For the Beating Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset the pressure was on. Each band had a ten minute slot, and ours was after the Band of The Royal Marines. Talk about ‘follow that’! The butterflies were running wild in my stomach I’m afraid, but the Drum Major’s stentorian word of command seemed to calm them down and we were on.    


We entered with Walmer Castle, our ‘signature’ retreat march, then played our slow march Mountain Echoes, breaking into quick time for the 1914-18 Medley. Halted in front of the dais, we played The Jigs through once with solos alternating with the full Corps, then all playing with the tempo steadily increasing to end in a blur of fingers and gasps of breath. Our march off was The British Grenadiers and The Sussex Medley, to the applause of the packed crowd.


The Ceremonial Sunset finale saw the return of all the bands, the Standard Bearers of the Veterans’ Associations and a Guard of Honour provided by the Sea Cadets.  The Military Bands and the Pipe Band played Highland Cathedral followed by Evening Hymn and Sunset. Thanks to our fine tradition of keeping to high pitch instruments we weren’t playing, so could stand at attention and just enjoy the music.   The salute was taken by Admiral Boyce, the current Lord Warden of The Cinque Ports, making a fitting end to a marvellous day for our Corps.  


We seem to have been a Senior Officer magnet this summer as four weeks later, at The Guards Museum in Wellington Barracks, a General of The Afghan Army with his ADCs also dropped in to watch us. He had a few words with the Drum Major afterwards which we’re hoping won’t lead to an invitation to Kabul.   


We were at The Guards Museum to support its summer Bands and Bandsmen exhibition. The intention was to attract towards the Museum the crowds who assemble for The Changing of The Guard. As it turned out there was no Guard Change that day, but our bugles sounding Regimental Call and Fall In soon produced a crowd.


We split our effort into three parts: two marching displays and a static performance around music stands. (see some movie)        



Given the very restricted area in front of the Museum, the marching displays were something of a challenge. But somehow the Drum Major managed to manoeuvre us around without anybody falling down the front steps.


On the march we played pretty much what we’d done at Chatham, but for our performance round the stands we first played Killaloe, our Londoner Medley, Hazelmere and The Resistance. Then, for The Great Escape, we enlisted some temporary members by issuing the children in the crowd with triangles, tambourines, cymbals, drums etc. so they could bash along with us, all ably conducted by Drummer Robert Stone.  


After that excitement we returned to normal with Prussia’s Glory, Legs Eleven, and the Welsh Medley. Then the Side Drummers stepped forward to give their ‘Shackattack’ drum beatings and we finished with For Flag And Empire.



Over a late lunch, kindly provided by Andrew Wallace the Museum Curator, we learned that visitor numbers were three times the normal tally for the day. So it was ‘objective achieved’ and everybody happy.


Press-ganging small children isn’t the only recruiting strategy the Cinque Ports Corps of Drums employs. So if you’d like to be a part of our Beating Retreat and military-related performances, have a word with Drum Major Geoff Fairfax at Society meetings or by e-mail to: And don’t worry, we do play at other places besides museums!




1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums

Museum Pieces

Historic Dockyard Chatham & The Guards Museum

Author - Drummer Mike Boxall

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Cinque Ports Corps of Drums Events, Summer 2008
With members whose combined age totals over 800 years, the Cinque Ports Corps of Drums would probably qualify for inclusion in many museum collections. So it was strangely appropriate that our two main events this summer took place at museums. The first was Beating Retreat at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, and the second a performance at The Guards Museum in Wellington Barracks, London.

The Chatham event was part of the town’s Veterans Day and TA100 celebrations.
Hundreds of ex-Servicemen and their families were at the Historic Dockyard for this year’s special celebration, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Territorial Force in 1908.  It was also a fundraising event in aid of the Historic Dockyard Trust and the Help for Heroes charity.

After arriving in good time from Knockholt, where we had been supporting fellow Society members The Warlingham Flute Band in the village Carnival procession, we were ready to play our part in the Dockyard event. This consisted of a marching display in the afternoon, and a Beating Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset in the evening with the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines Portsmouth, the Kohima Band of The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment and the City of Rochester Pipe Band.

For our first display we played some old standards, beginning with Prussia’s Glory, The Adjutant and Galanthia. Then, after playing Trumpet Tunes at the halt, we marched off to The Great Escape. Judging by the veterans’ applause, they had appreciated seeing and hearing a Corps of Drums. See the You Tube link on the Gallery page.
The Londoner 4 web.wmv