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Barnsley Chronicle Band
In The Beginning
Originally the band was formed in 1906 as the Birdwell & District Subscription Prize Band and became known as the Birdwell Brass Band. In the late 1920's the band rehearsed in a building (now demolished) at the back of the Edmunds Arms in Worsborough Village. One famous name to come from the band was Jack Jackson who after being taught by his father who was conductor of the band, then went into Dance Bands and will be remembered as one of radio and television's original disc jockeys of the 1950's.
During the 1940s the bandmaster was Mr Albert Smith who came from Worsborough Bridge and the secretary was Mr Sherwood. At this time the band were very successful in local and the then "Daily Herald" contesting field in the third and fourth sections
During the early 1950s the band was conducted by Mr Winn Moore. With a small number of the bands members being local miners from Barrow Colliery Winn Moore arranged that the band would become the Barrow Colliery Band. The sponsorship by the local colliery gave the band much needed financial support (though £75 per year didn't go very far), but now they were a colliery band they could also gain help from C.I.S.W.O. (Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation). This help came in the form of instruments, albeit second hand and re-conditioned, but with the influx of better instruments came a better standard of player, thus bringing success on the contesting front.
In the late 1960's Mr. Frank Jaques was appointed as musical director and in a period of just five years the band moved from the 4th to the 2nd section. Over this period the band moved rehearsal rooms several times, each time to a room upstairs in a public house. The Ship, Red Lion and the Queen Victoria to name but a few.
What the band really needed was a permanent home of its own. With a great deal of help from C.I.S.W.O. this was achieved in 1974 when a purpose built band room was built at the back of Worsborough Bridge Miners Welfare Hall. This has been the bands home ever since (except for a brief period when improvements were made).
During the 1970's the band had a succession of musical directors and the playing personnel changed almost completely, but the band went from strength to strength. By the end of the 70's Barrow Colliery Band was an established and well respected second section band.
The 80's were a time of great success for the band. Brian Dyson, Ken Johnson, Steve Sykes and John Hopkinson conduced the band to a series of contest successes.
A highlight of this period was an appearance in the Royal Albert Hall in 1984 where the band were placed second in the National Finals for 3rd Section bands.
Steve Sykes came to prominence as Musical Director, as well as a tuba virtuoso, with a string of contest successes that will probably never be equalled.
In 1983 members of the band founded a junior band to introduce young players to the movement with a long term benefit for the senior band. The Barrow Colliery Junior Band was a great success with players moving through the ranks of the junior band and into the senior band very quickly.
This was a time of great stability within the band that was consolidated with two tours overseas. In 1985 the band visited Barnsley's twin town of Schwabisch Gmund in Germany and in 1986 an exchange visit was organised with Brass Band Euterpe of Belgium.
In 1989 the band was acutely aware that the mining industry in the area was in decline. The Barrow Colliery had closed and all operations had moved to the nearby Barnsley Main Colliery. Support from the industry was no longer viable so a campaign was launched to find a new form of sponsorship. John Hopkinson approached the Barnsley Building Society who were happy to undertake a new venture. An agreement was made which gave the band financial stability and a new name - The Barnsley Building Society (Barrow) Band.
The 90's were a time of mixed fortunes for the band. In 1989 and again in 1996 a number of top quality players left the band to achieve ambitions to play in Championship Section Bands. On each occasion the band recruited young players who matured quickly and provided further contest successes. In 1995 and 1999 the band made appearances in the National Finals for First Section bands.
In 1995 the band made a successful application for a National Lottery grant through the Arts Council of England. This award enabled the band to renew every brass and percussion instrument in the bandroom and on reflection was a lifeline that secured the immediate future of the band.
1996 was probably the most turbulent in the bands history. The band had achieved promotion to the Championship Section but many of the players were enticed away to the more illustrious and established Championship Section bands. A hard core of players with outstanding loyalty to the cause rebuilt the band to its full strength with a bright future.
The new millenium saw the band yo-yo between the 1st and 2nd Sections, including a CISWO 1st Section win, a National Finals appearance and a Pontins title. The band's public profile remained high, both in the local area and through concert engagements as far away as London. In 2006 the band celebrated its centenary, with a series of high profile concerts and the release of a CD. 2009 saw the appointment of well-known Sheffield cornetist Rob Straw as resident conductor and this again brought stability and a number of new players to the band. However, the recession and the merger of the band's sponsors with the Yorkshire Building Society meant that the writing was on the wall for the sponsorship deal.
A superb 2nd place at the 2010 Pontins contest was quickly overshadowed by the news that the holiday company had gone into administration and would not be able to honour the prize money. Coupled with the end of the building society sponsorship the band's long term financial stability became a concern. However, the offer of a new deal with the Barnsley Chronicle newspaper was met with great celebration and ensured that the band will continue to entertain the public both locally and further afield, as well as continuing to progress in the contest field. The band has been very fortunate in recent years to maintain a very stable "team", with few player vacancies in comparison to many of its rivals. Its sociable atmosphere and high level of playing make it a place players want to stay and this only goes to enhance the overall standard.