We trace our origins to the Chobham Ex-Servicmen’s Band, formed in 1899, which enjoyed considerable success both on the concert platform and in contests . They moved to Bisley in 1966, obtained the sponsorship of a local company and became the Bisley Office Equipment Band. They continued to flourish under a number of well-known and respected conductors including Bernard Blishen, Dave Watkins, Ren Trussler and Ernie Brown.
After 20 successful years, the band and Bisley Office Equipment decided to end their relationship, so for a while the band continued on their own. In 1988 after a couple of lean years – weathered because of the unfailing support of some half a dozen loyal members – another local company, Bisley Almac Packaging, became our sponsors. (Kate Brown, the widow of one of the directors of Almac, Alan Brown, is still our President). Peter Stickland was appointed as our Musical Director and under his leadership the Band once again flourished. This picture shows Peter encouraging young percussionists at one of Bisley’s annual Strawberry Fayre in the 1990s
Following Peter’s retirement in 2006 there have been three Musical Directors: Lee Woodward (who went on to become conductor of contesting bands), Steve Perrett (who had to leave due to ill-health and our current MD, Dave Garwood. Dave, who like some of his predecessors has a background in military music, continues the good work started all those years ago.
That is not quite the end of our story though. There was another brass band in Bisley before we arrived and there are links between that band and ours. It was the Bisley School Band. Bisley Boys School was formed by the amalgamation, in 1919, of two schools set up by the Shaftesbury Society in the 1870s for homeless and destitute boys from London. Bisley Village Hall, our base, was once the chapel of the School and every Sunday the School band led a procession from the School (most of which was where Coldingley Prison is now) to the chapel. During the 1950s one of the School Band’s members was Ted Cull who later joined Almac Bisley Band and became our principal cornet player. Sadly Ted died in 2016 but his brother, who was also in Bisley School Band, now comes to our concerts. A former conductor and a number of members of the School Band also live locally.