In 1837 when a young Queen Victoria had just taken her seat on the throne, a Drum and Fife band was set up in Scholar Green. They led local parishioners to Astbury Church and would later become Rode Hall Silver Band. The original bass drum can still be seen today, although the earliest photograph dates from 1880.
Mr. Henry Pierpoint (Senior) conducted the band from 1880-1920 and later passed the title down to his son Mr. Len Pierpoint. Many members of the Pierpoint family were involved in the band, at one time making up 14 of the players.
Rode Hall Band continued to thrive under Fred Pierpoint, but many players had been called up to fight in the first world war and sadly never returned. The band played on though with just 16 payers, carrying out engagements at garden parties and marches. They played at Henry Pierpoint’s funeral at Rode Church in 1925, and Sir Randle Baker Wilbraham’s wedding in 1930.
The Second World War left the band even more depleted in numbers and it eventually folded. However, in 1946 the band was reformed following discussions between Mr. Tim Williamson, Mr. Albert Pierpoint and Mr. William Roberts. The Baker Wilbraham family kindly allowed the band to rehearse in the British Legion reading room, and the band has rehearsed there ever since. Rode Hall Band was thriving again and new instruments were purchased, new music was played and new members came along.
By the 1960’s many older and experienced players were joined by younger blood, and in 1962 Mr. Eric Francis was given the task of training the band up to its former standard. By 1967 the band was doing well under the conductor Jim Bailey and performed at many garden fetes, community centres and Churches.
From when Rode Hall Silver Band was reformed after the war, Mr. William Roberts (Bill) was a key and valued player. He was awarded a British Empire Medal in 1992-1993 for his services to the band, and had two booklets published on the band’s history; documenting names, events and photographs right from 1837. He created a display of the band’s history in 1994 which was held in Alsager and Kidsgrove libraries. Bill was honoured by the band by being made a lifetime member and many players today still have fond memories of him. When Bill sadly passed away in 2012 he was buried at Rode Church wearing with pride a band jacket.
The village of Astbury has had a long history with the band, right from when the Drum and Fife players led people to the Church, to the present Astbury May Day festival. Each year Rode Hall Silver Band lead the procession from Astbury St. Mary’s C of E Primary School to the Parish Church, and play traditional folk tunes for the children to dance round the May Pole.
The Baker Wilbraham family at Rode Hall still have a connection with Rode Hall Silver Band, with Lady Baker Wilbraham being the band president. The history of Rode Hall itself pre-dates the original Drum and Fife band by many years, but their histories have always been interlinked with players performing at various social occasions. The magnificent Hall has served as a backdrop for many band photographs over the years.
Rode Hall Silver Band has always enjoyed playing at local events, but until 2000 they had never entered any contests to see how they performed alongside other local brass bands. Under the conductor Roy Sparks the Band entered a competition in Stone, Staffordshire, and sure enough they won first place! This was a proud moment in the band’s history, and this first trophy still graces the shelves of the bandroom alongside many others.
Rode Hall has had many conductors over the years, and each one has contributed to the success and development of the band. (see list) In early 2012 Dr. Nigel Butler took up the baton and has led the band at several contests in Blackpool, Buxton, Leicester, Wychavon and Preston. The most recent success came in October 2016 with a runners up prize at the Wychavon Festival of Brass. Standards are rising fast and the engagement calendar is getting full! The band has come a long way since it began nearly 200 years ago, and hopes to continue for many more years to come.