My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968

by Michael G. Hutton

I was very depressed for many days especially having to tell Rhoda and all the family that what was expected would now never happen. However I still had to continue doing my job, you can't just chuck everything because things don't go your way and as Bandmaster of the Royal Marines premier band I still had to get off my arse and get on with organising the years work load. I suppose the biggest disappointment was that having been in the RM Band Service for nearly 20 years since I was 16, I now had to realize that at 40 in four years time when my terms of engagement came to an end I would have to start a new career. I also thought back to the offer made to me when at the Royal Academy of Music by Maurice Miles to join him as Orchestra Manager to the Ulster Orchestra - but the position had now been filled by one of my conducting colleagues from college.

I think the biggest job of that year was the Royal Tournament where for the first time we would be performing as a full Symphony Orchestra, Big Dance Band and the normal Massed Marching Bands, plus of course the Fanfare Trumpets and the swish drumming from the Drum & Bugle branch. This took a great deal of planning as the Orchestra had to be on staging that was on wheels and would be moved into the Earls Court Arena being towed in four parts to arrive as one by trucks!

Sounds complicated! It was - but with many hours of practice it worked and there is a picture to prove it. It was Vivian Dunn's last appearance (as well as mine) and on the last performance it was pre-planned that as he took the salute to the resident VIP, I came from behind him, took my place on the rostrum and conducted the full Band of over 250 playing 'Will Ye No Come Back Again & Olde Lang Syne' before marching out for his last time to the regimental march Life on the Ocean Wave. Quite a night.. We had a few beers afterwards.

Vivian had a few more concerts to do before finally leaving and again it was my job to rehearse all these and it was during making some phone calls about engagements that I took a call from a Mr Bill Bailey who was an EX Bandmaster from the Royal Marines and was a music teacher at a school in Sussex called Christ's Hospital. He was at that time seeking an assistant music teacher to help run the music department at the school and preferably a Brass player. Well would you believe it - I had known this guy Bill Bailey when I was a Band Boy back in the 50s, but had no idea what he was doing at the school and what the job entailed, so kept it to myself and decided to pay him a visit informing him that I might be interested in the job.

My first visit to Christ's Hospital was quite extraordinary after spending the last 20 odd years on the LNTS Training Ship and in the Royal Marines Bands Service here I was auditioning for a civilian job. This is where I met Bill Bailey for the first time during my summer leave of 1968.

Christ's Hospital was a boys boarding school with about 800 pupils from the age of 11 to 18. It was originally founded in London in the mid 1600s for destitute and underprivileged children and was sited in Cheapside in the City. The school moved to Horsham in Sussex in 1904 where a purpose built school had taken some three years to construct. It consisted of eight double houses each capable of catering for 50 boys plus housemasters houses and self contained flats for teaching staff.

The whole estate consisted of many buildings for each school department. Music School, Workshops for handicrafts, Gymnasium, Classrooms-Chapel- Concert Hall called Big School, Art School, Science Block and at the very centre of the main quadrangle a large dining hall where the whole school ate together. It even had its own railway station. There were vast playing fields for Rugby, Hockey, Cricket and Football plus tennis and fives courts.

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