Welcome

Making brass band music in Suffolk since 1859

The Band of the Royal British Legion, Leiston is, we think, the most easterly brass band in the UK; based in a small town just two miles off the coast of Suffolk within sight of the Sizewell power station and Minsmere Nature Reserve.

We are a social, non-contesting band and we perform locally throughout the year. We are available for hire for all sorts of functions from civic parades, to Remembrance Day services and garden parties. In the summer months we can be heard along the sea front in Aldeburgh and Southwold and in the December are quite likely to be found in the foyer of a local supermarket playing Christmas carols to entertain the shoppers. A few times a year we hire a local venue and put on a full concert and these are always well attended by locals and tourists alike.

We are unusual in that we are also a marching band and appear regularly at the Poppy Day races in Newmarket as well as a few times a year at Ipswich’s Foxhall Stadium where our circuit of the track is accompanied by banger racing cars (and some impressive pyrotechnics).

We have an active Training Band for those in the earlier stages of banding as well as our Main Band and new members are always welcome. New for 2020 will be our Drum School, an exciting new project to encourage people to learn or improve their drumming and become a part of our marching engagements.

As of the start of 2021, Covid-19 restrictions mean we are currently unable to meet as a band to rehearse but the Government roadmap is steering us towards getting together again in some form or another on 17th May and we are hoping to resume our full calendar of rehearsals and performances when the restrictions are further lifted in June

UPCOMING EVENTS

DatesVenueEvent detailsTimes
Sun 5th SeptSouthwold Seafront
Near the pier
Brass on the Prom10:00 – 16:30
Weather permitting
Sun 19th SeptAldeburgh Seafront
Moot Hall Green
Brass on the Prom10:00 – 16:30
Weather permitting
SUNDAY, 26 SEPTEMBERSt Edmund’s Hall, SouthwoldSouthwold autumn concert19:00
Wed
November 10th
Leiston Film TheatreFestival of Remembrance19:30 start
Sat
Nov 27th
Halesworth Christmas Lights
Switch-on event
Parade through the town and carols17:00
Friday Dec 10thSweffling ChurchChristmas Concert19:30

Please contact us: secretary@.leistonband.org 07989 979810

OUR MUSICAL DIRECTOR

Peter Gray is a native of Strabane, Co.Tyrone Northern Ireland. He left his home town at the age of 15 to join the world of Military music where he served 16 years with the Band of The 1st Battalion The Royal Hampshire Regiment (known as the Tigers) and 9 years with The Staff Band of the Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (known as the REME).

His service has taken him all over the world to such places as Hong Kong, USA, Canada, West Germany, Berlin, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Falkland Islands and the Gulf to name but a few, he has performed before Royalty, the Priminister and visiting heads of State on numerous occasions. His military service entitles him to wear the following medals; GSM, LS&GC, QSJM, Gulf War Medal, Saudi Medal (Desert Storm), The Freedom of Kuwait Liberation Medal, HKSM and the Cold War Medal. Having received injuries during the Gulf War in 1991 he was medically discharged from the REME Band on 31st July 1996.

His musical history lies evenly spread between Brass & Symphonic Wind Bands and he has conducted many bands in the South & East of England and contested at the Wessex Championships where he won his section with The Ringwood & Burley Band in Bournemouth as well as contesting at The East Anglian Championships at Norwich both playing and conducting.

He is very much an accomplished player on Brass valved instruments and in his spare time (when he gets some) he arranges music for the band as well as writing his own compositions.

If you have any musical enquiries and would like to contact the band’s musical director please use any of the following below.

email: Musical Director

Home Phone (answering machine) 01473 – 413723

Mobile: 07388868247

HISTORY

The Beginnings

The first mention of a band in Leiston was in the Suffolk Chronicle of 1859 although it is quite likely there was some form of band in the town before that. As with many English brass bands, the origins of the Leiston band would have been linked with the military and the call for local Volunteer Rifle Corps to be set up to defend the country against an anticipated Napoleonic invasion. The invasion never happened, but many of the band remained.

Leiston as a town has had a long association with the Garrett family who owned the engineering works in the town where they manufactured their steam engines using the then novel “long shop” method of production. The family were keen supporters of the Band, partly because if you were in the Band you were less likely to be indulging in one of the local pubs, and offered the use of the Works Hall for band and drill practice.

The Early Years (1880s to 1950s)

In 1886 the Garretts headed a list of donors who helped to buy the band a set of instruments, at a total cost of £110. These instruments were passed to the players in time to play for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in June 1887.

The Band maintained its connection with the Garretts in the early 20th century and in the 1920s they engaged the services of Joe Kyle, a Black Dyke Mills Band euphonium player, and the Leiston Town Band (as it was known then) had a successful period of contesting and in 1931 took part in the National Championships at Crystal Palace, although not at the top (Championship) section. The following year, the Garrett company went into receivership and the works were temporarily closed and it was at this time the band came under the auspices of the British Legion and has held the name ever since.

Long Shop Museum

RBL

The Later Years

The Band has maintained its links with the Royal British Legion both locally, nationally and internationally. Over the last few decades we have played as part of the Remembrance Services at the Menin Gate in Ypres in 2008 and performed concerts for the Irish British Legion in Tipperary in 2017. We have regular engagements locally as Leiston is a social active town with fetes and festivals throughout the year. We have for several years marched at the annual St George’s Day parade in Long Melford in the west of Suffolk and also at the annual Poppy Day races at Newmarket racecourse.

In 2019 five of our members were part of the Anglia Brass band who played in and around Amiens in civic concerts and at a service of remembrance at the War Memorial in Thiepval. Anglia Brass is formed from six different bands in the Anglia region and this was its first outing. A return visit in 2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19 but the group hope to return to France when restrictions allow and the Band of the Royal British Legion, Leiston will continue to be represented.

Anglia Brass

CDs

Sirapite

Over 120 years ago, our band started life associated with the Richard Garrett Engineering works in our home town, Leiston. The company no longer exists but on part of the original site is the Long Shop Museum which shows some of the history of ‘the works’ which was such an important part not only of the band but also the local community. In April 2010, it unveiled its newest exhibit – a shunting engine called Sirapite

Sirapite is a very rare shunting engine. It is part traction engine and part locomotive and was built in 1906 by Aveling and Porter for Gypsum Mines Ltd. at Mountfield in Sussex. Its name comes from a product similar to plaster of paris which was produced by the company: Sirapite was decided to be more suitable than Parisite.

Sirapite was bought by Richard Garrett and Sons and brought to Leiston in 1929 and was used to convey goods and materials on tracks between the workers’ houses to and from the town site to the top site and Leiston railway station. In 1962 Sirapite went into retirement and four years later was bought and taken away by Sir William MacAlpine to add to his collection.

In 2003 Sirapite returned home to Leiston and after raising finance through various grants and through the help of many volunteers, the Long Shop Museum has restored the engine to a fully working engine. More details of the engine and restoration project can be found on the Long Shop Museum website

Given our association with the works, the band decided to record a CD to celebrate the occasion and raise some much needed funds for both the band and the Long Shop Museum. This CD of brass band favourites celebrates that close relationship, and also the return to the Long Shop of the very rare shunting engine, Sirapite, restored to full working order by Trevor Wrench with much assistance from volunteers and many local engineering firms.

The Concert March ‘Sirapite’, and the Slow March ‘Main Street’ were commissioned by The Band of The Royal British Legion Leiston from Suffolk composer and railway enthusiast Stewart Green to mark this special occasion. The grandeur of the Concert March ‘Sirapite’ is an indication of the machine’s engineering importance, whilst ‘Main Street’ depicts the little engine slowly trundling across the road – a man with a red flag holding up the traffic while she passes. Proceeds from the sale of this CD will support the work of the Long Shop Museum and The Band of the Royal British Legion Leiston.

How to order your copy

The CD is available to order from the band for £10.00 each (Plus P and P). To buy the CD and support the band and the Long Shop Museum, please print out an order form and post it to us.

Sirapite CD – track listing

  1. Sirapite (Concert March) – Stewart Green
  2. Oh, Listen to the Band – Lionel Monckton arr. Ronald Hanmer
  3. Blow the wind southerly – Traditional, arr. Edrich Siebert
  4. The Lincolnshire Poacher – Traditional, arr. Derek Broadbent
  5. Hands across the sea – John Philip Sousa arr. Thomas Wyss
  6. Memory – Andrew Lloyd-Webber arr. Goff Richards
  7. Main Street (Slow March) – Stewart Green
  8. The Conquest of Paradise – Vangelis arr. Alan Fernie
  9. Barnard Castle – Goff Richards
  10. Hill-Billy Holiday – Derek New

Trombone Soloists – Richard Laws-Smith and Harriet Kersey

  1. Slaidburn – William Rimmer
  2. Hymn to the Fallen – John Williams arr. Klaus van der Woude
  3. Aces High – Ron Goodwin arr. Frank Bryce
  4. Rivers of Babylon – Farian and Reyam, arr. Frank Bernaerts
  5. A Glenn Miller Collection – arr. Alan Fernie

Remembrance CD

We are always inundated with requests to play for commemorative events for Remembrance Sunday. Much as we would like to be able to accept all these requests, we do not have the time or the musicians to cover them. We have therefore put together a CD of suitable music played by our Band and which can be used for a simple Last Post / Reveille or for a full service of remembrance.

How to order your copy

The CD is available to order from the band for £10.00 each (Plus P and P). To buy the CD and support the band and the Long Shop Museum, please print out an order form and post it to us.

Rembrance CD Track List

  1. Last Post , Two minutes silence, Reveille
  2. Supreme Sacrifice
  3. Onward Christian Soldiers
  4. Eternal Father Strong to Save
  5. O God our Help in Ages Past
  6. Evening Hymn and Last Post
  7. National Anthem
  8. Slow March .. Scipio
  9. Slow March .. Golden Spurs
  10. Quick March .. The Middy
  11. The British Legion March
    Musical Director – John Alderton