Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 4, 2001
[The Richmond Brass Band]
Jean Sutton, in How Richmond Grew, identifies Louis Drager from Liverpool as the organiser and conductor of the first band in Richmond. She records that he arrived in Richmond in 1860, fresh from the goldfields of Victoria, Australia. The Nelson Examiner of 25 December 1861 reported that the Richmond band gave its services at the annual public examination of pupils of the Richmond School. The band had contributed much towards the enjoyment of the evening.
Drager was probably the man referred to as 'Louis the German' by Sir David Monro in his diary of 1867. He played the horn at the ball Monro organised at his home, Newstead, to honour a visit by Governor Sir George Grey. At that time Drager was domiciled in Nelson, and he was a member of the Nelson Artillery Band until the late 1870s. He later owned an accommodation house in Wakefield and conducted the Wakefield Brass Band, which had been established in 1859. Drager left Wakefield in 1887 to live in the North Island.
The Volunteer Rifle Company formed at Waimea East in April 1860 included a small drum and fife band. Even though it was seventeen years after the Wairau affray, the public memory of that event was still strong enough for a perception, verging on panic, that the land war in Taranaki might spread to Nelson. This gave a huge impetus to the formation of the Nelson Volunteer Rifle Corps. Originally the province had nine rifle companies, No. 1 and No. 2 companies being in the city, and No. 6 at Waimea East, with Richmond as its centre. A government reorganisation in 1862 reduced the number of companies to six, with No. 1 at Nelson and No. 2 at Waimea East.
The Nelson Examiner speaks of the 'excellent bands of Nos.1 and 2 companies' at the public ceremony in Nelson in June 1863 to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales. These were both drum and fife bands.
Back row: A Chapman, J Hunt, Wm Wanstall, W Strawbridge, Harold Sutton, Percy Sutton, Bob Celldow?
Pollock, Best, Wearing, G Wearing, JW Henderson, JF Papps.
Middle row: -----,-----,-----, W Max, James Cameron (Conductor), A Mayer, E Silcock, C Papps Front row: Little, B Bremner, B Wanstall, Meyer, K Hammond, L Lipscombe Photograph taken at Jim Heath's property in Lower Queen Street, opposite Richmond Park
The Waimea East celebration of the 25th anniversary of the settlement of Nelson, delayed for a month until the harvest was finished, was held at Richmond on 3 March 1867. After a procession headed by the Wakefield Brass Band, the main speaker at the formalities was Edwin Humphreys, an old soldier and Wesleyan lay-preacher, who had arrived in Nelson in 1842 on the barque Sir Charles Forbes. Music for dancing in the evening was provided by the German Stringed Band from Nelson.
On 1 December 1879 a Volunteer Review was held at Richmond to raise funds for the Richmond Fire Brigade's new engine. This was reported to have two jets capable of throwing water onto any building in the township. Music was provided by the Nelson Battalion Band and Mr Naylor's Stoke School drum and fife band, and the day raised £240.
The Colonist of 24 October 1907 records how the Nelson Garrison Band, while en route to Spring Grove to perform at a benefit concert for the Waimea Rifles, played a selection at Richmond, probably at the railway station. This was reported as having been much appreciated, with several members of the Richmond Brass Band being present. The report goes on to say that James Cameron, the local policeman, was the Richmond Band's conductor and that it was making good progress. From this it appears that the band was newly established.
In January 1908 the band attended the Richmond Sports and Flower Show at Richmond Park. Jean Sutton records that Mr Meyer resigned as band secretary on 12 September 1909 as he was leaving the district, and that band practices were held in the Institute, which was rented for £5 per annum. This would have been the old Mechanics' Institute building, a small shed which, from earliest days, stood behind the present Town Hall. It was destroyed by fire in recent times, with the loss of equipment owned by the Richmond and District Highland Pipe Band.
JW Henderson, the station-master, was band conductor in 1910. In that year the band purchased a full set of new B Grade Benson instruments from Begg and Co. of Dunedin. These were displayed in WR (Billy) May's shop window on the south west corner of Queen Street and Gladstone Road.page 20
Later that year AJ (Alf) Berryman, who had the reputation of being one of the finest cornet players in New Zealand, became the conductor. His brother, Harry, was the conductor of the Nelson Garrison Band, in which Alf also played. Prior to his Richmond appointment, he had been the conductor of the Nelson Citizens' Band during the nine month absence of its conductor. It was hoped that under Berryman the Richmond combination would become a first class one. New players had joined and the band was expected to soon reach full strength. Fund-raising from dances (gents 2/6, ladies 1/-) and a revue, were reported.
In 1911 the band was still very active, being advertised to play at May's Corner on 26 October at 8 pm and there after on the second Saturday of each month. In November George Clifton Mockler, who had returned to conduct the Nelson Citizens' Band, was appointed as conductor of the Richmond Band. On Boxing Day it performed at the Waimea South sports at Wakefield, which were attended by 1,300 people.
By now the band had reached an obvious level of competency and it performed at the 20th Nelson A & P Show in 1912. Also present was the band of the Stoke Industrial School, which played under its conductor, Mr Murphy.
At the AGM, held in the Institute in December 1912, there was a fair attendance with Mr Buttle in the chair. The band had 21 playing members, but practices had not been too satisfactory and the baton had changed three times during the year. The band had reduced its debt on the new instruments by £52 but still owed Beggs £158/5/-. There was a credit balance in the accounts of £8/15/10. Assets, allowing for depreciation, exceeded the band's liabilities of £243/13/4.
Officers elected were: Patroness, Mrs Saywell (re-elected); President, Mr Buttle; Vice-Presidents, Messrs James Hunt, WH May, Wm Coleman Snr, WE Wilkes, Boyce, Thomas, Glen, Hale, Barham, Hayes, Croucher, T Bell, Kidd, Papps, Molesworth and Heath; Secretary, Mr KL Hammond; Treasurer, James Hunt; Auditor, AH Hale; Sergeant, AT White; Corporal, P Sutton; Lance-Corporal, P Read and Librarian, K Bird. The band committee comprised Bandsmen P Sutton, H Sutton, P Beach, CL Best, Bashford, T White and G Wilkes.
A request by the Collingwood Athletic Club for terms to play at their sports on New Year's Day was turned down, owing to a prior engagement. Also mentioned in the report were Councillors WM Coleman, Joshua F Papps and James Hunt. Vice-president Croucher was probably John M page 21Croucher, Richmond's mayor and a flour miller and baker. Joshua Papps, a coach builder of Queen Street, played both the trombone and the organ. Mrs Ellen Saywell was the widow of Charles Saywell, a prominent businessman whose family arrived in New Zealand in 1840 and settled in Richmond in 1856. He continued the family business of building and undertaking. He was a sometime member of the Richmond Road Board and the Nelson Education Board.
In 1905 Band Sergeant AT White had been a lieutenant in the Waimea Rifles and headmaster of the Spring Grove School. William R May's business interests were wide. In 1911 he took over a shop originally established by William Dartnall in 1857 and later owned by Hodder and Bryant. The sign giving the date of establishment has been removed from the building only in recent times. William Wanstead, a Richmond plumber, gas-fitter and painter, was a past secretary of both the Richmond Fire Brigade and the Stoke Volunteer Rifles.
The 1912 AGM is the last recorded news item about the Richmond Band. The loss of manpower associated with the Great War may have hastened its demise. The National Reserve Band, the renamed Nelson Citizen's Band, led the parade at the 1919 Richmond peace celebrations.
A photograph owned by Mrs KR Scott of Parere Street, Nelson, taken about 1912, shows the band in uniform wearing peaked caps. The band is flanked by its officials: WH May and AH Hale. The patroness, Mrs Saywell, sits next to Constable James Cameron, the conductor, who is wearing a police decoration. Bandsmen identified are: Percy Sutton, William Wanstall, Beach, W Strawbridge, Beach (2), Sutton, Joshua Papps, Mr Sutton, Godfrey Coleman, Billy Max, Harry G Kingsland, Graham Win and Jim Hunt. Seven remain unidentified.
Those known are Godfrey Coleman, who played club rugby at Richmond as a half-back, and who lost his right forearm in an accident. In later life he was a storeman at the Anchor Foundry at Port Nelson. Harry Kingsland is remembered for his pioneer work in introducing pinus radiata forestry to New Zealand. He later conducted the Wakefield Band and was string bass player in the Clarrie Lee Orchestra, popular in Nelson during the 1930s and 40s. Graham Win was Joshua Papps' apprentice and nephew of his second wife.