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St Johns is a friendly community band based in Mossley.
We rehearse once a week on a Thursday evening, our beginner band rehearse at St John's Church (Mossley) from 6.15pm to 7pm and our training band and main band rehearse at The Yorkshire Ward Conservative Club, Carrhill Road, Mossley. Our training band runs from 7.15pm to 8pm and our main band rehearsal is from 8.15pm to 9.45pm. All playing standards are welcome as training can be given to inexperienced players.
We are available for all types of brass band concert performances to cover all tastes and occasions. If you would like to arrange for the band to play at your event, please get in touch.
History of the Band
The Rev.W. Leeming was the man responsible for the formation of St Johns Band Mossley in 1933. He was a great Brass Band enthusiast and had formed Brass Bands at all of his previous churches as way of extending the social and cultural activities of the church. At the formation prospective players, who had to be communicant members of the church, got together to form the nucleus of the band. By May 1934, after a lot of tuition and marching drills up and down Quickedge in all weathers, the band were ready for their first Whit Friday Walks. They wore uniforms purchased from Eagley Mills (Bolton).
During the war St John's became the band of the (Home Guard) 35th Cheshire Regiment. At the cessation of hostilities membership rules were relaxed so that players from outside the parish could join, gradually building the band up to full strength.
In 1983 the band reached one of its highest points by qualifying to play in the Fourth Section of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain at the Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately, the band was unplaced, but what an unforgettable experience for those involved.
This level of success was achieved with the help and guidance of some well known conductors, including Arthur Schofield (1970-1978), Harold Robinson (1979-1982) and Bert Howarth (1982-1983).
Nevertheless, with players leaving for various reasons over the years the band has been on the verge of closure on three occasions, twice in the early seventies when the band was lacking in numbers to lead the church in the whit Walks and once again in the late eighties when the band was struggling to hold rehearsals with regularity.
Then in 1990 a group of community minded people notably Ralph Towle, Rodney Oliver, Ian Marsh and Barry Hague formed a committee inviting first Max Wassal as Secretary, later Graham Hutchinson and Stephen Corbett to coach and train the band made up mostly of school children. This proved to be a huge success and Stephen stayed at the band as musical director until 2012.
In 1995 once again the band lost players when six of its leading members went to university, a body blow after three years of successful results at contests. In seventy-five years (three generations) the world, peoples lifestyles and interests have changed immensely and the band has had to change suit.
In 2012 the band were joined by Musical Director Paul Exton-McGuinness. Since then the band have gone from strength to strength, with a new training band to focus on eventually bringing fresh new players in to the main band. Rehearsals are one evening per week practicing for regular concerts and our first contest with Paul in May 2017, as well as the Whit Friday Contests.
On Whit Friday, the band endeavour to enter between eight and ten contests and in 2016 received excellent results being placed third in the Local championship.
Although the band is not directly linked with the church anymore, they do provide the music for the services throughout the year such as Christmas, Harvest and of course the Whit Friday Walks.
Third Sunday in June.
In Ashton the Whit Walks take place on the third Sunday of June although several other nearby places have their walks on Whit Sunday itself. In nearby Mossley and Saddleworth the walks take place on Whit Friday, the Friday after Whit Sunday.
Historically, Ashton's Walks were originally on Whit Friday. but then moved to the following Sunday (Trinity Sunday). In recent years the event has moved to the fixed time of the third Sunday of June.
Most of the churches in Ashton take part in the Whit Walks. A Procession from each church, accompanied by a band, makes its way to the centre of Ashton.
When all the churches have assembled in a town centre car park, a combined service is held, with hymns accompanied by one of the brass bands. Ashton's MP and local councillors usually take part in the service.
The church groups then process along a route around the town centre before walking back to their own starting points.
One of the traditions of the Whit Walks is for those taking part to wear new clothes for the occasion. In harder times this was something to look forward to as children would rarely get new clothes, more often receiving handed-down clothes from older siblings or relations.
The origin of wearing new clothes would seem to be based in the practice at one time of newly baptised members being received into the church at Whitsun (being a celebration of the birth of the Christian Church at Pentecost). The new clothes, often white, were symbolic of a new start.
Another custom, still in practice, is for people watching the walk from the pavement to look out for people they know taking part in the walk and to run forward and give them money.
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