The earliest known reference to the existence of a brass band in Bideford is found in the Bideford Gazette dated March 24th, 1853. This particular band appears to have comprised of just a few players of brass instruments who at times gave public recitals in and around the town.
On February 4th, 1868 a new amateur brass band was formed from the members of the former Devon Volunteer Rifle band. Several gentlemen in the neighborhood subscribed liberally towards it. In August 1879 a new bandstand was erected on the river bank at the cost of 80 guineas.
Contesting has always played a large and very important part of the life of Bideford Band and on June 1st, 1936 the first ever Brass band contest in Devon was held at the Bideford sports ground. The band has maintained this tradition and for about 30 years has organised its own Solo and Quartet contest which is held in Bideford every June and attracts players from far and wide. The band is also a founder member of the South West Brass Band Association (SWBBA) which was formed in 1947 and has enjoyed great success at regional contests organised by them. See the website’s contest page for more information.
During July 1998 the Leichhardt Band, from Sydney Australia visited Bideford for 5 days. During which time we enjoyed combined concerts with them and a full program of social events. The band first came to Bideford in 1993 and in 1996 several members of the band visited them in Sydney assisting in some civic occasions.
During the last few years, the Band has played to the French Twinning Group from Landivisiau, who visit Bideford each year. In August 2013 the band had the opportunity to visit Landivisiau and had a memorable weekend performing and enjoying the French hospitality. The band also visited again in May 2017. We would also like to visit the twin town in Manteo, North Caroline, USA in the future.
Bideford Town Band took part in the South West Bandstand Marathon in 2008, where 50 bands played across the South West and the first National event in 2009. This was part of the Cultural Olympiad, leading up to the London Olympic Games in 2012.
In 2011 another landmark was reached when the band purchased and moved into its own premises on the edge of Victoria Park.
In 2015, the band made a trip to York and took part in the famous Whit Friday marches, where the band marched and competed in 5 different villages in one day. They also performed in a joint concert with the Shepherd Group Brass Band at Selby Abbey which was such a fantastic venue!
In 2019 the Band became a registered charity – CIO Number 1183817.
Like all Brass Bands 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic meant that all ‘banding’ had to be put on hold. However, as soon as the Band was able to meet in accordance with Government guidelines rehearsals restarted in 2021. The Band has re-grouped and has gone from strength to strength, culminating in it gaining first place at the National Brass Band Championships West of England Competition in Cheltenham in April 2022.
Again today we were a part of the town’s history playing the National Anthem at Torridge District Council and Bideford Town Council’s proclamation events. This is where the Council’s and Mayor’s read the Accession Council’s proclamation that following the death of Queen Elizabeth II our new monarch is King Charles III.
South West Brass Band Association Competition in Torquay, saw us walk away with an additional three trophies. We came 3rd in the Third Section, 1st in the Fourth Section and also gained an additional prize for best Bass section. Our 2022 contesting year saw us gain two first prizes, a second prize along with a 3rd prize and best Bass Section prize – all in all a brilliant year for Bideford Town Band.