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Although John Robert Tidswell was the conductor for for less than two years, his personal as well as professional life is well documented.
So too was his success - including the victory at the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Wrexham in August 1876, which led to Tredegar Town Band becoming formally constituted.
Tidswell is first mentioned in a report from the South Wales Daily News in September 1875 as, ‘ … a newcomer, and, as a performer on the cornet, has few equals in the Principality’, in a concert at St George’s Church, Tredegar.
In October 1875 the Western Mail reported on the possibility of a ‘playing match’ between him and a rival, Mr Davies of Ebbw Vale Band, to find out who should be considered the ‘cornetto primo of the hills’.
Born in Carlisle in 1845, he was married
three times and had six sons and three daughters.
He was married a third time (to Eliza Stacey) by the time he arrived Tredegar in 1876, but by 1881 was living in Llanberis in north Wales and was recorded as being a ‘Bandmaster’.
Until 1885 he conducted the Llanrug Royal Band, being paid £10 per month. In 1881 he conducted the Corris Band (north Wales) into second place at the Merthyr Tydfil Eisteddfod in a competition that featured an unsuccessful Tredegar Band led by his successor Tom Hardy.
In later years he moved to Prescot in Lancashire (noted in the 1891 census), eventually settling in Liverpool, where he died, aged 82 in September 1927.
The image is taken from the 1881 Census for the parish of Llanberis near Caernavon, where Tidswell lived at 2, Lorn House with his wife, 3 sons, daughter and servant. His occupation is noted as 'Bandmaster'.
The image was provided courtesy of the Gwent Archives in Ebbw Vale.
The aim of this Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported project is to provide an on-line multi-media resource that will celebrate and interpret the historical importance of the social, cultural and musical achievements of Tredegar Town Band over a time-line of the past 170 years – from the earliest reported origins in 1849 to date.