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NASUWT Riverside Band
The band were formed in 1877 as "The Pelton Fell Methodist Band", based in the village of Pelton Fell near Chester-le-Street (which is now part of Chester-le-Street). It soon became "The Pelton Fell Colliery Band" and played under that name until the colliery closed in 1966 when the band had very hard times and struggled to maintain itself. Without the dedication of the band members who scrimped and scraped to preserve the band it could have gone out of existence then.
In 1975 a lifeline was given to the band by Newcastle Breweries who sponsored them and provided practice facilities at the Brewery Depot in Washington, they played under the name "The Newcastle Brown Ale Band". This was to be a successful period for the band, for during these years they rose through the sections to become a Championship Section band in the early 1980's. However, in 2001 another crisis hit the band when they were informed that their Newcastle Breweries sponsorship was to end in early 2002.
Like all fairy stories this dark cloud was to lead to a silver lining, for a chance meeting between Band manager Tony Thompson and current Chairman Tom Moffat (then not connected with the band) was to lead to a very happy outcome. Tom's father had been a brass-bandsman pre-war – playing with Silksworth Colliery Band, a band Tom played in as a boy until in 1944 cricket, his great love, was to take him away from brass-banding. Tom is a long serving Director of Durham County Cricket Club and he immediately approached his fellow DCCC Directors to ask for their help. Whilst they couldn't offer financial support they came in with what was to be a real life saver, twice weekly rehearsal facilities at their very lovely Chester-le-Street Riverside Ground.
The second problem was to raise the necessary cash to maintain the band at this Championship level and so another partnership started, between Band Manager and Principal Cornet Player Tony Thompson and Tom as they quickly recognised that the generation of self help income was the order of the day. They embarked on the generation of a number of high profile concerts which led to the first being that, on 27th April 2002 the band started a concert, with worldwide opera stars Graeme Danby (Principal Bass) and Valerie Reid (Mezzo Soprano) who both sing with English National Opera, at the Riverside Ground as "The Newcastle Brown Ale Band" and ended it as "The Chester-le-Street Riverside Band" under which name they played until March 2005 when they obtained a new sponsor, Tavistock which means they then played as the "Tavistock Chester-le-Street Riverside Band".
On 30th July 2005 they will take part in the third outdoor NORTHERN PROMS concert at the Chester-le-Street Riverside Ground; the attendance in 2004 was over 3,000 and more are expected this year with the band, under their musical Director Ian Robinson, with guest conductor Major Peter Parkes taking part, backing once again International opera Stars: Graeme Danby, Valerie Reid and Bethany Halliday.
Brass Band National Finalists – On 27th February 2005 at the Northern Regional Brass Band Championships the band finished 2nd to Reg Vardy Ever Ready Band and so qualified for the first time in their history for the National Finals at The Royal Albert Hall.
Where the fairy tale will end is now in their own hands but the brass band world are sure to hear more from this fine band with such a fine and wholesome tradition.
2008 has brought further support for the Band with sponsorship deals from Hercules Stands and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT). As a result of this new sponsorship the Band is now proudly called the NASUWT Riverside Band.