The band was formed in 1893 with the financial support of The Lincoln Malleable Iron Works, which was on the site of what is now shops and student accommodation in St. Mark’s Street. This band was known as “The Lincoln Malleable Iron Works Band”. The first bandmaster is unknown, but he left after around 18 months and was succeeded by Mr. Ellerby Cox. Under Cox’s leadership, the band enjoyed much success, both in concerts and at contests. He stayed with the band until shortly before his death in 1947.
In the early days the band made rapid progress and had a number of successes on the contesting circuit, as well as providing entertainment around the city. Without a doubt, The Lincoln Malleable Iron Works Band was a contesting force to be reckoned with in the period between 1910 and 1920. Their greatest success was the award of Second Prize at the Crystal Palace Championships in 1920. A copy of the certificate is reproduced here. The band also took the Daily Express fifty-guinea shield in 1911 (photgraphed above), also winning a silver-plated cornet, a silver-plated trombone, £20 in cash and a cross belt and pouch for the bandmaster. The test piece was “Maritana”. The band also won in 1911 the Lincolnshire Cup, The Mansfield Cup, Shirebrook Silver Cup, Grantham Cup and the Newark Silver Cup.
In an article published in the British Bandsman (9th October 1920) it is reported that:
“The playing of the first six bands was technically little short of perfection, and especially was this the case with the first three. Indeed the adjudicators had to consider the matter with the utmost care before finally deciding the order in which those bands should be placed. It will be seen therefore that the second place awarded to the Lincoln Malleable Band might quite conceivably have been the first. Little as we appreciate the fact, Lincoln owns a Brass band combination which is only a decimal point removed from the Championship of England and therefore, the world”
The band continued to enter contests for the next few decades with varying success.
In 1936 The Malleable Iron Works decided to end its sponsorship of the band and agreed to sell the whole of the band property to the band members. Mr. Ellerby Cox was elected Chairman of the Trustees Committee. The band became self-supporting, changing its name first to “Lincoln Iron & Steel Works”, then “Lincoln Iron Works / Lincoln Ironworks”, but quickly changing it again this time to “The Lincoln Borough Silver Prize Band”. The band continued during these changes under the instruction of Bandmaster Mr. Ellerby Cox, with the Cox family providing six of the members of the band. The photograph to the left shows the entertainments band in 1935 at “Boultham Jubilee Celebrations” with four Cox family members in it.
With the coming of World War II the band lost many of its members. At the same time the senior members were arriving at retirement age. For a short period of time the band almost had to disband completely. However, the remaining younger members did their best until after the war with the few players they had and very limited funds. At the time it felt hopeless.
In 1947 Mr. Ellerby Cox was succeeded for a short time by his brother Albert, but later that year a second Ellerby Cox – nephew of the former – became Musical Director. During this time no less than six members of the Cox family played in the band. Four can be seen in the photograph on the right – Ellerby (Jnr), Bill, and Charlie, with Albert conducting. To raise funds at the time the band played at Lincoln City Football Club (who won promotion that season to Division Two).
Over the next few years the band’s fortunes ebbed and flowed. With the sponsors withdrawing their support in 1936, money was not readily available for the running of the band, and with the war (1939-1945), membership dwindled. Many of the senior members lost heart so Ellerby Cox (Jnr) decided to keep the band alive by teaching youngsters. This was successful and many Bandsmen of the 70s, 80s and 90s owe their first lessons and future success to his efforts.
In 1966 the Lincoln City Council started to take an interest in the band now known as the “The Lincoln Borough Band”. The band was allowed to use a disused chapel as a band headquarters. This was pulled down a couple of years later and things felt hopeless again. However, Alderman Mrs. M. Sookias came forward and arranged for the band to have long term use of the Racecourse Grandstand. The band felt invigorated again and were able to move forward again. New uniforms were purchased and new instruments were also purchased and older ones overhauled. With Mr. Cox employed as a peripatetic teacher by the local education authority there was a steady supply of young and enthusiastic members. Success returned on the contest circuit, culminating in a third place at Belle Vue in 1974. With the Council behind the band the Mayor is now the president of the band and comes each year to meet the band and listen to them playing.
The band decided to move more towards the entertainments side. In 1978 the band twinned with the Kolpings Kapelle Band of Neustadt, in Germany. Then in 1990 the band twinned with the Hoornse Band of Hoorn, in Holland. Visits and concert tours are now regularly undertaken to both of these countries.
To continue the support of the band a new organisation was formed in 1983, “The Friends of City of Lincoln Band”.
In the early months of 1987 the band underwent another change of name. This time to “The City of Lincoln Band”. This was designed to avoid confusion with the other bands in the city. The band continued to focus on the entertainments side of its repertoire. 1993 saw the centenary of the City of Lincoln Band, an achievement of which everyone connected with the band is justly proud. The band looked back on the past 100 years and considered that a real service has been provided to the people of Lincoln. An achievement without the help and support of many people.
In 1995 Derick Ward B.Ed, A.L.C.M. joined the band and brought with him a wealth of experience both as a player and as a conductor. He had previously been junior cornet champion, a musician with the Royal Air Force and principle cornettist with top class bands including Brighouse & Rastrick, Black Dyke Mills and Hammonds. He spent over forty years as a teacher and conductor.
An Arts Council grant helped in the purchase of a complete set of new instruments and new music which was added to the already extensive library.
In 2014 the band won first prize at the Bolsover Brass Festival in the unregistered band section. This was the first time the band won a competition in its 121 year history.
A junior band (also known as “The Tufty Club”) was inaugurated in the early 1990s. Whilst called a “junior band”, it had an average age in the mid-50s. The group met on a Saturday morning under the tutelage of John Nicholls. The Tufty Club is currently not running but it is hoped to be resumed in the future.
The band continues to move forward entirely self-supporting, relying on engagement fees to generate the income necessary for the running if the band. New faces are welcome to come along and join this merry band of players.
Bandmasters (now called Musical Directors):
- 1893: Unknown
- 1985: Ellerby Cox (Snr)
- 1947: Albert Cox
- 1947: Ellerby Cox (Jnr)
- 1997: Geoff Mather
- 1978: Bob Maycox
- 1986: Brian Newland
- 1994: Chris Priest
- 1995: Derrick Ward
- 2006–2010: Various MDs on short terms
- 2010: Ken Winmill
- 2012: Robert Wilson