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Tuesday, 04 March 2014 00:00


Kellswater Flute Band was founded in 1947, four miles South of Ballymena in the town land of Tullynamullan. The Band takes its name from the Kellswater River, famous from the song ‘Bonnie Kellswater’, the river and Kellswater Bridge feature on the Band crest.

Throughout these early years with the support of the community and certain prominent individuals, various fund raising events were organised, leading to the purchase of Crown AZ flutes and Guards Pattern brass shelled drums.



In these early years Kellswater was a melody flute band under their first conductor Mr A. Pedlow, their first drum corps instructor was Mr W Hoffin. The baton then changed hands to Mr W. Mc Neill. The first of many successes on the contest platform soon followed when in 1952 Kellswater gained first place in Portadown performing ‘Everbright’ by W.B. Blythe in the melody flute section. The Band then progressed to part music, soon after Mr W.McNeill resigned as conductor due to work commitments.

Mr S. Barclay then became conductor for a short period of time prior to Mr J.Mathewson taking over the baton.  Under ‘Big Jimmy’ as he became affectionately known, much success at contests in the Ulster Hall Belfast and in Scotland was achieved between 1967 and 1985. Boehm system flutes being purchased in 1969 from Hunter Moore Flute Band in Newry



Under his guidance the band collected a total of 18 awards in Flute Band League Own Choice, North of Ireland Bands Association and Scottish Amateur Flute Band Association competitions.  After around thirty nine years of dedicated service as conductor, Mr. Mathewson retired due to ill health, and sadly passed away soon afterwards...


Mr. U. Faulkner became conductor in 1992, a peripatetic tutor and top ex-army piccolo player, with his enthusiasm plus a hard working committee and ladies committee, membership of the Band increased steadily.


New uniforms purchased in 1992 and a complete set of concert flutes in 1994 helped the band to develop further.


Under Mr. U. Faulkner, success returned with 5 awards achieved on the contest platform and Best Band on Parade secured on various occasions at the Ballymena 12th July demonstration.


In 1997 the band celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary with a Dinner Dance and presentation to three founder members and the release of their first CD “Fifty Years on the March” selling over 700 copies of the recording.



Taking part in parades locally, and further afield in Scarva, Londonderry and Scotland, Kellswater has never forgotten its roots as a marching Band, leading Youth Organisations, Loyal Orders, and the British Legion on numerous occasions.


On the 1st of July 2002, the band’s second CD was released, entitled “Step in Style” and comprising fifteen new marches, the recording has been extremely popular locally and tracks featured on Ballymena’s charity radio station “Radio Cracker” have boosted sales.  Many of the copies having been distributed in Scotland, England, South Africa, U.S.A., Canada and Australia.


In September 2003 Mr U. Faulkner stood down as conductor after eleven years of dedicated service both on parade and on the contest platform, the Band accepted his resignation due to work commitments with great reluctance.


The Band’s sixth conductor was Mr G. Houston FLCM. LRSM. LLCM, taking up the post on 9th Sept 2003.


Professionally he has held the position of Principal Flute with the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment, and has taught music at the highest level. This experience combined with his hard working ethos and organisational skills proved extremely successful, guiding Kellswater to the Grade 3 Irish Championship in October 2003, Grade 2 Flute Band Association Championship in February 2006, Grade 1 Scottish Flute Championship in April 2006, Grade 2 Northern Ireland Bands Association Championship in October 2007 and Grade 1 Flute Band Association Irish Championship in February 2009.


The Band's third CD, 'Gibraltar' was released on 12th August 2008 to celebrate the band's visit to Gibraltar, the finale of their 60th anniversary celebrations.


With a vibrant youth programme, players studying for high level grades and becoming involved in musical activities in schools, churches and festivals, a significant number of young members took up music as a profession during this period.


Kellswater’s current conductor is Mrs C. Watson who has been involved in the flute banding movement for over thirty years and has conducted various senior bands to numerous victories in prestigious competitions. Taking up the post in Jan 2010, the Band, under her guidance, immediately retained the Grade 1 Flute Band Association Irish Championship and in Oct 2010 Kellswater reached the pinnacle of flute band competitions becoming the Northern Ireland Bands Association Grade1 World Champions.


With this award, Kellswater has been successful across all competition sections in Northern Ireland and Scotland.


During the past thirteen years, Kellswater Flute Band has performed at the Tower Centre Ballymena in aid of various charities. Over £5500 has been donated to worthy causes. Combat Cancer, Meningitis Research, Radio Cracker (aid for the 3rd world), School Aid Romania, Action Cancer, Chernobyl Children Appeal (NI), Multiple Sclerosis, Macmillan Cancer Support, The Alzheimer’s Society and Skye's American Dream have all benefited from what has become an annual engagement.


In 2011 Kellswater were invited to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London joining with the cream of civilian and military bands on parade. In 2012 the Band featured on BBC TV’s Ulster Scots programme "Santer" and in 2013 performed on the Greek island of Crete at the invitation of their conductor Carolyn Watson.


Last Updated on Monday, 07 April 2014 16:39

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