Tuesday 25 March 2014

John Wallace And Roy Bilham “Camping Musical” Bariloche, Argentina Trip 5th Jan – 19th Jan 2000

This project was the outcome of several previously failed attempts to fulfil a demand from musicians in Buenos Aires to foster links with British musicians to help raise instrumental standards in Argentina.

So on the 5th January 2000 John and myself left for our long flight to Buenos Aires and then on to Bariloche. We were met at the airport by a welcoming deputation who had organized a champagne reception and press conference. A TV station were there and a posse of reporters from the local and national press.

“Camping Musical” is an association which at the time was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. This visit came about with the support from the British Council with whom John, and myself had worked alongside for many years.

Bariloche is a city in the province of Rio Negro, Argentina, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the Southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake.

The camp was 25km away from the main urban centre – San Carlos de Bariloche on an island in a very remote location. Once on the island, among all trees were log cabins and cottages where all the participants slept. There was also a Refectory come rehearsal area, an auditorium and a place outside for concerts.

This was to be the first brass course that the “Camping Musical” has ever organized. Alongside us planning this event were two professional trumpet players from Buenos Aires, who were invaluable with translation. Because this was a first time event there was great enthusiasm to make this course work and a great deal of energy all round.  There were a few moments where flexibility and flair for improvisation were required but all in all it succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

The participants had a low opinion of their own capabilities at the beginning and thought they would never play the difficult works that we had organized in the programme, but day by day we raised their perceptions of their own worth until they surprised and shocked themselves by coming through the concerts with flying colours.

All the participants were a complete cross-section of Argentine Brass players the youngest player being a fourteen year old boy who along with his mother and father had travelled 2500km from Tucuman in the north. There were even a couple of musicians who had travelled from Chile to take part. The level of ability was high, but because of the diversity of age and experience the levels of achievement were mixed, high school students, students from conservatoires, professional musicians from provincial orchestras and major orchestras from Buenos Aires. Having all these different levels in ability was very beneficial in speeding an upward hike in standards.

The participants were surprised when every day we would warm up without instruments, playing games. They entered immediately into the spirit of things. Our days were mixed, we would have full band, then we would split the band in half I would rehearse my half and John his. Later we would take individual lessons, mixed duets, brass quintets and sectional groups. It really was a full day of playing. Even after our evening meal we would have informal work-in-progress concerts to get the participants used to playing to each other. Word soon got about and a large audience of locals started showing up to listen of a night time, sometimes these concerts would go past midnight. The evenings out there were magical I have never seen so many stars in the sky it was just breathtaking during the day the blue of the sky was amazing and sometimes you would see the odd Condor flying over with it’s 10ft wing span.

The food at the camp was of a very high standard and the wine was of a very high standard too – delicious. On the last Friday we were treated to an Asado which is a South American barbecue.

Out first official concert was held on the last Saturday of the course in The Sala Rautenstrach, attended by 180 people. The acoustics were excellent. On the final Sunday of the course we travelled 25km to San Carlos de Bariloche to give two concerts. First a serious programme in the Neo Gothic Cathedral at 6.00pm, which included the music of Tallis, Gabrieli and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and then an outdoor concert at 8.30pm of slightly less serious music. The cathedral was packed to the rafters and people were even standing outside to listen, with the spectacular backdrop of Lake Huapi and the Patagonian Andes.

The course for me was a brilliant adventure I enjoyed every minute of it, a new experience which I grabbed with both hands. Everybody left the course fulfilled, happy and glad they made the long journey to participate in this wonderful event.

It was a great time making music and for me you cannot get any better than that.

Thanks to the British Council for making such a memorable Brass Course possible.

Thursday 20 February 2014

The Royal Artillery Band Farewell To Woolwich 1762-2014

Having served 22 years in The Royal Artillery Band, finishing my service as Band Sergeant Major and Deputy Bandmaster, I knew that the weekend of the 8th-9th February would be a very proud and special two days for me. A celebration of music provided by past and present members of this amazing wind band and orchestra the likes of which we will never see or hear again.

The powers that be whose idea it was to end this magnificent band/orchestra’s 250 year reign as one of the country’s finest is beyond belief. An organisation that simply can’t be replaced – and for what I say to myself. The band/orchestra has always been multi-functional supplying multiple ensembles including Old Time Orchestras, Big Dance Bands, Pop Groups, Brass Groups, Wind Groups, Fanfare Trumpets even Dixie and Umpah Bands, you name it the band had always supplied it right up to the present day.

The new home for the Royal Artillery Band will now be in Tidworth, Wiltshire from April 2014. Amazingly though not one present day member of the band is being relocated there. Instead they are all being placed in various other army bands. In my opinion it seems that the hierarchy want to start with a clean sheet and have a completely new band with not one old member.

The Royal Artillery Orchestra has also been disbanded apart from a handful of string players who will be the foundation of a new orchestra who will be made up from various other bands to create the newly formed Corps of Army Strings Orchestra. To relocate the majority of the R A Orchestra just to bring in players from different regiments is beyond belief.

Saturday 8th February the R A Wind Band and Orchestra gave their last performance in the Woolwich Town Hall. A location where the R A started playing a series of concerts since 1810, the longest running concert series in the country.

The concert opened with the Fanfare Trumpets of the RA playing a fanfare called “Royal Arsenal” which was followed by a lovely selection of wind band music accompanied by the Woolwich Military Wives Choir. The wind band played beautifully and the choir’s contribution was well received.

When the interval came this gave the packed town hall audience a chance to stretch their legs and chat and mingle with RA Band members past and present. In the second half we saw the orchestra take to the stage boosted with some ex-members and wives string players. It started with Eric Coates’ “Knightsbridge March”, followed by Alpha & Omega written by The Director of Music for The Royal Artillery Captain Craig Hallatt, apparently he wrote this piece while the band was serving in Afghanistan. He is to be congratulated it was a very fine piece of writing. As this piece was being performed, behind the orchestra was a large screen that was showing photographs of the band’s history. At this point in the concert my emotions got the better of me and I could not stop the flow of tears. 

It was now time for Frank Renton (Ex Director of Music of the Band)  to speak about the weekend. Frank who was reputed to be the finest conductor to come out of the Armed Forces, a statement which I totally agree with. The speech he gave was very moving and left no one in any doubt that this was a very sad time for the present serving men and women of the band and the end of an era, which can never be replaced. Frank conducted “The Holberg Suite” by Grieg, played by the string section of the orchestra.

It was only fitting that during the concert the orchestra played “The New World Symphony” by Dvorak, as they were the first orchestra in the world to perform this piece. It was now time for some light entertainment – the popular Post Horn Gallop – my wife Pam had my post horn in 2 pieces in her handbag so I had to quickly put it together to perform. I was number 2 of 7. We played it with antiphonal effects all around the town hall and at the end there were some brilliant cadenza’s played, the audience loved it and it went down very well as it always seems to. 

The concert came to an end with the traditional RA Slow March and RA Quick March.

Bravo to the Band/Orchestra a wonderful concert.

Sunday 9th February started in General Gordon Square in Woolwich, a huge screen was on display and written on it in big bold letters was “FAREWELL TO THE ROYAL ARTILLERY BAND”, followed by photos, videos and old pathe news clips, this was the start of mixed emotions for a lot of musicians.

The power of Face Book brought together in a very short time over one hundred past members to make up a concert/marching band. Some past members had not played for years, some had to borrow instruments to play. Music lyres had to be found and 1700 march cards sorted out. A huge task to make this special day work, and special it turned out to be in every way.

The veterans’ band in concert formation conducted by Frank Renton played for about 45 minutes to a very large crowd of spectators friends and families, while waiting for the Royal Artillery Band to enter the square. The present RA Band then played a selection of popular music and medals were given to those members who had been deployed to Afghanistan.  Then the past and present RA Bands played together. It was now time to form up in marching band formation, over a hundred of us 3 Ex Drum Majors and 1 Ex Director of Music. Three pace rolls and then we all stepped off to “The British Grenadiers”, phew what a sound we were now on our way. So much pride – I was almost at bursting point. Could I get up that bloody hill, well we all managed it, at the top of the hill a right wheel in through the barrack gates onto the front parade ground another right wheel and counter march and we halted, where we waited for the R A Band to arrive. It was great for us to play them onto the square and march past. A very sad emotional part of the day.

Then that was it, the end. Well done to all the organizers for putting it all together and a big thank you to Captain Hallatt who allowed us veterans to be part of this great day. In the end it was a celebration of music and this wonderful Royal Artillery Band and Orchestra. 

Later in the afternoon we all mixed together in the Sergeants Mess – The Band Of Brothers, everyone reflecting their time spent with the band – stories galore – mixed fortunes. A memorable day and a privilege to be in the company of past and present RA Band members.

Good luck to the present members wherever you have been sent, at least you have been fortunate to serve in this truly wonderful band.

On a personal note I will never understand why this day had to come whoever had this bright idea may I just say you have got it O so wrong.

Tuesday 14 January 2014


I have always enjoyed playing Christmas Carols, a tradition which started when I was a boy playing for the Rowntrees Cocoa Works Band some 55 years ago. The years have rolled by and the tradition still remains. Let me share with you Christmas 2013.

This year it started on the 5th December for the Kids for Kids Candlelit Christmas Concert at All Saints Church in Fulham, London with my Thames Fanfare Brass Ensemble. The church was packed out, we started the proceedings off with a Christmas Fanfare and segue into Once in Royal David's City, which was then followed by an introduction to the evening by Eammon Holmes, Patron of the Charity. There were several readings given by celebrities throughout the evening such as Richard Wilson OBE, Julie Etchingham and Ruth Langsford. Ruth Rendell was in attendance who is a strong supporter of the cause. Patricia Parker, founder of the charity gave a very emotional address about the work the charity had managed to do that year. There was also a lovely violin solo from Ruth Palmer and some lovely vocals from the Danes Hill Choir and the St Andrews Singers. It was a truly lovely evening and £9000 was raised which was great news. My group and I had a very enjoyable evening.

Next up for me was the 10th December I had been asked to play at the Royal Albert Hall for the concert Christmas with the Stars which was to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. I was to play in Frank Renton's Concert Brass this was my third time playing in this group for this occasion. It doesn't get any better than playing at a packed out Albert Hall, also on stage with us were the Sydenham High School Choir, Fanfare Trumpets of the Scots Guards and many famous faces from television series such as Downton Abbey, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. These celebs gave their time to either sing read or just introduce the next item on the list, there was Caroline Quentin, Nicole Faraday, Heather Pearce, Clare Teal to name a few. Frank Renton was on top form with his conducting and presenting skills. I do remember when Frank was Director of Music for the Royal Artillery Band of which I was a member, our band played for this event it was Frank's first one and that was some 28 years ago and to his credit he has kept them going ever since. At the end of the concert the celebrities and the band go up to the balcony for champagne and nibbles and you get the chance to mingle with the stars which is always interesting. Another fantastic night of making music and raising money for another good cause.

On the 12th December I would be working at St Paul's Cathedral for a concert for the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). I would be there with 4 of my Thames Fanfare Brass Fanfare Trumpeters. There would also be The City of London Choir performing directed by Hilary Davan Wetton. I was very excited at playing in St Paul's again as it was some 25 years ago when I last played there. Sir David Green the organiser of the event told me the Cathedral would be packed out and when the evening arrived he was not lying St Paul's was full to the brim. I stood there with my fellow Fanfare players and we opened the proceedings with the fanfare “Crowning” it sounded great even if I do say so myself. There were many famous faces there giving readings, Griff Rhys Jones, David Suchet, Hayley Mills, Mick Lyons and Sue Macgregor. Angelique Kidjo sang an African song which was stunningly good a solo voice filling the whole of St Paul's it was fantastic. Simon Johnson the organist played and we played Sir David Willcocks descants trumpet parts. It was a great evening not to be forgotten, after Sir David told me that they raised £180,000 what a great result.

To bring my festive carol playing season to an end on the 14th December I played with Kent Festival Brass at Mote Hall in Maidstone, this time Marie Curie Cancer Care was the charity we were raising money for. The evening was a great success and the carols went down very well with the audience.

So as long as I don't lose all my teeth I will look forward to playing carols in 2014 whether it be at such prestigious venues such as St Paul's Cathedral or The Albert Hall or even on the platform at Euston Station or on Regents Street I look forward to it all again.

Tuesday 19 November 2013



Having served 22 years with the Royal Artillery Band as a trumpet player I have played the Last Post, Reveille and Rouse more times than I can remember whether the Cavalry of Infantry version played on the Bugle or Fanfare Trumpet, I never took it for granted it has always been a challenge to perform it well. It can be such a difficult piece to play at times whether you are at a graveside or a memorial.

Since leaving the Royal Artillery Band in 1987 I have still been called upon to play the Last Post on many occasions. But a regular occurrence is the Remembrance Weekend. It starts for me on Saturday evening with a local engagement approximately a couple of miles from my home, a Remembrance Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Erith, Kent. It is always a good workout for me as there are a lot of hymns and descants. There is also a small choir who I perform alongside too, whether it is Sanctus from The Armed Man or Hallelujah. There is of course the laying of the wreath, which is carried out by Commander J. Mankerty (retired) and the playing of the Last Post and Rouse. Hopefully I will be asked again next year which will make it my 14th.

Sunday morning is an early start; I leave home at 8:30am with all the uniforms, music stands, instruments etc for a brass quintet engagement for The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. My group - Thames Fanfare Brass play on Shepherds Bush Green where the War Memorial is. This year was a bright sunny morning a little cold but dry and no rain which is always good for us. Our group has been so lucky in the 10 years we have been playing here as it may have rained before and after the service but never during.

We start playing just after 10:30am while people take their places for the service. This year we played Dvorak- Humoresque, Sullivan’s – The Lost Chord, Abide With Me, Amazing Grace and finally A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square. There is also a parade of soldiers that make their way from Shepherds Bush Road to The Memorial on The Green. Leading the parade is Piper Bob Ash and our own TFB Drummer Tim Saxby. The parade of soldiers fall out and take their places at the memorial. There are a few introductory words from the Reverend Canon David Tann and then into the first hymn – All People that on Earth Do Dwell. At 11:00am I signal to Tim our Drummer for a drum roll which is the signal for the 2 minutes silence. Oscar Hurst who sits next to me times the 2 minutes, he lets me know 10 seconds before it finishes to stand by then I play the Last Post. After that the Deputy Mayor gives his reading followed by Mrs. Joan Edwards from the Burma Star Association, she reads the line “When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today”. The flags are then raised and I play the Rouse. Then Bob the piper plays while all the services lay their wreaths.  Next is an address by Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler, followed by more hymns and a blessing. I then cue for a drum roll and we play the National Anthem.

We then play a couple more pieces of music while the soldiers form up for a march pass. Then that is us finished for another year. Load up the car then back home.

On Monday 11th November this year I was playing at a new venue, for the last few years I have played at a service at Bromley High School for Girls all 1500 of them. The Head of Music Kath Ridgeway had moved schools so this year I found myself at Blackheath High School and playing indoors which was a change. The Headmistress gave a nice PowerPoint presentation which leads me into playing the Last Post and Reveille. Then Kath played an intro into Abide With Me and in the second verse I play a lovely descant part which always brings a tear to her eye. I always say “It wasn’t that bad was it”.

Now my Remembrance Weekend has come to an end. That evening while I was watching the news I saw my friend Martin Hinton, Principle Trumpet of the Royal Artillery band playing the Last Post at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

It’s never easy playing the Last Post as this piece of music holds lasting memories for a lot of people who have buried loved ones. But I am honoured each year to be asked to play at these services to pay our respects for all those men and women who past and present gave their lives for their country.

Tuesday 22 October 2013


I used to be player manager of the world renowned Wallace Collection who’s leader John Wallace is now the Principle of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In the 1990’s the Wallace Brass Ensemble were undertaking lots of work with the British Council playing concerts and taking workshops and master-classes in many countries.

We had visited South Africa on a couple of occasions, working in Durban, Soweto, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The British Council knew about my Military background and approached me with an idea. They wanted me to carry out a solo visit to Cape Town; I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I was to go to Cape Town for one week then John Wallace would follow on to over see the Cape Town Brass Congress for four days.

Plans were made and I was put in a five star hotel and was to be looked after by a Jack Simpson who was a Staff Sergeant of the South African Staff Band. When Jack met me at the airport he handed me my itinerary and showed me to my car. Wow what a schedule I couldn't believe my eyes they had managed to pack in master-classes, recitals, radio interviews, coaching and conducting The South African Staff Band, The Royal Navy Staff Band and the Salvation Army Band plus lectures at the Cape Town University, local schools, bands and Townships. You name it, it was on there. I was going to have to use everything I had learned to get through this week.

It was a very hectic week but very enjoyable, I don’t think I slept with all the preparation needed.

My army background came in very useful for the Army and Navy Bands and they were very interested in the history of my army band The Royal Artillery. Both bands played at a very high standard and it was a privilege to conduct them. I also had the pleasure to conduct The Salvation Army Band too and after I played “Carnival of Venice with Variations” for them which went down very well – I was just happy to get through it.

The local schools were very interesting but so behind and the lack of resources made things difficult they had to share instruments which were in a terrible state although everyone had a good time and the Township Bands were great fun.

I talked at length with Jack and we put together a draft proposal to try and get local business to sponsor A South African Staff Band Music Academy for the under privileged kids hopefully it would help change the image of the army too. We hoped to educate children from surrounding areas to have access to music tuition through small Satellite Community Teaching Centres. Jack was really up for the changes we had a great week and he really looked after me.

When John Wallace arrived he asked me how it went I told casually, yeah it was ok, as if I had been doing this sort of thing all my life. I can tell you the next four days with John seemed a doddle in comparison.

Teaching one of the tiny community bands in Cape Town.

Tuesday 17 September 2013


In 1966 I was a member of The Royal Artillery Band stationed at Woolwich South East London. I played the Cornet/Trumpet. I was very fortunate to be in this prestigious band as most of the members were what they call Double Handed which means they are able to play two instruments a wind and a string. When I joined in 1965 I was accepted on just the one instrument, and I did not think I was very good on that.

In 1966 summer had been quite a busy time for the Band, playing at the Royal Tournament at Earls Court and the Edinburgh Tattoo, after which we all went on summer leave. On my return from leave I was told I would be attending Kneller Hall, for a 1 year pupil’s course. I was thrilled to bits to get the chance to study at this establishment, and have my first ever professional trumpet lesson. There were quite a lot of us from Woolwich starting, although I would be the only one from the Main Band. The others were from the Royal Artillery Junior Musician Troop, who had started there at the age of 15. They were all a bit disgruntled to have to do another year of lessons as they assumed now that they were 18 they would be going straight to the main band as they were now classed as men.  I was elated to be there, it was a golden opportunity for me to learn and boy did I grab it with both hands. I believe there were about 200 pupils attending the 1966/67 course from all bands in the land and several from overseas including the Ghurkas, Canada and Australia.

When we arrived on our first day we were split into Four Company Bands A B C D. I was put in A company. We all had to audition for our position in the band; I was put as principal cornet of about 15 cornets. We then had to audition for Herald Fanfare Trumpets – I was accepted into the Kneller Fanfare Team, most of them were student bandmasters on a 3-4 year course I was accepted as they needed a couple of pupils to make up the numbers. Then we were placed in our positions for the full band of about 250 musicians including student bandmasters. To my surprise I was placed on the first stand of cornets next to the principal trumpet who was student Pyke. Wow top position out of 60 other cornets – thrilled or what.

I was told that I would be having trumpet lessons from Jack Macintosh – Jack was a brilliant trumpet player and a legend – and he played for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New Philharmonia. My first lesson – I was waiting outside the professor's bunk when he turned up on his bicycle – bent down took his bike clips off looked at me and said “Alright son, How are you?” it was as if he had known me for ages. We got on well straight from the start and I loved my lessons with him – if anyone pulled out of their lesson for any reason I would be straight there taking their place. Some of the Ghurka's found it a real strain but I loved every minute of it. The music that Jack could play on his trumpet he had amazing lip flexibility and was well known for his Cowboy Cadenzas.

Again I was lucky enough to be chosen to play in the Student No1 Band which meant many radio broadcasts conducted by Lt Col Basil Brown.

In November of that year I was very nervous I had to play Last Post and Reveille in front of the whole school. I did it thank god and it went well.

My A Company Band played at several concerts around the Richmond area including The Star & Garter and the Darby & Joan Club; these were all good experiences for the band.

Christmas was nearly here and time had just flown by my trumpet was hardly away from my lips from first thing in the morning till late at night, playing all kinds of repertoire – church music, large dance band music, brass groups, jazz, Dixie and pop you name it I had a go at it and really got involved. I could not get enough. I had to make myself put down my trumpet at 9pm so I could go and meet the lads at the pub and catch up with them (on the drinking front) we had many laughs in the Duke of Cambridge – which was the local pub just opposite the Guard Room.

When the end of January came around a film crew came to Kneller Hall for five days to film a documentary “Look at Life”. I am still waiting to see it. It would bring back such happy memories for me.

I even got into the school football team; I hadn't played since my school days. I bought my first pair of real football boots (I think they are still in the shed now) we had a good team and we managed to win the league, I've still got my medal.

Then the competitions started, first up was the Concert Band. We played Rienzi – I remember because it started with a solo trumpet and we won. Then came the Marching Display, it was the year that Sandy Shaw won the Eurovision Song Contest with Puppet on a String, so our Student Bandmaster arranged it so we could play it on our Marching Display.

May was the start of the weekly Bandstand Concerts (On The Rock) as it was called – hour upon hour would be spent rehearsing for these concerts and at the end of every month there would be a Grand Concert when a named musical celebrity was invited to conduct the large band, such names as Geoffrey Brand, Harry Mortimer and Frank Wright. On one of these concerts Gilbert Vinter would be the Conductor and I would be playing a cornet solo “Roses from Picardy”. On another occasion Derek Garside, principal cornet player for the CWS (Manchester) Band would be the guest soloist for the concert. It was my job however to play his part in all of the rehearsals for the concert. The two pieces Facilita and Cleopatra were very difficult to play but it was a great opportunity for me and I gained a great deal from the challenge. At the last Grand Concert of the year the guest Conductor was Trevor Sharpe and on this concert I was to play a solo called El Silencio, these Grand Concerts proved to be very popular and on average 4,500 people would come to listen and see the large firework displays at the end.

My year was nearly up, just one more competition; it was for the Cousins Memorial Medal.

1st Prize Pupil Henderson Gordon Highlanders 89%
2nd Prize Pupil Wood Welsh Guards 88%
3rd Prize Pupil Bilham Royal Artillery 87%

No medal for me, but I gave it my best shot. My professor of trumpet Jack Macintosh gave me a “Very Good” in my report and my Commander gave me a “very auditable result”

I had a wonderful year at Kneller Hall and I would not have missed it for the world. I loved my lessons with the legendary Jack Macintosh and did learn my rudiments of music and my scales. The year was a very rewarding experience and I met a lot of great guys and students. I guess I must have improved enough not to be posted to Larkhill or Germany RA Bands. I stayed at Woolwich for 21 years and finished my service as WO1 Band Sergeant Major and Deputy Band Master.

This article was brought to you by Thames Fanfare Brass

Tuesday 16 July 2013


Back in 1971 while I was serving with the Royal Artillery Band news came in that the band would be visiting San Francisco in the first week of October, I was thrilled as this would be my first every trip to America.

The day arrived for us to leave we flew by British Airways 707. Travelling with us was HRH Princess Alexandra who of course was travelling first class away from us rabble. Also on board were the Royal Scots Pipe Band, British Bobbies and Beefeaters. We were treated as if we were in first class as it was free drink for the whole flight over, so as you can imagine that went down very well with everyone. We were even given 200 Rothmans King size filter cigarettes to hand out to local people during our visit.

British week in San Francisco at the time was to be the biggest commercial and cultural event staged in the city by another nation. When we arrived we were taken to Fort Mason which was to be our accommodation for the week. Wow what a magnificent view we had to the left was The Golden Gate Bridge and to the right was Alcatraz.

The Royal Artillery Band had a busy schedule for the week with concerts and marching displays this meant that on occasion the band had to be split into two bands A&B.

HMS Blake a Guided Missile Cruiser of the Tiger Class was also scheduled to visit at the same time as us her 100 strong Royal Guard with the Queen’s colours would parade for Princess Alexandra at the City Hall before she officially opened the promotion. There was even a Rolls Royce on display and the Flying Scotsman Locomotive had been transported over for the event.


1st October
10.00am Opening Ceremony Full Band Marching with 8 Herald Trumpeters
2.00pm   Union Square Full and Concert
4.15pm   Bank of America Plaza  A Band
5.15pm   Cannery  B Band

2nd October
10.00am Golden Gate Park Highland Games Full Band Marching
12.00pm Post Street, Maiden Lane Full Band Marching
12.45pm Masonic Auditorium Full Band Concert
2.30pm   Golden Gate Park Full Band Marching
4.45pm  Civic Centre  A Band
4.45pm  Union Square  B Band

3rd October
10.00am Golden Gate Park Highland Games Full Band Marching
12.00pm Union Square  A Band
1.00pm  Stonestown Fashion Show  B Band
2.30pm  Golden Gate Park Full Band Marching in presence of Princess Alexandra
5.00pm  Grace Cathedral One Trumpet playing Last Post Reveille
5.30pm  Cannery  B Band

4th October
12.15pm  Zellerbach Plaza  A Band
12.15pm  Ghirardelli Square  B Band
3.00pm   Union Square  B Band
6.00pm   Union Square  A Band

5th October
Day Off for A Band
10.00am Shrinners Children’s Hospital  B Band
2.30pm   Union Square  B Band
5.00pm   Bank of America  B Band and Pipes

6th October
12.00pm  Union Square Full Band Marching and Concert
2.30pm   Stonestown Fashion Show  B Band
4.30pm  Civic Centre  A Band

7th October
Day Off B Band
12.00 Zellerbach Plaza  A Band
5.00pm  Grant Avenue, Maiden Lane  A Band

8th October
12.00pm Standard Oil Plaza  A band
12.00pm Union Square  B Band
6.00pm  Union Square Full Band Concert

9th October
11.00am  Union Square  A Band
2.30pm   Stonestown Fashion Show  B Band
3.00pm  Ghirardelli Square  A Band
7.00pm   Union Square Full Band Pipes and Closing Ceremony and Retreat.

I remember during the week one trumpet player out of the band would have to go to Arizona this was between me and Ken Davidson – Ken got the nod so off he went to play a fanfare for the opening of London Bridge which had been transported over to Havasu City in Arizona and taken 3 years to re-construct. That was a nice little date for him one which he would never forget.

A fantastic week was had by all – lots of happy hours spent in a wonderful city. We had time to see the Giant Redwoods and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. I loved the cable cars, no wonder they retain their place in the affections of residents and visitors alike. We went to Chinatown which was a very busy and lively place to visit and live. We also took a shine to Fisherman’s Wharf and their fabulous seafood restaurants.

British week in San Francisco was a memorable visit; I returned home absolutely knackered but thrilled to have been part of this one off event. I still have many stories and anecdotes rattling around in my head from this tour.