Keeping a Steady Rhythm

150 Years of the Milton District Band

On the 21st of September 1869, eight members of the Ulladulla Volunteer Corps came together for one of their earliest performances as the town band at the Milton School of Arts Bazaar. One attendee gleefully relayed the day’s proceedings to The Kiama Independent, but they soon became lost for words when describing how well the music accompanied the day. In a certifiable you-had-to-be-there moment, they said: ‘One cannot realise the real effect unless fortunate enough to be an eye-witness.’

By 1892, the band had become more well-established and was able to acquire this bass drum which remained in use until it was replaced around 1970. It was during this time that some of the band’s most beloved members joined.

Laurie Petty (1906-1998) spent sixty-five years in the band, making him its longest-serving member. Petty joined in 1917 as an eleven-year-old and as an adult became bandmaster for many years. Community members fondly remembered hearing the sound of his euphonium as he rode his pony to band practice. He led the band with the principle that members should help invite and teach newcomers: ‘each one teach one.’

A close second with sixty-two years spent in the band, Reg Davis (1905-1994) was a farmer known for his wonderful sense of humour. Davis, generally an accordionist for the band, wrote: ‘Though years may change the instruments and change the faces too. Just keep the band flag flying and play when asked.’

It’s safe to say that after 150 years of continuous gathering and performance, this spirit continues to live on in the Milton District Band. Though the name, instruments, and faces have certainly changed, they continue to serve the community of Milton today.