Brass bands have played a prominent part in the history of many towns around Australia, Nowra being among them.
Although evidence of the actual formation has not come to light, the Nowra Town Band was certainly functioning by 1880 and it is set to celebrate its 140th anniversary.
The earliest photograph from 1889 shows J. Lawrence as bandmaster, and this was almost certainly local tailor James Lawrence.
When he left the district for Coolgardie (WA) in 1896, he was presented with a purse of sovereigns, and the band played selections from the Nowra School of Arts balcony.
His bandsmen included three members of the Linkenbagh family, strong supporters of the organisation for the older generation, August had been treasurer of the band that was functioning in 1876.
After Lawrence's departure, there was little activity for several months until the appointment of F.W. Tidd of Terara.
Mr Tidd was a professional musician, teaching pianoforte, organ, violin and cornet, along with singing and harmony.
He also tuned and repaired pianos and organs, and when a band was formed at Berry, he became master of that as well.
During that year the band organised a moon-light excursion on the river, with the idea of raising funds.
Tickets to board the steam Buangla were one shilling for adults and sixpence for children.
However the first attempt was abandoned, and the second was so cold that few people came along and the captain decided not to charge for the evening.
Despite this setback, the band prospered under Mr Tidd's guidance, and it was seen at most important events.
The band organised and provided music for a ball held in the Nowra School of Arts in June 1904, that was described by The Leader as "a brilliant success".
By 1909 C. Hughes Taylor had become band-master, and his powers of diplomacy were tested when a slanging match developed between the band and the Shoalhaven Agricultural Association over a fee to play at the Nowra Show.
The charge was set at E7/101- for both days, based on the accepted amount of 5/1 per man, which resulted in derogatory remarks being made by the show committee.
The band withdrew its offer, before mediation from show secretary Henry Rauch saw it appear on one day.
Just prior to World War II the band went into recess, but it returned stronger than ever.
Bruce and Ken Abernethy raised the subject, and Fred Smith presided at a meeting held on Monday, June 5 that started with 14 musicians combining to show their worth.
Smith became president, Athol Leatheam was secretary (a position he had held previously), and George Seymour, formerly of Bega, was the new bandmaster.
After Smith's death, a memorial tablet was placed in Marriott Park, and at its unveiling in 1951 the band played in the rotunda there.
Nowra Town Band has had various headquarters, and its hall in Kinghorne Street was used for public meetings, including the one that saw the formation of Nowra Cricket Club in 1880.
By 1888 it was moved north along the street and used as a dressing shed for sports events on the ground adjacent to the Imperial Hotel (now Empire).
There were other practice rooms including North Street and Worrigee Street, before the Band Hall was built in the early 1920s in Nowra Lane. However, eventually it returned to Kinghorne Street where it remains today.
Information thanks to Shoalhaven Historical Society.