Background;    1839    Piston valve invented for brass instruments 

This is a brief account of the JIB's history.  We take you back to our begings then right up to where we are now.  We’ll be adding to it as information is gleaned from old newspaper reports, etc.

1854 - Jedforest Instrumental Band was formed because, as the Minute of the founding meeting records,  “A Feeling having been expressed by a number of the Inhabitants of Jedburgh favourable to the formation of an Instrumental Band, a few Individuals have furnished themselves with Instruments with which, and with a few belonging to the town, they have been practising for a few months under the Tuition of Mr Lockwood, who for a trifling remuneration has attended them to this time; to enable them to continue his attendance and a few though much wanted Instruments they have been encouraged to solicit a Public Subscription”. 

1856 - Reported that a great proportion of the income came from the members.  A number of the instruments were the property of the members, and a further public subscription was called for to purchase a full set of instruments. 

Reported that “On New Year’s Day Galashiels Town Band favoured us with a visit, and paraded our streets playing some of their favourite tunes.  In the evening they were joined by our Instrumental Band and escorted out of the town, both joining in the same tune which they executed very well”.  The band played for the arrival of the railway (the North British Railway Company). 

1857 – Jedburgh Border Games – at 6am the band “struck up a stirring air and, paraded the streets to the immense delight and satisfaction of a whole host of small boys, prematurely hurried from bed for the occasion”.  At 9.30am a procession marched from the Ramparts up Castlegate to the moor-ground (at the Dunion, near to the present golf course) led by the band, alternately playing with the Pipe band. 

1858 – Concert in Spread Eagle “The band appeared to be in excellent order, and executed the various pieces in the programme with precision and good taste.  We had not heard their performances for some time, and were agreeably surprised at the progress which they have made.  Indeed, we cannot speak too highly of their training, which reflects the greatest credit upon their conductor”  “Courtesy entitles Miss St Clair [one of the guest singers] to our first notice; would that we could impartially give her the first place as regards her performances, but we cannot do so…..the best advice we can give to this lady, is that she should devote her talents to instrumental music”.  “Of Mr McLagan’s capabilities it is not easy to speak………his style of performance does not legitimately belong to the concert room – it is quite out of place”. 

1859 - Concert in Spread Eagle. “The Band played remarkably well, the fact of their having got through Handell’s Hallelujah Chorus with great precision and accuracy, evidencing in no small degree their rapid progress…….  We cannot close this notice without referring to the disgraceful conduct of some youths sitting in the middle of the room and at the side of a window who amused themselves by throwing about orange peel to the annoyance of the audience generally.  We cannot expect laddies to patronise our concerts if this is allowed to continue and we would strongly recommend that on the next occasion one or 2 policemen be stationed in the room to preserve order.” 

1860 - The band paid a visit to Hawick on Saturday evening and played some fine tunes on the streets. Their performances were greeted with loud cheers by the large crowds that soon collected.  Unanimous opinion in the town was that the Jedburgh Band greatly surpasses  Hawick Saxhorn in the style and general effect of their performance 

The band paid a visit to Lord and Lady Lothian at Monteviot House on Saturday evening, who said that they would always give the band their support in the future. 

The band were given a donation of £3 [equivalent to £370 now], and entertained to a supper and dance in the hall “during which a number of appropriate toasts were proposed, and after spending a most agreeable evening, the band wound up the entertainment by playing the National Anthem and proceeded home, no doubt highly delighted with the evening’s proceedings”.

The Instrumental Band some sixteen in number, have now become members of the 1st Roxburghshire Rifle Corps 

1864 - The town’s annual summer trip by rail to Edinburgh took place on Saturday last, when above 600 took advantage of it.  The train left here about 6am, and returned after 10pm, and both journeys were without incident.  Being accompanied by our Instrumental Band, the trip attracted considerable attention both here and in Edinburgh, crowds following as they marched along.  The reveille was not so acceptable to the lieges here, as fifes and drums are anything but helps to somnolence at four o’clock in the morning. 

Concert “The members of the Band will feel obliged if parties will prevent children from disturbing the performance.” 

1870 – Robert Hogg (1st Soprano) had lost his front teeth, and had got them replaced so that he might still play.   The Committee felt that “as he might have done without them but for the band”, they agreed to pay for the said teeth out of Band funds, at a cost of £1. 

1888 – The first set of uniforms were purchased. 

1889 – The Treasurer explained the Band’s exceptionally good bank balance by saying that “ it was not every year that they had a Carnegie passing through the town and donating them £5 [£480 now]”.    That is, Sir Andrew Carnegie the American millionaire.  The money was used for the Band trip. 

1899 – Band accompanies town trip to Loch Lomond.  700 went by train, took 6 hours each way.  Band photographed at Inversnaid Falls [see also 1999]. 

1895 – “The Secretary gave a report of a meeting held in Edinburgh for the purpose of holding a Brass Band Association for Scotland which Mr A Oliver and he had attended as representing the Committee.  It was resolved to join this Association”. [ie the Scottish Amateur Brass Band Association]  The band organised a contest in Jedburgh.  It attracted 12 bands (one from Fife).  “The Kirkcaldy Band were in a difficulty about one of their Players who had not the six weeks probation, and that they had not finally settled about entering.  It was agreed that if any Band would take objection to the Kirkcaldy player, that the Committee protect this Band against any Protest that may be lodged, provided he was one of their old members rejoined”. 

1904 – The band decided not to have a concert in celebration of the band jubilee. 

1905 – Band had an overdraft of £7 [so not a new phenomenon!] 

1907 – The Minutes report that “it had always been a difficulty that young men who were members of the Band had to leave the town for employment elsewhere” 

1911 – Local Ministers were criticised by the band for not attending Sunday concerts. 

1912 – Jock Tamson’s uncle died on the way back from a band performance at Bedrule.  He fell into a burn and drowned.  June 13th.  Aged 38. 

1914 to 1918 – In all, 33 players had gone to fight in 1st World War; 6 had been killed.  Vacancies had been filled by young players - in 1918 there were 19 players. 

1921 – Conductor’s annual salary increased from £12 to £20 a year.  [That’s worth  £900 now]

1922 – Band received two legacies of £100 each [worth the equivalent of £4,500 each now].

1925 – The Conductor reported that it would greatly improve the tone of the band if another instrument was added – a bass trombone.  [Today, it is hard to imagine a band without one]. 

1929 – The band had 24 players, despite 3 leaving during the year.  The band was able to obtain 2 players from the new Rayon mill.  Practices were well attended, with an average of 18 players at each one. 

1930 – It had been arranged that a programme be played in the grounds of Queen Mary’s House, but had been cancelled because the young grass was not at that time in a fit condition to be trodden on.    The band was requested to pay £1 to the newly formed Performing Rights Society. 

1933 – Newspaper headlines : “A slur on the band” “ Members angry over a letter” “Conductor resigns”.  The letter from a Committee member said that the band was not run on the same lines as formerly.  The Committee member resigned.  [Nothing changes!] 

1936 – The band were making about 25 public appearances a year.  [About half as much as we do nowadays].  The band was funded mainly by public subscription, with the official Collector going round the houses of the town. He received 5% of the amount collected. 

1937 – It was commented by the conductor how difficult it was to train young lads to the state of proficiency one desired.  [Again nothing changes!] 

1939 – Only 12 players in the band in August [because of the 2nd World War], but another 8 had been recruited since then.  The Conductor said that he impressed the need for practice, especially on the younger players; they should stick in and play not only on practice nights but all week.  “Ten minutes at dinner time [that’s our present day lunch time] and after tea was a wonderful help to a young player, if consistently carried out daily”. 

1940 – It was decided to take the door to door collection in the spring because of the Blackout [2nd World War].  Since the outbreak of war, 17 players had left the band for service with the Armed Forces.  Even so, the band had 25 members. 

1942 – The youngest band ever in Jedburgh; the ages of the principal players averaged 16 years.  Since 1939, they had lost what practically amounted to a band in itself. 

1946 – The band was gifted a euphonium from an anonymous donor, this being the third instrument the person had donated. 

1949 – The band appears in its new uniform : “one of the Band’s finest hours”. 

1950 – The band would enter a contest at Brampton (apparently the first contest the band took part in since the 1890s).  The committee agreed to provide the costs, on condition the band was willing to practice 2 hours a night for 4 nights a week until the contest, which was in 2 week’s time.  The band performed very creditably – only a few points behind the overall winner which had carried off all the prizes (and which had recently been promoted into the 2nd section).  

1952 – The anonymous donor had now gifted 7 new instruments to the band.  Still anonymous, to this day. 

1954 – The band’s Centenary year in 1954 was celebrated in a major way, with a formal Dinner in the Town Hall attended by band members and supporters and national figures in brass banding; entertainment was provided, including the British champion trombone quartet.  At a massed bands concert of 150 players at Riverside Park, six borders bands participated, each one marching from the band’s premises (now Athol Court in the Castlegate) through the town; the day culminated with the playing of hymns by the bands in the Square.  A bass drum was presented by Charles Renilson, the Provost of Forfar (a former JIB player) whose band we had a close association with for many years.   

A Mr J Young [actually, the recent President of the band] “proposed that attempts be made to organise the band with a view to competing in contests in the coming year”.  1956 – The Rayon mill closes, putting almost 1,000 people out of work. The band suffers heavy losses through many players leaving the town for work elsewhere.   The Conductor, Mr John Hewie, was made an Honorary Burgess of the town (previous recipients included Robert Burns).  

1957 – “A Disastrous Year” because of the steady stream of men leaving the town to seek work elsewhere. 

1958 – “Another Disappointing Year” with more band members leaving the town.  The band appeared only 10 times in public. 

1960 – Conductor appeals for better practice attendances - a “waste of time” to hold practices with only 6-12 present.  1961 – The first female players in the band.  1962 – A quartet from the band had come only two points behind the Scottish Champions at a contest.

1964 – Mr John Hewie, the Bandmaster retires through ill health.  Apart from a short period in the 1930s, he had conducted the band since 1908.  He died a few months later.  The band pays for and erects his gravestone (as it had done for the previous Conductors). 

1969 – The band wins the 4th Section Championship.  The band competes at the National Championships in the Albert Hall, London.  Conductor Mr David Young.  1971 – Band moves into new premises, built mainly by band members. 

1975 – A new set of instruments were purchased, funded by the Town Council.  1979 – Band’s 125th  year celebrations.  A Dinner Dance.  An LP recording of the band playing was issued. 

1982 – New set of uniforms purchased. 

1984 – Much discussion by the Band Committee about the (bad) behaviour of children in the band. 

1993 - A formal complaint from the young players, that they were left to walk around Peebles for 3-4 hours because the older players were desperate to get to the pub.  

1996 – The band is getting progressively weaker, with players leaving and very few young players joining.  The Committee agrees to set up a group which will recruit players.1997 – Jedforest takes the lead in re-forming the Borders Brass Band Association.

1998 – Band gets new set of instruments and uniforms. 

1999 – Band re-creates visit of 100 years ago to Inversnaid Falls.  

In an interview for new conductor.  Mr John Young says to a Mr Alan Fernie “you’re obviously a great composer and arranger, but do you have any experience of brass bands?”  Alan subsequently was our Musical Director for 8 years, taking us up to the 2nd Section.

2000 – Purchase of new Band Hall.

2001 – Opening of new Band Hall by HRH The Princess Royal.  Band wins several trophies at contests.  A Junior Band exists for the first time in band’s history, and wins 1st prize in the first contest it enters. 

2002 – Band is promoted to 3rd Section for only the 2nd time in its history coming 2nd at the Scottish Championships in Motherwell and Plays in  British National Championships in Torquay coming 13th from 20 bands  Conductor Mr Alan Fernie.

2003 – The Training band, Abbey Brass (Jedforest) are under-16s Scottish Youth Champions.  Conductor Mr Cameron Mabon

2004 – The sesquicentenary year (150th anniversary of the band’s founding)..  Band is promoted to 2rd Section for the 1st time in its history.  Conductor Mr Alan Fernie.  ‘Junior Band’ is renamed ‘Abbey Brass (Jedforest)’ and registered as a 4th Section competing band.  Comes 2nd in the 4th Section at the Borders Entertainment Contest.  Conductor Mr Cameron Mabon. 

Jedforest Instrumental Band, in its first contests in the 2nd Section, comes 2nd at the Whitburn Invitation Contest and 1st in the Borders Entertainment Contest.  Conductor Mr Alan Fernie.  Funding secured for a commemorative Bandstand and Park in the centre of the town. 

Some 75 Musicians of all ages are involved at some level of the band as a Band Buddies section is formed to facilitate the grass routes players. All 3 bands turn out and perform through out the year.

2005 – The commemorative bandstand and park is formally opened by HRH The Princess Royal.  Concerts performed for her by Abbey Brass Jedforest and Jedforest Instrumental.  A letter sent on her behalf describes the bands as “seriously talented musicians, young and old”. 

The training band win the U 16 Scottish Youth championshipsonce again - Conductor Cameron Mabon

2010 – The band is relegated to the 3rd Section.

2011 – The band narrowly misses promotion to 2nd Section under MD Phil Rosier (adjudicators say there was little between the first 3 bands).

2012 - Conducted by Phil Rosier, the band win the 3rd Section of the Scottish Championships by a margin of 3 clear points and go on to a 5th place finish at the British Championships in Cheltenham. Flugel Horn player, Stuart Black, also wins the Best Instrumentalist prize.

2015 - The band win the 2nd Section of the Scottish Championships, the best result in the bands history, and follow it up 13th at the British Championships.  The following year the band finish 9th in the 1st section, the 1st time the band has ever competed at this level, but sadly were relegated back down to the 2nd section.

2017 - The band clean up in the Borders Entertainment Contest, which was held in Jedburgh, picking up Best band, Best 2nd Section, Best Borders band, Best Percussion, Best Instrumentalist (Hamish McRitchie - Horn) and Most Entertaining Band.  The Band was conducted by Phil Rosier.

2019 - The training band, Abbey Brass (Jedforest) win the Scottish Youth Championships Novice section, this follows on from a 2nd place the previous year - Conductor - Stuart Black

2020 - funding to replace the roof of the band hall is secured.