As part of Southend Arts Festival The Official Town Civic Band will perform at Priory Park Bandstand
There has been brass bands in and around Southend-on-Sea for about a century. Old sepia photographs record that there was once a Leigh Town Band, a Prittlewell Brass Band, a Shoebury Railway Workers Institute Band, a Shoebury Boys’ Band, mostley Mission bands and of course, the Salvation Army, which came to Leigh and Southend in the late 1800s and formed their own brass bands. The present-day Southend Band, whilst not able to lay claim to a direct filial relationship to these old bands is, nevertheless, certainly one of the oldest music-making ensembles in the borough, tracing its direct lineage back to before the Second World War through the Southend United Football Supporters Club Band (formed 1953), the Southend Ambulance Band (1946), the 16th Essex Home Guard Band (brass and reed, 1939), the Southend Local Defence Volunteer Band (brass and reed, prior to 1936) and the Southend Borough Military Band (brass and reed).
During Southend-on-Sea’s heyday as an Edwardian holiday resort it boasted at least four Bandstands, the most famous being the Victorian “Cakestand” (pictured below) which stood atop the cliffs opposite Southend’s oldest park, Prittlewell Square. Our town bands entertained the crowds there regularly (and at both the two structures which subsequently replaced it) until the landslip of 2002 caused the closure of the venue.
When the Cliffs Bandstand was finally re-erected in Priory Park in the Summer of 2008, the honour of opening it went to The Southend Band: the band which, over the years, had come to fondly regard it as their spiritual home.
The Southend Band has been the official civic brass band since November 1985. Since that time they have rehearsed on Thursday evenings at the Civic Centre in Victoria Avenue and more recently at St. Peter’s Church Hall in Eastbourne Grove, Westcliff-on-Sea. They still have a large and loyal following of enthusiastic supporters, which augers well for the future.