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Early History of the Harrogate Band (up to 1972)


In the autumn of 1969, each Wednesday evening, a group of players under the direction of Mr N.E. Richmond, met and practiced. These players were members of the Granby Park School Band and ex-members of the school band who had recently left school, and had expressed a wish to be able to continue playing as there was little opportunity to do so in the district. As the weeks went by, older people who were interested came along to "have a blow".

It was then suggested that a brass band be formed, and on 15th April 1970 a meeting of all interested people was convened to discuss the possibilities of this being achieved. The meeting was held in the music room of Granby Park Secondary Modern School. A gathering of about 30 people were present, the majority being parents of members of the school band. Discussion ensued and the idea of forming such a band was agreed. Difficulties and obstacles were debated and it was agreed that the greatest of the obstacles would be instruments. It was estimated that a set of instruments would cost at least £3,000.

Mr D.B. Jackson, who at that time was headmaster at the school, and present at the meeting, made the suggestion that as the greatest proportion of the potential members of the new band were still at school, or just recently left, the West Riding Education Committee be approached to explore the possibilities of being affiliated as a youth organisation, with the authority's area. At a later date, and with much valuable help from Mr Jackson, this was accepted by the authorities, and the band had the use of the school instruments, and also the use of the school for rehearsals.

At the first meeting in April, the first officers and committee were elected. They were:

PresidentMr D.B. Jackson
ChairmanMr Gwynn
Vice ChairmanMiss S. Gwynn
SecretaryMr J.J. Button
TreasurerMr L. Mackown
Musical DirectorMr N.E. Richmond
LibrarianMr T.A. Jackson
CommitteeMrs Gwynn
Miss Y. Toase
Miss M. Phillips
Mr K. Priestley

From the first meeting enthusiasm grew and the members met every Wednesday evening to practice - and practice they did. It was nearly a full turnout of members each practice, and as the year went by new members joined.

On Spring Bank Holiday of 1970 the band performed its first public engagement. This was at Killinghall, playing for the cricket club's garden fete. About this time the band applied for membership of the York and District Brass Band Association, and was accepted. The York Association held an annual contest each year, and the band decided to enter. Rehearsals began with the test pieces, and a lot of hard work was done.

On November 22 1970, the band set off for York to take part in the contest. We were a 3rd section band, and we went on stage and played our march "The Bombardier". The march contest finished, then we played our hymn "Whitburn", then the test piece "Fancy Free". When the section was over we went into the hall to listen to the higher section bands. After those had finished, the adjudicator came on stage to announce his findings.Our section march results were announced, and we were delighted to hear that we received the most marks, and proudly we went up to collect the cup. When the marks for the test piece and hymn were announced, although we were not among the winners, we were very happy with the marks we did receive (coming 4th out of 6 bands)

At Christmas the band played carols in the streets on two nights, and made collections. Then on Christmas Eve we gave a short concert in the Starbeck Working Men's Club, then moved on to the Starbeck Conservative Club to give a similar concert.

By the end of the year, although not a year old, the band felt as though they had made great progress.

1971 started with the usual practice each Wednesday evening and Sunday morning, and we looked forward to another progressive year. In the first half of the year we gave only two public performances, the first being a return visit to the Starbeck Working Men's Club and, in July, we played at St John's Church, Bilton, for their summer fete.

Harrogate Corporation gave us permission to play on two Sunday afternoons in September in the Valley Gardens, and we were to take collections. These two Sundays proved to be the sunniest we had, and both concerts wer a great success - financially we did very well, collecting over £60 for the two performances.

Our next event was the Harrogate & District Brass Band Association Contest in Yeadon Town Hall on October 31st. We practiced hard for the contest and we arrived at Yeadon and played our music. The entertainment piece was "Marche Militaire" and the selection was "Youth Salutes a Master". Unfortunately we were not among the winners when the results were announced. The band was drawn no. 2 and achieved 4th place.

November saw us ready to go to York once again for the York and District Brass Band Association Contest. For the march we played "Castle Coch", and for the selection, "Youth Salutes a Master", and for the hymn, "Ein Fest Berg". When the results were announced by the adjudicator, Mr Roy Newsome, we were extremely delighted we had won the march cup again, and were awarded the "Boosey & Hawkes Shield" for second place in the test piece. We were feeling proud of our achievements after having been in existence for less than two years.

At Christmas we played in St John's Church, Bilton, for a carol service, this being our only engagement over the Christmas period.

The new year saw us preparing to give a concert in the Lounge Hall, assisted by the Harrogate Male Voice Choir. This was arranged to take place in March. The concert was held on Tuesday 28th March, and was a great success, both musically and financially - Harrogate Corporation gave the use of the Hall to us free. In April we gave a concert in Starbeck Methodist Church for the Starbeck Boys' Brigade.

The summer season programme was started with an engagement at Ripon in the Spa Gardens. Ripon Band joined forces with us to give this.

During the two years the band has been in existence, with money raised from concerts and engagements, progress was made in obtaining instruments. At present we have purchased four cornets, one flugel horn, two tenor horns, one baritone and one Eb bass. In addition to these we have also built up a library of 47 sets of music.