Back to Homepage! CRYSTAL PALACE BAND HISTORICAL SYNOPSIS: 1901-1961
Next Page - 1961 to 1996

1901
January
The Upper Norwood Temperance Prize Band is formed by the Upper Norwood Temperance Society Their president is C E Tritton, Esq MP and they have a distinguished list of VPs, (including Sir Francis Joseph Campbell, the Principal of the Royal Normal College and Academy of Music for the Blind). The bandmaster is W W Grant and the Professional Conductor, J Pemberton.
30th November The Band come 3rd = , behind Gray's Temperance, in the London & Home Counties Crystal Palace contest. Fulham are up there in section 1; no sign of Croydon (yet!). According to the BB's 'X-Rays', the band have carried out a number of engagements during the year with the Crystal Palace company, and given "great satisfaction". They have also averaged five practices a fortnight - "a marked contrast to the usual experiences of London bands who have only one practice a week, and a poor one at that".!!
1902
12th January "X-Ray" from the British Bandsman records the Band's significant progress since foundation.
The Band leads the procession of the men of H.M.S. Terrible in their triumphal march through London in 1902 at the close of the South African Boer War.
7th November First prize in the Walthamstow Quartet Contest, under Mr Grant. According to the adjudicator, the euphonium failed to play his cadenza "as if he was very much in love with it".
30th August Upper Norwood, now conducted by A Miller, give a "clean, tasty, rendering of The Slave" in a Crystal Palace contest promoted by the National Cooperative Festival. They are awarded 3rd prize. "Ikey Mo", BB's London reporter, has this to say of the Dunstable Excelsior (2nd) and New Barnet (4th) bands: they "each vied with the other in the perpetration of a most disgusting and lowering exhibition of unrestrained passion". That's contesting!
27th September The CP contest. Mr Miller takes Upper Norwood, again playing The Slave, to a very creditable 3rd prize in their first National Finals Contest at the Crystal Palace.
1903
26th September Now in the 3rd section, the band return to their back yard for the 4th Nationals. This time they finish 14, well down the order with a measly 46 points: "general uncertainty reigns", writes the adjudicator, uncharitably.
7th October 7,000 people turn out to see the band open a new bandstand in Grange Wood.
1904
30th January The BB's 'X-Rays' reports that the band has a double engagement at the Palace on 6 February; he raises his hat to their "magnificent balance sheet" of £439.00
4th June X-rays is "truly sorry" to hear of the sudden death of the band's soprano player: "It is feared that it was from "over exertion"!!
25th June X-rays reports that the band have just completed 10 days at the Palace.
1906
29th September In the Nationals, Luton Red Cross take on the North and Midlands for the One Thousand Guinea Trophy in the Concert Room. Meanwhile, over on the Grand Terrace, Upper Norwood are doing battle on Gems of Haydn for the Junior Cup; they are outside the prizes.
1910
1st October First Nationals win 25 for Foden's Motor Wagon Works on Gems of Schubert. Upper Norwood are again out of the prizes in the Junior Cup Section.
1911
A tour through Belgium and France is undertaken, and a Diploma of Honour awarded the Band at the Brussels Exhibition.
16th July The BB's Metropolis tells us that Upper Norwood, under Tom Morgan, are due to compete along with 34 others in a contest at the Earls Court Exhibition.
26th August The band "put up a good show" in the London Association's Crystal Palace contest, according to the BB's Citizen. They are placed 2nd to Lewisham. In the Marching Contest, Caterham were doing all right until the comer flag was reached, and "the turning movement proved too much for the men".
9th December 2nd place in the Edmonton Quartet Contest behind Hampstead, reports Citizen. Upper Norwood B "opened with much promise, but went to pieces halfway".
1912
5th October Nationals again. First Championship win for the famous St Hilda's, later to become the first music hall brass band. First showing, too, for Upper Norwood in The Grand Shield (2nd section), but the band are outside the prizes.
1914-1918
War years
In September, 1914, the Band joined the local Volunteer Corps in a body, and ultimately gave twenty-nine of the membership of thirty- two at that date to the Regular Forces, over-age men being enlisted to enable the Band to continue its duties with the Home Defence Corps. During the period August 1914óMarch 1919 over 100 concerts were organised for wounded soldiers, almost every hospital within twenty-five miles of London being visited.



1921
24th September
Upper Norwood win the Grand Shield on Dinorah on the National's 21st anniversary. From a draw of 17, they beat no less than 25 other bands from England and Wales. Croydon are nowhere! The adjudicator remarks on the band's "very superior performance", while the BB's Jack Straw reckons that "there will be big doings Norwood way when the Grand Shield is presented".
26th November The band hold a "Coming of Age & Presentation Concert" celebrating the recent triumph and the Band's 21st birthday. Only three founder members remain, Messrs. W. W. Grant (Conductor), Alfred Grant (Solo Cornet), and Fred Grant (Solo Baritone).
1922
23rd September The band joins the big boys in the Nationals. Placed 8th (ahead of St Hilda's) in their first Championship section outing, the BB's London correspondent says that their playing of Hubert Bath's Freedom surprised him "muchly" in its "very good performance"; while one of the three adjudicators remarked on the band's "worthy performance".
1923
29th September Back at the Palace for the Nationals, on Henry Gheel's Oliver Cromwell. Upper Norwood are this time out of the prizes in the top section. But it's congratulations for the South, as Luton Red Cross, with Harry Mortimer on solo comet, take top honours - the first ever Championship success for a southern band.
1924 New year, new name.
19th April The first full band contest of the season, at Lloyd Park, Walthamstow sees Crystal Palace beating the noted Callender's Cable Works Band.
20th May Oh no! Palace beaten into 3rd place by Croydon Borough in the annual Hanwel! Contest. Mind you, the band did play last, outside, in steady rain! Callender's take top honours on this occasion.
22nd September Crystal Palace Band take first place in the Grays Quartet Contest under the legendary Fred Mortimer.
27th September It's Nationals time again and the BB reports W W Grant, CP's conductor, as saying that the band is in good form and working hard for success. No luck on the day, however, on Henry Gheel's On the Cornish Coast.
1925
3rd May Hanwell Contest again. CP are drawn one but, when the time comes for them to take the stage, they are nowhere to be found! When they finally appear, their rivals generously agree to them playing last but, despite a good performance of Huguenots, they again come third behind Callender's and Croydon.
24th September Now in the second section in the Nationals, the band placed 11th on Life Divine. Croydon are 5th.
1927
24th September Nationals: CP 8th in the Grand Shield (second section) on the fearsome Epic Symphony). Croydon unplaced. An upturn in the band's fortunes?
1929
1st June Croydon again pipped in the Hanwell contest. CP second to St Pancras.
28th September Glory in the Nationals! For the second time in their history, CP win the Grand Shield, this time on Zainora. The adjudicator remarks on an "outstanding performance" and the BB's London correspondent reports that the band's victory was "cheered most lustily"
1930
27th September A watershed in the band's history. Promoted to the Championship Section in the Nationals, the band gain an outstanding 4th place on Elgar's moving and contemplative Severn Suite.Beaten only by the great Foden's, Black Dyke and, another former winner, Irwell Springs, it is a magnificent performance, blemished only by an "untuneful" Minuet.
The band committee minutes of 30th November report;
"......the greatest success ever obtained by a London band, the winning of the 4th prize in the Championship section at the recent Crystal Palace Contest...."

A uniform supplier was selected for the band, overcoats are purchased, price £3-4s-6p (£3.22) each.
1931 - 1939 A rare video of a Band playing at the Palace in 1933 - Play




The thirties bring about a hectic period for CPB. They take part in Holiday Entertainments at the Palace and every Sunday during the summer the band is engaged by the LCC where, in the Royal Parks, they perform under the batons of Eric Ball, Frank Wright and Harry Mortimer. Fees for park engagements around this time were ten guineas (£10.05) for Grade A Bandstands and nine guineas for Grade B.
The band's 1933 summer outing is to Bognor. Lunch was provided, cost 2s-9p (13 pence).
The band minute book from 1935 reports the psssing of W W Grant and the appointment of W W Mann as 'Conductor'.
The band continue to give regular performances at the Crystal Palace until it is burned down in 1936. During the football season the band can be found at the Crystal Palace Football Ground at Selhurst Park, where they perform before the kick-off and at half-time. The band also give regular radio broadcasts under Dr Denis Wright, whose The White Rider had won a competition to find the test piece for the 1926 Nationals, Appointed musical director of CPB in 1933, Dr Wright broadcasts regularly with the band during the thirties, including in his performances a great many of his own original compositions and arrangements (still played today). The broadcasts are generally at midnight for the BBC Overseas Programme ; one is conducted by Sir Arthur Bliss. Each October until 1938, Dr Wright takes the band to the Crystal Palace (from October 1936, the Alexandra Palace) for the National Finals, where they compete in the Championship Section against the likes of Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick and the invincible Fodens. Despite many good performances, CPB fail to appear in the prizes during these years although a regular appearance in the Massed Band Concert provides some consolation.
Percy Chessell, 1st Trombone, receives a gold watch in recognition of 21years loyal service.



1939 - 1945

War Years
In April 1941, the band gives its first war-time broadcast under Dr Wright. Despite war-work and call-up the band manages to keep going (albeit without the radio broadcasts) and by 1942, is said by the BB's Elegro to be keeping a good combination, with well-attended rehearsals, under its bandmaster Arthur Irons.




1949
June In June 1949, CPB give a concert to Grant Bros of Croydon, attended by 400 people, under the direction of their new conductor. Harry Lawn.
1951
3rd November
CPB hold their AGM. The BB record that 1951 has been the band's most successful year since 1938 and they have again been engaged to play at first team matches at Selhurst Park. However, there are several vacancies and visitors are welcomed to the bandroom in Westow Hill, Upper Norwood.




1953
Harry Lawn, who conducted the band between 1948 and 1953 (during which period they were again in the Championship section) records that, shortly after he left it, "the band collapsed and only the efforts of Charles Sherriff "saved the band from extinction."
1958
5th July The BB's South Sider reports that CPB have lost several members and have not applied for parks engagements. They are said to be working hard to get back into the contest arena and perform first-class engagements.
1961
9th December The BB's Chandos reports that all CPB positions are now filled. Under the baton of Charles Sheriff, the band has re-entered the contest field at Godalming and is hopeful of taking part in the area contest in 1962. Having spent over 40 years at their bandroom in Westow Hill, they have now moved to the Brotherhood in Knight's Hill, West Norwood.
Next Page - 1961 to 1996
Sources - All early information taken from British Bandsman except as noted below.
1 Dr Denis - Roy Newson, Egon Publishers Ltd.
2 Letter from Harold McEnery, solo cornet player before the war.
3 Letter from Harry Lawn, conductor 1948-53.
4. Documents from Chis Ingram, Son-in-law of Ivan Blagdon - a member in the 1920's
5. Roger Clements - Member 1961 - 2005 and late Chairman

Information Courtesy of Roger and Rachel Bleach who have detailed references to much of the above information..