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Barnard Castle Band
What is known is that we were formed in 1860 and instruments purchased by public subscriptions. Hence its first name: Barnard Castle Subscription Band.
About the turn of the century and during the Boer War most of the band joined the Local Volunteers and the name was changed to Barnard Castle Band Volunteer's Band. This caused quite a hue and cry in the local press at the time (Teesdale Mercury).
After the war the band again changed it's name to Barnard Castle Silver Band and acquired a set of uniforms consisting of white flannel trousers, coloured striped blazers and straw hats.
In the early 1930's the band , by this time wearing traditional peaked caps, red military style jackets and black trousers, won many prizes at local contests and gained fourth prize at the National Championships held at Crystal Palace in London. So again the name was changed to Barnard Castle Prize Silver Band.
Little is known of the bands history in the post WW2 era but in 1960 the band celebrated its one hundreth birthday with a dinner when members were presented with medals bearing their names. Prominent musicians were the Wright family with Maurice as conductor, his two sons Raymond and Norman, his son-in-law Paddy Hunt, his brothers Tees, James, Trevor and Alan and his nephews Alfie and Trevor Walton.
Sadly in 1967 the band lost many players and with only six players the band went out of commission. Fortunately those last six players had the foresight to loan the bands instruments to Baliol, the local school, and many of the children, under the schools music teacher Bill Partington made good use of them.
In 1973 after meeting all the youngsters Ronnie Henderson re-formed the band with Trevor Wright as conductor.
Once again the name was changed to its present name Barnard Castle Band. In 1974 Trevor injured his arm in a fall and the baton was taken over by Peter Hartley, who led the band to many victories at contests and promotion from the fourth to the second in the Durham Brass Band League, twice reaching the finals in London.
To celebrate the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977. Cyril Beere, the secretary of the re-formed band and Personnel Director of Rothmans at Darlington was persuaded to run a "one off" entertainment contest for championship section bands in the Beehive Centre at Rothmans.
This "Brass in Concert" was such a success that it became an annual event moving from the Beehive to the Dolphin Centre, then to Spennymoor Leisure Centre and for the last five years has been a "sell out" at the Sage, Gateshead and is now considered to be the best entertainment contest in the brass band world. The bands ongoing involvement with Brass in Concert has created links between the town and some of the best brass bands and musicians in Britain and Europe.
Peter Hartley died in 1980 at the age of 47 and will always be remembered as one of the "greats" in the history of the Barnard Castle Band.
In the early part of the 1990's the musical direction was taken up by Gary Hutchinson who was one of the original members of the 1973 re-formed band. The first fruits of the bands new endeavours were born in 1992 when the band achieved National Brass Band League Section 4 Regional Champions and Section D Durham League Champions status. This success led to the band qualifying for the National Finals in London.
1993 saw a similar picture of success in the National and Durham League competitions which resulted in the band being promoted into the National and Durham League 3rd Section. Adding to 1993's honours was the George Allen Entertainment competition trophy.
As a result of continued success in major competitions in 1994, which included being placed 1st. in the Murton Colliery Entertainment Contest, the band won further promotion to the National Brass Band League Section 2 and Section C in the Durham League.
Given that the band had risen from Section 4 to Section 2 in only two years it was all the more remarkable when the band was placed 3rd in the 1995 National League Area contest leading to the band being promoted to the National League 1st Section in 1996.
Confidence high, the band entered the 1996 Durham League Championship with only one aim - to win. And win we did with a 2 point margin, taking along the way "Best Principal Cornet, Best Euphonium and Best Bass Section". Promotion followed to Section B in the Durham League. Hard on the heels of the Durham League came the 1996 National Area Contest. This was to be a severe challenge to the band playing Gilbert Vintners former Championship test piece "Spectrum". A creditable mid table result confirmed the Barnard Castle Band as a worthy 1st Section band.
A long overdue change of uniform to short black jackets with gold epaulettes and black trousers was made possible by the generosity of the Watson family of The Jersey Farm Hotel & Restaurant.
Later that year the band recorded a tape entitled "We have all the time in the world"
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 saw the band consolidating its position in the First Section of the National League being placed 3rd, 6th, 5th, 8th and 6th in the Area Contests.
2002. The age old curse of brass bands struck again as Gary Hutchinson the Musical Director had to relinquish his position due to relocation within his company and a number of key young players disappeared to university and careers. The band managed to fulfil engagements using players borrowed from other bands but were unable to compete in the Area Contests and as a result the band slipped from the First Section to the Fourth Section.
Ronnie Henderson died in October 2004 and will be fondly remembered by many young musicians in the area.
In March 2005 Louis Johnson the bands chairman who, like Ronnie Henderson, had been involved in the reforming of the band in 1973 passed away. Having carried the Bass Drum on every parade for thirty years Louis had been the driving force of the band.
In April Gary Hutchinson returned to the area to take up the role of Musical Director again and in May along with Broughtons Brass, Stanhope Silver and Ferryhill Town, the band recorded tracks for the Brass Band Aid CD to raise funds for the World Vision Charity.
May 2006 the band was placed 2nd in Section 4 of The National League Area Contest and so qualified for the National Finals held later that year at the Harrogate International Centre where, under Gary Hutchinson's direction for the last time, the band was placed fourth.
The loss of young players to university and work commitments has over recent years led to the band having to rely on our friends from the military bands based at Catterick to fill seats. But the uncertainty of their availability to fulfil engagements has made it impossible for the band to compete in either the Durham or National Leagues.
The band has been grateful to a number of conductors over the past years, each in there own way have helped to shape and develop the band along the road of improvement.
In 2008 Ian Symonds, the musical director of the Barnard Castle Youth Band, took over the baton of the senior band effectively merging both bands and once again the process of re-building the band commenced.