THE FORMATION OF GOLD COAST POLICE BAND
The three hundred (300) Hausa men that constituted the First and Second Battalions of infantry played a significant role in the formation of the Gold Coast Police Band. During their leisure times, some of them demonstrated their virtuosity by singing and playing their indigenous music which drew the attention of their colonial masters to the need to form a Police Band. Eventually, a number of them were selected and trained to play the western musical instruments.
As it turned out, twenty-five (25) of them later formed the Gold Coast Police Band in 1918. At first, the band was on its own before it was later transferred to the then Police Depot under the Directorship of the first expatriate Bandmaster, B.Y. Marsh, who was appointed in 1923. Since the band was composed of illiterate (Escort Policemen), as shown in the picture in the previous chapter, they were bare-footed, except the bandmaster who was entitled to wear shoes, since he was a colonial master and a General Police Officer. (Ghana Police Service archives).
The Police Depot, now National Police Training School (NPTS), was established by Act of Colonial Office in January 1930. On March 1st 1930, the band, the depot staff, and recruits under the command of Captain J.W. Barlow, who was the then Commanding Officer (CO), moved from the Accra main central barracks which was the then Police Depot, to their present location at Tesano and the old police band building was surrendered to the Public Works Department (P.W.D.) which now stands adjacent to the Government Transport Yard (S.T.C.) at Tudu in Accra. (Passing-out parade programme. 3rd February 2006 at the National Police Training School, Accra.)
Vinnecombe in a rehearsal
T. Stunning and the Fanfare Team
In contemporary Ghana, the Police Band is a popular band that helps to bridge the gap between the Police Service and civilians through public performances. For one reason or the other, not many people know the police band for the role it plays in society. Hence the idea of organizing the ‘’Police Week’’, which was launched for the first time by the Public Relation Directorate of the Ghana Police Service on the 5th September 1976, was conceived so that policemen might have a fresh opportunity to rethink of their role in society, and the public also to become educated about what they could do to help the police to help society to live in peace and tranquility. Public lectures were organized to that effect. In an effort to merit the goodwill of the public, the Police Band was taxed to entertain the public from time to time.
In that same connection, a police musical programme code-named “Help your police to help you” was organized in the early 1990s by the Police Administration throughout the country. It was designed to entertain the public and foster harmonious police-civilian relations in the country.
A little while after B.Y. Marsh had retired in 1942, another expatriate bandmaster, Mr. T. Stunning, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) was appointed to lead the band. He also did his best and led the band to perform at the then European Club in Accra every Sunday evening to entertain the European community resident in the then Gold coast. The band played mainly classical music and a few local tunes. In 1943, Mr. Thomas Stenning apparently in recognition of his sterling qualities, was assigned the responsibility of taking the band on a tour of the UK for six months. The purpose of the tour was to entertain and demonstrate to the British populace what the colonial masters have achieved in training the African in terms of music. Soon after the tour, however, Mr. T. Stunning retired.
Thomas Stenning (b. 1888) enlisted in 1905 into the 7 Dragoon Guards. He became a Lance Corporal in the 6 DGs and in 1917 was commissioned as Lieutenant in the 2nd Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment. He embarked on the Student Bandmaster Course at Kneller Hall and undertook his Associate of The Royal College of Music (ARCM) in 1922. After training he became Bandmaster of the 11th Hussars from 1923-1936. He was appointed Bandmaster of the Royal Military College (Sand Hurst) from 1936-1943 and served as Bandmaster of the Gold Coast Police from August 1943 to November 1948. (Courtesy, Major P.D. Shannon, Royal Military School of Music, London)
Another expatriate S.T. Vinnecombe who was appointed in his place also died through a motor accident at the Farisco Junction, Adabraka, Accrain 1950. He was buried at the Christiansborg Cemetery at Osu in Accra. He was succeeded by J.H. Hempstead who also retired soon after Ghana attained independence in 1957. The picture below is Mr. S.T. Vinnecombe.
The first Ghanaian Drum Major, Agadia Kanjaga.
(Picture by Courtesy of Police Band