A meeting was held in August 1973, attended by three families; John and Marina Burton, Max and Pat Forbes, Arthur and Margaret Wilson. Their intention was to form a band in the Cardiff area.

The following positions were assumed as part of the organization.

  • President: John Burton
  • Secretary: Arthur Wilson
  • Treasurer: Max Forbes

Note: Max Forbes continued playing tenor horn until he was forced to retire due to ill health in 2013. Pat retired as a Committee member at the same time.

As Cardiff was a suburb at the northern end of Lake Macquarie (New South Wales) the name Northlakes Brass Band was chosen. Application was made to the Chief Secretary’s Department and the Band was registered as a charity.

First Rehearsal
The first rehearsal was held in John Young Community Hall, Cardiff on a Wednesday evening from 7pm to 9pm for a hire fee of $2 (not the current hire fee). John Wilson, Arthur’s brother, (both musicians –cornet and trombone) conducted the first rehearsal, with six players and their own instruments.

The band acquired the complete music library of a band that “disbanded” and selections from this library provided music for band rehearsals and performances.

New Members
With recruiting, the band grew rapidly to twenty players, using a combination of donated and borrowed instruments. Tutoring was an important part of the players’ development. Arthur Wilson gave regular music lessons, providing a major contribution to the improvement in playing ability of the band members. He was assisted later in the eighties in this role by his son Geoffrey (also a trombone player).

Instrument Purchases
The first purchase was a bass drum (on terms). This was followed by the purchase of four cornets from a suburban “pawn” shop. With fundraising and payments for performances, “shop soiled” and slightly damaged instruments were purchased from Boosey and Hawkes, improving the quality of instruments being played. Additional music was also purchased.

First Contest
The Band entered its first contest as a D Grade Band in 1974. The contest was organised by the Mid North Coast Band Group (now known as the Hunter Regional Band Association).

Additional Contests
The Band has continued to contest regularly at Regional and State Level. It also contests at National level when the National Band Championships are held in New South Wales.

The first band uniform was a white jacket, the material being purchased by the band committee. The jackets were made by a local dressmaker.

In 1980, with funds available, band uniforms were purchased.
Male: Blue Blazer, Blue Tie, Grey Trousers, White Shirt, Black Shoes, Black Socks, Black Belt.
Female: Blue Blazer, Grey Skirt, White Blouse , Black Shoes, Grey Stockings.
This uniform was worn until 2007.

In 2007, the uniform was subject to a further change. The Blue Blazer was retained.
Male: Black trousers and a royal blue shirt, with band logo.
Female: Black skirt or Black slacks and a royal blue blouse with band logo, black socks or black pantyhose.

Fund Raising
Fund raising was strongly supported in the initial years by members and their families. Many thousands of lamingtons were made. The sale of lamingtons was the main source of funds for the purchase of band uniforms in 1980. Street stalls, play outs at shopping centres and payments for engagements were the other sources of income.

Lamington sales and street stalls were ‘phased out’ in the early-nineties. Income now depends upon ticketed band concerts, submissions for Grants from both Lake Macquarie City Council and the Band Association of NSW, BBQ’s at Bunning Warehouse Boolaroo, as well as donations from three Bunnings Stores for Christmas Carols Ensemble performances.

Activating Lake Macquarie City Council
On 5th August 1975, the Band assembled outside Lake Macquarie Council Chambers as Alderman were arriving for the Council meeting and gave an impromptu concert, being determined to make the aldermen aware of the existence of this community brass band.

The event was reported, together with photographs, in the regional Newcastle Morning Herald (a daily paper).
The outcome was the establishment of a Lake Macquarie Band Liaison Committee, with a Council representative appointed as liaison officer. The Council also approved an annual grant to member bands. The annual grant ceased in 2017 when Lake Macquarie City Council withdrew funding as a result of Lake Macquarie Band Liaison Committee being disbanded

Recreational Activity: October long weekend 1976 to 1980
In this period, the band consisted of families, with chidren and some of the parents playing in the band. The band held an annual social weekend at Crescent Head, New South Wales, occupying about twenty caravans at the caravan park. The band presented a concert at the nearby Country Club and the Surf Club.

Name Changes
In 1984, the band name was changed to identify Cardiff as the “home” suburb of the Band, but the original name was retained as a component. The Band became: Cardiff Northlakes Brass Band.

In 2006, the band name was changed again to an abbreviated form of the longer title. The band is now registered as CNL Brass (but is often still referred to by the longer title).

Championships Host Band: June 1983, 1984, 1985
The Band organised and hosted the Mid North Coast Band Group Brass and Concert Band Championships (now the Hunter Regional Band Association’s Brass and Concert Band Championships), an annual event, in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

Significant Sponsored Performance
Newcastle was home to the Kern Falcons, a National Basketball Team in the mid-eighties. The Kern Falcons would sponsor entertainment at all home games. The Band provided this entertainment for 1985 and 1986, playing at half time and during all breaks in play. On a number of occasions, half-time entertainment was a marching display by the Band.

Musical Directors

The Band’s current musical director, Luke Bradbery, was appointed in June 2021. He replaced Bruce Rowlatt, who stepped aside after three years in this role.

Under Luke’s baton, the band will continue its participation in community events, support ANZAC Day Services, present Concerts in its own right and accept the challenge of improving its standard of performance by contesting at Regional, State, and, when able, National Band Contests.

The sequence of past musical directors has been:

  • John Wilson
  • Alan Meldrum
  • Arthur Wilson (late seventies to mid eighties)—(founding member)
  • Geoffrey Wilson (Arthur’s son) (mid eighties to early 1990)
  • Ted King (1990-mid 1991)
  • Arthur Wilson  (mid 1991 – early 1992)
  • Alan Meldrum (1992 to 2004, inclusive)
  • Ron Grice (temporary- January to April 2005)
  • Ron Boaden (May 2005 to April 2013)
  • John Kellaway (May 2013 to June 2015)
  • David Thompson (July 2015 to June 2017)
  • Bruce Rowlatt (July 2017 to June 2021)

Note: Specific length of time for John Wilson and Alan Meldrum early in the band’s history is uncertain.

Current Situation
The band has currently twenty members and remains an active community band.

Alan Shaw
President, 2022