Roses Lane Ends Flute Band

It is not easy to trace the early history of Roses Lane Ends Flute Band as all of the foundation member has passed on and only a few of those who came after, all now in their retirement again, remain.

Edward Stitt, who died some years ago at a ripe old age, is the person credited with founding the band, in 1908. As there was then no Roses Lane Ends Hall the early practices were carried out in Ballymacraven School with little instruments and little money. A drum could not be afforded so time was kept by rhythmically beating on a table. Edward Stitt, who on every Friday travelled to Belfast Market to sell farm produce for his employer, Mr A.A. Peel, purchased a single flute on his weekly visit until all band members had one each. At half-a-crown (12 1/2 pence) each they were, for the time a relatively dear commodity!

When fully equipped they engaged their first instructor to teach them how to properly play their instruments, James Henry Hazlett from Sand Hills on the shore of Lough Neagh whose wife taught in the local school. They wore little, round, tight – fitted caps which looked so like those worn by railway porters at the time, that their initial appearance on the Twelfth of July demonstration drew joking remarks from the onlookers as to when the next train was due. They continued to practice in the school for some time before moving a little further along to the house now owned by Joe Doherty. An out building was used as a bandroom and there they stayed until Roses Lane Ends Hall was built in 1911, the occasion being celebrated by a Grand Bazaar lasting 2 days.

James Henry Hazlett was retained as band instructor until he left the district; during his time they were invited to the opening of Lower Ballinderry Orange Hall in 1910. They would play only 3 tunes and had to play each one over and over again on the journey to the hall and back.

Down through the years the band improved and began playing part music and entered for band contests. Their perseverance was rewarded in 1938 when they won first prize at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, and in 1948 another first prize was taken, Portadown being the venue. Since then, they have added to their collection of awards.

During 1964, they bought their first full uniforms and now with first-class instruments and suitably clad, they merit the good membership which they enjoy

The band is now kept busy all year round, taking marching engagements, playing at cross-community ventures, concerts, old peoples’ homes, hospitals, church services etc. and taking part in various competitions organised by the N.I.B.A. and Flute Band Association.

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