Hardraw Scar Contest Recollections
The bandstand has no long history, being built by the late Edmund Blythe, of Hawes after the first world war in a gallant attempt to revive the renowned brass band and choral contests of the last part of the 19th century.
(1958) - E. Proctor - "I was a member of the newly reformed Ingleton Brass Band and played at Hardraw. It was during the Summer of 1934. We gave a concert in aid of Leeds Infirmary. At that time the bandstand was in very good repair."
Brass band contests were started behind the Green Dragon Inn in 1884, and reintroduced in 1976 with a missed year in 2000.
The old music contests were started in 1880 by a committee of public spirited people about Hawes who offered substantial prizes (for those days) to the best brass bands and choral societies to compete in the grounds of Hardraw Scaur, which were lent by the Earl of Wharncliffe. The contests were usually held on the last Saturday of June.
(1959) - Edgar Routh - "A list of the committee, which I possess, is dated 1888. It then comprised: President, Dr Richardson, of Hawes (whom, with silk hat and frock coat, I remember); treasurer, J. W. Fryer; secretary, George Broderick; assistant secretary, John Hesltine, junior; committee, E. Moor, F.W.W. Matthews, W.H.M.Fawcett, B.Thompson, J.L.Metcalfe, A. Johnson, F.Lister, W.L.Metcalfe, C.Moore, S.Moore, J. Cockburn and J. F. Fawcett. From the first contest in 1880 the events were well-supported by the whole of the North of England until, on Wednesday, the 12th July, 1899, a tremendous thunderstorm, or cloudburst, ruined the old Scaur and made a new watercourse. The adventures of Hardraw village in that flood disaster make a separate epic, but in the Green Dragon Inn, through which access to the Scaur is gained, they still shoe the mark in the tap- room and on the inside door to which the flood-waters reached. The heyday of Hardraw Scaur, when crowds of many thousands listened to the band and choir, has long since been over. For our ancestors the contests were often their only holiday, and the trains brought people from the manufacturing towns of Yorkshire and Lancashire-those who had left the dale, or their descendants - to renew old ties with their kith and kin. There were occasions which meant more than music, good though it was. So far as I know there was no actual bandstand near the entrance to the Scaur though the bands and choirs made music on level swards at the bottom and the top of the Scaur. After the great flood the contests ended until, with the close of the first world war, the late Edmund Blythe bought the grounds and laboured with enthusiasm and really hard work to bring the Scaur into a safe condition for contests and the big crowds once more. One of his joys was to build the bandstand near the little bridge. I myself played in the stand soon after it was built, but it was not there in the times of the ''historic'' contests. By Mr. Blythe's enterprise a few comparatively local bands were able to hold contests in the early 1920's, but his efforts, time and money to make the revival succeed were disappointing, because a little afterwards an amenity called radio developed and good music could be heard cheaply in the home. Yet I have always thought that Mr. Blythe was never given his proper due for that courageous, if unsuccessful, venture."
(1959) - H. Dinsdale - "I have made some inquiries from Mr. Kit Calvert, of Hawes, and Mr. George Metcalfe, the bandmaster of Hawes Silver Band, who has been able to enlighten me on the last time the bandstand was used for concerts. I have on loan from Mr. Metcalfe some copies of the programme in use in 1925 and 1926, which would appear to be when the last full contest took place. I am informed that only two bands competed on the last occasion, which would probably be in 1927. The 1925 programme shows the bandstand occupied and the adjudicators' and committee tents erected alongside. There were spectators massed in the grounds. The programmes are priced 3d (1.5p) in 1925 and 2d (1p) in 1926. I can recall attending the band contest or ''Grand Musical Festival,'' in my youth, and the last occasion on which I was present was in 1923 when I, along with Mr. Albert Watson, of Wensley and Carleton, in Coverdale, ran a shuttle service from Hawes Station to Hardraw Scaur, with Watson Bros.' Victory Charabanc, at a charge of 6d,for each journey. We conveyed most of the competing bands and many spectators on that beautiful summer day. The people attending the contests came from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Durham, practically all by trains. Incidentally, four choirs competed in 1925 and there were five choirs in 1926."
(1936) - John William Sharples - "There was one day in the year when the valley below the Scaur was ''black wi folks.' 'That was when the band contests were held. Attracting brass bands and choirs from all parts of the North. The musicians arrived at Hawes railway station and usually played through the main street before journeying on to Hardraw. Wagonettes had a busy time transporting the bands, choirs and the hundreds of people who were drawn to Wensleydale on the great day. The bands- they included such famous combinations as Black Dyke, White Temperance and Besses o' th'Barn- played in a covered bandstand below the waterfall, and before the competitions they often managed a little last minute practice in the village. The choirs sang on the banks of the stream above the fall.Tents were erected by people selling refreshments; there were ''into t' teens o' bobbies'' and one character sold Doncaster butterscotch to the crowds. The steep valley below the Scaur gave the music a special quality."