Bradford City Brass Band and Harry Grace
Bradford's Winning Band - Teamwork Tells - Conductor's tribute to Leeds Contest Promoters
A brass band composed of 25 Bradford men, following such occupations as motor drivers, textile workers, tinners and warehousemen, led by a conductor who laid aside his shoemaker's last for a day to take up the baton, won one of the premier awards at the Brass Band Festival in Leeds.
The organisation was the Bradford City Prize Band. In an interview today with a representative of "The Yorkshire Evening Post", Mr H. Grace, the conductor, back at his last in his cobbler's shop in Hewood Street, told of 40 years experience with some of the foremost bands in England.
The name of Grace is almost as famous in brass band circles as it is in cricket. Mr Grace's father who, curiously enough, bore the same initials as those of the famous cricketer, was a brass band conductor. It was he who initiated "Harry" at the age of nine years, and his brother Arthur, at a similar age, in the intricacies of brass band music. Arthur Grace became a prominent cornettist and played with some of the best bands in the country. Harry, too, made his mark in the brass band world. He played with the Halifax King Cross Band before the late King at Buckingham Palace on the day before his coronation. Later, when King George cam to Dean Clough Mills, Halifax, on his industrial tour, the King Cross Band was once more summoned to play before His Majesty. Harry was again a member of the band.
From Halifax Mr Grace went south to take up the baton in the service of the Bookham Silver and Guildford Borough Bands. At the outbreak of the war he served for a time in the Band of the Royal Fusiliers. When peace came again Mr Grace, being Yorkshire born - his home was in Sowerby - "made tracks" back to his native county because, in his own words, "all the best bands were Yorkshire ones, and still are".
Five years ago Mr Grace was appointed conductor of the Bradford City Band, with its headquarters in Heap Lane. Since that time the band has got right among the prizes and kept there. With last Saturday's trophy their "bag" of trophies for the season - not yet ended - is five.
A few years ago the members of the band formed a working men's club and built palatial premises in Heap Lane at a cost of £11,000. There are now over 900 members of the club and the band claims a big share of their interest.
The "lads" who form the band either sit behind steering wheels, haul bales of wool around in Bradford warehouses during the week, or follow other occupations in the wool textile industry.
"Yet when they get together for practice there is not a more cheerful or obedient set of boys anywhere," said Mr Grace. "All the successes which we have gained during the past five years - we have only been out of the prizes on five occasions - is due to team work, and that alone.
Mr Grace wishes to express his gratitude to the Leeds authorities for promoting the festival. "It has long been wanted in Yorkshire - the home of good brass bands for generations", he said, "I hope it will be the forerunner of many more contests in Yorkshire, and that it becomes a permanent institution."
Then, with a knowing smile, Mr Grace turned to his last, saying "In Bradford we let Leeds do this promoting, and then go in and fetch the brass out!"
Bradford City Band Club, 1936
Bradford City Band Club, receiving the deeds, 1945
See also the caricature of Harry Grace here