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1st Moreton Boys’ Brigade Band.

In the 1960’s the Boys’ Brigade at Moreton had a Bugle & Drum Band . The Bandmaster was the first Band Master. Their Drum Tutor was John Gilliver and Bugle Tutor was Jim Hardy. The Drum Major was Ian MacDonald. The Band took part in the usual Parades, Fetes, Displays and Battalion Competitions. After many years the Staff of the Company decided to try out a new venture.

It was decided by Captain Roy Gordon, Mr. Gordon Jones and Ted Humphries to start a Pipe Band. They wore the Gordon Tartan in honour of their Captain. The Band was started in mid 1964 with 5 snare drummers, one bass, two tenor drummers and six pipers. Their Drum Major was Roger Bunting. The first “outing” as a Band was the B.B. Battalion Display at the Grange Road West Drill Hall. It was a surprise item because nobody in the Battalion knew that Moreton had a pipe band at the time. They went on to
Do many, many performances around the Country, including the North West District Display of the Boys’ Brigade at Blackpool Tower Circus for several years.

Their greatest achievement was to play at the MAYC Display at the Royal Albert Hall in London on two occasions. On the Second occasion they took the girls from 2nd Moreton Girls Brigade to dance an Eightsome Reel in the centre of their circle. The Band folded in 1979 when most of the older boys had left, some of them joining the Wirral Pipe Band which was also started by Ted Humphries. Our current Band Master was one of the drummers in the original pipe band.

2nd Moreton Girls’ Brigade

The Girls’ Brigade started their Drum & Fife Band in 1969 and comprised of four snare drums, bass drum, cymbals and nine fifes and flageolets. The Band was started by Miss Sheila Duffley and Miss Pauline Tomlinson. The Drumming Instructor and Bandmaster was Mr. Bill McKay (our current Joint Band Master). The fifes were first taught by a gentleman from the Orange Lodge in Liverpool until they were competent enough to instruct each other and were then left to carry on. The drum Major was Julie Tomkinson (Joint Bandmaster of our current Band). Their first outing was their own Display in front of the girls’ families and the Church Family. It was a raving success and the parents loved them. Their main outings were Parades and Fetes and Fairs. The Band only survived for about four years when they decided to change to bugles but this never got off the ground.

Moreton BB/GB Band – The Wirral Sound

The foundations for our Band were laid down in 1980/81 by Mr. Ian Reid who was the Captain of the Boys’ Brigade here in Moreton. In 1982, the gentleman who was Bandmaster was Roy Hedley and he had the foresight to rent and then buy three trumpets from Rushworth Music House to give a wider variety of music to our bugle band. According to paperwork found recently, things did not go well with the trumpets because the boys used to leave their trumpets in the stores, didn’t practice and kept losing their music. Mr. Hedley resigned as Bandmaster in 1996. Bill McKay, the Drum Instructor took over as Bandmaster.

Their first parade was Remembrance Day for the Royal British Legion in Moreton in November 1987. On Parade that day they had three snare drums, a bass drum, a tenor drum and four bugles/trumpets. It was just the beginning.

Unfortunately Mr. Hedley died very young and did not see what “His” Band was to become but his parents both did.

Mr. Les Irvine has his arm twisted and became our Bugle Instructor. He was one of the Dads and was lovingly called Mr. H. His son was called Howard but the young ones could never remember his surname so they nicknamed him Mr. Howard or Mr. H. Incidentally this is the gentleman who taught our current Musical Director to play the Trumpet over 21 years ago so we have a lot to thank him for.

During this time (1983-1992) the Band took part in local Parades, Fetes, Fairs and Displays.

In 1987 we bought two new instruments for our Band, a tenor horn and a baritone. We still have these two instruments. At first we didn’t realise that the tenor horn was in a different key to the trumpets and baritone. Everybody played the same music, no separate parts. We wondered why it didn’t sound quite right. We went away to camp in 1988 to Wales and Gerry Jones a friend of Bill McKay wrote some music for the Band. He arranged By the Rivers of Babylon, Marines and Dambusters in four part harmony. He spent two days with the band teaching them to play them. At Church Parade on the Sunday Mr. Mac got such a shock when he heard the Band play the Rivers of Babylon in harmony. He was always busy at camp and hadn’t really heard them play. This was the next step we took with our band. After this Gerry arranged quite a few pieces of music for us.

We took part in our first Competition in our local BB Battalion, Wirral & West Cheshire in 1989. After winning this for three years we decided to try the Boys’ Brigade Northern Districts Band Championships. At this time we had a Band of 24 youngsters. To our amazement we won five trophies, including the Novice Class. Wow , for us this could never be topped.

During June 1994 we took part in an Open Day for the Queensway Mersey Tunnel. We were the first people into the tunnel, marching and playing right the way through. We were joined by many people walking alongside us enjoying the music as they walked. After the march through the tunnel we performed our routine to the crowds who had walked through the tunnel with and after us. It was tiring but good fun and we raised £1000 doing the march. One of our girls, Michelle Aspinwall, wrote a song for us about marching through the tunnel and I still have a copy of it.

In 1995 we tried our hand at the GB National Band Championships where we came 2nd in the Open Class. Something went wrong during the routine and the band ended up facing the wrong way on the arena for the next tune. James the solo drummer played an unscheduled drum solo and Michele our Flute Player lead the band round in a square, everyone followed except Lee who was unceremoniously shoved round the corner by Suzanne with her trumpet.

Everyone was very upset when they got outside and there were lots of tears. One of the Judges came out to tell them how good they had been. She asked why they were so upset, laughed and told them that our routine was not written down so how do they know we went wrong. That’s called Team Work folks and using your brain (and your trumpet).

This year, for the first time, we took part in the Wem Carnival. Mr. Mitchell (one of our Officers) had the end of his nose bitten off by a small terrier dog during the parade. Boy did it bleed.

1995 was not a happy year for our Band and its friends and followers. Three great boys, Christopher Case, Richard Jaques and Paul Barker joined our Band. They were members of the Eastham Boys’ Brigade and good fun to be with. We were on our way to camp at the end of July when we saw a lot of Police activity as we passed Eastham Rake at the side of the Motorway. Paul who was 13 and his friend Robert were fishing the day before and were murdered by a man. When we told the youngsters at camp what had happened, they were devastated. Buglers from our Band played the last post at his funeral and led a large Parade after a Service to celebrate the lives of the two boys. The rest of this year pales into significance.

The following year 1996 we again came 2nd in the GB National Band Championships in the Open Class.

We were chosen by the BB Committee to put on a Display Item for the Boys’ Brigade Northern Districts Display at the Blackpool Tower Circus and had a wonderful time. The cheers and applause from the audience were something we had never experienced before – wow what an adrenaline rush. We had all been worried at the rehearsal when we saw how many seats there were. An exclamation of “woooo that was brilliant” and “was that cheering really for us?” was heard from the youngsters after they had marched off. What an experience.

This is where we were given our name “The Wirral Sound” and why we have kept it.

We went back to the Northern Districts Band Championships. Unfortunately we did not win anything but enjoyed ourselves none the less. The following month we were at the Boys’ brigade National Band Championships at Bingley Hall in Stafford. We won four trophies, including the Best Newcomer’s Cup. Didn’t we do well?

I nearly forgot we led a Christmas Parade to take Santa to the shopping Centre in Birkenhead and The Cherry Tree Centre in Liscard. As we were getting ready for the Parade we were told to hurry. Mrs. Briggs, our Bass Drummer was rushing, tripped on something and did a beautiful forward roll right over the bass drum and ended up lying flat on her back with the bass drum on top of her. She wasn’t hurt, just her dignity and she couldn’t get up for laughing. Two big burly Policemen picked her up and we have had some laughs about it over the years.

1997 –The first thing we did during this year was to help raise funds for the Cornerstone Project in West Derby, Liverpool. This was to be a big modern Centre for people with special needs, young people, retired people and for self-help groups in a friendly Christian environment. They had to raise £36,000.
We played at Tranmere Rovers Football Club for John Aldridge’s Testimonial Match (He was the Manager at Tranmere then). The teams had players from both Liverpool and Everton playing alongside the Tranmere players. It was a good night for autographs and good memories.

We took part in both the BB and GB Displays at the Blackpool Tower Circus, The Northern Districts Band Championships at which we became Runners Up in the Contest Class and took part in the BB National Championships at Hanley, Stoke on Trent where we won nothing. We also took part in our usual Parades, Fetes and Fairs etc. Not such a good year.

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