In 1937 a group of amateur musicians decided to pool their talents to form a band based in Godalming. There had been a band in the town from about 1844, when the bandmaster was a Mr. Woodnott, but this had long since been disbanded. The first engagement for the new band, which was to become known as the “Godalming and Borough Band” was a march to celebrate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The band later became known as the “Godalming & District Silver Band”. Their former president, Harry Coombes, was one of the original founder members. Sadly, Harry died recently.
Thanks to the generosity of the people in and around Godalming, the band has managed to retain its self-supporting status, raising funds locally for instruments, uniforms and music. Each year they have a busy summer schedule playing at fetes, carnivals, bandstands and parks of local towns, and they have for many years participated in the brass band competitions organised in the Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association, as well as national contests. In the Area Qualifying Contest in 1992 they won a place in the National Brass Band Finals (the first time in the band’s history!). This National Final was held in October at the Wembley Conference Centre and although the band weren’t in the prizes, it was a good day out and they were proud to have qualified. 1992 also saw the production of a new cassette, “Flourish”, their first recording for many years, which is available from band members.
At the scaba 1993 Spring Contest in Brighton and the 1993 Autumn Contest in Folkestone the band were awarded second prizes for their test pieces and in Brighton they won the March Contest. The success was repeated at Folkestone in 1995 with second prizes for both the test piece and hymn contest, and again at Brighton in 1996 with first prizes for both test piece and march. In 2007 the band was again successful, taking away first place with the test piece, best soloist prize and best conductor.
In 2010, Godalming Museum featured an exhibition about bands in the Godalming area, and primarily the Godalming Band. If you’re interested in reading more about the band, please see our online version of the exhibition via the link below.
The band has a strong “family” tradition - at one time three or four families could have accounted for half the playing members! Also at least three couples have met and married through the band.
At present the band has about thirty five members playing cornets, horns, euphoniums, trombones, tubas, and percussion. The members have a wide range of musical ability, those with less skill benefiting greatly from the help and encouragement of those with more.
New players of all ages, both expert and beginners are always very welcome, at both the junior and senior bands. Instruments and expert tuition are available. The senior band normally rehearses twice a week on Monday and Thursday evenings from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm under the baton of musical director James Haigh. The junior band normally rehearses on Monday evenings from 7.00 pm to 8.00 pm.
The Band are available for bookings throughout the year.