Early Years, before Foden's
At 3pm on 26th May 1900 the old Sandbach Volunteer Band and Wheelock Temperance Society Band were playing in a procession from Elworth to Sandbach to celebrate the “Relief of Mafeking”. That evening, everyone gathered on Sandbach Common before it was decided that the bands would lead the return parade back to Elworth. At that point however, a local Public House offered free drinks to the band members, an offer that ended up having significant consequences. Some of the Temperance members felt that by accepting this offer it was seen as being against their beliefs and so they decide to take their instruments back to Wheelock and failed to march back to Elworth. For different reasons, the members of the Sandbach Volunteer Band also decided not to march to Elworth; the offer of free drinks was too tempting and they ended up staying in the Pub.
The organisers were not pleased at this snub to the celebrations and vowed that the village of Elworth would have its own independent band for these occasions, not relying on those in Sandbach or Wheelock.
That very night the Elworth Leaders met and resolved that a public subscription should be raised for the purpose of organising and equipping their very own Brass Band. By September 1900, £30 had been raised to purchase instruments from the nearby Knutsford band which had recently folded and they arrived the following week at Sandbach Station. The instruments were then set out before the first rehearsal, with twenty-four villagers in attendance who had never played an instrument before. Local music teacher Sam Charlesworth was paid three guineas a year for his services along with a fee of one penny a week from each of the band members for tuition (the fee was paid by Band funds if the bandsman couldn’t afford it). The first Band Room was above a stables in Marsh Green Road and the band was taught to play “Abide with me” which became appropriate when, on the 22 January 1901, Queen Victoria died.
On 2nd Feb 1901 the newly formed Elworth Silver Band’s first engagement was at the Elworth Church Memorial Service in honour of Queen Victoria. Later that month the band performed again, this time a Torchlight Procession displaying their new uniforms and straw hats, leading the Procession through Elworth, Elton and Moston to celebrate the new King Edward VII.
The first annual Soiree in aid of funds of the Elworth Brass Band was held on 30th November 1901 in the Co-op Hall which had been decorated by the ladies of the village, including Mrs Foden. Revellers turned out in force and danced from 8pm to 4am to the music of the Elworth Silver Band.
In early 1902 performances continued including an engagement to help celebrate the delivery of a new Fodens Sons and Co Ltd motor wagon to the Silver Springs Bleaching and Dyeing Company of Timbersbrook, near Congleton. Following a parade and short performance, the band were treated to a sumptuous dinner at the Lion and Swan hotel, paid for by Mr E Foden.
Things started to turn sour when at the ‘Coronation Committee Meeting’ on 31st May 1902, Elworth Silver Band refused to play for the Coronation unless they were paid £4. The Coronation committee turned down their request following it up by calling in all the instruments owned by the band, in disgust at being asked to pay the band for such a national event. Members of the Coronation Committee wanted to dissolve the band or expel playing members who refused to play such was their disgust at being asked to pay the band for but that was ruled out by the meeting’s Chairman. It led to a headline in the Crewe Chronicle reading ‘Elworth Coronation Plans – Mutiny of the Band’. A decision was made to put the Coronation performance out to tender for other bands to bid on, excluding Elworth Silver Band from tendering. A week later it was announced in the Chronicle that there had been 75 tenders received for services of a band.
On 21st June 1902 it was announced that in an extraordinary meeting of the residents of Elworth Village arising out of a dispute with Elworth Silver Band, a letter was received from the band tendering their resignation. Moving swiftly the Chairman proposed a resolution that the band be dissolved and instruments disposed of. Consequently, Mr W Foden made an offer of £58 1s 6d for all of the band instruments which was rejected. The funds from the sale were to be given to a charity called the “Elworth Charity”.
Elworth couldn’t be without a band for a national event such as the Coronation, and so after putting out the job for tender they hired the Crewe “London and North Western Railway Carriage Works Band” for the occasion at a fee of £8, twice the sum that Elworth Silver Band had demanded.
On 5th July 1902, the Elworth Silver Band did actually play for the Coronation Celebrations in both Sandbach and Smallwood (however, due to the new King having appendicitis, the actual Coronation itself was postponed 9th August 1902).
This was the last engagement of the band in its present form.
Under the band rules the band were given 14 days’ notice of its disbandment before the instruments were taken off them and sold, putting plans by the Committee to have a reliable band in Elworth back to square one. Having made an offer for the Band’s instruments rejected by the committee at the meeting in June, Edwin Foden offered to take over the band and had to purchase his own instruments. Edwin Foden could have done nothing else as it was he who had caused the collapse of the band in the first place by asking them to play at Smallwood. Mr Foden purchased a set of Besson Silver plated instruments to replace those sold by the Elworth Committee.
This was the start of the Foden Motor Works Band.
John Barber March 2018