The Warkworth Brass Band has played the National Anthem through the reign of five monarchs and a display of band memorabilia can be viewed at the Warkworth and Districts Museum. The following tells the story of the early days of the band in a letter written in the 1950’s by William McElroy (1877-1969) to Mrs Rose Carroll.
“I joined the band after it had been in existence some six weeks and was introduced to the baritone. Thomas Bear was living in a bushman’s camp with his brother and it was to there I repaired to receive my first lesson. I recall the night vividly and with much delight, rejoicing that I could play Nellie Bly (sic) although none of my family were musical.
“The members of the band in the days of long ago were Cornets John Taylor, Alf & Will Clements, Geoff Trevicich, Robert Morrison, Peter Thomson, myself baritone, George Snook bass drum, Malcolm Morrison euphonium, Hughie Thomson and H Grice trombone, Willie Warin and Trant Bradnam tenor horn, Alf Rayner B flat bass, Edmund Blucher bass and Connely the kettle drum.
“We met for practice in the old Town Hall and from that position made ourselves heard far and wide. As loyal citizens we played God Save The Queen (Victoria) and for Dr. Shoesmith’s benefit his favourite After the Ball. Once a month Bandmaster Hunter from Auckland Garrison came by steamer to the Warkworth Hotel to give us two days’ tuition. The hotel charged one shilling for each service. One could enjoy two meals, a bed, your boots cleaned and two horse feeds for five shillings.
“When those sweet old music hall songs came into being Tom Bear transposed them to band parts and we played Daisy Bell, Sweet Marie and Maggie Murphy doing them full justice. Those were the days when, in winter, it would take an hour to travel five miles. We were just boys, so on the way home we would give our senorita a few bars of Bay of Biscay or disturb some farmer from his well earned rest.
“Tom and Charlie Bear went to the Calgoolie gold fields from which they escaped with their lives but no gold and they didn’t come back to Warkworth. Geoff Trevicich left to train as an engineer. Members were drifting away and I myself moved too far away to attend practice. “It seems strange to be relating these happenings of 60-70 years ago. I am the only one left, an old stump on the hillside. I wonder if my old baritone is still usable.”