History of Thames Citizens’ Band


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5.a. Mayoral secret meeting – no more military – end of an era.

In March of 1939 the band registered themselves as “Thames Citizens’ Band Inc.” but kept it quiet until they could clear the debt on their instruments. Perhaps it was a way to keep the band alive if they were made bankrupt. [46] Finally the local council came to the rescue of the very popular band, and after a special band meeting with the mayor and the then Borough Commissioner in December of the same year, the ball began rolling to change this band into a ’division’ of the then Thames Borough Council. [47] The change finally happened at the end of 1941 when the debt was cleared and the band’s instruments were put into trust with the Borough Council under Mayor S.Ensor Esq. and Borough Commissioner Mr A.L.Burk. [98, 99, 100] That same year the 6th Hauraki Regiment was dispersed throughout the N.Z. Second Expeditionary Force and spread far and wide across the earth to various battles in World War II (WWII), and the regiment’s remnant ’1st Battalion’ was sent to Tauranga on garrison duty where they have stayed ever since. [48] The “Thames Citizens’ Band” became officially known as such at the end of 1941 – the final separation between band and military unit. [101]

After all of the stress from this series of events, the then Thames Citizens’ Band Sergeant H.G. Brownlee died in 1942 after 30 years service in the band. He had been with the band since it was the No 2 “Hauraki” Battalion Band. The band’s President at the time, Mr W.B. McDonald, who eulogised Mr Brownlee, had said a year earlier that he himself had been with the band 48 years. So Mr McDonald had been with the band since 1893 when it was still the Thames Naval Brigade Band. He can be seen earlier in this publication in Pic 02 of the Thames Naval Brigade Band of 1901. [102, 103]


5.b. Halls, Uniforms, WW2 celebrations and Girls.

From this time on the Thames Citizens’ Band (formerly 6th Hauraki Regiment Band) often had to leave their old familiar Drill Hall and find their own premises in which to practice every week. They eventually, after much discussion, replaced their uniforms with some ex-Air Force black uniforms. [104, 105, 108] At the end of WWII in 1945 there were many celebrations and the Thames Citizens’ Band was there for the important ones. [106] The Thames Citizens’ Band awarded their first Life Membership in 1946 to the very deserving (previously mentioned) Mr McDonald. [107] The Thames Citizens’ Band flourished for a time being on a much sounder footing financially in 1947 and perhaps because they invited girls to join for the first time - through a newspaper advertisement. [109] [Pic 15] This turned the band’s attention to finding their own Band Hall. They hired the skills of a builder to help them in 1949, and began a building fund as they did not want to get into bad debt again, just as their financially sound forebears The Thames Naval Brigade had paid for what they had themselves. [110] They began performing out in public more around the Coromandel and Hauraki Plains to raise their profile and the much needed funds. They also had their “TCB” hat badges made for them in 1950, which still forms the band’s logo. [111]

PIC 15 – TCB in Ex-Air Force uniforms outside Drill Shed 1947

The Thames Citizens’ Band (TCB) got on with the task of becoming a civilian organisation by forming their constitution in 1950 – accepted in 1951. [112] Almost out of the blue the TCB committee suddenly took it upon themselves to help form a new community organisation despite the financial strain - the Thames Marching Girls, whose head later became the TCB President, and is our current Drum Major, Mrs Ellen Te Aho (2012). The Thames Marching Girls brought a flourish to the bands marching, and to a number of other community events. [113] The band was offered the use of the old Thames Post Office as a Band Hall which they accepted with gratitude in October of 1953. [114] The following year the band started a building sub-committee to put to use their steadily growing Building Fund monies.


5.c. Racing, drinking and Thames Citizens’ Band hall.

At the beginning of 1955 a few of the bandsmen were dismissed and asked to return their instruments and uniforms “immediately” after inappropriate behavior in the old Post Office ’Band Hall.’ There appears to have been cars racing up and down Pollen Street outside the Post Office as well as excessive drinking by these members. [117] Then also that year, after the band had performed a number of times for the Thames Fire Brigade dances, a deal was struck for the purchase of some old Fire Brigade structures on Council land for the new Band Hall at 301a Queen Street, Thames. [115] One of our current Life Members, Don Holden, remembers helping to dig the foundations for this hall at age 13. [2011 Don Holden] The Thames Citizens’ Band Hall was officially opened by the Mayor S. Ensor and Mr I.B. Tremain of the South Auckland Brass Band Association with a march by the Thames Citizens’ Band from the old Post Office down to the current Band Hall on 8th October 1955. [116, 118] The new Band Hall became the property of the Thames District Council officially in 1957 keeping the band and all of its affairs under the council’s wing. [Pic 16]

PIC 16 – TCB Band Hall, 301a Queen Street, Thames

Things appeared to become ’ho-hum’ and ’just-going-through-the-motions’ for a time after this. In 1961 apathy became a big problem for TCB (it was also a problem Thames/Coromandel wide) where members were more interested in having their own internal social gatherings, including drinking large kegs of alcohol, rather than performing in the community as the constitution declared to be their aim. At the end of 1962, the committee even decided to tell the council the Band Hall could not be used for other community groups anymore. [122, 123] Not surprisingly, a new committee was quickly ushered in the following year and appropriate charges were agreed on for the hire of the Thames Citizens’ Band Hall from that time forward. [124, 125] [Pic 17]

PIC 17 – TCB march in Turua 1961


5.d. Back with a Scottish Pipe Band.

TCB picked itself up fairly quickly and it seemed to return to its old roots for a while in 1964 by combining with all the other bands of the area, namely the Salvation Army Band and the Coromandel Silver Band, to perform with the Auckland Scots Guard (pipe band) in Rhodes Park, Thames. This performance made “Amazing Grace” a very popular tune for many years afterwards. [126] The following year the old TCB uniforms (ex-Air Force as well as some extras bought from Matamata Municipal Band later) became the topic of much discussion. A decision was finally made to make new uniforms, and the purchase of black material from Thames store “Hetheringtons” in 1966 began the process. The old uniforms were donated to a charity. [119, 127, 128, 129, 130] All this was in time for the Thames Centenary celebration the next year, 1967, in which TCB, as expected, played a vital part. [131, 132, 133]



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