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Coming Home - The History of the Royal Marines School of Music

Coming Home - The History of the Royal Marines School of Music

The Royal Marines School of Music was originally named ‘The Royal Naval School of Music’ and it was formed at Eastney Barracks (the current Royal Marines Museum location) in 1903 when the Royal Navy passed responsibility to the Royal Marines for training and providing ship’s bands. Every major British ship carried a Royal Marines Band who had a military as well as a musical role. During the First World War forty-nine musicians were killed at the Battle of Jutland alone.


In 1930 the School moved to Deal, Kent, where it stayed until 1940 when, due to the proximity of German forces in France, the School moved and commenced a nomadic existence through the West Country, Worcester, the Isle of Man, Scarborough and Oxfordshire before returning to Deal in 1950. At its Second World War peak the Royal Naval School of Music had 1,900 men serving with the Royal Navy. From 1950 the Royal Marines School of Music, as it then became, produced fewer bands in line with the reductions in numbers of ships. Whilst quantity reduced, quality did not and the School’s reputation continued to grow. Apart from the Staff Band, which included School Instructors, the junior and senior musicians under training had their own bands that gave public displays, concerts, and occasionally made recordings, in the same way that the current Royal Marines School of Music Band does. In 1948 the training of buglers, previously undertaken within the Royal Marine Divisions, was transferred to the School. In 1978 the regular provision of bands for ships, apart from the Royal Yacht, ceased. The first women were recruited into the School in 1992.


During the 1990’s the Royal Marines, apart from the Royal Marines School of Music, left Deal for the West Country. Huge maintenance and running costs dictated that the Deal barracks should be closed and the School relocated so, in 1996, the School took up residence in its current home within HMS Nelson, Portsmouth – not far from its birthplace here at Eastney. The new facility, together with the link established with Portsmouth University, enabled training for new recruits to be further improved and to include civilian musical qualification up to degree level. Study is continued through distance learning whilst serving with the bands and at all levels of rank and appointment.

New Entry Military Training is similar to the first fifteen weeks of the Royal Marines Commando Course and is reinforced, throughout their service, by the Annual Military Training Package. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Royal Marines School of Music includes many musicians and buglers who will, within the next two weeks, pass out from the School and join a Royal Marine Band as either a qualified Musician capable of playing in an orchestra, a military band and a range of small ensembles – or as a Bugler qualified to play military side drum, bugle and Herald trumpet in a variety of situations. All will also be very fit and trained for their military role.

The Royal Marines School of Music will be performing at the Band Concert at the Royal Marines Museum on Sunday 22nd July. If you'd like to come along tickets are £3 and are available online or on the gate.

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