor of the Exchequer under William Gladstone) was ‘...met at Sirhowy Bridge by the Tredegar Brass Band, which headed a procession to the Temperance Hall, a building that had been crowded for an hour prior to his arrival.’
As soon as Sir W. Harcourt entered the building, it was reported that ‘a rendition of ‘See the Conquering Hero Comes’ was vigorously given as a welcome, followed by rounds of ringing cheers’.
The Evening Express newspaper reported that the local branch of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants held their annual parade in aid of the widow and orphan fund.
The procession was ‘...headed by Tredegar Workmen's Band and the beautiful banner of the Sheffield Branch, marched through the main streets, collections being made en route.
A service was afterwards held at St. James's Church, the Rev. G. E. H. Theophilus, M.A. (vicar), preaching the sermon.’