Where did we come from?
Here’s a brief history of our band………
Back around 1928:
The Hyde Street Youth Band was formed as the school band for Footscray Primary School, its first Musical Director being F. C. “Massa” Johnstone.
The band was known as the Hyde St. State School Band, and was very much an integral part of the local community. The band’s first contest success was at the Victorian State Schools Association championship in 1931, the first of many to come. By this time, “Hyde St.” was famous, and in fact held the record for the number of V.S.B.A. wins from 1931 to 1966.
The year 1948 saw the end of an era when “Massa” retired as Bandmaster. A new era began when Bill Shea took over the musical direction and led the band to still further success, winning many more competitions and becoming famous nationwide. With Bill’s retirement in 1981, the band went through a period of decline but was soon back on top again under the leadership of ex-player Doug Trottman OAM. Many fine players passed through the band during this and previous periods.
At the end of that year, we were fortunate to secure the services of Jason Mears, under whose direction the band climbed the ladder of success once again.
In 1994, we were Victorian ‘Jnr. B Grade’ champions, Victorian ‘Open D Grade’ champions and holder of the coveted “Merve Simpson Memorial Shield” awarded to the most outstanding contesting band. In 1995, the band was promoted to ‘Open C’ and ‘Jnr. A’ Grades.
1995 to present :
The last time Hyde St. played at an A.F.L. football match, this shot from the 1997 (Round 22) Hawthorn vs. Bulldogs clash at the now-defunct Waverly Park, a combined engagement with Hawthorn City Junior Band.
When Jason Mears left to conduct the Sunshine City Band in 1995, we were very fortunate to have Robert Breen become our new Musical Director. He was highly regarded, being national Jnr. Champion-of-Champions, twice national Tuba Champion and three times state Open Tuba Champion. Robert is now Head of Music at Mowbray College in Melton and in 2000, passed the baton to Bryan Chetcuti who taught brass at Mowbray. Joshua Geddes became our next conductor from October 2003 to July 2005. John Collinson was appointed as his replacement in August 2005 and was replaced by ex-member Mark Fitzpatrick who soon accepted a surprise appointment with the Auckland Philharmonic in New Zealand. Assistant MD David Redding filled the vacancy for several months until he was joined by yet another Hyde St. alumnus in Benjamin Milne as “Joint Musical Directors” in October 2008.
The year 2001 saw Hyde Street win the Victorian state ‘Jnr. C’ grade championship and the formation of a Training Band to accommodate new learners. Its first successful graduate played with the main band in April 2002. The years 2002-03-04 saw the band successfully defend its state ‘Jnr. C’ title. Promotion to ‘Jnr. B’ was in 2005 although recent times have seen us back in ‘Jnr. C’.
Past Band Activities :
The Hyde St. band has accompanied A.B.C. recording artist Rob Fairbairn on his recording 1994 recording of “Sons of the ‘Scrays” and have played on the GTV-9 Footy Show on four occasions, the latest being on ANZAC Day 2002.
In April 1996 we were invited to play at the Canberra Festival, where we were very well received and invited to play again in 1997.
Probably the most well know ‘play-out’ over many years was at the football when the old Footscray Football Club would allow the band to play around the boundary at half-time; helpers would drag a tarp behind the band and the crowd would shower their generosity upon the band……a handy (and now sadly missed) source of income!
Early in 2001, several members joined in as part of the V.B.L. Massed Bands contingent at the ‘Our Nation on Parade’ march in Melbourne, celebrating Australia’s Centenary of Federation. Our other players participated as members of the Victorian State Youth Brass Band. In an attempt to increase our membership, our Training Band started in November.
After nearly 75 years of association with Footscray City Primary School, our band moved at the beginning of 2003 to the Yarraville Club in Stephen St. In February 2006, our rehearsal base then moved to the Footscray-Yarraville City band room in Hyde St., right next door to the school where the band was born!
2008 sees another milestone for the band with the celebration of its 80th year.
Whilst Murray’s plans kicked off, the band worked hard to improve fund raising and grant writing in order to replace many of the bands old instruments. In the period 2015 to 2023 under this new style of leadership, the band was able to replace many old brass and percussion instruments.
Unfortunately Murray’s role with the band was cut short when he was offered a paid role with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra but he had planted a seed which would continue to grow.
Following Murray’s departure HSYB appointed Jeroen “Jee” Kromhof to the position of MD with Phillipa Edwards, MD for the A Grade Footscray-Yarraville City Band, taking on the Training Band. Jee was an extremely enthusiastic MD and brought his own Dutch style to the bands musical repertoire. He continued the development of the band which lead to HYSB winning both State and National Junior C Grade titles. Like Murray, Jee’s time with the band was cut short by him being offered a role with Fire Victoria which say him move to regional Victoria. As an interim whilst a new MD was recruited, Louisa Trewartha was appointed MD for the Youth Band. Louisa continued the high level of musical training which saw the Youth Band win the open D Grade at the 2019 Bendigo Eisteddfod and the Junior Band winning the Junior section. Louisa supported the band until Phillipa Edwards was appointed.
HSYB was now growing strongly and the time was right to continue Murray’s ambition and kick off a third tier. The Training Band was effectively renamed the Hyde Street Junior Band, and the Training Band recreated at a lower lever for complete novices. Needing someone with the right skills and attitude to take this group, of what would be very young members, was important and the band was very lucky to secure the talents of Caitlin Taylor, to take on this role. Andrew Wilson was then appointed to replace Phillipa as MD for the newly created Junior Band.
It was about this time that the band also made a concerted effort to better train and support our percussion plays by working with Katie Thomas, percussionist for FYCB and founder of the Victorian Percussion Academy. This partnership and the appointment of Katie to the new position of Percussion master, saw significant improvement and interest in the bands percussion skills.
Towards the end of 2019 the band received some long expected bad news. The Footscray band rooms were to be demolished with HSYB, Western Brass and FYCB all being evicted. Much work was done with the council to find a new home with temporary accommodation being arranged with Victoria University. No sooner had the band moved into VU than the world was struck by the Covid 19 pandemic.
This was a very uncertain time for the organisation but thanks to the effort and commitment of the then president, Phillipa Edwards and all the bands MDs, Hyde Street went virtual with weekly rehearsals continuing online and even some digital collaborations being created. It was a struggle and the band did lose a number of members, in part due to their age, and was unable to recruit new members due to the pandemic.
2021 and things started to improve. Face to face rehearsals returned and thanks to the hard work and lobbying by the band’s president, the VBL lifted the age of youth band members from 19 to 22 and things started to look up again. The band was very fortunate to received a Triennial Arts Grant from the City of Maribyrnong. This was a substantial grant and enabled the band to invest in some new instruments, purchase the necessary items to make the band covid safe whilst also providing funding for a number of away trip and attendance at the Nationals planned for 2021, 2022 and 2023.
2022 and the band once again had to relocated with VU requiring their rooms back. The City of Maribyrnong found room for the band at the Raleigh Road Activities Centre and whilst this has taken the band well away from their home in Footscray and Hyde Street, it has proven a positive move. Membership numbers have started to regrow and the Training Band, renamed Brass Class has really taken off. HSYB was regraded to a B Grade Junior Band and took out the State Championships at this level.
Unfortunately due to the ongoing covid situation, national championships were largely curtailed in 2021 and 2022 but HSYB was able to use the Triennial grant to fund away trips to Healesville and Bright in 2021 and 22 before storming back to the nationals in Newcastle in 2023, winning both the Junior B Grade and Open D Grade sections with a combined Junior/Youth Band. The win in the Junior B Grade sections and the absence of any Junior A Grade Bands, official made Hyde Street the highest ranked Junior Brass Band in Australia. The band followed this up with a win in Open D Grade at the Bendigo Eisteddfod, with a respectable second place in the Junior section, conducted for the first time by their principal cornet player, Bethany McAuliffe D’Rozario.
2023 and Hyde Street is looking as strong as ever. As we say…..
HYDE STREET YOUTH BAND, SOUNDING GREAT SINCE ’28!
Work is currently underway to properly research and present the history of the Hyde St. Youth Band. We would very much appreciate any information that would add to our (often) incomplete records!
Musical Directors – Past.
Not all are here unfortunately but we are keen to augment our history as information and/or materials become available.
Our list is slowly being completed, other M.D.s included…..
F C “Massa” Johnstone
John Breen Jnr.
Ben Milne Joint with David Redding
Jeroen “Jee” Kromhof
Phillipa Edwards – current as at 2023
Max Hanlon – Band Major Training Band
Andrew Wilson – current as at 2023
Caitlin Taylor – current as at 2023