1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums Fifepower 9th Aug 2009 Author - Drummer Mike Boxall
The Cinque Ports Corps of Drums at Firepower, The Royal Artillery Museum Woolwich
In 1557 Fifes and Drums were listed as part of the ‘trayne’ of the King’s artillery.
A mere 452 years later the sound of flutes and drums sounded with the guns again
as The Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums marched and played at a summer
event for the Firepower Museum in Woolwich.
The Museum, based in the historic Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, tells the powerful story
of artillery, and the scientific discoveries made through warfare. As the Regimental
Museum of the Royal Regiment of Artillery it also records Gunners’ uniforms, medals
and stories of courage since, in 1716, the Regiment replaced the old artillery 'traynes'
that had previously been raised by Royal Warrant for specific campaigns.
Our first display of the afternoon was on the square in front of the Old Royal Military
Academy building. This Grade II listed building, built between 1716 and 1720 and
attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor, was the first home of the Royal Military Academy
whose aim was to produce "good officers of Artillery and perfect Engineers".
Intending to be perfect but perhaps only just achieving good, our marching display
began with an ‘Advance in Review Order’ playing the first 8 bars of The British Grenadiers.
Then it was into our slow march Mountain Echoes and back into quick march for the
1914 – 18 Medley.
During the Medley we carried out our catastrophe-defying new manoeuvre ‘going round
in circles’. The front rank Drummers all set off in totally different directions
with the files behind them blindly following. The apparent chaos soon resolved itself
into everyone marching in a large circle, then uncurling and re-curling into another
circle before finally re-forming back into our original four-rank Corps. And no-one
From then on it was plain sailing with The Jigs and Trumpet Tunes played at the halt.
Finally we marched off to the first in our Regimental Marches Set, Sussex By The
Half an hour later we re-emerged from the Old Royal Military Academy building to
set up our music stands in front of the Museum. At this ‘recital’ stage of the day’s
event we played some (Drummers’) old favourites including Hazelmere, Legs Eleven,The Great Escape,Prussia’s Glory and the beginning of the Welsh Medley. (The similarity
of the opening notes of the first tune, All Through The Night, and the last tune,
Men of Harlech, resulted in the Drum Major quickly calling a halt to our rendition
of a hitherto unheard march, All Through The Men of Harlech Night.)
To save our blushes we quickly moved on to a staple of Cinque Ports Corps of Drums
recitals: Children’s Hour. In this section we issue the children in the crowd with
triangles, tambourines, cymbals, drums etc. so they can bash along with us. Starting
with My Grandfather’s Clock and continuing with Mighty Band of Brothers our little
accompanists bashed along very heartily.
To round off our afternoon we formed up again and paraded in front of the Museum
playing The Adjutant and Galanthia before the Drum Major called us to a halt for
the last time and ordered ‘Dismiss’.
On a glorious sunny summer’s afternoon, our Firepower event had turned out to be
a thoroughly enjoyable day for the Corps. And maybe, despite the bright sunlight,
a ghost or two from the 16th Century stirred to the sound of flutes and drums among
the guns again.