THE Albertbridge Accordion, nestled in the midst of east Belfast, owes its origins to the Boys’ Brigade in the city.
As all BB Boys know, the Brigade only caters for boys up to the age of 18, except for the few who gain promotion to Officer Status. The 56th Belfast Company attached to the Albert Bridge Congregational Church was no exception, and when some of its senior boys were approaching that leaving age they were determined not to lose touch with each other.
After a lot of thought and discussion on how that should manifest itself, a meeting was finally called for Friday August 9, 1957, in the Church Hall in George’s Street. Seven senior members turned up for the meeting and it was there that the decision was reached that they would form a band.
After the election of a committee the first requirement was to choose a name for the band. Several suggestions such as Woodstock Defenders, Sons of Ulster, or 56th Old Boys were discussed, but none of these seemed appropriate. As most of the boys attended the Albert Bridge Church, it was agreed that the name of this new band would be the Albertbridge.
Serious fundraising then began and as news of the new band spread the numbers grew week by week. In a short time there were sufficient funds to buy some second hand instruments and the weekly practice was instigated. The band’s first outing was with the Christian Crusaders Junior L.O.L. 27 to Bangor on Easter Tuesday, and before long the band was as busy as the long established outfits in the area.
The band has come a long way since 1957, when a white shirt and tie was considered a uniform. The first real uniform was bought for a trip to Canada for its Twelfth of July procession, and since then there have been several different combinations adorning band members. Now with over 50 years on the road behind it, Albertbridge Accordion are still a regular sight on the streets of Belfast during the band season, and are determined to be so for many years to come.