A short history of Chard Concert Brass
Chard’s Brass Band has come through many iterations and gaps in life. The earliest printed record of a band was in 1825 when "Chard Band" played 'See the Conquering Hero Comes' to mark the visit of a Mr Salter on the occasion of the passing of the Western Ship Canal Bill (although it is unclear that it comprised completely of brass”. If it was, then Chard is a contender for one of the oldest brass band traditions in the country. (Note: Stalybridge Old Band claim to be the oldest in England and they were formed in 1809, but again it is possible they were a combination of brass and woodwind).
The earliest mention of a ‘Chard Brass Band’ comes from the Sherborne Mercury and is dated Monday 14th October 1839. Contrary to local myth, it was a completely different entity to the Chard’s drum and fife band of the 19th century.
'Chard Brass Band' disbanded in the early 1880s and 'Chard Municipal Band' was founded in 1911 (probably initially affiliated to the Territorial Army). This would indicate a gap in banding but there is a reference to the 'Chard Volunteer Band' in the Western Gazette, (dated 14th July 1882) when they headed the procession to the railway station for the Wesleyan Band of Hope trip to Seaton. This ties in with the date that the original ‘Chard Brass Band’ appears to have become defunct indicating that the ‘Chard Volunteer Band’ was probably the missing link between ‘Chard Brass Band’ and ‘Chard Municipal Band’.
The ‘Chard Volunteer Band was originally conducted by a Mr Crockett from Taunton, who was succeeded by George Mutton in 1884. He continued as its Bandmaster for the rest of its existence and went on to fulfil the same role for the ‘Chard Municipal Band from 1911 until 1924.
George Mutton, who served a total of 40 years service as a bandmaster, was a clerk at the Old Town lace mills throughout his working life – apart from a brief stint as a teacher in his teens – however he began playing in a fife & drum band as a schoolboy and served for 27 years in H Company, 5th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry (Territorial Army), 25 of which were as bandmaster - i.e. - for Chard Volunteer Band. When he reached ‘retirement’ age from the T.A. in 1909, he indicated that he wished to continue in the role of bandmaster, however there is no mention of the Volunteer band after 1909, which suggests that this wasn't possible and is probably why 'Chard Municipal Band' was created as its replacement in the town! The Municipal band’s primary function was similar to that of its predecessor, the Volunteer Band; to provide entertainment at local events and leading processions in the town (often for Sunday School trips when the children walked to the train station for a day out to the seaside or similar).
So the confirmed timeline is as follows:
Chard Band – 1825
Chard Brass Band - 1839 (or earlier) to early 1880s
Chard Volunteer Band - early 1880s to 1909
Chard Municipal Band - 1911 to 1939
Chard Town Band (later Chard Concert Brass) - mid-1940s to present day