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Report of the 10th Anniversary British Open Championship Contest held at Belle Vue, Manchester, 1863


Along with the names of the eight bands entered, is the valuable information as to the number of players each contained.

There were 18 in Delph Amateur, Saddleworth (conductor William Hudson), 19 in Compstall Bridge (Henry Tym), 20 in the 4th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers, from Bacup (John Lord), 20 in Black Dyke Mills (F. Galloway), 18 in Dewsbury (John Peel), 25 in the 11th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers, from Preston (Jasper Norwood), 18 in Scholes, near Cleckheaton (Samuel Bentley), and 19 in Craven Amateur, from Silsden, near Leeds (G. O'Brien).

The contest day, Monday, August 31, 1863, met with stormy weather, and the event instead of being held out of doors as planned, was transferred to what was described as "the large hall". Despite the rain, it was estimated some 12,000 visitors were present, including large contingents of supporters of the competing bands.

According to the contest rules B-flat cornets had to be used. In addition to the set test-piece, a selection from Gounod's Faust specially arranged for the contest, bands could play an "own choice" piece.

The bands, judged by Mr. E. Stanton Jones (former bandmaster 5th Dragoon Guards), Mr. A Phasey and Mr. Riviere, played in the following order: Scholes, Black Dyke, 11th Lancashire V.R., Compstall Bridge, 4th Lancashire V.R., Craven Amateur, Delph Amateur, and Dewsbury.

Having heard all the bands, the judges decided there should be a play-off between No. 2 (Black Dyke) which they considered had played their own choice selection better than No.5 (4th Lancashire V.R.) but No. 5 had played the Faust selection better than No.2. In the replay, with the respective conductors choosing their own piece, Black Dyke got the verdict winning the 1st prize of 30 plus a new euphonium, with the 2nd prize going to the 4th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers.

The judges thought there was little to choose between the next three prize winners, who had all played well, and awarded Craven Amateur 3rd (7); 11th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers 4th (4 l0s.); and Dewsbury 5th (2 l0s.).

After the contest, one of the judges Mr. A. Phasey, described as "of Her Majesty's Theatre and Crystal Palace Concerts" played on his "new patent euphonion" an aria with variations from Bellini's opera Il Pirata, "in a masterly style and he was enthusiastically applauded".

Then followed a contest for the prize of a ten-guinea cornet, which was won by Mr. W. Brockbank of the Craven Amateur Band, "against whom the other competitors had no chance", says a contemporary report. Mr. J. Higham, of Manchester, who had presented the euphonium won by Black Dyke, had a trade stand of his instruments at the contest.

The Dewsbury Band under the same conductor John Peel had the previous month won the 2nd prize of 20 at the National Contest at the Crystal Palace.