History

Llwydcoed Band 1912

The Band began its life in June of 1912.

It was originally formed when the young men of Llwydcoed village, mostly from the “Llwydcoed Robins ” football team, decided that there must be more to life than just Football, Chapel and Beer.
After hearing the Ysguborwen Brass Band also known as the Aberdare Town Band performing at one of the football matches the seeds were sewn and it was decided to try and start the Llwydcoed Band.

A meeting was called and held in the Vestry of Horeb Chapel – A committee was then formed with the officers being – Chairman – Gwilym Howells, Secretary – D T Watkins, Treasurer – James Beddoe. The Officers of the committee were given the job of costing the formation of the Band,this meant the cost of instruments and the cost of a competent musician as a teacher.

The committee went away and researched their project and came back with the following figures: Second-hand Instruments – £200, Teacher – 5 shillings per week

When they came back to the Committee with these prices which were far in excess of any expectations, it was thought to be almost impossible to raise such sums of money. Discussions went on for long time until the Chairman and Treasurer, Gwilym Howells and James Beddoe offered a loan between them giving the £200. The only condition was that the Band should try and pay the money back over the next three or four years. The Band worked so hard and were so successful in raising funds by holding Raffles, Whist Drives and even a Carnival the loans were actually paid back in just Two years.

The Band also helped, their playing had become proficient enough to head the Hospital Carnival at Aberdare for which they were paid a fee of £4.00. With the debt cleared the Band went from strength to strength with the players gaining in proficiency. The Players of the Band should be commended on their advancement as in 1912 we must remember there was no Television, no Radio, and no Cinema and the only music they experienced locally would be from the Music Halls, and Oratorios and Cantatas that were often performed around the Chapels.

Llwydcoed Band
Llwydcoed Band

During the 1914-18 World War, the Band was able to carry on as most of its
members being coal miners were exempt from conscription. All to often they would meet the train at Aberdare Station to March and escort soldiers home after being wounded on the French Battlefields. With the end of the War came a sense of normality and again the Band gained in strength so much so that it was common place to see the Band return from Competition with either a Shield or a silver or gold Cup beating all comers in their class. Sadly occasionally a member of the Band or Bandsman’s family would die and often the Band were requested to lead the funeral procession the two miles to the Cemetery marching in slow time and playing the Funeral March from SAUL.

The Village has undergone many hard times over the years. One of which was the local Coal Mine Owner creating a Lock Out, this meant all the miners in the village (all the Men) were out of work, no work meant no money and no money meant no food, soon the village was in dire straights. The Llwydcoed Band rose to the occasion when after much discussions they decided to go around West Wales to try and raise funds for their village by playing on street

corners and collecting money. The Band set off and walked to Abercrave where they started playing and collecting using the sealed collecting boxes they had taken with them. From here they walked on to Ystradgynlais, then Ystalyfera, and onto Pontardawe and Amanford sleeping at night in barns, billiard halls, schools, pubs or anywhere there was shelter. The people of West Wales were very sympathetic and supportive of the people of Llwydcoed. They, fortunately were not on strike at this time and were able to help the cause. The Money collected was sent back with one of the Committee members of the Band regularly to the Village Committee who in turn would distribute the funds to all the needy families in the village. The Bands history is not just full of tragedy but include many interesting events, I remember as a playing member of the Band enjoying playing at many varied locations including the Pontypridd and Aberdare Parks, the Builth Wells Flower Show and travelling by open top Charabang, playing in the Means Test Marches to support the plea for work by the unemployed. One of these Marches was from the Corner House at Llwydcoed all the way to the main street at Mountain Ash, and the band playing all the way. We did this march a second time when we escorted three men from the village (two of them being Band Members), namely -Mr. Will Davies, Jim Davies and Andrew Davies. The three carried on from Mountain Ash and in fact walked on to London and the Houses of Parliament to protest about there being NO work in the Cynon Valley. One of the more amusing incidents was at the Aberdare Park. in the mid 1930’s the Band stand was located on the island in the middle of the Park Lake, and for anyone to get to it involved rowing over on the boats. On one occasion one of the older members Mr. Robert Griffiths refused to climb into one of the boats, he said he would become sea sick even over the thirty yards of water. Eventually after much ribbing and humiliation he climbed aboard, needless to say the youngsters in the Band waited till the boat was halfway across and began rocking the boat, some of the older players began protesting and as with all youngsters this just made them rock even more, the inevitable then happened and the boat and all contents were tipped over into the lake, instruments and all. For us youngsters it was hilarious but the older players weren’t a bit amused, for many weeks, we were in the doghouse. During the 1930’s the band was taught and conducted by two Bandmasters – Mr. James Oliver and Benny Grifiths. Inevitably, with the Second World War it became increasingly more difficult to keep the band going so it was decided eventually in 1942 to suspend the Band’s rehearsals.1947, the War over for a few years, it was decided to restart the Band – as a Junior Band , and the main instigators of this were Messrs Henry J. Davies, Trev Grifiths, Dilwyn Davies, Will Lee, Mansel Edwards and Idris Price. The Band started with twenty two youngsters and those named above with Mr Bill Woods as Conductor / Teacher. Soon the interest grew with all the youngsters then being from the village, rehearsals were held on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The committee decided at one time as an incentive to the youngsters to give a prize of a Gold Watch to the best attendee over twelve months. The prize could not be given as nobody had missed a rehearsal. They improved and became good enough to enter competitions travelling as far afield as Oxford on occasions and in 1952 winning first prize in the National Eisteddfod. In 1959 there was a change of Conductor an ex player in the old Band Mr W.B.Davies took the Baton. With him the Band went on to win many prestigious prizes including National Eisteddfod (twice), C.I.S.W.O. Championships at Blackpool and area qualifiers enabling the Band to play in the Royal Albert Hall, London.

History of the Llwydcoed Band Recounted
by Dilwyn Davies (1920-2002)

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