BHM: Police Band a cultural icon
NationNews.com continues celebration of Black History Month, with another article written by a student from the visual and performing arts division of the Barbados Community College. All students in that section are required to take a course in Caribbean Cultures.
BARBADOS IS a small nation having been accredited in many outstanding areas. One such area that has become a cultural aspect of our society is The Royal Barbados Police Force Band.
It has been a national and cultural icon for the past 125 years. The general public adores their performances as this organisation has also become well-known regionally and internationally.
This research paper will seek to highlight the Band through the years with illustrations of the various aspect of this great legacy in Barbadian culture.
The Royal Barbados Police Band has been a prominent musical group in Barbados. It was started in Barbados in 1889 when 19 young specially chosen constables were relieved of their police duties to be trained by Mr Willocks, a band master of one of the British Regiments stationed in Barbados at the time. The British Bands left Barbados in 1905 with their parent regiments and the Barbados Police Band became more or less the chief entertainers.
Their mission was to provide the highest quality music for the Force with all community
The bands headquarters, the St Cecilia’s Barracks is located at The District A Police Station in Station Hill Barbados. This building has three floors which house a performing hall called Prince Cave hall on the top.
Various practice rooms are on the centre floor and dorms and store rooms for the equipment used by the band are on the bottom floor. It is thought that this building is no longer adequate to house the current complement of the band which ranges between 45 to 65 members.
The uniform of the band was linked to the British regiments. At that time they wore regulation police uniforms which are preserved by the scarlet braid worn on the cap and trousers of the bandsmen in addition to their ceremonial waist belt. The crest of the force may be seen on the sash of the drum major, on his mace and on the drums. This uniform is still used today.
In the formative years the band comprised males only. But all of this changed in 1984 when it embraced its first three young women, Yolande Bourne, Dorian Seale and Juan Walrond. The organisation was proud to have the professional skills of not only men but women as well.
Like most organisations succession planning is vital for its continuation. The Royal Barbados Police Band is no exception and boasts of having a number of distinguished conductors/Band masters.
1889-1892 Band Master Mr Willocks
1892-1892 Band Master Canon Doorley
1892-1901 Band Master George Glumeau
1901-1915 Band Master John Mandeville
1918-1944 Band Master Sgt Major James E. Bennernagel
1944-1946 Band Master Sgt Frank Elias
1946-1961 Band Master D.O.M Captain Charles Raison (A.R.C.M)
1961-1964 Director of Music Lt Joseph Griffith (L.R.A.M)
1964-1968 Director of Music Lt Joseph Greasley (L.R.A.M)
1968-1982 Director of Music Supt Prince Cave (ARCM)
1982-1987 Director of Music Sr Supt Gordon Lovell (L.R.S.M, L.T.C.L)
1987-1991 Director of Music Sr Supt Kenrick Moore (L.T.C.L, A.V.C.M)
1991-2012 Director of Music Sr Supt Christopher Atherley
2012-2014 Director of Music Sr Supt Keith Ellis
The Director of Music/Senior Superintendent of Police is responsible for the band, while the Deputy Director of Music/Superintendent is responsible for training and development. The assistant Director of Music/Assistant Superintendent helps both the Director and his Deputy.
The Police Inspector is responsible for assigning instruments and storage and the Station Sargent manages the bands finances.