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Book Reviews, December 2003

by John Loosley

Listen to the Band, The Story of Wotton-under-Edge District Band edited by Syd Harris, 2003, pp117, illustrated.

The Wotton Silver Band was founded as the Abbey Band in 1894 and this history records the highlights and the low times of the band which has survived for over 108 years. This history is based on the many years' research by Pat Goulding who joined the band in 1933 at the age of 11. The original manuscript, which was too long to publish, is in the Wotton Heritage Centre and Syd Harris, Norah Barnes and Ruth Blake have produced from this material a very readable account of the band and its place in Wotton's history. In its early days it was very much a Tubbs Lewis band as most of the members worked at Tubbs Lewis & Co and Stanley (later Sir Stanley) Tubbs was president from1913 till his death in 1941. The Second World War saw a decline in the fortunes of the band and by the early 1950s only 2 members remained. However, by the 1960s the situation improved with six members meeting for a weekly practice and the band was renamed in 1968 as The Wotton-under-Edge District Band. Since then the band has flourished taking place in many contests and continuing the many traditions including Band Sunday on the first Sunday in May.

Chapters in Newent's History by Derek Pearce and others, 2003, pp292, illustrated, ISBN 0 9544648 0 X, Newent Local History Society, £14.95.

Newent Local History Society and particularly Derek Pearce are to be congratulated for producing this work. A total of 8 authors have researched and written 19 chapters on various aspects of Newent's fascinating history. Besides the usual, but important, subjects such as education, religion, transport, church records, buildings, 20th century memories and the two world wars which are to be found in most town histories there are other interesting chapters. The study of the various industries and particularly the history of the glass industry which started in the late 16th century makes is particularly interesting as is the relief of the poor. Also a subject rarely tackled is the introduction of the various services such as water, sewerage, gas, electricity, etc. This book shows what a committed group can achieve with an enthusiastic editor. The subjects of the chapters enable the reader to gain an insight into the development of Newent from early history to the present.

The Stroudwater Navigation by Joan Tucker, 2003, pp191, illustrated, ISBN 0 7524 2806 3, Tempus Publishing Ltd, £16.99.

This book is not a guide to the canal but is a social history describing the operation of the canal and the people who were involved and the impact it had on the local community from its beginning in 1779. Having briefly described the canal's place in history the author sets the scene with a perambulation of the canal at present. This is followed by detailed descriptions of the basins, wharves, locks and bridges, how they were constructed, who built them, the problems and how the company overcame them, the people who operated and lived there and companies who were associated with the canal. A further chapter covers the working canal, the towpaths, dredging, boatbuilding and some of the more famous traders such as John Biddle, the Marling family and the Ford brothers of Ryeford. Joan Tucker has unearthed a fascinating history of the canal and its people from the extensive company's archive and the many illustrations both of the past and present contribute greatly to this informative book. The final chapter covers the canal and leisure which is where the future of the canal lies when reopened in a few years' time by British Waterways and its renewed contribution to the Stroud area.

Images of England, Cheltenham Volume II by Elaine Heasman, 2003, pp128, 200+ illustrations, ISBN 0 7524 3085 8, Tempus Publishing Ltd, £12.99.

Elaine has produced another excellent selection of photos and illustrations of Cheltenham and its immediate neighbourhood. The book is divided into a number of chapters, the first covering the town, its places, people and events and subsequent chapters include many of the surrounding areas. The book is packed with all sorts of images including many group photos of school children, sports teams and employees of various firms. Elaine encourages readers to identify people in the photos and in her introduction says how encouraged she has been with the many people who have contacted her following the publication of volume I (which has now been republished). There are several interesting series of photos such as those showing the demolishing of the Imperial Spa behind Neptune's Fountain in 1937 and the New Club which stood at the corner of the Promenade and Imperial Square before being replaced by an office block in 1970. As would be expected from a keen historian, the text is well researched and informative.