35
/ 100

The Dance Orchestra

"If people want to hear music - music with a large capital "M" - let them come to St Dunstan's some day.." The Review, 1917

The St Dunstan's Dance Orchestra

In 1919 and 1920 there were some 800 men in training in Regent's Park and music was an integral part of the rehabilitation programme at the time. It gave men the opportunity to develop existing musical talent as well as those without experience the chance to start an instrument.

 

Initially, a banjo band was formed who played in venues in and around London. Soon, upon the discovery of many talented musicians, it was suggested that a proper dance band be put together. A veteran Paul Nuyens took responsibility for the organisation and soon they had a violinist, trumpet, trombone, saxophone and sousaphone players as well as a banjoist and a double bassist. One particularly talented veteran Bill Jack played the drums, clarinet, saxophone and also sang for the band.

 

Driving around in a Ford car which the band purchased for £5, they played at private parties in London but also places as far apart as Wolverhampton, Bristol and Bournemouth. The band also played for their fellow blind veterans three times a week at St Dunstans Lodge in Regent's Park.The dance band were always up to date musically, with a repitoire of over 100 popular tunes.

 

Soon after the outbreak of WWII, it became clear that it would be much harder for the dance band to operate due to safety and transport problems. So in 1939, after 17 years the band retired.  

 

The dance band wasn't the only music group of Blind Veterans UK. There was a string band featuring cellos and violins, a brass band, a Ragtime band and a choir. See below for some more images from the musical happenings over the years at Blind Veterans UK!

Church Stretton Band With J Harris

Church Stretton Music Band 2

Church Stretton Music Band 3

Church Stretton Music Band