Name Changes

Stanshawe 1968

Stanshawe (Bristol) 1972

Sun Life Stanshawe 1978

Sun Life Band 1983


Bristol is a very large & business-like city. It lies at the gateway to the south-west of England close to the Welsh boarder on the banks of the river Avon. Like many large cities in the United Kingdom it can boast more than one brass band and back in the late 1960’s Bristol had a number of such amateur music making groups.

At this time, within one of Bristol’s oldest bands, they had just competed in the local qualifying event for the National Brass Championships of Great Britain - the South-West Area. Things had not gone too well in the run-up to the event and also on-stage, as the band had not qualified for the London Finals & neither did they appear anywhere in the prizes.

One of the first band portraits, circa 1969


Certain quarters of the band began to question the direction their band was taking and desired much more from their performances and competition results – they wanted to be in London competing with the very best!

So, on the 4th June 1968, fifteen bandsman and bandswomen met in a school in Eastville, north Bristol, and agreed to form a new band, the ethos of which would be a dedication to achieving the best standards of banding in all its aspects. The first entry of the new band’s documented minutes went, "It is hereby resolved that we the undersigned persons shall together form a brass band in the city of Bristol. By this resolution we agree to become founder members of the band and give the band our full support."

Things moved quickly on and the first instruments were purchased by means of members' own financial contributions - weekly subscriptions and an interest-free loan from a local instrument shop. At the same time rehearsal premises were acquired with the financial support of a builder, Douglas Leonard, known to one of the members, who was developing a large housing estate at Yate, a growing town just a few miles north of Bristol, called 'The Stanshawe Estate'. In acknowledgement of his help the band took the name "Stanshawe" and he became the band's first President.

Walter takes the band in one of its first appearances at its concert home - Colston Hall, Bristol


The band's premises were large enough to provide a rehearsal room and a social club for the band's use. This created a very congenial atmosphere within the band, but strict discipline was always maintained. No glasses were ever seen during rehearsals throughout the whole history of band. This club made a significant contribution to a unique camaraderie amongst the players, which remained there till the very end.

The band progressed very well and very quickly in its earliest years, with the help of such band trainers/musicians as Prof. Walter Hargreaves.

The players also played their part; either they accepted the standards of bandsmanship required for this new band or they would be observed having a word with an officer of the committee and never seen again!