History of the 13th Bromley Boys' Brigade Band

"The Pacemakers Drum and Bugle Corps"

1952 - 2016

The Band was originally formed in the early 1950's as the 13th Chislehurst and District Boys' Brigade Band playing traditional Bb Bugles. The Company Minutes of the 2nd Dec 1948 recorded that the very first instruments, two Bb Bugles were purchased at that time.

 

1st March 1950:  The very first financial contributions were made towards a Company Band Fund.

 

12th April 1951: First discussions were held regarding the purchase of second-hand equipment for the formation of the Company Band.

 

17th April 1952: Band Instructor Ron Eden agreed to commence bugle lessons for Company members.

 

9th May 1952: Six new Bb bugles were purchased at a cost of £23-17s-0d which at the time was regarded as very satisfactory.

 

2nd July 1952: Ron Eden reported that the Band was progressing well and a drum class had also been started.

 

6th November 1952: The very first Bass Drum was purchased.

 

22nd January 1953: Two new Side Drums were purchased at a total cost of £18 and the first band subscriptions were introduced at a cost of 3d per week for each member. 

8th February 1953: First ever appearance of the Company Band at the monthly Church Parade.

 

13th December 1953: The Band led the Brigade Battalion Church Parade for the very first time.

 

12th May 1955: Ron Eden presented a Silver Bugle to commemorate The Band's success at its first ever Boys' Brigade Battalion Band Competition.

 

By the late 1950's and early 1960's the Band had grown in both numbers and standard, taking part in many local and London District BB Competitions.

 

It was in 1965 that the name of the 13th Bromley Company first appeared, when the Greater London Boroughs changed their names and the old Chislehurst and District became the new Bromley Battalion.

How many family connections can you find to the current Pacemakers?

Saturday May 11th 1968 "Blow The Horn, Bang The Drum" were the Evening Standard Newspaper Headlines as the combined bands of the 13th Bromley Boys' Brigade and 1st Mary Cray Girls' Brigade played for the very first time at the Boys' Brigade London District Display at the Royal Albert Hall. The following year (1969) they were also asked to play again at the Girls' Brigade Annual Rally.

During the summer of 1971 the Band entered it's very first non-Boys' Brigade competition: "The Kent Band Championships" at Maidstone. This required a totally new concept of drill routines and music. Much to everyone's surprise the Band won that first contest.

6th November 1971: The Bugle Team was invited to play at the 'BOYS IN TUNE' concert at Central Hall Westminster under the direction of the internationally famous conductor, Harry Mortimer OBE. They performed the opening piece of music 'Bugle Command' with the London District Boys' Brigade Brass Band.

The 1971 live audio recording of 'Bugle Command' can be heard by clicking the "Play Button"

April 1974 Saw the "Charge of The Boys' Brigade" as it was reported by the local newspaper at that time, when 90 Boys from the 13th Bromley Company participated in the making of a National Boys' Brigade recruiting film called "The Pacemakers" from which the Band later took it's now famous name.

The newspaper article of 17th April 1974 can be found in the media section In those early years our aim was to be the best Boys' Brigade Band in London. After many unsuccessful attempts we eventually achieved this by winning “The Devonshire Cup” at the Royal Albert Hall on two successive occasions in1974 and 1975, obtaining one of the highest scores ever recorded.

The Boys' Brigade London District Display at the Royal Albert Hall saw the Pacemakers perform in 1974, 1975, 1977 and 1979. It was reported that these were some of the "Finest Performances Ever Seen"  by a Bb bugle band.

Additional photographs can be found in the media section. Below the live audio recordings from the Royal Albert Hall performances of 1977 and 1979 which are two of the very last recordings ever made of the "Pacemakers" performing on Bb bugles. Press the "Play Buttons"

                                           1977                                                                              1979   

1975 We took part in the Lord Mayor's Show in the City of London.

1977 Saw us participate in the Queen's Silver Jubilee display in Windsor Great Park and the Queen's Parade in Central London.

30th April 1977 BB Nationals Bugle Winners

1978 The Pacemakers were growing in numbers and additional transport was required. An agreement with a local DIY retail business was made to use their yellow promotional coach named 'Basil Bus'

 

September 1979 The Pacemakers performed in Trafalgar Square as part of the Boys' Brigade recruiting campaign 'First for Boys'.

Marching into the 80's saw some major changes when we switched from our traditional Boys' Brigade Bb bugles to American 'G' valve bugles. In the media section you will find "Pacemaking into the 80's". One of the very last recordings ever made of the Pacemakers playing Bb Bugles, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1979

 

In 1980 we became one of the founder members of Drum Corps United Kingdom (DCUK)) and to this day we are the only original corps still performing. Participating at the first ever Drum Corps UK finals at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium saw the Pacemakers take 6th place.

This was also the year in which we performed in the EMI film “The Mirror Cracked" directed by Guy Hamilton and starring along side international film stars; Angela Lansbury, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin, Edward Fox and Tony Curtis. Plus a very young Pierce Brosnan in one of his film screen debuts. The screenplay required us to temporarily revert back to the 1950's with our old Bb Bugles and uniforms of that era. 

Essential time-out for a souvenir photograph with international film star Kim Novak. A video clip from the "Mirror Cracked" can be found in the media section which was filmed on location at the St. Clere Estate, Heaverham, Kent,

 

During the early 1980's we became members of the British Youth Band Association (BYBA)

 

1981 The Pacemakers participated at the International Festival of Marching Bands, held in the Wembley Arena and performed at the old Wembley Stadium for an England v Northern Ireland School Boys' International Football Match.

 

We took a year out from BYBA competitions in 1983 and, together with the visiting James B Conant High School Band from Illinois USA, performed a joint display for that season. The arrangements were taken from the Broadway Musical ‘Chorus Line'.

1989 The Pacemakers brass line played the opening fanfare for the Royal World Charity Premiere of "The Return of the Musketeers" at the Odeon Cinema Leicester Square, in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of York.

1990 The Pacemakers' brass line again played for the Royal Family at a fanfare for Her Royal Highness, the Queen Mother at the re-opening of the Imperial War Museum in London.

 

The Band's success continued during the 1990's at the Boys' Brigade National Band Championships, twice becoming Supreme Champions, plus reaching the British Youth Band Association Finals at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena and the British Marching Band Championships at Wembley Arena, in both 1990 and 1995.

 

The Corps gained promotion to the BYBA Championship Class in 1990 and the Premier Class in 1995. Also the year in which the Corps were invited to participate in the Europa Cup which was held in Lier, Belgium and they achieved a creditable 5th place against bands from Holland, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium. That same year we also performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the Victory in Europe 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Hyde Park.

1st January 1996 we participated in the 10th New Year's Day Parade in Central London.

In 1998 we held the 13th's Company's 50th Birthday Party inviting many past and present members. It was an evening to be remembered and rekindled many old friendships. By 2002 the Band was now being led by three young Company Officers who had all joined the Band at 12 years of age Stuart, Kieran and Ian and with their enthusiasm and leadership we became The Boys' Brigade National Supreme Champions for the third time in 2003.

By the end of the 1990's, girls from our Girls' Brigade Company (1st St. Mary Cray) had, for the very first time, become musicians in the Corps although, from the early years, had always participated as part of the Pacemaker's Colour and Rifle Guards. This was a period during which the Corps was rebuilding for the new millennium.

Since 2000 we have seen an increase in playing members and improving performances. This was demonstrated by gaining promotion to BYBA Division II, winning the BYBA Division III Finals and both the Boys' Brigade National Supreme and Show Case Competitions for the third time in 2003.

2004 saw us performing for a number of years in front of the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, as part of the Boys' Brigade London District Display.

By 2005 we had returned to the Boys' and Girls' Brigade National Band Championships in Stoke and were now competing in Division II of BYBA Championships. We also welcomed and hosted the DFDS National Youth Brass Band from Denmark, the Danish equivalent of the Boys' and Girls' Brigades. They performed at several concerts during their tour of the UK as well as accompanying us and playing at the Boys' Brigades London show at the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

 

2006 The Pacemakers competed at the Boys' Brigade London District Band Championships winning the Open Class Championship for the 6th consecutive year, plus the Boys' and Girls' Brigade National Band Championships again winning both the Indoor Open Class Championship and Outdoor Showcase Finals as undefeated National Champions since 2001. The Brigade Nationals also saw the Pacemakers in new custom made uniforms, their first in ten years, which had been purchased direct from the USA.

2007 The Pacemakers undertook some major fund raising which enabled us to refurbish the pit percussion and purchase a completely new brass line.

2008 saw the Corps playing Bb instruments, the first occasion since 1980 when we first switched to valve instruments plus celebrating the 13th Bromley Company's Sixtieth Birthday with an Anniversary Reunion on the 10th May 2008. On Saturday 31st May 2008 we were invited to participate at the London BB Stedfast Associations commemoration of the Boys' Brigades 125th Anniversary, as the oldest uniformed youth organisation in the world. The celebrations taking place at the Historic Dockyards in Chatham, Kent.

In 2009 we were invited to participate in the Drum Corps United Kingdom Finals as part of the 30 years celebration since the organisations inception, being the only UK Drum Corps still active from the original corps membership of 1980. This subsequently has lead to a resurgence and now regular participation in the DCUK Championships. In 2015 The Pacemakers won their very first DCUK 'A' Class Championships and were runners-up in the inaugural Drum Line Battle. 2016 saw the Corps attain their highest ever recorded score in over 35 years and again runners-up in the:-  DCUK's Drumline Battle.​

During the past seven decades the list of achievements and events have been too numerous to mention them all. It’s been a very exciting time and through it all we are still very proud to be traditional Brigade Company's' representing The Boys’ Brigade and Girls' Brigade in St. Mary Cray.

 

Lieutenant Ray Westbrook

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