Cahard Flute Band was founded pre-1892, exactly when is not know but the earliest record available is a set of rules dated 22nd October 1892 which can be found hanging in the hall to this day.
The earliest minute book available is dated 1905 but does not give any great detail. In early years the names of Bailie, Shaw and Simpson were prominent and descendants of these members are still connected to the band. The original formation was a melody flute band which took part in the usual Orange and Black parades. In the summer evenings they often paraded the district to visit homes where refreshments would be provided and the band would play popular tunes and songs wound be sung. Unusally at the end of the evening a subscription to band funds would be given.
Hawkes & Sons Crown AZ Bb Flute which belonged to Cahard now in the Collection
The “Route Marches” as they well called still continued and one in particular is described in great detail. This took place on 9th March 1934 to Mr W. Peake’s house in Carsonstown. The band left Cahard ORange Hall at 7.45pm and marched via Ballynahinch Junction and Doran’s Rock arriving at 9.00pm when tea was served. Music and songs were rendered and a subscription of 10s (50p) given to bands funds. The band left the Peake homestead at 11.00pm and parade back to Cahard via Saintfield arriving 12.45am.
At a meeting in 1934 it was decided to change to part music and the first appearance of the band in this form was the opening of Raffery Orange Hall on Easter Monday 22nd April 1935.
In 1937 thirty flutes were purchased from the 46th Old Boys Flute Band in Belfast at a cost of £80.00 which was paid off in one year – a big achievement in those days.
The band met whenever possible during the war years 1939-45 and turned out for “Wings of Victory” and “Salute the Soldiers” Week parades.
After the war enthusiasm rose and in 1946 the band made their first contest appearance at the Irish Championships in the Junior Second Grade Flute Section in the Ulster Hall Belfast and achieved first place under the conductor the late Samual Halliday. The won this grade again in 1949 under the conductorship of the late Fred Gourley and then moved up to Junior First Grade where they were placed third in 1950.
The band went through an indifferent period after this and faded from the contest arena until 1960 when they commenced again under the conductorship of the late Ernest Johnston. They had to wait until 1971 for success when they won the Irish Championships First Grade Flute. Ernie as he was better known conducted the band from 1955 until his death in 1976.
During this period the first uniform was purchased in 1960 and in 1964 a set of Boehm system were purchased from Carrick Amateur Flute Band for £100.00. Some years later more flutes were purchased from Ballygowan Flute Band and these instruments were used until 1988.
The late Richard (Dick) Douglas took over as conductor in 1978 and remained in the post until his death in 1987. During that time the band won the Flute Band League Own Choice Junior Section in 1981 and 1983. They also took 2nd place in the Irish Championship in the Ulster Hall in 1981-82.
A new uniform was purchased in 1986 and in 1987 history was made when we appointed a lady conductor Miss Caroline Weir and later that year she lead us to victory in the Irish Championship Grade 3. In doing so we became the first band ever to win a Irish Championship under a lady conductor.
In 1987 fund raising began with the purchase of silver concert flutes in mind. With the help of a strong ladies committee two guest tea’s followed by an auction and sale raised enough money to purchase these flutes at a cost of approximately £12,000. The changeover took place on 16th November 1988 after winning the Irish Championship in Grade 3. Success followed in the Flute Band League (Own Choice Contest) 1989 and 1990 with the new flutes.
In 1991 Brian Houston was appointed as conductor and the winning ways continued with the Grade 3 Irish Championship that year, the Flute Band League Contest in 1992, Portrush Entertainment Contest Grade 2 (Third place overall in the entertainment section playing against Senior Grade Bands).
The band moved up to Grade 2 in 1992 and were placed second (won percussion prize and conductor won the best interpretation award) making this probably the best contest result ever achieved.
The band celebrated it’s centenary in 1992 and the main event was a band parade in Saintfield where all the contesting flute bands were invited to form with us a massed flute band (the result being a band of 130 flute players and around 15 in the drum corps) creating a lasting memory for all those who took part and who witnessed the spectacle. The year ended with a very successful concert in the Parish Hall, Saintfield.
Grade 2 proved to be stiff competition and unfortunately due to the loss of key players then band had no further success until 1997 when we decided to go back to grade 3. With an influx of some young talented players Brian our conductor decided to play as a member of the band and let his son Glen conduct. The result was a win in the Irish Championship Grade 3 (1997) and Flute Band League Own Choice Contest (1998).
Cahard taking part at the Church Flute Band Competition
Outside the contest arena the band never missed the 12th July or R.B.P. demonstration as far as is known. They have regularly been called on to accompany the Boys’ Brigade and Girl’s Brigade at annual church service as well as Orange and Black church services, banner unfurling and playing at concerts and Old Peoples Homes especially at Christmas time.
They have been honoured to take part in many major parades especially being asked to accompany Saintfield District No. 5 to Loughgall in 1995 to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the formation of the Orange Order in 1995.
Nigel Edgar took over the baton in 2004 winning the Grade 2 Flute Band League Own Choice Competition and then the 2006 N.I.B.A. Contest in the Ulster Hall.
*Notes taken from the Band history 1892-1998