William Pullen, 1847 - 1934


Photo reference number: 2123

William Pullen was a painter/decorator by trade, based in Dock Street, Newport. But he was probably better known for his love of music and involvement in several local (brass) bands. The following article, from the South Wales Argus 1932, recalls his life:

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A BREATH FROM A MUSICAL PAST.

A Newport Tin Whistle That Grew.

Mr. William Pullen, of 47, Dock street, Newport, remembers the days when Newport had seven drum and fife bands as well as three full bands. He is now in his 85th year.
Mr. Pullen, standing in his little shop amid long roils of multi coloured wallpaper (his is a decorating business), enjoyed his pipe as he talked to a South Wales Argus reporter. His eyes gleamed as he recalled stories of long ago, and showed the reporter well-preserved pictures of bands with which he has been associated.
He recalled the bands of long ago and sighed, "They are nearly all gone." He was expressive about the "tinned-can stuff of to-day."
Mr, Pullen had a very early inclination towards music. Born in Newport on August 2, 1847, "in this same locality" (Dock-street) he is able to tell of the large area of fields which were later to be covered by the houses and shops of Dock street and Commercial road.
The music urge came very early. "I can remember going about the street with a boy friend blowing away merrily at my whistle," he said. "And then, in September, 1862, I was enrolled as a band boy in the old 3rd Monmouthshire Rifle Volunteers, under the late Captain Cordes, of Brynglas." Less than a year later he took part in the demonstration in honour of the marriage of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

The Piercefield Review

In the summer there was a review of Volunteers in Piercefield Park, Chepstow, and that year, under the command of Captain Murphy, he participated in his first military funeral. In May, 1868, Mr. Pullen recalls, he attended the largest military funeral he can remember that of the late Captain Webb, of the 3rd M.A.V. at Newport. Mr. Pullen was also present at the unveiling of the memorial in Newport Cemetery.
About 1873 he attended parade to Malpas Church for a thanksgiving service for the recovery from illness of King Edward VII, and one of his next demonstrations was in connection with the opening of the Alexandra Dock.
It was in 1883 that the musical life of Mr. Pullen took a more serious turn, for he then formed a band in connection with the old League of the Cross. (This band later became the Battery band of the Artillery under Captain now Colonel W. Clifford Phillips)
Four years after this, Mr. Pullen started Newport Post 0fffce band. The same year (1887) he was at camp at Aldershot in honour of Queen Victoria's Jubilee.
In 1888 he formed a band under the late Rev. J. Swinnerton, of Maindee, and that band played at the laying of the foundation stone of St. Matthew's Church. In 1890 Mr. Pullen still had three, bands the Artillery, the Post Office, and the Rev. J. Swinnerton's - under his charge (and he had also been associated with two drum and fife bands).

Long Service Rewarded.

He was the first member of the M.A.V. to receive the Long Service Medal pinned on his breast by General Sir Forestier Walker at Portskewett camp; and in the same year he conducted massed bands at Belle Vue Park, Newport, in connection with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
Mr. Pullen retired from the 1st M.A.V. in October, 1900.
Naturally, he remembers many things that happened in Newport in his early life. He recalls the election riots of 1868, and has watched with amazement the rapid growth of the town from the time when most of his own domain was fields.
He married in 1871 the ceremony took place at Bassalleg Church; and he has had three sons and four daughters. His wife died last year. He has retired from business now it is carried on by a son, but his faculties are keen and active.
He is one of Newport's Grand Old Men of Music!

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The above photo and newspaper cutting was kindly sent to us by one of William's descendants. If you have any information about the bands mentioned or about William Pullen we would be very grateful to receive it and pass it on.

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