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1st Slough Boys' Brigade Drum Corps 1983

In 1983, the London District of The Boys' Brigade invited the 1st Slough Company to provide a drum corps to lead the London Central Brass Band for their ceremonial engagements during the Centenary Year.

There were a considerable number of events during that year performed under the leadership of Musical Director, Denis Morely.  In fact too many to list in detail here.  The major events included the Lord Mayors Show, the Royal Tournament, four performances of the last BB London Display held in the Albert Hall, the Royal Review in Edinburgh and the Centenary Display in Glasgow.

For these last two historic Brigade events the London Central Brass Band and the 1st Slough Drum Corps joined with other BB brass band musicians from many parts of the UK to form The Boys' Brigade National Brass Band under the leadership of Musical Director,  David Carter of 2nd Eastleigh Company.

In preparation for the complex marching and playing routine that the 300 strong band performed on the hallowed turf of the Ibrox Park soccer stadium, a weekend training course was held at the Royal Marine Barracks at Portsmouth. Under the strict discipline of the Marine instructors the already high standard of our Drum  Corps was honed to a finer standard.  

All the playing, marching, drum and stick drill had to  be done in Marines style and no one was spared as all the staff and instructors including those not actually playing in the band were made to fall in behind and were marched up and down the parade ground for hours on end.  The training was very hard indeed, but the 1st Slough side drummers were judged to be among the best and given the honour of being in the front row of the band.

The photograph shows the 1st Slough Drum Corps on that weekend lined up in front  of the Royal Marine Museum and flanked by the two brass canons.  

The Members from left to right:
Robert Salter, Colin Leslie, John Richardson, Kevin Day, Christopher Hall, Jonathan Walton, Simon Baker,
Gary Warden, Jeffrey Ings, Stephen Webb & Philip Portsmouth

‘A Golden Era’

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The Early Years - 1960 - 1970

It was around 1960 when another significant Company activity began. This was printing. Three NCOs, Max Portsmouth, Stephen Redstone and Ralph Chaplin decided that printing would be an interesting activity and a good means of fund raising, Seeing an advert in the "Exchange and Mart" magazine for a second hand Adana printing press & lead type outfit, we went to look at this equipment and bought it on the spot. It was eventually to become the best £20 that the Company ever invested, but we had bought it without telling the then Captain, Colin Shepherdson beforehand. To his great credit, Colin was understanding of our eagerness and after warning us not to do any such thing again, agreed to transfer the money from the BB bank account to Max's before the cheque he had written bounced! Printing was to become a very popular activity for many boys right up to the mid 1990s when it was superceded by modern computer and ink jet printing methods. The equipment remains in an archive store for the benefit of future historians.

During the early 1960's Derek Clarke appeared on the scene, having moved to Slough to take up the post of physics master at Slough Grammar School. Derek had been a member of the 2nd Bournemouth BB' Company & after taking a degree at Oxford came to Slough with considerable enthusiasm & new ideas. Derek became Captain in 1964. Almost at once he organised the adoption of the new 1963 full uniform for the 1st Slough. He was also involved in work of the Brigade at national level as a member of the Uniform Committee that was attempting to design a suitable new full uniform for the whole of the Brigade.

This was period of change not only at a local level, but also Nationally for The Boys' Brigade. At this time the Junior Section "Achievement" badge scheme was being introduced, the recommendations of the Haynes Report were being implemented, including the integration of the Life Boys as the Junior Section of The Boys' Brigade and a new HQ building at Parsons Green was being acquired. Uniform changes were also being considered.

The photograph shows the front cover of the October/November edition of the BB Gazette for 1965 featuring boys from the 1st Slough Company including

Graham Adnitt, David Smith and Robert Collison. modelling the proposed new uniforms for the Company, Senior and Junior Sections.

However, this uniform failed to meet the requirements of the Brigade and although a new pattern hat was later introduced, it was to be another 35 years before the Brigade finally got its new uniform.

In the Company Section, Derek Clarke sought out new officers and approached Ralph Chaplin who was at that time only the printing instructor, and Brian Reed, a church member. Various other folk including Norman Holford were involved as band, drill and gym instructors. In the Life Boys, Mrs Ivy Rumble, her daughter Kate and Ray Waite were leaders.

During the Captaincy of Derek Clarke, the Company grew numerically and a number of new activities were introduced. Of course many of the traditional activities continued including the bugle band. Sadly, by this time the brass band work had faded out entirely and the remaining instruments were sold. First Aid, gymnastics, football and other sports activities remained popular. However, Derek introduced the new Duke of Edinburgh Award work, expeditions, boat building, sailing, canoeing and other adventurous activities that had been entirely unheard of before. In 1966, another and as it turned out, the last exchange visit was organised to the FDF in Denmark. This was an exciting 2 week adventure including 7 days staying with the FDF boys' families in Nykøbing and a further 7 days coach tour of Denmark.

The visit was greatly enjoyed by all the boys and staff who took part and just as we boarded the liner "England" to sail home we shared in that wonderful moment in time that has entered the folk lore of UK football history as we listened in on a transistor radio to the England -v- Germany final of the World Cup and heard those famous words "They think its all over - well it is now!

In November 1966 the Company moved with the congregation of the old Slough Methodist Central Hall to the newly built St Andrews Methodist Church of which we are still part. In 1969 Derek Clarke and Brian Reed both moved away from Slough. Brian went to live in March in Cambridgeshire and Derek took another teaching post in Hertfordshire.

In this difficult period, the Minister, Rev Howard Ford took on the Captaincy for a year before Ralph Chaplin, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to become Captain. At this time brothers Eric and Brian Guilloud  who had served

through the ranks of the company and completed their KGVI officer cadet training joined the staff along with Don Pettit. This heralded a new era in the life of the Company with an ongoing and generally stable staffing situation."


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The Early Years - 1925 - 1960

The 1st Slough Company was formed in 1925 by Sydney A. Tyler who was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Slough.

In 1938 Sydney Tyler approached Frederick Ketch, the Slough Town Bandmaster and asked him for assistance with the musical training of his boys. Fred agreed and the 1st Slough BB band was formed, Fred assisted with the training of the boys until 1940 when Fred was drafted for the War.

Although the most popular, music was not the only activity within the Company. Recruitment was high in the late 1940's and there was plenty to occupy the boys' time.  Drill was considered to be the main discipline and many hours were spent on parade. Gymnastics and athletics were popular and the Company had a very good football team which won the battalion trophy. There was even an Ambulance team for budding first-aiders.

The Company remained part of the Methodist Church from 1925, with the congregation as it moved on from the small meeting hall in Stoke Road in 1937 when the Slough Methodist Central Hall was built, and then subsequently St Andrew's Methodist Church in 1966.  There have been a many Captains over the years and these are listed below.

1952 heralded a major success for the Company when they won the London District Brass Band Championship - just seven years after the band was formed. The image is of the full brass band with the Championship shield outside the Central Methodist Hall. The band has played a major role in the history of the 1st Slough Company and is something of which we can be very proud, it is still an important part of our Company, see the page about our Drum Corps.

The annual battalion camps were extremely popular with all the boys. They were usually held in Whitecliffe Bay Bembridge, Isles of Wight (later they were held occasionally in Dorset). Click the image to enlarge.

Camp 1947 kit inspection

 Chief Cook Mr Ives & his kitchen staff

Camp 1947 Spud bashing

The Early Years - 1955 - 1960

This phase in the life of the 1st Slough Company was one of change in various ways. It will be seen from list of Captains in the early 1950's that Sydney Tyler handed on the leadership of the Company to Norman Holford who was superceded three years later by Maurice Titheridge. When Maurice moved away, Sydney Tyler took back the reins for a short time before first Colin Shepherdson and then Richard Hall led the Company.

Many of the traditional Brigade activities were maintained with boys taking part in First Aid, Gymnastics, Football, Cricket and Band - all on different days of the week - and meeting on Friday evenings for Drill Parade. The Company also took part in Battalion Summer Camps each year, apart from 1956 when we made the second of three exchange visits with the Danish equivalent of the BB - the FDF - in the town of Nykøbing, Mors.

This was an exciting adventure for some of us boys who were making our first ever visit to foreign country. We remember that we were all singing the latest hit "Rock around the Clock" as we journeyed by coach to the port of Harwich to catch the boat to Denmark. The Danes were very welcoming hosts and the food there including open sandwiches and real Danish pastry - seemed wonderfully exotic compared with the somewhat austere diet we were accustomed to in England at that time.

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1925 - 1953

Sydney A. Tyler

1962 - 1964

Richard Hall

1953 - 1956

Norman Holford

1964 - 1969

Derek Clarke

1956 - 1959

Maurice Titheridge

1969 - 1970

Rev Howard Ford

1959 - 1960

Sydney A. Tyler

1970 - 2018

Ralph Chaplin

1960 - 1962

Colin Shepherdson

2018 - Present

Christopher Clifford

ambulanceteam.jpg Sydney A. Tyler campkitinspection.jpg cookhousestaff.jpg

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