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John White's Band founded 1953
The Band at the Ritz
The Band

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 14th August 1953, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Stars Collect for New Band - John White’s build impressive team

A list of players recruited for the new John White Footwear Band shows that a very strong nucleus is already assured, and promises new lustre to the brass band reputation long held by this district.

The progress made since the intention to form the band was announced is considered to be excellent. No definite date had been fixed for the first rehearsals, the main reason being that the musicians engaged are being given every opportunity to fulfil their existing commitments.

In the meantime, Mr. George Thompson, the musical director secured from Odhams Press Band, has taken up residence in Rushden. His team will include the following:

Jack Miles – Drummer-xylophonist prominent with Munn and Felton’s before the war, when he joined the Royal Marines and graduated into the Royal Yacht Band. Although this band is shortly to tour Australia in connection with the Queen’s visit, he is leaving in order to serve under his old colleague, Mr. Thompson.

Solo Cornet

James Scott – For the last six years solo cornet with Munn and Felton’s and has also played principal cornet with Grimethorpe Colliery and Ransome and Marles. Mr. Thompson was his teacher for seven years and arranged for him one of his favourite solos, “Napoli.”

Harry Gray – Principal cornet of Wingates Temperance. He and his brother Teddy, now principal with Fodens, were popular duettists with Bickershaw Colliery.

Harry Pownall – Has served Callender’s Senior Band, Wingates and Bikershaw Colliery as 1st baritone.

Alex Macdonald – Played the flugal horn for Black Dyke from 1933 to 1940 and has since been principal cornet with Clydebank Burgh.

Ken Davies (cornet) and Harold Winstanley (horn) – Both from Marham Main Colliery Band, which has just toured Holland.

Sid Bradley (repiano cornet) and Bert Jones (E-flat bass) – Experienced players from Callender’s Senior Band.

Archie Scott – Father of James Scott, and was a noted B-flat bass player with the Bessies o’ th’ Barn.

W. Scott: A double-bass player from Swansea Salvation Army.


Maxie Thornton – Well known tenor trombone and broadcasting soloist from Munn and Felton’s.

Ted Hunter – Also a tenor trombone, and has broadcast frequently as soloist with Ransome and Marles.

Alex Sykes – For some time principal cornet of Ransome and Marles.

C. R. Bland: A Rothwell native now 1st baritone with Ransome and Marles.

S. B. Prince – Principal cornet of Rushden Salvation Army Band.

A. E. Boddington – Sixteen-year-old cornettist from Wollaston Town.

Neville Griffiths (principal cornet) and Gareth Morgan (euphonium) of the R.A.M.C. Staff Band are joining on their release from the Forces.

A. J. Brown – Soprano from Rushden Temperance and hails from South Wales, where his father and five brothers were brass bandsmen. He met a Rushden girl while serving in the R.A.F. and settled in Rushden after marriage.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 5th November, 1953, transcribed by Jim Hollis

New Band Plans First Programme

Due to appear before the public at the end of January, the John White Footwear Band will soon be called together for its first full practice. Uniforms are being designed and instruments have been tested.

For Mr. George Thompson (late of Odhams Press), the musical director, the prospect of putting on an early concert is a great stimulus. A few sectional practices have convinced him that the band will “shake down” without much difficulty and that even the hazards of contesting can be accepted in the fairly near future.

Keen-eyed and restless, Mr. Thompson spent Wednesday evening at his Rushden home making scores from which he will conduct his first programme. Anxious to start off with something known to the public yet out of the common as a brass band number, he was engrossed in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and “Les Preludes.” Turning-on the gramophone, he listened intently to an orchestral version of the rhapsody.

All Signed

The band is now fully recruited and most of the musicians – players of experience drawn from many parts of the country – are already at work in the John White factories and housed in the Rushden area or at Kettering. Other players will arrive next week and the last one or two in good time for the concert.

One of the stockrooms at Higham Ferrers has been reserved for the band, and practices will probably be held in the early evening.

Many people have been wondering how the new band stands in regard to the National Brass Band Championships – at what level it would be accepted on its first venture. The answer, says Mr. Thompson, rests entirely with the organisers, who have been told that the band is prepared to take part.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 27th November, 1953, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Come listen to the band – and what a band it will be! First Concert in January

Stepping into a Rushden Warehouse (writes L.V.E.), I thought of getting a story about the birth of a band. The notion fell through as soon as the music began – the infancy theme became an absurdity.

There will, of course, be lots of nursing before the John White Footwear Band rises to its potential, but when the players settle down to their first full practice the idea of mewling and puking was blown to shreds.

The men who strolled into the Lime Street stockroom and settled themselves casually into a clearance among shoe boxes had been brought together from many parts of the country, and even from the high seas.

David Morris and the brass palyers
Fresh from a championship win with Foden’s. David Morris (standing, right), one of the best euphonium players in the
country, goes through a solo.
They were ready-made instrumentalists – not all celebrities of the brass band world, yet all picked for expertness or promise.

Progress as a team had been taken for granted. The first concert (in January) had been announced, and contesting for the highest prizes was a plan for the near future.

Far from casual

Beaming cheerfully, but far from casual, was musical director George Thompson, who darted from point to point settling details.

He is left-handed, impetuous and fleet of foot, has taken second prize (with Hanwell) in the National Championship, and built a good band for Odhams Press from novices.

Beginning with a baton plunge which could only be read as a general signal to attack, the practice took shape as an introduction of soloists and an exercise in sight-reading.

Great spirit

Max Thornton
Maxwell Thornton
leading trombonist
A short work was played with great spirit and with stresses so eager that they tended to spill over. The men had never seen it before.

The soloists played works which, in the main, they reeled off from memory.

In each case, however, the band was accompanying for the first time. When stops were made the only points at issue were balance or when to use a mute.

In the drummer’s corner were tympani and a gleaming xylophone, which was pushed into the foreground for a performance by Jack Miles (fresh from the Royal Yacht Band), whose deportment, equally to his skill, must make him a concert favourite.

Easy for James

Tall and slim, James Scott (late M. and F.) produced “Carnival of Venice” from a cornet that seemed to droop almost carelessly.

David Morris, who a few weeks ago was helping Fodens to take the championship, stood up to play Senaille’s “Introduction and Allegro Spiritoso” on his euphonium, and Maxwell Thornton, a second M. and F. star, showed that a Mozart horn concerto can come out well on the trombone.

The band enjoyed itself in a fanfare with a modern tang (composer: George Thompson), lingered quite a while on “Crimond,” and finished the evening at grips with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

Mr. Thompson, with coat off and head forward, had things to say about the first phase of the rhapsody, but in the fast movement you could feel that the players did not want to stop, and Mr. Thompson gave them their head.

Jack Miles
Royal Marine 12 years, drummer-xylophonist Jack Miles

Stayed an hour

Mr. John White, the founder, came in for “a few minutes,” stayed an hour or more, and then hurried off because he was overdue at home.

His well-favoured band starts on an executive plane that many have not reached in years of effort.

What happens from that point remains to be seen, but with M. and F. and Rushden Temperance taking note and all the British brass hand world attentive, we can certainly mark East Northants as a hot spot of “banding.”

The new band contains a father and his son, Archie and James Scott. One of the bass players remembers visiting Rushden with Callenders well over twenty years ago.

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