The Lion Tamers – Early Bands in Berkhamsted

Thomas Ellens was a St Peter’s chorister and skilled cornet player who took over as conductor of the Berkhamsted Fife and Drum Band in 1887, at the same time introducing brass instruments. Looking at Ellen’s Accounts book and notes, it is striking how important the Band was in the celebratory life of the town, and indeed of many surrounding towns and villages, as it entertained and gave enjoyment at many major events, festivals and concerts.

St Peter's Band

St Peter’s Band

In 1889 the Band appeared in uniforms for the first time on Whit Monday, 9 June, at the Conservative Club Athletic Sports held in the Castle Grounds. The uniforms were purchased from Samuels Bros. London, and this photograph probably dates from that first use. Bandsmen were called “The Lion Tamers” because of the elaborate white braiding.

Norman Groves, Chronicle, v.XIII, pp.41-49