The Band Re-emerges
In September 1910, Pontardulais holds another successful Brass Band Competition, this time under the auspices of the Mechanics Institute, at the infamous Palace Skating Rink (Pontardulais even had it’s own Roller Hockey Team at one time!). Six brass bands entered, including Cwmamman Silver Band, Brynamman Territorial Band and Penygroes Silver Band. The test piece was ‘Pride of Wales’. Pontardulais Brass Band again fails to make an appearance, however a certain Mr D. Lewis (our earlier letter writer) was secretary of the event.
Finally, after a break of around 13 years (with the exception of the ‘Notorious Mafeking Band’), Pontardulais Brass Band sparks back to life with a reference in the village news section of the ‘Herald of Wales and Monmouthshire Recorder’ on January 10th 1914: “We are pleased to report the brass band did exceedingly well in all respects over the holidays”. Whatever ‘respects’ the article references, from this time onwards the Pontardulais Brass Band are BACK with some considerable purpose and drive. They have ahead of them some extremely busy and successful years.
The new band kicks off proceedings on the last day of February 1914 with a St. David’s Day Parade. The Carmarthen Weekly Reporter reports the following: “Scenes of enthusiasm were witnessed at Pontardulais, when over 1,200 school children, headed by a a lad dressed as Dewi Sant, followed by a (gaily decorated) goat and the Pontardulais Brass Band (conducted by Mr Leyshon Davies) paraded the streets. Hundreds of girls and some of the boys were dressed in the old picturesque Welsh costume. All afterwards assembled at Haggar’s Picture Palace, and went through a programme of Welsh airs under the leadership of Mr W. Joliffe Harris and Miss M. A. Lewis. An address was given by Alderman Rees Harries, Mr George Thomas gave selections on the harp, and little Nesta Thomas sang Penillion”.
The following week, the ‘Herald of Wales and Monmouthshire Recorder’ publishes an article congratulating the Pontardulais Town Band on a successful debut at their first public engagement. It writes: “Under the conductorship of Mr. R. Leyshon Davies, A.C., they discoursed sweet selections, which charmed their auditors. This body of instrumentalists with perseverance and practice, should cover itself with glory, and that in the near future. It is proposed to establish the band on a thoroughly sound businesslike basis, and we are sure we but re-echo the sentiments of the bandsmen themselves when we say that the sooner this is done the better”.
The band parade through the streets of Pontardulais once again on Good Friday of April that year, leading the railwaymen of Pontardulais from Red Lion square to the Woodlands football ground. Herald of Wales 18th April report: “a bright and sporting soccer game between the representatives of Gowerton and Pontardulais railwaymen resulted in a win for the Pontardulais Railwaymen by three goals to one. Then came a welcome and dainty tea, splendidly served at the Mechanics’ Institute by the wives and daughters, The whole day’s effort was crowned by an enormously successful concert held at the Public Hall”.
Pontardulais Band seemed to enjoy a march around the ‘Bont’ as they were at it again in June 1914. Although no reason is given for the parade, it would be no surprise if the sole purpose was to show off the new set of instruments they had recently acquired. It seems the locals were impressed as the Cambria newspaper reports “the new instruments excited universal favourable comment”.
In early August 1914, the last few days before the world changed forever, Pontardulais enjoys its Agricultural Show. There are record entries, the weather is lovely and newspapers report the Pontardulais Town Band “discoursed sweet music during the day”. Pontardulais must have had little idea of the horrors that were to come, and the losses they would endure. For the band, their services would be required like never before.