And the band played on

1902 SUS-150622-084851001
1902 SUS-150622-084851001

Crawley has been home to a wide variety of music over the years, from the New City Jazzmen to the legendary Cure.

The men in these pictures, though, were around decades before Robert Smith learned his middle C from his B flat.

1906 SUS-150622-084837001

1906 SUS-150622-084837001

These pictures shows the Crawley Town Band of 1902, the Crawley Town Prize Band of 1906, one picture is unlabelled and undated and one, dated 1913, shows the Crawley Town Band, winners of the Southern Counties Championship.

The picture captioned Crawley Town Military Band from 1935 is dated June 10 and declares the band to be winners of the Southern Counties Band Association Military Band Contest.

The boy second form the right, seated at the front and clutching a clarinet is Bob Sorrell.

The band had taken part in a contest at the Recreational Ground, adjudicated by Dr Denis Wright. Only two other bands, Reading Temperance and the Horsham Town Band, took part in the military band section. All the other sections were for brass bands only.

1935 SUS-150622-084903001

1935 SUS-150622-084903001

All three were required to play a test piece – Carmen, by Georges Bizet – and a march of their choice. Crawley played Kenneth Alford’s On The Quarter Deck and won the contest.

Bob married Sheila and the couple set up home in Haywards Heath.

The other bandsmen included: Back row: From left, Bill Reid, Laddie Parker, S Knight, Bill Barman, Clar Parsons, Bert Austen, (two unknown), Bill Pullen, Claude Smith, Frank Ford.

Middle row: From left, Mr Lee, Harry Bacon Snr, Geoff Comfort, George Bulman (?), Claude Bowers, Charlie Martin, Wilf Charman, Bob Couchman, Stan Earl, George Beal.

obby look back feb 7 band 2 SUS-150622-084915001

obby look back feb 7 band 2 SUS-150622-084915001

Bottom Row: From left, Ernie Freeman, George Parker, Mr Martin, Mr Smith, John Penfold, Albert Heather, Walter Ellis, Captain Smith, Albert Branston, Bill Pellen, Bill Robinson.

Boys: From left, Harry Bacon, Bill Tappenden, Bob Sorrell, Denis Tullet.

When the call to fight for King and country was put out, many of Crawley’s heroic young bandsmen were among those who laid down their lives.

Amateur historian Russell Gore said: “There is a Town Band memorial plaque in the church of St Johns in Crawley town centre. Contained on the plaque are the names of eight men of the band who died during the Great War 1914-1918.

1913 SUS-150622-084927001

1913 SUS-150622-084927001

“Another picture of a town band is on display in the Plough public house in Three Bridges and this picture is of the Crawley Temperance League Town Band.

“It seems ironic that this photo is now on display in a pub!”

The details of three of the men are:

● D Duffell, driver, Army Service Corps, 29th Div. Train. Died on September 4 1915, aged 20. Service No: T/35424. He was the son of George and Emily Duffell, of Chapel Lane, Charlwood, Horley. His grave can be found at the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery.

● Charles Alfred James Rice, Serjeant, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), 1st Battalion. Died on January 29 1919, aged 27. Service No: L/9464. He was the son of James and Ann Hannah Rice, of Malthouse Road, Crawley; husband of Nellie Rice, of 13, Malthouse Road, Crawley.

His grave can be found at the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille.

● William Henry Clark (listed as Clarke in some places). Rifleman S/5620, 10th Battalion, Rifle Brigade. 20th Division. Killed in action on the Somme September 3 1916. Born in Buckswood, Ifield, and enlisted in Holborn. Next of kin Balham, South London. Clarinet player in Crawley Town Band. Father William Clark from Handcross. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at

2) Like our Facebook page at

3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.