Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band - A return to contesting...

11-Mar-2005

Seindorf Arian Frenhinol Dyffryn Nantlle [Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band] return to Regional contesting after a break over 40 years at Swansea's Brangwyn Hall this weekend. If you are there, make sure you go and listen.


Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band
Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band

The Nantlle Vale Band started life in 1865 as the Penyrorsedd Band when the owner of the Penyrorsedd Quarry bought the bands very first instruments. In 1894 the band was invited to play for the Prince and Princess of Wales when they visited Caernarfon for the National Eisteddfod. They played as the Royal Yacht sailed by and from that day forward the band has carried the title ‘Royal'.

The band went to one of the very first competitions at Crystal Palace in 1902 where they won more points than Besses of the Barn. Between 1874 and 1951 the band won first prize in Class A at the National Eisteddfod many times.

Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band 1907
Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band 1907

The band should have gone to Belle Vue in 1926 under the baton of Mr J. Hughes Evans but shortly before the competition while out collecting with the band he had a fatal accident on his motorbike. This was a great loss to the band and one of the saddest times in its history. The band and the committee went to his funeral and the band members played at his graveside. His picture still stands in the bandroom to this day. The band did go to Belle Vue that year but with Mr T.J.Rees of Gwaencaegurwen Band as their conductor.

Another member of the band who had an accident was William Jones but fortunately in his case it was only fatal to his instrument. On his way home from band practise one dark night he fell into a quarry. As he fell his double B, which was slung across his back, caught on a piece of rock and held him there just long enough for his friend to fetch a rescue party. William Jones himself was fine after the event but his double B was not.

In the 1920s the band was so successful that 52 people applied for the position of conductor including some famous names such as Alexander Owen, William Rimmer and Harry Mortimer. The Nantlle Band was one of the first brass bands to have its own purpose built bandroom. That bandroom is in Talysarn and the band still rehearses there today.

Unfortunately the band folded in the early 1950s. That may well have been the end of the band but then in 1965 a group of local lads congregating outside Caffi Talysarn decided it would be fun to start up the band again. The instigator was Mr Richard Williams (Dic Pen Llyn) who went on to become the band's secretary. That year the band celebrated its centenary and also won first prize in Class C at the National Eisteddfod.

Nantlle Vale Youth
Nantlle Vale Youth

Since that time the band has been out of competitions and has concentrated on rebuilding itself and helping the local community. Today there is a Junior, Intermediate and Senior Band in the Nantlle Valley. The Junior and Intermediate Bands meet on a Tuesday evening between 7 and 9pm conducted by Sue Massey and assisted by Chrissy Chalk-Williams.

The Senior Band meets on a Wednesday and Friday evening between 7 and 9pm conducted by Sue Massey and Gareth Williams. New members of all ages and abilities are very welcome.

The band is able to hold a master class with members of the YBS Band Gavin Saynor, Dewi Griffiths and Sheona White later in the spring with the aid of a grant from Mantell Gwynedd.

This year marks the return of Nantlle Vale Royal Silver Band to the National Competition after almost 100 years. They will be competing in section 4 at the Welsh area competition in Swansea under the baton of Sue Massey.

Article compiled by SJ Massey. Historical information from the bands 1965 centenary concert programme written by Mr J. Llewelyn Roberts.

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