THE first Oxford and District Brass Band Association contest was an unforgettable occasion.

It was held outdoors, the heavens opened and all the musicians were soaked.

Bob Reason, a member of the Headington Prize Silver Band, still has vivid memories of that day.

He writes: “The contest took place after the Second World War on the West Oxford recreation ground, off Botley Road.

“The weather was looking a bit threatening and all bands were not too happy at the prospects.

“In our section, we were to play Recollections of Mendelssohn and I think we were first to play.

“The wind did its best to deter us, causing the sheet music to fly in all directions, but our conductor, Jim Alder, would have nothing to do with ‘bottling it’, so on we went, after securing the music with pegs.

“Just as we started, it began to rain, steadily at first, but then the heavens opened with the heaviest downpour I’d ever seen. It continued in that vein all afternoon.

“Band members looked at Jim Alder, but he kept on conducting.

“Upward pointing instruments began to collect copious quantities of water and had to be emptied out at convenient moments.

“With water drizzling uncomfortably down my face and neck, we completed the task and came off the field, soaked through to the skin.

“The Wedding March left me feeling sorry for any bride (it was a Saturday, after all), but Jackie Hine (cornet) did a great job keeping it together.

“The amazing thing was that, Headington Silver Prize Band having shown the way, all other bands felt they had no choice but to perform in the same way, in the rain and wind.

“I often wonder how the adjudicators fared – or if they were housed in a tent.

“I have no idea where we came in the results order. However, I think it became the catalyst for changing the venue of the contest in future years. And so the Town Hall came into use.”

Mr Reason, who lives in Camborne, Cornwall, joined the band as a schoolboy when it was re-formed after the war, in about 1947.

He, Ken Alder (euphonium), Joyce Alder (tenor horn), and Harold Williams (cornet), formed a junior quartet within the senior band.

Other members of the Reason family were members of the band – grandfather Dick (bass or trombone), father Bill (front row cornet or soprano), Uncle Rich (trombone), Uncle Arthur (front row cornet) and Uncle Les (tenor horn or euphonium).

Other fellow musicians he recalls include Jackie Hine (solo cornet), Nobby Challis (cornet), Stan Cadwaladr (cornet), Harry and Ron Giles (cornets), Frank Austin (euphonium) and a young lady called Connie (trombone).

The band rehearsed in a large wooden hut in the back garden of the Carpenters' Arms pub, in Hockmore Street, Cowley. It was renamed City of Oxford Silver Band in the 1950s.

Mr Reason left the band in 1953, having been called up for National Service. His final engagement was a concert at The Slade for the Queen’s Coronation.

After National Service, he moved to Birmingham and work left no time for brass bands.

But in 1963, he moved to Cornwall and joined the famous Camborne Town Band.