|Forum Home > Memorabilia From the past. > Edwin Cornock, Cradley Heath Musician.|
For a man who achieved a great deal in his lifetime, he remains virtually unknown outside the region. Indeed, not many today will even recognise the name. For those with a taste and liking for the sound of a good brass band, the of Edwin Cornock may be very familar. Edwin was not a native of the area, for he was born in North Nibly, Gloucestershire, in 1842, and arrived in Cradley Heath, with his parents, in 1850. His father obtained work at the Corngreaves Ironworks, and when Edwin reached 12 years old, he joined him. It's doubtful if Edwin could read or write at this stage, let alone read a musical score, but undaunted, he began to teach himself. The deafening din of the Ironworks, was soon to be replaced with rather sweeter tones of Brass Bands, as Edwin turned his attention to first learning to play a simple tin whistle. Maybe it was the uniforms they wore, Red and Blue with splashes of Gold braid would be enough to turn any young lads head, never mind the stirring tunes and the deep thump of a big drum. Once he had mastered his tin whistle, there was no stopping Edwin, for he next began to do any work that would earn him a few coppers towards a proper instrument, in this case, a Trombone. Now the Bandsmen of the time had a reputation, ( not untrue as the records will tell you.) of being a bunch of drunken old soaks. His earning power decreased when one of his part time employers found out, and he had to set his sights lower, he earned enough to buy a Flute. It didn't take him long to master this either, and he was soon in demand among the many Choirs of the area as an assistant. ( Yes, the folk of the Black Country did posses a little culture )
The turning point must have come in 1862, as that was the year he bagan to play the Bugle, followed a couple of years later by the Cornet. Possibly sensing they had a good lad in Edwin, he was invited to join the Netherend Brass, and from there, a few years later, the Maypole Inn Orchestra. This was, at the time, one of the most popular bands in the area, and had 30 members, nearly twice the size of many others. He could by now, also read music, and arrange scores, so in 1870, Edwin Cornock took on the role of Conductor, for the Cradley Heath Brass Band. This gave him scope to spread his wings, so to speak, and he began to encourage, and form other bands. As he always had an interest in teaching children, he formed the Fife and Drum Band of the Cornreaves Schools, then went on to form a Brass band at the Ironworks as well. When the Ironworks got into finacial difficulties, which eventual saw them close, he took the band and merged it with another band he was working with, The Seventh Worcesters Halesowen Volunteer Band, later to become The Band of the Halesowen Company, Territorial Army. He was the Conductor of this band until 1910, when it was more populary known as Cornocks Band. His energy was astounding, not only did he have a job at Penns Foundry, Cradley Heath, but he started the Blackheath St Pauls Band, in 1889, having the year before formed the Halesowen Primitive Methodist Band. This later went on to become The Temperence Band, and then The Coffee House Band, before merging with the Volunteer Band in the Drill Hall, Grammer School Lane. He was. in total, with this band for 28 years, and it was calculated that he marched over 16,000 miles in drill practice alone. Lord knows how far they marched altogether. From this splendid pool of talent, sprang the Halesowen Town Band, winners of many prizes, and a joy to listen to on a sunny afternoon in the park. Edwin Cornock died in November 1932, at his home in Blue Bell Lane. The picture below shows the Volunteers prior to the unit becoming part of the new Territorial Army, Edwin Cornock is the man with the stripes in the centre of the photograph. There is also a picture of him a few years earlier, when he was working at Penns Foundry, in the Working Life album in the gallery.
Never a man for a fuss, he asked for a quiet funeral, " no flowers, and no music ". I bet he didn't get go unserenaded though, even if it was just a Bugle call.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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