This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.
Eagley Band was formed in the winter of 1850, initially as the Eagley Sunday School Band, attached to the Eagley Mills, a group of textile mills sited to the north of Bolton, Lancashire.
The band entered their first contest in 1885 held at Kearsley Moor and managed to win third prize (and the princely sum of £6) under their conductor Edwin Swift. Swift, along with John Gladney and Alexander Owen, was one of the "Great Triumvirate", a trio of conductors who played a very important role in the development of bands and band music. He was also credited as being the man who introduced Wagner to brass bands. Despite being in great demand with other ensembles, Swift continued to direct Eagley until his death in 1904. The first surviving photograph of the Band was taken in 1898 and depicts the members in ordinary suits and "billy cock hats", the first uniform being purchased in 1905. The Band continued to enter competitions and with the dedication of its members became one if the premier bands in the country, notable successes included appearances as far a field as Kirkcaldy and also the famous Belle Vue contest (now known as The Grand Shield and British Open Championships).
The dawning of the First World War reduced the Bands activities to virtually nothing with many musicians leaving for the front line, and yet Eagley was fortunate with a fresh pool of talent to draw on from the mills. It was not until late 1919 that the Band resumed playing in full, the only contribution during the War being a lone member who performed the Last Post daily at a memorial service to the fallen. The Second World War also took it's toll on proceedings, although a Youth Band was formed during this time ensuring the continuation of the Band. The local newspaper reported on their first concert held in the mills in 1945.
Contest success followed the Wars, which in turn led to Radio broadcasts and in 1956 a television appearance, quite an achievement at that time, the medium still being in its infancy. By this time, Eagley were under the leadership of Ernest Appleyard, a Bolton man who has distinguished himself in the army and many of the great bands of the time, under such men as Sir Adrian Boult, and Harry Mortimer OBE.
1971 brought grave news for the Band, Eagley Mills were to close bringing the 120 year old association with the Band to an end. Until this time the mills had provided rehearsal facilities within the complex and also the Band instruments. Ownership of the instruments was generously transferred to the Band and yet it still found itself without a bandroom or financial backing. Despite this the Band continued to be successful, thanks in part to the support of local schools, most notably Thornleigh College from whom a nucleus of players joined in the early seventies, some of whom are still in the Band today.
Particular success in recent times include two appearances at the national finals at the Royal Albert Hall, a hat trick of wins in the 1999 contest season with victories at Blackburn, Morecambe and Fleetwood contests and promotion to the First Section under the baton of Craig Roberts. In addition to the successes on the contest field, the band are now famed for their achievements in the concert hall, their innovative, challenging and exciting programmes proving increasingly popular with audiences everywhere.