About Us

We are a friendly amateur Wind Orchestra and we rehearse on Friday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.45pm at Beenham Primary School RG7 5NN.

We normally put on three or four local concerts each year, and often play at local fetes and events.

Victoria Benjamin

Musical Director | Victoria Benjamin

Victoria studied saxophone at the University of Leeds with Richard Ingham and Carl Raven and at the University of North Texas with Sarah Roberts, where she also played under the direction of Nicholas Williams.

She played Principal Alto Saxophone and featured as a soloist with the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain from the age of 15, touring to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Prague, Holland and China. Most recently she played Alto in the SaxFamily, alongside Nigel Wood and Gerard McCrystal.

Victoria frequently records for Saxtet Publications in Birmingham and also plays with the ‘Hacienda Classical’, with whom she headlined at the Isle of Wight Festival twice and opened the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2018.

She currently teaches woodwind in Berkshire and Hampshire as well as performing and working as an instrument repairer having qualified from Merton College, London. Victoria founded and directs the Newbury Saxophone Choir and was appointed as Musical Director of Beenham Wind Orchestra in 2022.

Our History

The first Beenham Band is thought to have started over 100 years ago in 1890 and, according to Parish records, the original instruments were purchased by contributions from the members and by subscriptions from friends. The Bandmaster at the time, William Wigmore, appears as a Methodist trustee in 1891. An 1892 article in the Newbury Weekly News, reporting the Seven Sisters Show, states that:

‘At two o’clock the Beenham Brass Band marched on to the ground playing an inspiring march and this opened the proceedings’.

During the Second World War, the band, along with many other social activities, had to cease. However, it started up again in 1946-47, primarily by the bass player George Gilbert, using the instruments from the original band.

It seems to have been particularly active in the 1950s and on Remembrance Day would start at the hall and march down to the church for the service. The ‘Last Post’ would be played and then they would all march back.

From the 1950s, until as recently as 1963, Beenham Band played at many of the village fetes and functions, as well as taking part in local and regional competitions.

One memorable occasion, in a competition at Cholsey, Beenham Band won the prize for the best march tune, beating the favourites Tadley into second place. They would also go around the various big houses in the village at Christmas time playing to raise money for the uniform fund. A photograph, probably taken in the early 1950s shows the members of the Beenham Band marching through Theale, with the Crown Public House in the background. Leading the march is John Watts, followed by Fred Nurton (bass), Fred Allum (euphonium), Bert Churchill (1st trombone) and George Gilbert (bass).

On another occasion the band went to Westminster Central Hall to take part in a performance of mass bands being conducted by Harry Mortimer, a famous band leader at that time.

The instruments were all made from brass, hence the name, although some were plated with silver. The leader of the band for many years was John Watts. Another popular character was William ‘Bill’ Brazier who played the big drum. Rumour has it that when he became too old to carry the drum himself, he would co-opt a young lad to carry the drum while Bill strode along behind banging it!

At the height of its popularity, the band had more than 30 members actively taking part. Gradually however the members dispersed, some going to other bands in the area such as Tadley and Pangbourne, which still have their bands today. Sadly, Beenham no longer has a Brass Band.

The present Beenham Band was formed in 1999 as part of the village’s millennium celebrations, with the help of a grant from the Parish Council. From very modest beginnings (there were six performers taking part in the first concert in Beenham Church), it has grown to its present size of around 40 members.