Sidmouth Town Band signing 25-year lease on rehearsal venue

On the move - Sidmouth Town Band is relocating to St Francis Church Hall. Ref shs 14-16SH 9685. Pict

On the move - Sidmouth Town Band is relocating to St Francis Church Hall. Ref shs 14-16SH 9685. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Town Band is signing a 25-year lease for a rehearsal venue after its bid to buy another property fell short – but its fundraising for a permanent HQ to secure its next 150 years will continue.

Sidmouth Town Band.

Sidmouth Town Band. - Credit: Archant

The award-winning band is entering into a ‘mutually beneficial’ arrangement with St Francis Church to manage its hall, which leaders say will keep it at the heart of the community.

The band launched an appeal last January to buy the town centre’s United Reform Church (URC), but decided in July the £350,000 target was out of reach.

Instead, it will make alterations to the Woolbrook Road hall to provide improved tuition space for learners and an opportunity for other music groups to benefit from a dedicated space.

Musical director Adrian Harvey said: “This move will secure the future musical development of the band and will provide an opportunity for the expansion of free musical tuition within Sidmouth.”

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Recent successes – including fifth place at National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain last year – mean the band has outgrown its current Sidmouth Town Council-owned Woolcombe Road HQ.

With space to rehearse, perform, teach promising performers and store its instruments and extensive musical library, the URC looked ideal, but without grant funding it was unattainable.

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Band leaders are in the process of agreeing terms to use the St Francis Church Hall as a rehearsal space and take over its management, although the church will retain ownership. They will work to ensure that the transfer is as seamless as possible for existing users and that there is no impact on the surrounding area. The band will continue to rent the hall out to community groups.

Band chairman Martin Cordy said both parties are committed to resolving the many legal and practical issues within the next six months.

He added: “While the band remains grateful for the support of the town council in providing the current location, recent success has meant that the space is no longer large enough.

“We will continue to look for a permanent home during the coming 25 years and will continue to fundraise so that we are able to purchase our own building should something suitable arise.”

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