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Rushden Echo, February 1914
Mr William J Bridgeford
Rushden Musician's Funeral

A Notable Bandsman - A Pioneer of Euphonium Playing in Northants

The funeral took place on Saturday last of the late Mr. William John Bridgeford, aged 59, of Midland-road, Rushden. Deceased had been ill for over two years, death resulting on Feb. 17th from paralysis. He leaves two sons and one daughter. The Rev. P. J. Richards (Vicar of St. Peter's) officiated at the service at the graveside. The coffin was of polished elm with brass fittings, and bore the inscription:—

William John Bridgeford. Died Feb. 17, 1914. Aged 59 years.

The chief mourners were Mr. W. Bridgeford (son), Mrs. Leaton (only daughter), Mr. L. Bridgeford (son), Mrs. W. Bridgeford (daughter-in-law), Mrs. L. Bridgeford (daughter-in-law), Mrs. Davis (niece), Mrs. Weekley, Mr. Ladds (friend).

William John Bridgeford
The wreaths bore the inscriptions :—

In loving memory of dear Dad, from his loving son and daughter, Emily and Will.

In loving memory, from Ethel and Ern, "Gone, but not forgotten".

To dear Dad, from his loving son and daughter, Lance and Nell. "His end was peace".

With love to dear Grandpa, from his grandchild Edna.

A little token from his loving grandchildren, Lily and Horace.

In loving memory of dear Grandpa, from his grandchildren, Florrie and Peggie. "Rest in peace".

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Whittington and Tomlin.

Biographical Sketch

Mr. W. J. Bridgeford was a native of Rushden and was born on March 4, 1854. He commenced his musical career in 1872, when, with the assistance of his father and two companions, he started the Rushden National Band. There was no band in Rushden at the time; several bands had been started, but had failed. However, "perseverance" was one of Mr. Bridgeford's main characteristics, and he was not to be daunted by difficulties. He induced Mr. F. U. Sartoris to advance the sum of £52 for instruments, this being then thought a large amount. Mr. A. Neville, of Irthlingborough, was engaged to teach the band, and two years later his place was taken by Mr. J. Iliffe, of Rushden. Both these gentlemen were excellent cornet players, and under their tuition Mr. Bridgeford made rapid progress on the cornet until the death of Mr. Iliffe, when, reeds being introduced into the band by Mr. Bacon, their next bandmaster, he was requested to take clarionet part, which he did, and played both Eb and Bb instruments with much success for several years.

Shortly after the National Band started Mr. Bridgeford joined the church choir and singing class, held by Mr. W. Packwood, and under this gentleman he received an excellent vocal training.

Mr. Bridgeford subsequently severed his connection with the band, and purchased a euphonium, which instrument he soon played with remarkable proficiency. He was then induced by Mr. E. Clark, euphonium player of the Rushden Temperance, to join that band in the capacity of euphonium player. He filled this post with remarkable success for four years, gaining much popularity. Indeed he may justly be termed the pioneer of euphonium playing in the county.

His health failing him in 1886, he contemplated resigning, when he was offered the conductorship of the Rushden National Band, and at the earnest solicitation of the bandmaster, Mr. H. Sharp, he accepted the post, upon the condition that he should not be required to play. He filled this position for another four years, and during that period, under his hands, coupled with tuition from Mr. A. Owen, the band were more successful and won more prizes than they had done during the whole of their career. Indeed during the four years Mr. Bridgeford was bandmaster the band won no fewer than 22 prizes, a good number of which were firsts and seconds, a splendid record, considering the indifferent state of the band when Mr. Bridgeford took them in hand. On one occasion during this period the band were competing at Stanwick contest, and there being a very difficult baritone part in the selection for which a silver medal was offered for best player. Mr. Bridgeford was asked to take the part; he did so, and won the medal, the band also winning first prize in the selection. About the end of 1890 he resigned his position in the Rushden National Band and accepted the conductorship of the Earls Barton Britannia Brass Band, rendered vacant by the resignation of Mr. W. Reynolds.

The band quickly recognised the exceptional abilities of their new conductor, showing their esteem by presenting him with a silver-mounted ebony baton, which the band had won as first prize for a march.   

In 1891 Mr. Bridgeford was offered the conductorship of the Langholm Band, Scotland, at a salary of £50 per year, which place he visited and gave the band and hon. members the greatest satisfaction; but at the earnest request, of the Earls Barton Band and supporters, and not caring to leave the district, he consented to remain. About this time the Rushden National Band again sought his services, offering a handsome addition to former salary, but they did not come to terms, and Mr. Bridgeford still remained with Earls Barton, who, in 1893, presented him with an illuminated address in splendid gilt frame. In November, 1894, the Wollaston Band also presented him with a handsome writing desk with name engraved in brass plate thereon, both of which gifts Mr. Bridgeford highly valued.

Mr. Bridgeford had two other bands— the Wollaston Excelsior and the Peterborough bands. A genuine musician himself, he always sought to develop in his bandsmen a love for high-class music. As a teacher and conductor he was very successful, being firm, painstaking, and thorough, gaining the respect and esteem of the members by his uniform courtesy and impartiality.

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