The roots of Rushen Silver Band are in the village of Surby, a small village about a mile outside Port Erin. The band began in 1926 when a group of lads got together with six concertinas and a kettle drum! Unfortunately six years later they ceased to meet for various reasons, but in 1937 under the direction of Jamsie and Thomasie Clague, the Surby Band was reformed. Now numbering about 18 it included mouth organs as well as the concertinas and a kettle drum. With the outbreak of war many of the younger members left for active service. Upon their return (and with a few extras) the Surby Silver Band was formed, and the first brass instruments were introduced.
In 1949 the Band became aware of a fund held by Port St Mary Commissioners for the formation of a band in the parish of Rushen. As no more information was forthcoming, and after much discussion and soul searching, the band changed its name and became ‘Rushen Silver Band’. Many were disappointed when the sum of £19 17s 6d was released! However, Rushen Silver Band is probably a more accurate name for the band you now see, with members being geographically widespread and with a number even living outside the parish.
In November 1983 the Band reached another milestone, with the opening of their new bandroom. The band returned to Ballafesson after many moves around the area. The bandroom was funded and built by the Band members and friends, and is a lasting tribute to members past and present. This achievement was only made possible, without grants, by the generosity and support of all the Band’s Vice Presidents, the Friends of the Band, families, supporters and local residents.
In 1999 Rushen Silver Band celebrated 50 years since its change of name. This was marked with a number of events culminating in a joint concert with our neighbours, Castletown Metropolitan Silver Band. During the concert the Band premiered a new march, ‘Rushen Gold’, written by Castletown Metropolitan Silver Band’s Musical Director Major Tommy Thirtle. The Band were also delighted to premier a new hymn, ‘Surby Bridge’ with words written by a past President of the Band and current Chairman of the Friends of the Band, Mrs Joyce Corlett.
In recent years the Band has had much success, regularly competing in the Manx Music Festival. Since 2004, when the band gained joint 1st place in the March and Hymn class and 2nd in the Entertainment section, good results at the Festival have happened on a regular basis. Success of a different kind comes with the instrumental teaching of young people, both within the band and for beginners. This helps to give the Band the enthusiasm and drive to continue, not just to make music, but also as a social activity for the local community.