The Formative Years

Bandmaster G Glass Bandmaster H Langridge Bandmaster Jack Pond

1886 to 1909

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

Bournemouth Guardian, 8th May 1886

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

Bournemouth Guardian, 17th July 1886

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

Bournemouth Guardian, 5th February 1887

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

Bournemouth Guardian, September 1887

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.

Band 1886

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

War Cry, 17th September 1889

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

Band c.1900

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.

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