Arthur Stubbs Cornet / Soprano 1915 - 1926
During his time with the Foden Motor Works Band Arthur Stubbs lived at George Street in Elworth (1928 had moved to Clifton Road) having joined the band as their 2nd Cornet player at a time when various members of the band had been removed from the line-up after a strike in the spring of 1915. It was at a time during the Great War (WW1) when the factory was increasing its workload to fulfil Government contracts including the making of ammunition and equipment for the front which left the workers with very few rights, bad conditions and little pay. Joe Brookes (Soprano who went to Horwich RMI Band), Percy Shaw (Euphonium), George Hinkinson (Trombone), John Heywood (Baritone) and Harry Cornack (Baritone) were among the players who decided to move to other bands at this time rather than continue to work at the factory as well as combining their band engagements.
These retirements left positions available to be filled by outsiders including C Smith on Soprano Cornet and Arthur Stubbs on cornet.
At the September 1915, British Open Championships, Arthur Stubbs was playing 2nd Cornet at Belle Vue, Manchester with the test piece “Il Furioso” by Donizetti arr C Godfrey. Conductor for Fodens was the great William Halliwell who took the band to first place beating Horwich RMI into 2nd place and Kings Cross Band into third. This band line-up also had well known players, Edwin Firth on Solo Cornet with Charlie Dawson on Repriano Cornet, C Smith on Soprano Cornet, Bob Shepley on 2nd Cornet and Arthur Webb Snr on Solo Horn.
By the 2 September 1916, British Championships Arthur Stubbs had replaced C Smith on Soprano after Mr Smith had played with the band for one year in that particular seat. This change of seating within Fodens led to an article in an August 1917, Sandbach Chronicle where they described Arthur thus “Foden’s are a galaxy of stars, that there is one in particular that we must all listen to, and that is the soprano player. The greatest soprano up-to-date. No one knows what thirty years hence might bring along, but in Mr Stubbs I believe we have it.” If this was just publicity or the opinion of that night’s performance by the Sandbach Chronicle reporter we will never know but he certainly didn’t keep up the reputation over the next few years as he was moved from one instrument to another by various conductors. The reason for the article was the popularity of the band as a fundraiser for the war effort and after an article in Brass Band News.
“And now about that treat I promised. Foden’s are coming. Yes, they are. And bringing a couple of programmes with them. The place that has the honour of receiving this famous organisation has been altered from the Manchester Racecourse to the Manchester United Football Ground. The reason for the change I have been told is that there has been such a rush for tickets that it was feared that the racecourse would not hold the tremendous crowd expected. Now I am given to understand that “United’s” ground is capable of holding millions, and it was thought that in the interest of humanity it would be better to have the concerts on the football ground.”
Arthur was again part of the band when they took part in the Belle Vue Competition in 1916 when they came in 2nd. The following year on the 1 September 1917, when they again played at the Belle Vue, Manchester venue for the British Championships when they unfortunately came sixth with Arthur still playing on Soprano Cornet.
For the 1918 Competition, Conductor Tom Haynes (Joint conductor of the band with William Halliwell) decided to move Arthur Stubbs back to Second Cornet and replaced him with Charlie Dawson who would stay in that role until 1923.
On the 1 December 1924, Tom Haynes was asked to resign as conductor of the band and was replaced by Fred Mortimer who attended his first rehearsal on the 8 December 1924 alongside William Halliwell who would also conduct the band for their competitions. Fred decided to have another change of personnel and Arthur Stubbs was moved to Repriano Cornet with George Clarke (With Fodens between 11 Sept 1923 to 28 Dec 1928) on Soprano for the 1926 Belle Vue Competition when they played “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Dr Thomas Keighley, with the band coming first winning £2228 / 7 / 0.
After this win on the 7 October 1926, Arthur Stubbs officially left the band.
Nearly a year later with George Clarke still on Soprano during the 5 September 1927 competition for the Jennison Trophy at Belle Vue, listed among the members of the Foden’s Band was Arthur Stubbs who was again playing on Soprano Cornet this time possibly as a deputy player brought in for the event only. With Arthur on Soprano the band produced a win for the second year in a row, playing the test piece “Merry Wives of Windsor” by Dr Thomas Keighley.
This was possibly not the end of Arthur Stubbs on Soprano as for the 3 September 1928 British Open Championship at Belle Vue, Manchester he was listed as 2nd Soprano Cornet alongside George Clark and possibly the greatest line-up of musicians the band has known, or should that be the most well-known musicians with conductor William Halliwell making his last appearance with the band, Harry Mortimer on Solo Cornet alongside Charles Dawson, with Reg Moores and Fred Mortimer (Harry’s Father and usual conductor of the band) on Repriano Cornets and 1st Euphonium player Alex Mortimer with his brother Rex Mortimer on Trombone. In terms of named players each one now has a place in the banding hall of fame so it was no wonder that Foden’s Motor Works Band won the Jennison Trophy for the third and final time as they were entitled to keep the trophy after winning three times in a row.
This highlight was possibly the last appearance of Arthur Stubbs with the band as there are no more records of him playing with Foden’s or any other band, which is sad because he obviously impressed the Sandbach Chronicle reporter and with all those wins under his belt he was part of the “best band in the land”.