History of the Warsash Band

The place

Located at the mouth of the river Hamble, Warsash was a small timber and fishing port and also a landing-place for the Hamble-Warsash ferry - an important link in an historic route between Portsmouth and Southampton. The area became notable in the nineteenth century for its strawberry growing.

Warsash

At the crossroads in the centre of the village there is an unusual clocktower built in about 1900. This is an example of Warsash's Edwardian building and prosperity, when people came from miles around for crab and lobster and strawberry teas. Hook, located nearby, was of earlier importance, as a 'dockyard' in the Hundred Years War; it later became The Hook Estate of the Hornby family. More recently Warsash has grown to be one of the many suburbs in the Portsmouth to Southampton corridor.

The band

Warsash Band 1990

There has been a village band in Warsash since 1918. Although that original band only played together for about five years there has been a more or less continuous history of music making in Warsash village since that early beginning.

The present band can trace its history back to 1981, when a chance conversation led to regular meetings of eight brass players from two families. This initial core quickly expanded as other children joined in the music making, conducted in living room rehearsals by local teacher Moira Leigh.

By 1982, helped by the arranging skills of lead trumpeter Ray Alberry, the band was performing as Warsash Brass at local fetes. The following year, as the band continued to grow, rehearsals moved to St Mary's Church, where they are still held today. When Moira moved out of the area in 1984, Ray agreed to take over as Director of Music. His experience with the Royal Marines Band Service and conducting the Fareham Youth Wind Band, which he co-founded in 1970, proved invaluable and the next few years saw the band grow in strength and quality.

Concert programme 1990

During its first decade, the original core of brass players were gradually bolstered by an increasing number of woodwind players, eventually leading to the new name of "The Warsash Band". The next major step forward for the band was the appointment of Dave Gasser. His contacts from his army band days allowed him to massively expand the band's library. This attracted more players on all brass and woodwind instruments, leading eventually to the thriving wind band we see today. Jon Audain's appointment as Director of Music in 2014 brought a new energy to the band and has ensured a bright future for many years to come.