This is the story of how a Blantyre church parted company during the 1890’s with their brass band and how a particular dispute escalated to the point of ending up in court!
On Monday 27th September 1897, Sheriff Davidson gave judgment , settling an outcome in a case at the instance of the manager, elders and congregation of the Blantyre Evangelical Union Church, Blantyre against individuals of the Blantyre EU Church Brass Band. Namely, Thomas Allardice, Peter Copland, Alex Smellie, Frank Diet, Thomas Gray and Peter McCrossan.
The church demanded the return of brass instruments which were believed to be their own. The individuals under the collective name of Blantyre EU Church Brass Band, believing them to be their own.
The record showed that the Blantyre E.U. Band had been formed about seven years earlier in 1890 and that in 1894 a bazaar had been held to raise the money for new instruments. Around £200 was raised and the larger portion of this was used from the proceeds to buy new instruments for the band. The surplus of £55 was handed over to reduce the overall Church debt.
Sometime afterwards however, a dispute had arisen between the Church and the band members and they had parted company, the band leaving to practice in the hall of another church. The Church demanded the return of ‘their’ instruments but the band claimed they were the property of the band and the money raised had been by their own hand.
In a note, the Sheriff said this notion raised a somewhat novel point in who was entitled to the proceedings of the bazaar. The natural answer is that the proceeds go to the object for which the bazaar is held and inconsequential as to who organises that. There were members of the band who were not members of the church and again this was inconsequential.
During the case it was observed that the band was a constantly changing band, in name and members with no or little organisation. Indeed, many of the members weren’t even around at the time of formation or the bazaar. Now, a little more organised, the band believed they should keep all these instruments, which the church was aggrieved about.
The Sheriff concluded the instruments belonged to the church and should be returned to the Church within 14 days of the court outcome. An exception to this was a fugal horn and E Flat base which had been bought outright by two of the current members in recent times.
The former Blantyre EU Church (Congregational at Craig Street) is pictured.