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A band has existed in Cottingham since early in the 19th century. Reference has been made to a band opening the Hull to Bridlington Railway at Cottingham station in 1846, and a brass band was definitely at the Jubilee celebrations in 1887. It is also recorded that the Cottingham Band was at the opening of the Hull and Barnsley line in 1885. It has generally been accepted that 1859 was the magic date but that is now in doubt.
The band has existed under various names which include: The Cottingham Harmonic Brass Band, Cottingham Brass Band, Cottingham Model Brass Band, Cottingham Prize Silver Band, Cottingham Silver Band and The Cottingham Band. We assume from the limited knowledge that we have, due to the lack of minute books which have been lost or misplaced and are therefore not available to us, that the band has been virtually continuous over its life with the exception of the war years, so we can claim to be long established.
A list published in 1974 of bands which once existed in the immediate area shows 42 bands, which is now down to three.The majority were 'firms' bands, and those connected with churches have long been disbanded. In 1897 two bands existed in Cottingham - the present-day Cottingham Band and Cottingham Victoria which it is rumoured based itself in the Tiger Inn as the leader was the landlord there.Some say that the bandroom still esists in the Tiger, now used as a store. Alas the band only existed for two years.
Our information is limited and has many large gaps. The earliest recorded note is from a letter written by a past President, Cllr N. Bisby (deceased) which quotes a news cutting that outlines the opening of the Hull to Bridlington line in 1846 which states that Cottingham Band played at the Cottingham Station for the occasion. A later press cutting tells us of the opening of the Hull - Barnsley line in 1885 when the celebrations were headed by the Cottingham Harmonic Brass Band.
The next cutting to hand is a re-print of the report on the Jubilee celebrations in 1887 which reads; "The inhabitants of the village of Cottingham turned out in holiday fashion to commemorate the occasion of her majesty's jubilee" and goes on to list dignitaries who responded handsomely with funds and others who contributed mainly food. An address of congratulations, beautifully designed and illuminated in various colours and embossed on vellum by Mr W.L. Assam of Hull was sent to General Ponsonby G.C.B. for presentation to Her Majesty the Queen. The address had been displayed in Hull and Cottingham and much admired. It read;"To Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, etc. most gracious soveriegn, on behalf of the President, Vice Presidents and Committee consisting of representatives from the various religious denominations formed for the purpose of carrying out a celebration in the village of Cottingham in the East Riding of Yorkshire on this the auspicious occasion of your Majesty's Jubilee, we humbly tender our most sincere and loyal congratulations of the happy attainment of the 50th year of your Majesty's prosperous and glorious reign, and earnestly pray that it might please almighty God to spare your Majesty to reign over your vast Empire and that his blessing may still attend your Majesty and the Royal Family. Dated this 21st day of the year of our Lord 1887" and signed by the presenter. The report goes on to say that the celebrations got under way early in the morning with the ringing of the bells of the grand old Parish Church. The United choirs accompanied by the Cottingham Brass Band sang the national anthem from the top of the church tower. It does not state whether the choirs only were atop the tower. It goes on to list the local organisations - the Cottingham Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Cottingham Free Gardeners, the Cottingham United Freindly Societies and the Salvation Army assmebled on the West Green to receive special medals to mark the occasion and the Cottingham Brass Band played a selection of music.
Our next reference comes from information written on the back of an old photograph which tells us that a Robert Hall, later to be Colonel R. Hall, Hull Artillery reformed the band in 1891/2 after a long layoff and names the bandsmen as; J. Ness, Conductor, T. Gibson, Ben Hatfield, G. Bilton, W. Brocklesby, P. Stephenson, E. Maw, C. Gibson, H. Coverdale, T. Dales and ? Varny. A local paper informs us of the existence of a balance sheet for the year 1899/1900 which reads; Total income £13-13s-6d. Expenditure £5-10s-8d. Due to the treasurer, £2-12s-9d for music, shoulder lamps at £2-6s-8d, players fares from Hull and Beverley 10s-8d, books 4s-11d, repair to music stands 1s-3d, oil and bottle 5s-1d, springs at 6d and postage etc 2s. This adds up to £12-4s-4d, not giving much profit!
Another photograph shows the band in the grounds of Kingtree House in 1902, when it was known as the Cottingham Model Brass Band. Again a newspaper informs us that a minute book of 1903 states that the Cottingham Village Brass Band was re-organised on October 22nd of that year with a constitution containing 12 'commandments'. No. 10 read "That bad language, intoxication, insubordination to the Bandmaster shall be deemed a gross breach of the rules and liable to instant dismissal."
Next we have records of achievements recorded by the Bandmaster, W. Brocklesby, which reads:
- June 10th 1905 Barton Selection 2nd Prize
- August 14th 1905 Goole Selection 2nd Prize
- September 23rd 1905 Beverley Selection 1st Prize : Cup and Euphonium Medal March 2nd Prize
- June 23rd 1906 Scunthorpe Selection 1st Prize : Cup and all medals March 1st Prize
- September 29th 1906 Crystal Palace 4th One Thousand Guinea Trophy
- September 28th 1907 Crystal Palace 1st Prize Cup and £30.
The cup was a magnificent trophy and before its return the village had a replica made which we have to this day. It was also the practice to present the winning band or Bandmaster with an instrument supplied by a sponsoring firm. We hold a cornet and trombone all suitably inscribed.
Around this time we have a story, passed by word of mouth from bandsman to bandsman and therefore embroidered somewhat, that says that the band, on returning from a very successful Crystal Palace, alighted from the train at Cottingham station and decided to celebrate by marching back to the bandroom. It was the early hours of the morning and someone pointed out that the sleeping residents may not appreciate much noise so it was decided that they would remove their boots and march in stockinged feet. It does not relate whether they played or not!
From this point the gaps in our research are wide. There is a programme of an event, a sports day, run by the Royal British Legion on Saturday 9th July 1927 that records the band playing. Then we have a photograph of the Cottingham Prize Silver Band winning the Hull Musical Festival, a first of its kind, on May 30th 1932.
Our research now jumps to 1940 when a cutting states that the Bandroom as we know it now, exists due to negotiation with the Hull Brewery Company through Col. Cooper, for the use of a loft, originally Thurlows Malt Store above the Old Brewery. This was a derelict shell and the bandsmen of the day and provided access via a staircase all in the space of two months and at no expense to the brewery. The Company inspected the work and were so impressed that they granted the sole use of the room for as long as the band exists. A small rent of £3 was charged, and this arrangement has continued through the years with the various encumbents of the 'King Billy'. The rent was discontinued a few years ago when the Brewery ceased to exist.
Towards the latter half of the 1940's the band were fairly active and enjoyed a relationship with the mighty Black Dyke Mills Band. This came about through a bandsman called Joe Wood. It was told to me by an old mandsman that the relationship was an annual event which was a form of training and freindly competition and it is rumoured that Cottingham actually beat Black Dyke in one of these contests. Black Dyke were of course under their illustrious conductor Arthur O. Pearce so the events must have been momentous. Records of Mr Brocklesby show that catering was laid on for these concerts/contests and goes on to state that on Sunday 24th August 1947 catering for 231 people cost £23-28s-0d. On Sunday 3rd July 1949 he again catered, this time for 221 people at a cost of £14-0s-0d. The events took place at Elmfield house.
In 1952 at the band's AGM a new presidnet was elected - Cllr N. Bisby, and a new Bandmaster, Mr Sam Walmsley, a very well respected and experienced man. The band had just gained 2nd place in the 'areas' at Huddersfield and so were eligible for the finals. These took place at Belle Vue, Manchester on September 20th, where they won 2nd place. 1953 saw them have to relinquish their entry to the nationals because of their drive to buy new uniforms.
The band now had a new bandmaster with the appointment of Alf Stephenson. Alf didn't allow the band to vegetate but took them to a contest in Ossett in September of that year. They drew No.9 in an entry of 16 and were reported as giving a truly inspired rendering of the test piece gaining them 3rd place, beating some of the best bands in the area such as Leeds Model and Bentley Colliery. No doubt the proudest man on the day was Alf who said by virtue of their high placing they now had to play against some of the best bands in Yorkshire. They hoped that with the generosity of the village they could liquidate their uniform debt and bring more honours to the village.
Meanwhile earlier in the year (Coronation Year) the band had been approached to play concerts during Coronation Week, to commence on 31st May with an evening concert to be held in the grounds of Elmtree House. Another concert was required on Coronation Day to take place in the King George Field. It is recorded that a tree was planted for each organisation in Cottingham as part of the ceremony.
In 1954 the band came 2nd in the areas at Huddersfield which qualified them for the London finals. The band had left Cottingham for the areas at 7 am on Saturday March 13th by motor coach, stopping for lunch at Brighouse and rehearsing in the Brighouse and Rastrick bandroom. Here they had received news of their draw being last in a line up of 18. On arrival at Huddersfield they realsied from reports that they had to pull something out of the bag to have any chance at all. They played their piece and the applause was tremendous - they knew they had done their best. The results came - 1st Linthwaite, 2nd Cottingham, the two bands to represent Yorkshire at the finals in London. They now faced the task of raising the money to go to London, which was £150, whereas in 1907 it was £30. They tried everything including concerts, whist drives and beetle drives, eventually raising the necessary funds. When tehy competed in London, they achieved 7th place.
The next record we can find is a programme of the 1955 Open Spring Brass Band Festival at Belle Vue. The band entered the Junior Trophy, where the test piece was the Mignonne Suite by Beethoven and the adjudicator was E.C. (Ted) Buttress. The band was drawn no. 5, scored 192 points, and came 1st. For this they received the Besson Challenge cup, £12 and a voucher for £2-2s-0d.
1959 is our next date, which saw 'areas' results at Huddersfield of 3rd, and the visit to London producing 9th. At this point information dries up once more. Here it is opportune to point to another era of the band, the introduction of ladies. The first we know of is one Frances Foster who at the age of 12 after being in the band 1 year, made her appearance in the Armistice Day Parade celebrations in 1957. Later in the 60's we saw the arrival of Jean Stables followed by SHirley Levitt, who is still a member today.
A photograph of 1961 tells us the band entered a contest in Flamingo Park. 1963 was another benchmark when the band organised and ran its own contest, which took place at the Harland Way School, the participants being Bridlington Excelsior, Hull Railwaymens Silver, Hessle Royal British Legion and the Band of the Queens Own Yorkshire Yeomanry. This ran for 2 or 3 years.
Information is missing again until 1971 when a feature in the Hull Times of October 1st gives us an inside view of the bandroom in all its glory and features the then bandspeople showing that families are involved as well as the young and not so young. Three generations of the Leason family appear under the baton of Jock Fryston. Jock was a man of wide experience with some 30 years in banding, 11 of them with 'Gordons' and time with the local Dance bands.
Progress from here on is slow and the band seems to exist just for a 'blow' although they actively trained youngsters in the learners class. In 1976 I 'joined' the band as secretary, so from now on I have first hand experience. Highs and lows followed throughout the 70's and 80's, and at one time the band was reduced to four (that included me), but it rallied and came up to strength again. The band started to contest again, locally at first with some success, and then back to the nationals. Since this point the band has rocketed up the ladder to their current position in the Championship Section.