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1881: How the 'Ockenden' Band became the 'Cuckfield' Band

Mid Sussex Times - Wednesday 20 April 1881


The Ockenden Band

This was the title given to these musicians some twenty years ago, when the formation of volunteer corps was all the rage, but even then if music had not been forthcoming little charm or interest would be manifest amongst the spectators on “field” days, which we well remember were delightful holidays to the country folk who patronised these excursions in various parts of the county, when nearly every corps was represented by brass or drum and fife band.

Ours was of the latter class, the funds being generously contributed by Ensign (now Sir Walter) Burrell. The performers, then numbering over twenty, made such rapid progress under the late much respected Bandmaster J. Anscombe that in a very few years it had gained such popularity by its efficiency as to be well-known and appreciated wherever it went.

The Cuckfield Band, formerly the Ockenden Band c1910

Then suddenly it was transformed into a brass band, which involved considerable outlay; but Sir Walter again came to the rescue, and handsomely handed over a cheque for the instruments. Under Bandmaster Dumsday it has passed through several seasons most successfully, having received liberal patronage from the influential residents and tradesmen of the neighbourhood.

Latterly, however, it had gone back apace, the bandmaster had resigned, and one or two others had left; but though this gloomy state of affairs prevailed at the commencement of the year, most of the members, like true Britons, stood manfully together and endeavoured to frustrate what threatened to be the permanent downfall of the band. Bugler R. Harris was installed as bandmaster, and under his direction matters again seemed to progress smoothly.

The “apple-cart” was, however, completely toppled over at a recent meeting of those interested, at which, it is understood, matters assumed a very unpleasant aspect, for not only has the band collapsed, but the musicians are directed to return the instruments to their late instructor, after having them in their respective possessions for a number of years. If this be true, which undoubtedly is the case, it is hoped that the townspeople will rally round their unfortunate musical brethren, and lend the necessary help to recoup them for the great loss they have sustained.

Fancy Cuckfield without a band? That venerable creature the “oldest inhabitant” cannot believe it, but closes his ears to such a mystifying announcement.

Mid Sussex Times - Wednesday 27 April 1881

The Band

—On Monday evening a meeting was convened at the Armoury, when there were present Messrs. F. Hounsell, H. Askew, W. Fox, R. T. Anscombe, V. Dancy, A. Alwen, W. Morley, G. Homewood, T. Butler, F. Butler, J. Mitchell, E. Mitchell, and T. Fox.

Resolved that it is deemed desirable to form a new band in Cuckfield, to be called the "Cuckfield Town Band." That the gentry and inhabitants be also solicited to subscribe to the fund, and that Mr. Morfee be appointed collector. All present signified their willingness to join the band and give it their support.

ln our last issue we stated that the late bandsmen had received orders to deliver up their instruments to the late bandmaster. We find this is not correct. Through Sir W. W. Burrell the bandmaster offered to continue the loan of the instruments, but they were to be acknowledged the property of the bandmaster; if they did not assent to this, the instruments were to be given up.


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