Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)


Musical Entertainment 

                         It seems hard to believe that there was no such thing as television and radio was still very crude; from about 1915 they were still experementing with what became known as crystal sets with catwhiskers. Until around 1922 one had to rely on the gramophone, or making your own music. In 1913 just before Christmas, my father spent the then large sum of 35 shillings at Bensted’s, West Ealing, on a box portable H.M.V. gramophone and 9 Zonophone 10-inch records. What a treat, and we came to know them off by heart. One of my uncles had one of those gramophones which played the cylindrical records, a “phonograph”. This had a very large horn and every record started with “Edison Bell Record” spoken in a very stately way. This to us kids was a wonder of the times. 

                         A Mr. Church was well known in the town for his skillful playing of the hand bells and was always in demand. There were 4 brass bands at different times ; the St Marylebone School’s boys band. Their uniform was red-braided tunic with pill-box hat, they used to lead the boys to church on Sunday morning; the North Hyde School band. Their uniform was green tunic and short trousers piped with black braid and Stetson hats. Their bandmaster Mr. Dunn was a very good instructor and three of his sons later had distinguished careers as Army bandmasters; the Gas Works had a very good band, also the Maypole margarine works. They used to tender one against the other for the job of playing in the Park during the summer on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. They had to provide a stipulated number of players and to do so very often they were made up one from the other. 

                        Also there was a very good Salvation Army band from the Citadel in Adelaide Road. I can remember Bandmaster Snellings and how they used to stand in a circle at the “White Swan” corner on Sunday evenings and throw their pennies on the drum. Several attempts have since been made to form a Southall Town Band but none lasted very long. But Hanwell has for years had a prize silver Band.