Steeped in History, Pansy, ‘The Camden Train’ and other tunes.

Murray Bishop, Musical Director

The Camden Community Band has recently added the tune ‘The Camden Train’ to its repertoire. The lyrics tell an interesting story about Pansy, the locomotive. It was written by Camden local Buddy Williams about the time of the last run on of the train in 1963. The tune has been released as part of a compilation called Musical Memories, A Compilation of Songs of Significance to Malcolm Pearson (now deceased). The train brings back many memories of family outings, business trips or excursions across the    picturesque countryside in the Camden area. Murray Bishop believes that the band is the only one Australia to have and use this composition. The song was provided by the residents of the Camden Downs Retirement Village, who have formed a singing group under the direction of band member Cheryl Zeimeicki (Intermediate Band leader). Dave Hardwick (a band member) provided a melody line and Cheryl arranged the piece for the band. It always goes down a treat when it is performed at local community events (fetes, markets).
Another interesting composition is linked with the band’s close affiliation with the Camden RSL sub Branch. The association brought to light an unusual and historic work called The British Eighth March, which was dedicated to the army of the same name. Exhaustive research located a copy of the arrangement which the band now proudly performs as part of its ANZAC repertoire. What is interesting about this chart is the note that accompanied the original manuscript to Field Marshal Montgomery was actually written on captured Italian notepaper!
Banding has been a long and glorious tradition in the Camden area, as it in lots of other towns and cities across Australia. The Camden Community Band Inc is not just a one off occurrence in our region, but rather the latest in a line of brass and concert bands reaching back to the 1890’s when Camden had its own Silver Brass Band. During the war years, Camden hosted many resident and visiting armed services personnel who  brought with them a variety of music including a local community brass band.
Our region has been served for many years by the wonderful Camden Campbelltown District Band which made the move from a Brass Band to a Concert Band format. It paved the way for many young musicians to learn a wide range of instruments. This band continues to serve the Macarthur region regularly. Our band, the Camden Community Band, now focuses on the Camden region for its performances and rehearsals, once again putting a community band into the centre of Camden.
Camden’s Musical Heritage
Ian Willis – Vice President (More info on Ian here
Camden has a rich musical heritage ranging across a number of musical traditions, including folklore and vernacular music.
The types and styles of music in the Camden district have included popular, classical, folk, church, dance, indigenous, children’s, multicultural, jazz, band, instrumental, choral and electronic. This does not include music that was commercially distributed in the town from the early days of recordings.
Music would be heard at most community events such as balls, dances, family get-togethers, early picture shows (before talkies), churches, street parades and other places where the town gathered for entertainment.
During the First World War funds were raised for patriotic purposes by concerts, dances and a variety of other musical events. This was a popular way to bring the community together in wartime in the British Empire as it raised morale and lifted community spirits.
Community enthusiasm was at its peak at the outbreak of the war and community concerts were a popular way of supporting the war effort and raising funds. In September 1914 the Camden News reported that Camden Patriotic Fund was supported by a fundraising concert held at The Oaks School of Arts.
The Camden Patriotic Fund supported the Lord Mayor’s Fund, Belgian Fund and the War Chest Fund. The concert opened at 8.00pm with the children of The Oaks School singing a chorus of ‘This Bit of World Belongs to Us’ with Miss M Hennessey on piano. In all there were 15 concert musical items provided by a number of local people including Mrs McWhirter, Mr McWhirter, Miss Sidman, Mr S Moore and Mr E Moore.
Disappointingly the nature of these musical items was not reported. The concert programme was concluded by everyone in the hall singing ‘God Save the King’, the national anthem. Typical of these type of local events, dancing followed with Miss M Hennessey on piano ably supported by Mr Thomas Wheeler, until 3.30am in the following morning.
The hall was ‘decorated with flags and evergreens, and presented a very pretty appearance’. Miss R McEvoy and Miss B Lavercombe did a brisk trade on a refreshment stall from 9.00pm until the close of dancing.
Community concert groups have been a constant part of the local music scene and built a strong tradition of performing at community events in the First World War.
In 1914 there was a local musical group called the Camden Nigger Minstrels. According James Gray, in his history of Maybole, a small Scottish town not unlike Camden, these type of groups were usually all male who blackened their faces, wore oversize bow ties and straw hats and followed the American minstrel tradition.
They would delight their audiences with the Camperdown Races and the quips of the ‘corner men’. In August 1914 the Camden News reported that the Camden Nigger Minstrels entertained patients and nursing staff at Carrington Hospital. Apparently everyone was ‘very pleased’ with their performance and had a ‘good time’.
The concert troop were then given a ‘grand supper’ by the matron of Carrington Hospital, Miss Rutter, a tradition that showed their appreciation for the performance.
The Nigger Minstrels were a popular local act and were in strong demand for community functions. The week after their Carrington performance they ‘gave a benefit entertainment in aid of the Picton School of Arts’. They were again given a supper where they were thanked for their effort.
If anyone knows more about the Camden Nigger Minstrels contact the Camden Museum. We are keen to find out more.
Source: District Reporter 5 October 2007.

About the Band

Camden Band will play on
Camden Advertiser, 15th June 2011
View this article here
Carrington Concert
Carrington Courier, December 2010
View these pictures on p.10 here
A Song and Dance
Camden Advertiser, 28th July 2010
View this article here
Elation of our Nation True Blues
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, 28th July 2010
View this article here

Mad About Aussie Music

Camden Advertiser, 20th January 2010

View this article here


Tunes at Twighlight in a Serene Mount Annan Botanic Garden Setting

Camden Advertiser, 18th Nov 2009

View this article here


Remembrance Day services held across Macarthur region

Macarthur Chronicle, 12th November 2009

View this article here


You’re Invited to a Great Night

Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser, 16th September 2009

View this article here


Camden Community Band

Macarthur Chronicle 27th June 2009

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About Band Members

Seniors Enjoy the Sax

Camden Advertiser 3rd June 2009

View this article here 


A Midsummer Night’s Dream start Cobbitty teen Jonathan Nash-Daly

Macarthur Chronicle 11th Dec 2009

View this article here


Murray Bishop at Engadine Music

Journal of the Australian Trumpet Guild, December 2008

View this article here (see page 11 of the PDF)