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History of the Band

We are a relatively young band, having started life in 1977 as a lunch time activity at Marchwood Engineering Laboratories, part of the Central Electricity Generating Board. The band was originally led by Mike Swatman, a trombone player who was employed as a design engineer, and a couple of experienced players who also worked at the labs. They taught others to play.

This proved to be very popular and successful, so the band rehearsal moved to the evening and became part of the sports & social club. At this time the band became known as Marchwood Brass. The band started to play at local events and began to attract players from outside the Laboratories.

In 1983 Mike Swatman decided that he had taken the band as far as he could and that a more experienced conductor should be sought. At this time some members had children playing in the Hampshire County Youth Band and it was decided to ask them if they could recommend anyone.

The upshot of this was that John Knight, the head of brass tuition for Hampshire and Director of the Hampshire County Youth Bands, offered his services. This was a tremendous offer which was accepted with some trepidation as the band did not know if they were up to the challenge.

Marchwood Vodafone Brass

Under John's guidance and encouragement the band continued to improve and also attracted other players from around the area which raised the standard even further. In 1985 the band entered their first contest, the Wessex winter contest held at Poole Arts Centre, and came second in the fourth section. Over successive years the band continued to have local contest success, moving up to the second section.

It was decided in 1990 to enter a national contest, and in view of local contesting results the contest organisers allowed the band to compete in the third section. In Watford Town Hall, the band played Darrol Barry's Divertimento and won! The band was promoted to the second section, vindicating the decision to allow them to compete directly in the third section.

At the end of 1992, John decided that he would retire from the world of banding, giving him and his wife more time to spend at their apartment in Spain. This was a great loss to the band both musically and personally.

Wayne Landen, a local music teacher and assistant MD, took over from John and under his guidance the band continued to do well in the second section. After a couple of years, due to other commitments Wayne decided to step down as MD.

Due to various changes in musical director and players moving away, the band's fortunes started to decline during this period, as happens with so many bands. The band ended up back in the fourth section with just a nucleus of players, but they kept going.

The band in Swanage

In 2002 Ian Luxford joined the band on tenor horn and it soon became apparent that his musical qualifications, experience and ability would make him an ideal musical director. The committee approached him and asked if he would be interested in taking on the position of musical director. He agreed to give it ago. It was a slow process, but under Ian's guidance and leadership the band started to improve and attract new players. More gigs were undertaken which helped to raise the profile of the band again.

The band entered the Wessex winter contest and finished a very respectable sixth. At the West of England contest the following year the band came sixth again, which saw them promoted to the third section. This success unfortunately was short lived as the following year the band was relegated again. Contest results over the next few years were inconsistent but the band continued to improve on the concert stage and had reached a point of stability.

This stability and renewed confidence finally translated into contest success when in 2011 New Forest Brass came second in the West of England regional contest and qualified for the National Finals, where the band came second again! The band continues to thrive, winning promotion back into the third section in 2013, qualifying for the third section national finals in 2014 and being promoted to the second section for 2015. In 2017 the band celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala concert involving a massed band of over 70 past and present players.

Ian conducts the band at Waterside Theatre