Clubs & Organisations of Annan
Annan Town Band
It appears to be universally agreed that in 1950 when a building was being demolished, a document was found by a stonemason, relating to the Lower Annandale Band, dated 1834.
In 1850 a band, thought to be the Lower Annandale Band, was reported as playing in the RoM for that year and in 1898 Thomas Tweedie is said to have organised a band & given money to them to buy instruments, although they were later lost.
The D&G Standard in 1857 reported that in June of that year the Prince of Wales steamer left Waterfoot with 60 passengers for a day trip to Silloth. The Annan Brass and accompanied them and there was even dancing on the deck!
The Band appears to have had several names during 1800’s – Lower Annandale Band, Annan Brass Band, Annan Volunteer Brass Band and the Annan Masonic Band. 1900 saw 20 workers at Newbie Engineering Works form the Multitubular Military and String Band. An advert later that year asked for new members for the band to rehearse in the Mechanics Hall in Lady Street, now the Lonsdale Cinema.
In 1901 the name of the band was changed to Annan Town Band. 2021 saw them celebrate their 120 year anniversary, making them the oldest musical group in Annan. They regularly played in the Albert Hall until the outbreak of the First World War. 1918 saw the band close down but 1927 saw it reformed after a visit to Annan by the Hawick Saxhorn Band. Instruments were bought from the ex Langholm Temperance Band for about £100 and some of those instruments were still being used over 50 years later. At the first rehearsal there were more prospective bandsmen than there were vacancies in the band.
They practised in Foster Hall (now known as the Function Suite) at the Corner House Hotel from 1933 to 1951. During the 1930’s the band took part in many contests and in 1935 ½d was put on the rates to ease the hardship of the band, which let them carry on until the beginning of WW2. They continued during the war and it took some time to get back to normal
From 1952 attendances fell and in 1954 the band closed down again and their instruments were given to the town council to look after. It restarted in 1961 when Chapelcross opened and new people came to Annan and they rehearsed in the court room of the Town Hall and then the Old Library. They finally had to leave the library because of government re-organisation in 1975. The band struggled without a set bandroom for the next few years but managed to continue and 1980 saw them return to the Old Library only to move to the Market Hall shortly after. Fund raising bought new uniforms but Council reorganisation saw them homeless again. The Blue Bell offered them the use of an upstairs room, which they continue to use.
The first RoM brass band contest was held in 1991 and with a new conductor recruited from Annan Academy the band grew from strength to strength, also recruiting new, younger members. Sept 1982 saw their first trip abroad to Belgium and 1993 saw the first annual concert with Macleans pipe band.
In 1996, with an award from the National Lottery, the band bought new instruments. Sponsorships saw the band continue entering contests and giving concerts. Covid has of course affected the band, as it has everyone else, but they have kept practising at home and 2021 finally saw them able to rehearse together again and 2022 sees them once more advertising concerts.
Annan Rugby Club
The first local rugby matches were played under the name of Annan Football Club, which had members who played football, rugby and cricket. Newspaper reports in the late 1800’s say that two Annan men played rugby for a Dumfries team but it wasn’t until 1879 that a full report of a ‘rugby’ match was made. Reports followed regularly until 1893 but after that they became intermittent until 1895 when a club was formed specifically for rugby, and reports began to appear again. Rugby at this time was played by those who had learned the game at private schools or taken it up as adults. There were no regular grounds for matches, the players having to depend on the generosity of land owners to allow them to use their fields and all the time football was still a much more popular game.
It was the early 1920’s before much more was heard about rugby. Annan YMCA Rugby Club was formed although it later changed its name to Annan Rugby Club, playing at Hillend and then Elm Road but with a lack of players the club soon folded. 1935 saw a revival with improvements to the stand and enclosure and the team practising conscientiously. Accounts say the club played in maroon and white hoops and had enough cars among the team to travel to away matches, although with team members working on Saturday mornings they didn’t travel very far.
1939 and the outbreak of war ended matches again and the club was not re established until 1968/69. The next game was played in 1969-70 when a group of Annan men decided Annan Rugby Club should reappear. They played in yellow shirts with a black band, colours chosen as they were the reverse of the rugby colours at Annan Academy, and although players were training hard there just weren’t enough of them to arrange regular games. Perseverance ensured that they obtained a pitch at Newington and Annan Rugby Club finally became well established.
In 1979 they applied to join the Border District League, which consisted of mostly junior teams and in the same year they bought the premises in Bank Street which opened as their clubhouse in 1980.
Annan tried to gain access to the National Leagues and joined the Glasgow District League as a step towards this and were champions in 1991/92 and 1992/93. They were champions of National League Division 7 in 1993/94 and Division 6 in 1994/95.
In 1995 SRU decided to restructure the Leagues and the 7 National Divisions were split into 4 Premier Leagues (8 teams) and 7 National Leagues (10 teams). Annan were put into National League 4 and the next 3 years saw them become champions every year so that they held the record for 7 league championships in a row – a Scottish rugby record. 1995 saw them set up the first Scottish Rugby club website and 1999 they leased a new ground at Violetbank, with 2 full size pitches, a club house and fitness rooms.
In 2003 they won the Scottish Rugby Bowl at Murrayfield, beating Irvine in the final and 2016 saw them win Scottish Rugby Club of the year.
2018/19 saw them celebrate their 50th anniversary with 11 different teams regularly playing. 2021 also saw them buy their ground at Violetbank, where they aim to develop facilities even further. They were chosen as Community Club of the season 2021/22 for the Glasgow South area by Scottish Rugby.