Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band was formed in early Spring 1919 around about the same time as Sammy Murray, Arthur McGuigan and Bob Grange were talking about setting up a football club at the Ballyclare branch of the Comrades of the Great War Association.
When they started, no one in the band could play a flute but they set themselves a target to be ready to perform by the Summer. The brainchild of Robert McFarlane and James Simms, the band’s first rehearsal march a few months later set off from its first bandroom in Coleman’s Barn at Le Ballyclare and went up through Millvale and then along the Back Walks on to the Green Road, up past the Dandy Row and back to the Barn.
The first public appearance of 'McFarlane's Band' was on 9th May 1919 when it accompanied electoral candidate George Hanna into town for a rally outside the Town Hall. In 1931 the band joined the Northern Ireland Bands Association and appointed Robert Meharg as conductor. The photograph below was taken in 1932 and shows the band with the NIBA’s Junior Section, Grade II Championship Trophy.
They won their first World Championship in 1960 and from 1971 to 1990, led by Arthur Fleming, they won a further 16 outright victories and were runners up on the other four occasions. This included 10 consecutive successes from 1975 to 1984! They recorded their 23rd victory in 2004.
These are some of our favourite images of the band over the years.