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.