31st March 1849
Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper
One of the very first reports of a band came in an article written about the opening of a new rolling mill at Samuel Homfray’s Tredegar Ironworks.
The correspondent described the occasion thus: ‘Probably there never has been, in the history of these important and extensive works, a circumstance which excited such an unusual amount of public interest, as the opening of the stupendous and powerful new rolling mill
To regard it as merely an ordinary event, and accord to it simply the brief and passing notice generally bestowed upon such circumstances would not merely he doing an injustice to an occurrence vastly important in its associations and results
With regard to the mill itself, which, from the time the foundation was laid to the period of its opening, has been watched with great anxiety by the good people of Tredegar we think it may well be regarded as among the most perfect pieces of machinery ever put together.’
Such an event required a display befitting an ambitious ironmaster, as the report went on to state:
All the shops in the town were closed and everything wore the appearance of a holiday; flags, evergreens, floral festoons, met the eye at every turn and the banners at some of the principal inns were of a very chaste and appropriate character.
Thousands of persons from all parts of the country poured into the town from all early hour in the morning; and the smiling and happy faces of the vast multitude assembled, showed that an event of extraordinary interest was about to be celebrated.
Cannons were fired from an early hour, and bright hopes were inspired by the opening of an auspiciously fine day, that nothing would arise to mar the pleasures of the occasion.
About twelve o'clock a procession was formed in the Circle, headed by Mr. Homfray's band. The procession, which was of immense length, consisted of the committee, the tradesmen of Tredegar, six abreast: eight lodges of Odd Fellows, of the Manchester Unity, bearing their wands, wearing the sashes of the order, and carrying banners; several lodges of Ivorites followed; then came tour additional lodges of Odd Fellows: eight Benefit Societies; and a club known as the Old Friends.
There were in the procession altogether 1600 persons connected with various benefit societies.’
Their performances, although not completely unexceptionable, were certainly entitled to warm commendations, especially when it is remembered that many of the players, being constantly employed in the Iron Works, can devote but little time to the acquisition of musical accomplishments - Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper, 1849
Following a speech by Mr. Homfray it was noted that the band gave ‘...a sprightly tune’ before the crowd dispersed.
Later that same evening the band performed at a celebratory dinner for 260 guests at the Town Hall, where it was further reported that, ‘...at the conclusion of the dinner, the Tredegar band stationed themselves in the orchestra; and throughout the evening contributed to the gratification of the assembly.
Their performances, although not completely unexceptionable, were certainly entitled to warm commendations, especially when it is remembered that many of the players, being constantly employed in the Iron Works, can devote but little time to the acquisition of musical accomplishments. Mr. Sewell, the efficient leader of the band, certainly merits the gratitude of the people of Tredegar, for having laboured so successfully in the work of training...’
The evening ended with a toast to Queen Victoria, with the band playing ‘God Save the Queen’.