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 started 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 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, Dennis Desmond and its current stick man, Nathaniel Dye. Players from other local bands that have unfortunately folded in recent years such as Hainault and Romford have also become very welcome additions.
The Band undertakes engagements all over the local area and beyond. It has had many notable engagements over the years. From the early 1990’s the Band led the prestigious London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Carol Service for the Mayor and the Council staff held at the splendid Civic Centre’s grand marble hall every Christmas Eve. In the early noughties It was the first brass band for 40 years to play at the refurbished bandstand at Arnold Circus in Shoreditch. Possibly the most bizarre engagement in its history saw the Band hired by a renowned visual and media artist from New York when the Band made it’s film debut on location in and around Arnold Circus, Shoreditch. Telling the story of music being a force for good against evil it featured the Band playing an arrangement of Black Sabbath’s heavy metal anthem Iron Man while fighting off a green monster which had invaded the Arnold Circus Bandstand. We understand the finished art video, (which also saw some Band members being beaten by palm leaves while marching) sold for many thousands of dollars. Pavilion Brass do indeed have international appeal! The Band have also played many times over the years at the local National Trust site, Eastbury Manor House, including when the Queen visited in May 2002, her Golden Jubilee year.
The Band’s local roots are still vitally important and we have a regular schedule of engagements in the Borough such as the Remembrance Day Service at St. Chads, Chadwell Heath and several Christmas carol services. No job too big or to small, we just enjoy making music and hope other enjoy us making music! To this day, Pavilion Brass continues to be the only brass band in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and remains proud of its origins and looks forward to a bright musical future.