The original Coventry Festival Band was formed in 1952 in celebration of the Festival of Britain the previous year. Up until 1980, the band was located at Howes Mission in Coventry alongside its Junior Band, which consisted of 35 members.

At this time the band became sponsored by Rolls-Royce and relocated to Quinton Road, Coventry. After a few weeks in its new location, the Junior Band felt it could not operate and decided to split from the Rolls-Royce-sponsored band, returning to Howes Mission under the musical directorship of Dick Arrand and Secretary Ken Perry. They renamed themselves Coventry Festival Junior Band, which would later become the Coventry Festival Band which exists today.

The band continued at Howes Mission for several years, however, numbers fell and membership was opened up to adults. Parents and past members joined and the band continued. The condition of Howes Mission building was such that for safety reasons the band was forced to find alternative accommodation, and moved to Sibree Hall.

Sadly, shortly after the move to Sibree Hall, Dick Arrand died. The band struggled to find focus without Dick’s knowledge, dedication and sense of humour. Ken Perry continued to provide support to the band, covering both Secretary and Conductor roles. During the time at Sibree Hall the band increased in numbers but went though a number of Musical Directors, with Jim Nairn being the longest serving.

When Sibree Hall was put up for redevelopment, a committee made up of Chairman Denis Tonks, Secretary Ken Perry and Treasurer Jim Saxton made the decision to move to Cheylesmore Community Centre, a location chosen for its accessibility to disabled band members.

The band successfully obtained Lottery funding from the Arts Council of England in 1999 to procure a complete new set of instruments and also commission two pieces of music. These were Festival 2000 by Charles King, and the march Coventry Festival by Andrew Hurrell, which has since become the Band’s signature tune.

During 1999, founding member Ken Perry decided to retire and pursue other activities. Roy Owen took over the position of Musical Director.

During Roy’s time at the helm, the band made two appearances on the children’s TV programme “Brum”. Sadly Roy who was much loved, died in 2004.

Since then the baton was taken by Ken Davies and Albert Ray during the period 2004-2008

In 2008 upon Ken’s wish to return to playing and after four years of sterling work, ken returned to the front row, and Philip Rowsell accepted the conductor’s position.

Phil became engaged on 29th April 2011 (the day of William and Kate’s wedding!) and, sadly, decided that due to travelling and new family commitments, he could no longer continue as the band’s conductor.

In September 2011, the band were very pleased to appoint Alan Gifford as their new conductor and musical adviser.

Historical Pictures of the Band

Do you know any of the members featured, or anything about the band at the times the various pictures were taken?

If so then please email your information to the band at: coventryfestivalband@googlemail.com

In 1948 the Coventry School of Music held a concert at the Hippodrome theatre. Below there is the programme, and photographs of some of the band members, and an advertising poster for the band.