Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK
Kettle Bridge Concertinas at SqueezEast, June 2011
Kettle Bridge Concertinas is based in Maidstone, Kent. Our purpose is to practise, play and perform together on the English Concertina. We also aim to promote this instrument to a wider audience by organising workshops and taking part in sessions around the country as well as playing at a variety of venues around Maidstone. Our name originates from the 'Kettle Bridge' - an ancient wooden bridge which used to cross the River Medway between Barming and West Farleigh.
The inspiration for Kettle Bridge Concertinas was a lady called Glad Thorp of Rochester. In over 50 years of playing, Glad taught many beginners, including some current members of Kettle Bridge Concertinas (Sandy, Pat, Chris and John). She also raised thousands of pounds for Unicef by busking at festivals and fairs in Rochester and Sidmouth. She believed that the gift of music should be freely taught – the only payment being the passing on of that knowledge to others. This ethos is at the core of Kettle Bridge Concertinas. Therefore when Sandy and Pat had the opportunity to teach some beginners, they both jumped at that chance.
Kettle Bridge Clogs performing
Kettle Bridge Concertinas was formed in 2008. It is a sister group to Kettle Bridge Clogs. On Saturday 7th June 2008 Kettle Bridge Clogs did a dancing tour of Wye. We danced in the gardens of the New Flying Horse pub and then had lunch. Whilst chatting during that lunch time, Sandy offered to teach 4 members of the side how to play the concertina. It was arranged that we would meet two weeks later at Sandy’s home.
On Saturday 21st June 2008 Sandy and Pat gave the first lesson to Fiona, Pom, Sally and Trina who were all absolute beginners. Other sessions were soon arranged. In September 2008 Sue also decided to learn to play and came along to the sessions. After a few weeks of lessons, the beginners group joined up with some others who had been playing for a while. This included Chris, John, Tricia and MF-D. This was the start of Kettle Bridge Concertinas.
On December 7th 2008, after some intense practice and with lots of nerves, the concertina group made its public debut playing some seasonal music by the Christmas tree in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone. The first session was a great success and so the group decided to undertake more. Further busking sessions were held on 14th and 20th December 2008.
Busking in Maidstone, December 2008
We attracted a new member - Carol joined us. We were playing regularly together and also planning on busking again at Christmas. So we decided it was time to organise ourselves into a “proper” group. On Saturday 7th November 2009, we held an inaugural meeting where we elected officers (Chair, Secretary and Treasurer) and adopted our constitution. Kettle Bridge Concertinas as a formal organisation had been born.
Kettle Bridge Concertinas were thriving but the club wanted to do more to promote the English concertina in the local community. The decision was made to apply for funding through Kent Community Funding and Grassroots Grants. In June 2010 Kettle Bridge Concertinas succeeded in obtaining the maximum grant of £5000 to enable the club to develop a community project.
We have gone from strength to strength and have taken part in several competitions, with some notable successes. From time to time, we also have guest musicians who come along to hold workshops for the members and these are always popular and very rewarding.
So Kettle Bridge Concertinas is now a well established group of enthusiastic players who continue to spread the word that playing the concertina really is fun. Why not come along and join us?