"2nd Comber Boys Brigade Flute Band"
The band is grateful to all those who have contributed in compiling this history, and acknowledgements are given where appropriate.
List of newspaper transcripts
Above: a photograph of the 50th Belfast (2nd Comber) Boy's Brigade Flute Band was taken circa 1910 - Back Row: John Cannavan, Thomas Oliver, William O'Prey, Robert Maitland, James McCrea, David Bridgett, Robert Ireland, G. Glover, George Mullan. Standing: David Brown, Alex Glover, William Ireland, John Crilly, Alex McIlveen, John Irvine, Alex McFadden. Seated: S. B. McGeag, George Whiteman, E. Campbell, S. McCloud, H. Kelly, James McFadden, A. Bailie, David Thompson, R. Crawford. In front: Fred McMorran, John Bennett, H. Thompson. (reproduced courtesy of the Comber Historical Society)
Above: a hat band worn by members of the '2nd Comber Old Boys Flute Band', dating from circa 1915 (in possession of Comber Brass).
Above: the band register which records the members and the dues paid in each year from 1914 to 2013. Also shown on the right is the inside first page of the register listing the members as at June 1914 with a note of those who were 'on active service' and also 'new members since then who have joined the Colours'. The names against which * has been added in the photo, also appear on the War Memorial erected in Comber Square in 1923 (see below), dedicated to the memory of the men belonging to Comber and District who gave their lives for their King and County in the Great War 1914-1918. (original register in possession of Comber Brass)
Above: copied from the commemorative programme to mark the unveiling and dedication of the Comber War Memorial on 14th April 1923 at which the Comber Amateur Flute Band provided music (reproduced courtesy of Tom Jellie).
Above: the 'Comber Amateur Flute Band Boehm Flute Record' dating from 1923 (in possession of Comber Brass)
Duke and Duchess Go Home - 1924
Above: a photograph of Comber Amateur Flute Band which was taken circa mid 1920s (reproduced courtesy of the Comber Historical Society)
Forthcoming Bazaar - Grand Concert - 1925
The above concert was held in the Thomas Andrews, Jun., Memorial Hall on Thursay evening, 5th inst., commencing at 7.30. Chairman, Robert Henry, Esq., M.D., J.P. There was a very large attendance; this large hall being well filled. The Chairman remarked that he was greatly pleased to see such a large audience, giving them such great support on this occasion.
There was a varied and musical programme arranged as follows :- Part 1. Selection by the Comber Flute Band: "Old Comrades." march; "Colleen Bawn." selection: "When Clouds Vanished." arranged by Mr James Paxton. This band was under the baton of Mr Jas. Paxton, who has been their teacher for a good many years, and the pieces were beautifully rendered, and the performance reflects great credit on both band and conductor.
Referring to the Comber Amateur Flute Band, this band has been in existence for a good many years and were fortunate in having the very valuable service of Mr James Paxton, who is well known in Belfast and the North of Ireland as a first class teacher. He had been their conductor practically since its organisation, and he has spared no time nor expense in bringing it to the high standard which it has attained. With the able assistance of Mr John Cannavan, who is practically the oldest member of the band at the present time, and who has to a large extent been the means of keeping the members together during the past years. He (Mr Cannavan) has always taken a deep interest in the band, and the band members hope he will still remain with them for years to come. About two years ago they got a new set of instruments to cope with the high standard of music to which bands have attained at present; and it was laborious work for the committee too, organising a bazaar and other functions to raise the money to buy these instruments, which they were fortunate in effecting. The band has been in a good number of competitions during the past several years. The following are a few of the prizes which they have won in the Intermediate grade: - 1st prize, Bellevue, Belfast, 1921; 2nd prize, Championship of Ireland, 1921; 1st prize, McConnell Cup, 1921; 2nd prize, Windsor Park, Belfasrt, 1922; also various other prizes.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, Dr Robert Henry, J.P., moved a vote of thanks for the artists for giving them such a good programme. The meeting closed by singing "God Save the King."
Above: pages from a pocket book dating from 1928-29 and containing records relating to the Comber Amateur Flute Band. L-R: payment of membership dues; note of flutes returned / entrance fees paid by members; and items of general band expenditure (in possession of Comber Brass).
Above: a legal agreement dated 1929 between the Trustees and Committee of the Comber Amateur Flute Band and its members, persuant to the borrowing and return of the new flutes that had been recently purchased.
Below: extract from the record of members and 'borrowed' flutes. (in possession of Comber Brass)
Encouraging New Players -1932
Mr. Robert Maitland, chairman of the band, said he was pleased to welcome Mr. Charles Rollins, who kindly agreed to act as judge for their competition, which was inaugerated to encourage the younger members to take a deeper interest in band work.
Mr. James Paxton, conductor of the band, had charge of the earliest arrangements and specially arranged the test piece, "The Old Rustic Bridge." After some good playing on the part of the members, the following awards were made; 1. Mr. James Kirk, medal presented by Mrs. Thompson; 2. Mr. David Thompson, medal, presented by Mr. James Paxton; 3. Mr. Robert Redpath, medal, presented by the band. The competitors were complimented by Mr. Rollins, who presented the medals to the winners.
The committee of the band, who were present, were Messrs. R Maitland (chairman), Frank McKibben (secretary), David Thompson (treasurer), William McKeown (assistant secretary) William Barry, William O'Prey, James Miskelly, Matthew Wilson, R Baxter, H Todd and James Rodney.
Above: a photograph of the Comber Amateur Flute Band which was taken circa 1930 (reproduced courtesy of the Comber Historical Society)
Annual Reunion and Dance - 1932
Above: an ink pad stamp used by the Comber Amateur Flute Band for running a weekly football sweep. The earliest year on the stamp date wheel is 1928. (in possession of Comber Brass)
AGM Comber Flute Band - 1938
Above: a tenancy Agreement prepared in 1939 in relation to the hut formerly occupied by the Royal British Legion for intended use by the Comber Amateur Flute Band. The agreement was never actually signed as this was considered unnecessary by the landlord, but it usefully allows the location of the hut to be confirmed from other land records.
Above: a letter dated 1939 in respect of the Royal British Legion Hut (formerly the Recreational Rooms) and its tenancy by the Comber Amateur Flute Band for the sum of £15 per annum, equivalent to about £770 adjusted for inflation at Nov 2022 prices (original in possession of Comber Brass). Also shown on an extract of the OSNI Historical Fifth Edition Map (1919-1963) is the location of the RBL hut, now redeveloped as the Albion Court residential area, and the location of the new hall built around 1965 by the members of Comber Amateur Silver Band at Laurel Bank, Comber.
Above: a selection of 'Member Declaration's dating from 1948, signed by members of Comber Amateur Silver Band upon receipt of one of the new brass instruments that had been recently purchased (in possession of Comber Brass)
Above: a selection of old mouthpieces and extension tubes (often used when marching) which probably date from when the first set of brass instruments was purchased by Comber Amateur Silver Band in 1948/49. (in possession of Comber Brass).
New Uniform Comber Silver Band - 1950
Above: a photograph of the register of band members and dues paid in 1949, the year in which the band changed to playing brass instruments. The register shows that money was collected weekly, with members usually paying a sixpence (2 1/2 p) towards their annual fee of £1-6s-0d (equivalent to about £36 today adjusted for inflation). The register also records that the band had stopped collecting dues from 1941 to 1947, presumably because of wartime.
Above: extract from the Judges' Remarks for Comber Amateur Silver Band from the Championship of Ireland Band Contest in 1950, the first year after the band had changed from flute to brass instruments (reproduced courtesy of Michael Alcorn at http://www.brassbandsireland.org)
Above: a photograph of Comber Amateur Silver Band taken before a parade in 1952 a few days after winning the Junior 1st Grade Brass Championship. Back row: Alfred Young, Ronald O'Prey, Eric McBratney, Edward Dickson, David Browne, Martin Sloane, David Thompson, D Heskins. Standing: Ted Young, David Ritchie, James Kirk, Robert Cooke, James Quinn, George Crichton, Jack Adair, Ian Roberts, James Cooke, Robert Beers. Seated: James Hamilton, John Mills, David McKibben, Robert Dornan, Fred Gourley (Conductor), Hamilton Mills, William O'Prey, Fred Glover, William McClune. Missing from the photograph: Samuel Burgess (reproduced from the 'Comber Silver Band 50th Anniversary Concert' programme, courtesy of Tom Jellie.)
History of Comber Amateur Silver Band -1953
Above: a photograph of Comber Amateur Silver Band, the winners of the President's Cup, Ulster Cup and the McConnell Cup, 1953-54. Back Row: W Wilson, Ronald O'Prey, S Burgess, G C Creighton, M Sloan, D H Browne, J E Young, A F Young. 3rd Row : R Beers, W J Cooke, I Roberts, J E Quinn, J A Adair, W Shields, D Orr, J Kirk, W Donnan, D Ritchie. 2nd Row: W S McClure, J Mills, W J O'Prey, E J Crozier (Conductor), D Shields (President), D Thompson, D G R McKibbin, F Glover, J Hamilton. Front Row: R G Dornan, J Cooke (in possession of Comber Brass)
AGM & Social Evening - 1953
Above: extract from the Judges' Remarks for Comber Amateur Silver Band from the Championship of Ireland Band Contest in 1953 -winners of the Junior First Grade Brass (reproduced courtesy of Michael Alcorn at http://www.brassbandsireland.org)
NIBA Championships - McConnell Cup - 1954
Above: a photograph of Comber Amateur Silver Band which was taken circa mid 1950's (in possession of Comber Brass)
Above: correspondance received by the Comber Amateur Silver Band - these examples dated 1955 are from the Star of the North L.O.L. No. 1053 and from the Ladies Committee of the band (in possession of Comber Brass).
Above: a recent photograph of the site at Laurel Bank, Comber where members of the band built their new band hall and began rehearsing in from around 1965. The building has since been modernised and is now owned by the Roskyle Limited construction company.
Above: a photograph of Comber Silver Band, winners of the Intermediate Section in the contest of 1967. Standing: John Boyce, Robert Steenson, Albert McCaughey, Wilfred Martyn, James Kirk, Hamilton Mills, John Mills, William McVeigh. Seated: Ronald O'Prey, Samuel Burgess, Thomas Jellie, David Browne, Ralph Mills, Roy Morrow (Conductor), David Jellie, Ian Roberts, Russell McCaughey, Samuel McCaughey. Missing from the photograph: William O'Prey, George Crichton, Ted Toung, Tom Hearney (reproduced from the 'Comber Silver Band 50th Anniversary Concert' programme courtesy of Tom Jellie).
The first female members join the band - 1967
The band's membership register (see below) reveals that first female members in its history joined the Comber Amateur Silver Band in 1967 when Iris Martyn began paying dues in August that year, followed 2 months later in September by Adele McCaughey, then aged 11 years. Adel's father and brothers were also members of the band in that year (see above).
Above left; photo from the Belfast Telegraph published 19 November 1970 under the caption 'Exchanging Blows' - "They may be rivals but that doesn't mean they can't get together for a blow before the sound and fury of the competition begins. Tenor horn player Vera Brookes (21) is the only girl in the Reid Memorial Silver Band, Belfast. Adele McCaughey (14) plays cornet in the Comber Amateur Silver Band. They were taking part in the Band's Association championships in the Ulster Hall."
Above right; photo from Belfast Telegraph published 15 November 1971 - " Mr Albert McCaughey, Lindley Drive, Comber has a very musical family. Daughter Adele (15) and son Russel (16) join him in the Comber Amateur Silver Band. They took part in the 54th Championship of Ireland Bands' contest in the Ulster Hall. Mr McCaughey has more musicians at home for his other three sons are also members of the Comber Silver Band."
Story of Comber Silver Band - 1981
Above: North of Ireland Bands Association Annual Championships of Ireland contest certificates 1988-1994 (in possession of Comber Brass)
Comber Silver Band tribute - 1998
Above: members of Comber Silver Band from the late 1990's (Left) L-R Stephen Kennedy and Robert Davidson (Right) L-R John Mills, Ronnie O'Prey, Ian Roberts and George Crichton (reproduced from original newspaper clippings countesy of Tom Jellie)
Silver Band Concert a wonderful success - 1998
Silver Band to premiere Comber Suite - 1999
(reproduced from the original newspaper clipping courtesy of Tom Jellie)
50 Years of Music ~ and still blowing strong - 1999
Above: photo of Comber Silver Band taken in the summer of 1999 Back Row (L-R): Laura Farling, Kathryn Connolly, Daniel Campbell, Claire Conway, Sophie Ashcroft, George Henderson, Wesley Thompson, Alan Curry, George Clegg Middle Row (L-R): Emma Adams, Kevin Conway, Michael Alcorn, Ian Roberts, Sam Burgess, Michael Cunningham, Eric McKnight, Ken Browne, Pamela Snell, Ronnie O'Prey, Harry Rainey, Front Row (L-R): Tom Jellie, Suzi Ashcroft, Robert Frost, Lawrence Baalham, Ewan Easton, John Adams, Maurice Ballham, Russell Lee, Desmond Sykes (original in possession of Comber Brass)
Above: The Youth Hall of St Mary's Parish Church, Comber where the band have been rehearsing since 2018, having vacated their former hall at Laurel Bank, Comber.
Above: Comber Silver band under the bation of conductopr Wesley Thompson performing in the Whitla Hall, Queen’s University Belfast on 28 November 2018 at the BBL Festival of Brass Competition (photograph reproduced courtesy of Gordon Gray).
Earlies Festival hits the high notes - 2019
Successful Brass Workshop - 2022
Above: back row (L-R), Ards and North Down alderman Deborah Girvan; Lawrence Baalham chairperson, Comber Brass; Judith Thompson,committee, Comber Brass; Wesley Thompson Musical Director, Comber Brass; and Dr Jonathan Corry, freelance trumpet player, adjudicator, and conductor, along with students Isaac, Isabella, Dylan, Harry and Ethan who attended the workshop.
Comber Brass Band entertain at Garden Party - 2022
Above left: "The Princess Royal meets the band conductor, Stuart Adair" and above right: "The band plays 'Run' by Snow Partol for the guests."