G Grandfather George Tebb – Salvation Army Bandsman

George Tebb, having been born in 1872 wouldn’t feature in a census until 1881 when he would be nine years old… and he is living with his mother and a step-sister, Ellen, at 90 College Street, Windle, St Helens.  He was 8 years old when his father died and was his mother’s fourth child although his father’s first, his mother having been a widow when his father married her. It is known, also, that on 18th April 1885, at the age of 12, he joined the Salvation Army which was to become very important to him throughout his life.  In 1887, when he was 14, he joined the Salvation Army Band in St Helens although he would have been working too as he had to survive wherever he was living.

                        By the time of the next census in 1891 he was a boarder in Thomas and Minnie Ashcroft’s household at 41 Bruce Street, St Helens. He was working as a glass maker, no doubt in the Pilkington works in the town.  Thomas, his landlord, was a glassworker too. By this time he had been in the SA band for four years and presumably had received his training from the SA Bandmaster who was there at the time.

The following year, when he was 20, he married Frances Jane Ashcroft on 17th Sept 1892.

In 1893 he was appointed Bandmaster for the local Salvation Army band. 

By 1901 he was a labourer in the local iron foundry and the family were living at 54 Chester Street, North Eccleston, St Helens. He and Frances had three children, Mary Elizabeth (7), George (5) and John (3). Other people in the neighbourhood were mainly workers in the glass industry… some in the glass bottle factory.  Their immediate neighbours were a Roughley family, headed by Joseph Roughley. Frances Jane’s mother was a Roughley but at the moment it isn’t clear if they were related.

In Oct 1904 George was awarded the Certificate of Professor of Music at London National College of Music and in 1906 was awarded a gold medal for his cornet playing. Also in 1906 he was appointed to the position of Divisional Bandmaster for the Liverpool circuit and was training the various SA bands. During all of this he was working in his job although his work in the foundry was to come to an end in a few years. He must have had a very busy life… attending the Army services, taking band practices and supervising many around the circuit and also teaching his own children to play instruments as well as possibly visiting the members of the church who were sick or in trouble.

By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 11 Boundary Road, St Helens and George had given up his work in the iron foundry and was now teaching music. He taught his son, George (my grandfather), and although it isn’t known whether John also played it is known that Ronald, who was born in 1914 was a talented pianist and organist who until the late 1980s/early 1990s played the organ in his local church in Bramhall, Cheshire.

By 1913 George had opened a business selling music, presumably sheet music, which was conducted from the house as well as teaching music to Salvation Army children and adults, one presumes.  This busy life must have taken its toll on his energy and health for he became ill and eventually took to his bed.

He died at home on 23 Aug 1929, with the cause of death given as auricular fibrillation – meaning heart problems, and was buried on 28 August at St Helens Cemetery.  The following account from a local paper at the time pays eloquent tribute to the man.

Death of Mr G. Tebb

Notable career as Bandmaster

Loss to St Helens Salvation Army

Mr George Tebb, a well known musician and bandmaster of the local Salvation Army for twenty-nine years, passed away at his residence at 11 Boundary Road, on Friday evening after a long illness, at the age of 57 years.

Although he did not parade his talent, Mr Tebb was probably one of the most accomplished musicians in St Helens and had a big collection of certificates, medals and prizes won during a long musical career. He was awarded the certificate of Professor of the London National College of Music in October 1904, which entitled him to wear a cap and gown and certified him to teach music.

In 1906 the London College of Music awarded him a gold medal for cornet playing and in 1907 he gained the diploma of the London Victoria College of Music.

As a composer, Mr Tebb achieved considerable success and his merit received due recognition when he was awarded second prize for his composition the ‘Shipley’ march in a competition open to  the Salvation Army  throughout England. In addition he has composed several marches and hymns, including a short hymn to commemorate the new St Luke’s Church.

His ‘Army’ Career

Mr Tebb’s activities in connection with the St Helens No. 1 Corps of the Salvation Army will long be remembered for he practically built the Corps band and was the bandmaster for 29 years.  He joined the band at an early age and his musical ability resulted in his appointment as bandmaster at the age of 21.

The band made rapid progress under Mr Tebb’s tuition and in 1906 he was appointed Liverpool Divisional Bandmaster touring the Liverpool circuit and training the various Salvation Army bands. He became Songster (Choir)  leader in 1912 and was appointed band instructor to the Leigh band in 1908 (?) a position which he held until 1923. Mr Tebb’s health began to fail in 1922 (?) and he was forced to retire from the position of bandmaster to the St Helens band and he was made Honorary Bandmaster.

Mr Tebb had also been in business as a music dealer in Boundary Road for the last 16 years.

The Funeral

“A Godly, Loyal Salvationist”

The funeral took place at the Borough Cemetery on Wednesday, the streets being lined with crowds of people. The cortege was led by the Leigh and the St. Helens bands. Prior to the interment a memorial service was held in Milk Street conducted by Commandant Bamford, the officer in charge of the local Salvation Army Corps.

During the obsequies, tributes were paid to Mr Tebb who was described as a “Godly, Loyal Salvationist”.

Sergt. Major Sephton said he last saw Mr Tebb during his illness five weeks ago and when he went into Mr Tebb’s room he opened his bible and was much impressed to find that throughout all its pages verses were marked. They conversed together, and Mr Tebb said he had much to thank God for. He was very grateful. He was greatly concerned about his wife and children but everything was being done for their care. If it was God’s will that he should go, he would go willingly.

Mr Sephton, proceeding, said that there were three great factors he would like to mention. First, the passing, which taught them the value of human love, second, the great sorrow of separation and, thirdly, the splendour, tragedy and majesty of death – the mystery of death. Mr Tebb loved his wife and children. His conversation was often centred on them. He was a great Salvationist, devoted to his duty.


Converted as a boy

Commandant Bamford spoke of his associations with Mr Tebb. He sat by his bed on Friday night and expected that every moment would be the last. He gazed towards the window and said, ‘Please come, Jesus,’ and a smile came over his face.  He became converted as a boy and those who knew him enjoyed his company. He became a bandsman about 1867 and devoted a great deal of his time to the Salvation Army.  He had great responsibilities and was always a man of discipline and punctuality. He carried out his duties during those thirty years he was bandmaster. Then came the time when his health failed and he retired. And now, after some months of suffering he had answered the call home.  On Friday morning he said, ‘I am waiting for the pearly gates to open,’ and at ten o’clock in the evening he passed away so peacefully that the speaker could not believe for the moment that he had gone.

Commandant Bamford concluded with ‘He was a Godly, loyal Salvationist.’

A crowd of Salvationists attended the service and the streets en route to the cemetery were lined with people, who paid respect as the cortege passed to a great Salvationist.

There follows a list of mourners.


*NB – some of the text seems to have been taken from a previous article about G. Tebb published on 27th August.

I knew about my Great Grandfather’s musical ability and something about his funeral from listening to my gran talking to my mother when I was about 12… but it had slipped my mind and I’d never heard the whole story. I was amazed when I started to research the man just how influential he had been as a musician and member of the Salvation Army.  Reading about him was both enlightening and very moving as he was clearly a much loved and respected man.

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4 Responses to G Grandfather George Tebb – Salvation Army Bandsman

  1. pellethepoet says:

    Could this possibly be Prof. George Tebb and Frances in front of 11 Boundary Road, St. Helens?
    When the mandolin player met the banjo player ... by J. Clarke (c.1910)

  2. charts2012 says:

    Hello, Pellethepoet!

    Goodness… I really don’t know. The chap looks as if he might have rather more of a ‘swagger’ than my great grandfather… he looks relaxed doesn’t he? Do you know whether it’s St Helens for sure?

    Also,..and this is even more intriguing… have you a connection with him at all? How do you know about him? Dying to know.,…..

    • pellethepoet says:

      The photographer was based in St. Helens (the studio address is stamped on the card the photo in mounted on), so it’s reasonable to assume the location is St. Helens or in close vicinity to it.

      I have no connection, I bought the photo on eBay – I enjoy the challenge of identifying and locating such photos. I only know what I’ve read in a few sources online. The (presumed) bandsmans’ lyre above the door and the (presumed) music students approaching the house led me to the possibility of George Tebb via Google searches.

      If you haven’t already, click through to Flickr and check out the large size (there’s a button on the right to view all sizes). If only the clarity was better we could read the sign at the entrance … but where would be the fun in that! 🙂

  3. charts2012 says:

    Yes… I’ve downloaded it to see if I could see the bit above the doorway… but couldn’t get any details. I’d love to think it was one or both of them… but the face shapes don’t look too much like my photos of them. It’s a lovely photo. However,… and I’ll see if I can find anything about what sort of house they lived in to see if it might have been the right street.

    A few hours later and I have found out that the house they lived in from 1911 had 7 ‘living’ rooms… ie kitchen, sitting room, bedrooms (scullery, hall, landing, closet, bathroom, office nor warehouse, office and shop were spaces not counted). I expect the average house to have had four rooms at that time… does it look to be that sort of size, I wonder.

    I’m starting to think that you may well be right about the house itself…and possibly the two in the entrance were people from the Tebb household! I’ll have to see if I can find out anything more! Perhaps from the St Helens Family History Society or similar.

    Thanks for getting in touch… I’ll let you know if I find out anything further.

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