Letter from Harry Lawn MD 1948 to 1953 to Band Secretary Stuart Sanders

1 Beechwood Glade

Dear Stuart
Further to our phone conversation before Xmas, I noted the recording in this week's BB of the passing of Willie Grant and also the request for information about the band and its history.

It is only of the start of the post war period that I can help. I took the band from 1948 to 1953 when they were in the championship class and carried out a very full round of engagements, LCC, Royal Parks, and other organizations. We also during the football season attended for all of the Crystal Palace first team matches.

Regarding the band's dramatic success at the Crystal Palace in 1930, I was once shown a programme of that event, am not at all sure if it was of that actual year, I rather fancy not. However, there used to be six sections and it all took place on one day in the Crystal Palace complex, about 130 bands in all took part, there were no area qualifying contests in those days, and what a day it must have been. I recall being told, am not sure by whom, could have been Willie Grant, however, that on that day Palace were drawn to play between Dyke and Fodens, what a draw, frightening isn't it? Gregor Grant, a scot, was taking the band for the contest, everything was going along fine, it was quite a warm day, and at one point Gregor relaxed to take out his hankie to mop his brow (the tension is getting to me) as he did so something went astray, oh calamity ! as old Robertson Hare would have said. However the band recovered and finished in splendid style, and as the contest drew to its close there was great speculation going around that in spite of the mishap, Palace would be declared the winners, in the event of course Fodens, as they were then, came 1st & Palace 4th, where Dyke came I don't know, or who were 2nd & 3rd. Real Roy of the Rovers stuff isnt it? Is it any wonder that each year at one or two of our attractive venues we included something from the Severn Suite in the programme.

I am enclosing copies of a selection of the programmes presented during the year I was taking the band. They will record not only the standard of concert we presented and the varied venues we visited all over the London area, but the names of all the soloists within the band. I also have just two photographs, copies of which I would be pleased to get for you if you would like to have them. One is of the band on the march leading a St John Ambulance parade, we took on quite a number of parade engagements. The other is of the full assembly ant the Band's "Golden Jubilee" dinner, held at the Comedy Restaurant, in London 23rd November 1950, the band was founded of course by the W W grant in 1900.

The band had just got up to broadcasting again just before I left them, but I don't think they did after. In fact it was within little more than a year or so that the collapse came, and it was only the fact that Mr Sherriff took over that saved the band from extinction, and what a tragedy that would have been for a band having so famous a name to vanish from the band scene.

Will say cheerio for now & will look for a line from you, hope some valuable details come along about former years,

Sincerely Yours

Harry Lawn