The Mossley Band has been based in Mossley for over 150 years, and still provides a regular programme of concerts, contests, marches and private functions.
Mossley Band in 2017 is a First Section Band situated right in the heart of the Whit Friday circuit. The band rehearse on Monday and Thursday evenings 8-10 in their own band and social club on Argyle Street in the centre of Mossley.
To encourage workers to forget the conditions and harshness of the times, mill owners advocated temperance and music. In 1841, the Mossley Temperance Band was formed. It soon found its own place in history, by becoming, in 1853, the first band to win the Belle Vue Championship contest, now known as the British Open and no longer held at Belle Vue.
The original band had only ten players, at the time no standards had been defined for instruments and it was not unusual to see instruments such as Ophicleides, Sackbuts and Serpents. At the time of the first Belle Vue contest there were 9 players and a conductor. There were eight entries, and Mossley was drawn number one.
Playing Hallelujah Chorus and other selections they were placed first, with Dewsbury second, Bramley Temperance third, and Bury Borough fourth.
In 1897 Mossley won the British Open for a second time, under the baton of Alexander Owen (famous, amongst other things for taking Besses o’ th Barn on a 12 month World tour) playing the test piece Moses in Egypt. Again, Mossley made brass band history by becoming the first band to achieve maximum marks, a feat which to date has never been equalled. Among the stars were Herbert (TIB) Scott and J.F. Carter, both celebrated Euphonium players.
Between the wars, the band now known as Mossley Borough Band was responsible for launching many fine musicians. Amongst them was Frank Smith, who helped form the Fairey Aviation Works Band and became its conductor.
In 1960, Mossley Borough Band beat bands like Fairey and Fodens to qualify for the National Brass Band Championship finals. Tragedy struck in 1962, with the death of Derek Sanderson at only 26 years of age. The band bounced back again in 1965, when it achieved its long held ambition of winning the Grand Shield qualifying contest at the Belle Vue Spring Festival, which meant that they could compete like their forefathers in the September British Open Championships.
The band continued to progress, and in 1969 and 1970 were invited to play at the famous Edinburgh Festival, winning prizes at both attempts, conducted the first time by Drake Rimmer, and the second by Harry Mortimer OBE. They also took part in the evening Massed Brass Concert conducted by Harry Mortimer OBE.
In the 1970’s Mossley Band won the Radio Manchester Blow By Blow brass band competition twice. The finals took place at The Free Trade Hall, Manchester and were transmitted live on the radio. From their 1971 success, a live album was released on vinyl record, taken from the radio broadcasts. It was simply entitled The Mossley Band under the musical direction of John Harrison BBCM, and produced by Raph Gormley for BBC Radio Manchester. Mossley Band now entered into the country’s top 20 brass bands. It is interesting to note that Mossley Band actually won the first ever Blow By Blow competition, and the very last, which was in 1979 conducted by Harold Robinson.
In 1972 Mossley Band qualified for the WD and HO Wills Prestige Embassy Brass Band Finals which was held at The Royal Albert Hall, London, and from a poor draw (second band to play) finished in runner up position out of a field of twenty bands.
In 1974 the band purchased a building from the Local District Council. Now they had their own headquarters! Money was raised through fundraising, and a mortgage was taken out. This gave the band the security of practice rooms and a base from which they could grow. Also that year the band recorded an LP entitled Mossley Festival 1974 A Musical Souvenir, under the musical direction of Ernest Vint, who was for many years principal euphonium with the Wingates Temperance Band.
In May 1979 the lower floor of the building was made into a social club, and was formally opened by Robert Sheldon, the local M.P. at that time. Any profits from the club were put back into the band, a practice that still applies today. In the same year the band approached J.W. Lees Brewery for sponsorship and became known as The Mossley J.W. Lees Brass Band. When in the early 1990’s the sponsorship ended, the band reverted to its’ earlier title of The Mossley Band, which it is still known as today.
The band qualified once again for the National Finals in the late 1970’s, but still continued to be a local community band, which is something they have been proud to be throughout their history, performing in Park concerts, Local Whit Walks, Armistice Day Parades, Carnivals, Contests and Concerts all in the local area. This forms the mainstay of their work.
At the 1993 Northwest Regional Championships, the band came third, only one point away from qualification for the National Finals – this in less than a year under the baton of Roy Waite, and following on from the band’s previous result in the same contest in 1992 where they came 13th. Only a week earlier, the band had gained third place at the Oldham contest, its first real contest success for some time. The band in 1996 gained both qualification for the National Contest, and promotion to the First Section nationally.
In December 1998, the band’s long standing conductor, Roy Waite, stepped down and was replaced by Simon Stonehouse who came to Mossley from Williams Fairey Band, and it was not long until Mossley Band was again competing in the Championship Section.
In 2001, Simon left the band and John Davies was appointed as his replacement, and in the 2002 Whit Friday contests the band received a prize at each of the eleven contests they entered.
Martyn Evans took over as M.D. in July 2002, and the band gained 3rd place in the 1st Section at the North West Area and also became Tameside Open Champions in 2004. In 2005 the band recorded a professional CD, Top Mossley.
In April 2006, Duncan Byers was appointed Musical Director of The Mossley Band. Duncan began playing cornet with Flimby Saxhorn Band at the age of 11 and went on to become a member of the National Youth Brass Band, Besses O’ th’ Barn, and then in 1994 became assistant Principal Cornet with Grimethorpe Colliery Band, with whom he starred in the film Brassed Off. In 2000 Duncan moved to Brighouse and Rastrick Band, where he achieved many contest successes. He continues to work as a Peripatetic Teacher of Brass at Oldham Music Centre. To date, The Mossley Band continue to compete in the First Section, and regularly present concerts locally and nationally.
Brass Band Contests / Festival
Often described as 'the greatest free show on Earth', the Saddleworth & District Whit Friday Brass Band Contests take place every year on the afternoon and evening of Whit Friday.
From the earliest recorded contest in 1884, the event has grown in popularity. Last year well over a hundred brass bands participated in some twenty different contests at venues scattered around the moorland villages and towns on the western edge of the Pennines. All of the contests are open-air, many in delightful surroundings. The area has a very strong tradition of brass band music. In the weeks before Whit Friday, the sounds of rehearsals echo across the hillsides from the various band rooms and village halls. There are thriving bands in some of the tiniest villages. And the best bands are world class.
The contests are open to all-comers. So the local youth bands get to match their skills against the top bands of the country. For bandsmen, the dash from contest to contest makes for an exhilarating (though exhausting) evening. See the comments in the guest book. This is a major event in the brass band calendar and bands travel the length of the country to participate, some even turning up from overseas.
Contests typically start at about 4.30pm. Bands play two pieces (marches), one on the march and then their well-rehearsed show-piece on whatever passes for a rostrum. Each performance is scored 'blind' by an adjudicator, hidden in some adjacent darkened room or caravan.
Each contest offers prizes for the best band, best youth band, best soloists etc. At one of the busier venues, you could expect to hear over 50 bands, before the winners are announced shortly after close (10.30 pm or 11.30pm, though the most popular contests can go on well into the early hours).
It is possible to look in at several contests during the evening. But with over 100 bus-loads of bandsmen about, with many of the roads closed to traffic and the inevitable parking problems, it pays not to be over-ambitious.
Each contest is organised by local volunteers. All the running costs and prize money are raised by local donations and through fund-raising events. Most provide refreshments. Helpers are always needed on the night. If you can spare a couple of hours at any of the contests, please email.
Each contest sets its own rules. Bands are required to play a published march, an unmarked copy of which should be handed to the Contest Steward on arrival at the signing-on point. Normally, no more than 25 players may play the contest piece, plus the conductor.
On the morning of Whit Friday, the traditional Whit Walks take place. Dobcross contest have introduced a Henry Livings memorial prize, open to bands who have played on any of the morning's walks.
Whilst every effort goes into ensuring this gig listing is accurate and up to date, always check with the venue before you travel.