On 21st November 1947, twelve musical enthusiasts met at the Women’s Institute in Bude to spend a pleasant evening listening to gramophone records. It was the first meeting of the “Bude Gramophone Society”. The society flourished – for a subscription of 10/6 members enjoyed evenings of illustrated talks, musical crosswords, musical quizzes, and the opportunity to listen to records other than their own.

As time passed the Westcliff Hotel, and then the Grenville Hotel, were used as venues, and live recitals were given by talented members and local artists. The name was changed to “Bude Music and Gramophone Society”. By 1951 all evenings were of live music, and so the name changed to “Bude Music Society”.  It soon became obvious that a good piano was essential. Fundraising began, including a series of “St. Cecilia Fairs”, and a Steinway grand piano was purchased for the price of 260 guineas.

Piano Storage Required

Storage space for the piano was provided by the Grenville Hotel, but it had to be stored on its side under the stairs with the legs removed. When concerts were held in the Ballroom it was no easy matter to get the piano out and into position, then return it to storage afterwards. When concerts were held at other venues it was trundled through the town, and on one occasion taken by horse-box to Kilkhampton.  

There came a time when the society had to leave its permanent home at the Grenville Hotel, and for a few seasons used other venues including the Public Hall and the Congregational Church, with occasional concerts back at the Grenville. In 1973 Budehaven Comprehensive School became the home of the Society for the next 18 years, providing not only a suitable hall for concerts, but also a secure room where the piano could be stored safely and on its legs. The piano survived the fire in 1998, despite standing in a pool of polluted water for over three weeks. Acoustics in the new John Ward Hall proved to be a challenge, and reducing membership brought about pressure on finances. In 2010 it became necessary to sell the piano, and this led to a new impetus as fresh venues were explored. Concerts are now held on Sunday afternoons, and there a very positive feeling in the Society.

Wide Range of Performers

Over the years the Society has been pleased to welcome a wide variety of performers: finalists from international competitions, duos, trios, quartets, chamber orchestras, male voice choirs, vocal soloists and ensembles, brass ensembles. It is a pleasure to remember past concerts and performers, but the Society also looks to the future seeking to provide a balance of both familiar and new music, providing a platform for both established musicians and those just starting out on a performing career.