Cosham’s director with a musical mission for Highbury Area Band in 1981

Back row, from left: Lucie Daley-Dawson, Richard Lambert, David Gershkoff, Mark Taylor, Darren Bone, Penny Smith, Sarah Alton, Stuart Bone and Rachel Dean. Seated, from left: Paul Holland, Mike Lovell, Sara Scriven, and Ina Sargent.
Back row, from left: Lucie Daley-Dawson, Richard Lambert, David Gershkoff, Mark Taylor, Darren Bone, Penny Smith, Sarah Alton, Stuart Bone and Rachel Dean. Seated, from left: Paul Holland, Mike Lovell, Sara Scriven, and Ina Sargent.

For a group that grew out of one recorder and a school football team, Highbury Area Band could say it had come a long way.

For a group that grew out of one recorder and a school football team, Highbury Area Band could say it had come a long way.

With 30 major concerts and 18 civic functions, the band encompassed more than 80 members.

But despite this growth, the band had held on to its identity. More than half its members lived on the Highbury estate at Cosham – and that’s how they hoped it would stay. Being one of the only bands in Portsmouth that was an instrumental line-up of brass, woodwind and percussion, their popularity grew.

And although he would not admit it himself, the inspiration behind the Highbury Area Band came from musical director Michael Morton. 

‘Without him, the band would have gone under years ago,’ said 15-year-old Sara Scriven. 

The band began its life at Highbury Middle School, with little aspiration. 

‘Everything was going smoothly,’ said Michael Morton, ‘it was only when we played for the Lord Mayor did we get a flood of invites to play elsewhere, such as the Guildhall.

‘So we decided to stay together. Although we were still based at Highbury and the instruments belonged to the school, we felt our independence had begun.’

The average age among the 50 members was 15 and they practised every week at Cosham Community Centre. During the previous year, they played for the Queen’s visit at Castle Field, Southsea. 

The future certainly looked bright for the band, as their talent was becoming widely recognised.

At the end of 2016, Highbury Area Band closed down after 40 years of performing.