My attention was drawn to an article in the Monday, September 3, 2018 edition of the Guyana Chronicle headlined: ‘Bringing joy through music – celebrating 160 years of the Guyana Police Force Band’s legacy.’
As I perused the article, I searched over and over again for any mention of the name Clement Edward Nathaniel Nichols and what transpired during his tenure as Bandmaster of the British Guiana Police Force Military Band.
Alas! I was deeply disappointed, to the extent that I felt a profound sense of sadness to find that a huge gap existed in the historical review, from Henwood to Small as Bandmasters of the B.G. Police Force Military Band, and it was without any mention whatsoever about Clement Nichols who, along with other outstanding musicians, had traveled to England as a member of the forty-piece band in 1924 to play at concerts as part of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley under the direction of Capt. A.W. Fawcett.
This was musical diplomacy at work in the early days.
On returning to British Guiana, and following the departure of Fawcett and the passing of Vincent DeAbreu, the first Guyanese bandmaster, Edward Oscar Fredrick Rogers assumed leadership of the band. The baton was later passed to Barney Small.
Throughout this entire period Clement E. N. Nichols remained steadfast while many others had either retired or had left the Band.
Nichols trained many junior ranks who eventually assumed prominent roles in the Guyana Police Force Band.
To his credit, Clement Nichols composed several beautiful pieces such as: ‘Dear Demerara,’ ‘Good Lusignan,’ ‘ Scotland in West Demerara.’ ‘ Berbice on Parade’ and ‘Wake up Demerara.’
Furthermore, what I found missing, was absolutely no reference to the following interesting section captured in John Campbell’s ‘History of Policing in Guyana’:
“Later, the Police Drum and Fife Band was formed in 1925. Its instruments were originally purchased out of private funds, while fifty pounds was voted for its annual upkeep. Members of the Band, on many occasions entertained guests of the Governor at Government House Drawing Room Concerts. The instrumentalists usually performed on fife, drum, violin and ukelele.”
Editor, I belief that when persons write or speak in order to do a historical review/assessment of an institution such as the Guyana Police Force and its various branches, they should refrain from embellishing, revising or omitting certain historical facts and names of outstanding officers who made formidable contributions to the development of music in Guyana and the Guyana Police Force Band in their early stages.
Clement Edward Nathaniel Nichols was my grandfather from my mother’s side.
He was born on June 15, 1896. He was the son of William and Isabela Nichols. He grew up in South Cummingsburg, Georgetown.
Clement Nichols was a tall, heavily-built, handsome Black man.
Like so many policemen, he developed a huge tummy later on in life.
As a young boy growing up in Georgetown, I saw him perform in the band on many occasions at the ‘Bandstand’ at the Botanical Gardens. He was a well trained musician, a great composer and conductor dedicated to the musical branch of the Guyana Police Force. His music lives on.
Clement J. Rohee
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