History of Downshire Brass
The Band was formed in 1990 by the Amalgamation of the Reid Memorial Silver Band and Hillsborough Silver Band, two of the oldest bands in Ireland at that time. The name Downshire originated from the members themselves as they wanted a new name for the new amalgamated band even though they were proud of the history of both bands. The amalgamation has been very successful and many of the band are original members.
The Reid Memorial Flute Band was formed in 1912 from the members of Dr. Haire's Bible Class belonging to Malone Presbyterian Church. It always maintained it's link with Malone although not all it's members were church members. The band maintained a high standard of music making until in 1933 the price of Flutes forced the members to change to Brass Instruments which meant that they had to begin again. In 1939 rehearsals and contests curtailed, resuming again in 1945 and from then on the Reid Memorial Silver Band became one of the leading Senior Brass bands in Ireland and maintained this standard for many years until the civil unrest caused the band to suspend it's activities for approx a year. During this time members kept the machinery ticking over and the instruments, until membership had been recruited enabling the band to reform at Second Section level. The band continued to compete in contests and progressed to the Championship Section. The band carried out a busy programme of concerts and park engagements until the amalgamation with Hillsborough Silver Band to become Downshire Brass in 1990. The name "Downshire " in Downshire Brass has links going back to Hillsborough with the Marquis of Downshire.
Hillsborough Silver Band was founded in 1850 and was the Official band at the opening of the Banbridge Railway Station in 1859. The band was founded by Lord William Hills who whilst visiting his estates in England observed bands at work and decided to bring instruments back to Hillsborough for it's own band. The band like all bands in that period started of as a flute band due to the low startup costs of instruments but progressed over the years to Brass and then Silver providing a service to the local community disrupted only by the first world war as was the case throughout the country at that time. The band held it's rehearsals in the upstairs rooms of the old Market House (which later became the Courthouse) where it remained until the "troubles" in the Province and the close proximity to the Hillsborough Castle (where the Secretary of State for NI resided) forced the band to seek other accommodation in the village. The band carried out a great number of engagements locally and successfully contested in the BBL, NIBA and further a field over the years. Sadly due to a combination of lack of financial support and a decline in members, the band finally had to call it a day in 1990 and amalgamated with the Reid Memorial Silver Band to form Downshire Brass.