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Pavilion Brass - Band History

The exact date Pavilion Brass formed is somewhat lost in the mists of time as, like many bands, it evolved from a small number of keen players to become the full band it is today, and working out exactly when the band was formed is open to debate. The process of evolution stated around 1990 but its origins date back a little further and is really centred on the vision and hard work of one man, Peter Railton, along with the help of a supportive local council in Barking and Dagenham.

Barking & Dagenham was one of the first Local Councils to pioneer a Play Leader Scheme in the UK. This very popular scheme operated in 20 local Parks to provide out of school play and sports facilities for local children and attracted hundreds of children every day during the school holidays and summer evenings. In 1980 Peter was employed at the scheme in Goresbrook Park, Dagenham.

Peter, a keen musician at the local Salvation Army hall, was tasked by the Council to find local talent amongst the children who attended the Play Leader Scheme to form a small brass group to be part of a concert party that would tour round local OAP homes and social events producing concerts. This group came to be known as the Play Leaders Band. Part of the band membership included Peter's son, Andrew who still plays with Pavilion on occasions today, and Pavilion's current Principal Cornet, Peter Malcolm.

The Play Leaders Band developed, attracting more players of all ages and eventually outgrew its role of a local 'community' band to become a band in its own right and in the late 1980's it became independent from the Play Leaders Scheme. For various reasons some of the founder members, including both Peters had to leave around this time.

In 1990 Peter Railton still had the backing of the local council, which extended to a rent-free rehearsal building, to run a band to provide local concerts for the benefit of local residential OAP homes and at charity events. With the Council's continued support, Peter launched a new brass group to follow the same


'community' ethos of the original Play Leader Band. Peter Malcolm and Janet Longley (current Principal Horn and a member of the old Play Leader Band), together with his son Andrew and a couple of other players Peter knew, joined together to form Pavilion Brass.

This small group of dedicated players slowly expanded to a ten piece outfit and then to a full band under the baton of Ron Smith. New Uniforms were purchased and the band played a mixture of local 'community' concerts as well as jobs in its own right in and outside of the borough. The band has continued to flourish under the direction of Ron Joyce, James Topp, Chris Hopelman and its current stick man, Denis Desmond. Players from other local bands that have unfortunately folded in recent years such as Hainault and Romford have also become very welcome additions. It has survived losing its free rehearsal building and is now fully self funding, using rehearsal facilities in a local church - Chadwell Heath Baptist.

The Band undertakes engagements all over the local area and beyond, and were the first brass band for 40 years to play at the recently refurbished bandstand at Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. A recent engagement also saw them making their film debut in an art project devised by an artist from New York. Pavilion Brass do indeed now have international appeal !!

However, its local roots are still vitally important and links with Barking and Dagenham council still remain. In 1993 Peter Railton was asked by the Council if the Band could play at the now traditional Carol Service for the Mayor and the Council staff at the Civic Centre, held every Christmas Eve. The Service is held in the Civic Centre's grand marble hall and is indeed a prestigious event which the Band look forward to each year.

To this day, Pavilion Brass continue to be the only brass band in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and remain proud of its origins and looks forward to the future.

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