Stalybridge Old Band 
Bands Directory   |   Events   |   Products & Services   |   People   |   Organisations   |   Reference   |   About IBEW   |   Contact

In the year of Napoleon's first abdication; in the year of the great frost, when a six-weeks' fair was held on the frozen Thames; in the 55th year of the reign of King George the Third; in the year 1814, from a private house adjoining the Hope and Anchor (now the Fleece Inn), Market Street, Stalybridge, there sallied forth four originators of the New Band - Thomas Avison, clarionet (leader); Joseph Lawton, clarionet; James Hazeldine, bassoon; and James Buckley, drum; to whom there was attracted another well-known instrument of percussion in the shape of a triangle, manipulated by John Sidebottom.

Another historian records that the first members were Thomas Avison, James France, Archibald Barker, James Harrison, and Thomas France; that James Buckley brought his big drum, and the very useful triangle did not appear on this occasion, which was the Monday before Easter Sunday in 1814.

It is well understood that attempts had been made by the youth Avison to set afoot a band in previous years. He confesses that he met with others bent on the same object in the winter of 1809-10, and agreed to pay 3d. per week towards a band. With such funds a flagiolet, a flute, and a clarionet were purchased, only to discover that the person acting as banker to the band refused to return the money - notwithstanding her public position as wife of the village bellman.

After this musical collapse, Avison and another lad, known as Billy Hall the Hatter, went every Sunday for two years for music lessons to a man named William Oldham, of Mottram. Later this same Oldham acted as tutor to the band, and came regularly to give them instruction in the good old style, with such pieces as "With Wellington we'll go", and "The Downfall of Paris", those being the days when Wellington was driving the Napoleonic eagles across the Pyrenees into France.

In 1812, thanks no doubt to young Avison, a meeting of lads was held at the General Baptists, in Spring Street (now covered by railway arches), at which thirteen were present, and from this meeting may be dated the birth of the New Band. Money was needed, and time to save it in, so the lads agreed to pay five shillings down at their next meeting. Instead of there being thirteen crowns available when they met again there were only five, and the names of those lads who "paid up like men" were James France, Archibald Barker, Thomas Avison, James Harrison, and Thomas France; and they further agreed to pay two shillings every week until they had a good band.

If a date has to be fixed for the first turn-out of the band, the reader will doubtless favour the struggle made by Avison from 1812 to 1814, which, it seems, culminated in a properly formed band being ready to go out pace-egging at Easter, 1814 (the Monday before Easter Sunday). The other band, which is said to have gone out, was also led by Avison, and a few facts relating to this successful band promoter may now be interesting.

Thomas Avison was born at Dobcross in 1796, and came to Stalybridge with his parents at a very early age. He formed his first band when 12 years of age; formed the New Band, which in course of time became the Old Band; wrote the music for them; wrote the first music for the Shepherds' Band, and became its leader in 1833, a post he retained until 184I - remaining a warm friend of both bands. His sons, John and Thomas, played the violin; Allen Avison became a well-known 'cellist, while all his six daughters were singers in the choir of Stephen's Chapel. There were no organs in those days. He left explicit directions for the musical part of his own funeral, at which the Old Band and the Shepherds' Band took part. He died February 8th, 1866, in his seventieth year.

In a short time the Band bought their first instrument a bassoon, then a couple of flutes, then a clarionet for William Cottrell to play on - so that there is no truth in the shocking allegation that the New Band started with a few tin whistles.

The bandroom was in a garret of a shoe shop kept by Avison's father, next to the Hope and Anchor (now called the Fleece Inn). Progress was made; more lads wanted to join, and one day a lad brought in a big drum, and was forthwith appointed first drummer to the Stalybridge New Band.

Now the fact that Bandsman Barker's father was a minister was not lost sight of, and at the suggestion, very likely, of the enterprising Avison, the Rev. Mr. Barker did indite an address describing the beauties and beneficial effects of Music in general, and that of the New Band in particular, and with this address artfully displayed at the commencement of a threepenny book ruled for cash, the band were able to pay calls in the district, to the great advantage of their exchequer.

Their first visit was to Robert Lees, Esq., Dukinfield, who started the list with a one pound note; Messrs. Harrison, Lees, Bayley, and others in Stalybridge gave a like sum, while a couple of guineas was the encouragement they got from Mr. Astley, of Dukinfield. In this way a total of twenty-four pounds in solid cash and 18o eggs was reached. The origin of the latter collection is doubtful, though their qualities were probably beyond reproach. With the money collected and twelve pounds of their own, the band very soon ordered a bass horn and two French bugles from Mr. Beale, of St. Mary's Gate, Manchester, the price to be £32. When these instruments were ready, thirty-two local one-pound notes were taken in payment, when the worthy Mr. Beale explained that the price he mentioned was £42, but allowed the instruments to be taken when the band agreed to forward the balance of the money.

The following were performers of the New Band at its completion in the year 1814:

John Hallsworth, trumpet.
Joshua Cottrell, French horn.
James Harrison, French horn.
Archibald Barker, bugle horn.
Samuel Walker, serpent.
James Hazeldine, bassoon.
James France, bassoon.
Paul Greenwood, bass horn.
Abel Lawton, flute
Samuel Cottrell, flute.
       Hugh Nield, flute.
James Booth, flute.
Thomas Avison, clarionet.
Joseph Lawton, clarionet.
Thomas France, clarionet.
William Cottrell, clarionet.
George Platt, cymbals.
James Buckley, drum.
John Sidebottom, triangle.

Thus the Band was a mixture of wood and brass wind, and remained of a mixed character for a number of years.

The three members named Cottrell were brothers. Samuel Cottrell will long be remembered by reason of his being a bit of a poet. He was born in 1799, and wrote his best song at the age of eighteen. The first verse was


Let us go to Mottram Wakes, Bonnie Lassie, Oh!
And I'll buy thee nuts and cakes, Bonnie Lassie, Oh!
Put on thy best Sunday gown,
Which was bought in London town,
It's a very pretty brown, Bonny Lassie, Oh!

He played on the violin, gave music lessons, was a founder of the, Band, and a spinner at Harrison's mill. He died in 1837 at his cottage in Springbank Street. His son William is still living (January, 1914), and recollects that his father spoke of a contest attended by the Band at Sheffield in 1818. The three brothers Cottrell were useful playing members, while another brother (John) acted as secretary in the early years.

On 24th June, 1815, the Band took their first public engagement at the procession and foundation stone-laying of Chapel Street Sunday Schools. They were led by Thomas Avison, whose age would then be about 19.

The student of history will note that the above event happened on the Saturday following the battle of Waterloo, fought 18th June (Sunday). It is doubtful whether anyone in the Chapel Street procession had heard of Napoleon's final overthrow at La Belle Alliance.

On Easter Monday, 1816, the Band numbered twenty-one performers, and played in a new sky-blue uniform at an Oddfellows procession at Glossop. They played for Chapel Street School again in 1816, and were paid 5s. 7d. for malt. In 1817 they had 17s, and shortly afterwards a pound.

During the year 1816 nine special excursions were made to Tinker's Gardens, Manchester, in addition to the village performances.

Tunes were very simple, so that the lads in the village used to go in front of the players and dance and sing to the music. There was a Bum-bailiff who came from Ashton whose walk - with a long leg and a short one - used to be imitated in the songs sung in front of the band. "Owd Leg-away, Owd Leg-away" it went, and the chorus was made by the addition of "Up wi' the rump and down wi' the stump".

Perhaps the most important part of the early history of the Band is that which relates to Peterloo. The New Band was engaged to play for Henry Hunt - Orator Hunt he was called - January, 1819, and were re-engaged for the memorable 16th of August in the same year, at a Reform Meeting held in St. Peter's Fields, Manchester. Here there assembled a vast crowd crammed within the space of three acres, and the magistrates ordered the yeomanry to charge, which they did, and many were killed. The account of the New Band's part in the day's proceedings is of so racy a nature as to merit inclusion verbatim:

The year 1819 will long be remembered in Lancashire as the year of what is popularly known as the "Peterloo Massacre", the events of which are so well known that we need not further allude to them. On January 14 of that year Henry Hunt was in Manchester, and the New Band was engaged to play for him, and as after events showed to the entire satisfaction of those who engaged them, but not so to many others. In those days of political excitement for a band to take part in any demonstration in favour of Hunt was to make it an object of admiration to the Radicals, but an object of mark to the powers that were. The members of the Band, by their playing for Hunt, were disliked by the Tories; and when, on August 16, in the same year, they went to Manchester to play again for Hunt, the Tories were extremely rabid against them. The Band had engaged a coach to Manchester at a fare of 3s there and back, and when it passed through Ashton many were the sneering remarks made by the Tories, and great was the banter which was offered, to the effect "that the Band would not come back as merry and light-hearted as it went". However, on they went in spite of banter and ridicule, and upon arriving at Manchester they were ordered to Smedley's Cottage, Collyhurst, for the purpose of heading up Henry Hunt to the great meeting. This was considered to be a great honour, and the members of the band were proud of it. The day was remarkably hot, and when the band stood in front of the platform Mr. Hunt stepped forward, and, with a judgment which showed that he knew something about the tastes of a band, he exclaimed, "Gentlemen of the Stalybridge Band, you need refreshment, and you must now retire and get it". This, of course, was good news to the Band, so they went, as directed, to the Union Rooms in George Leigh Street, Ancoats. Having got in, they were duly regaled with something to drink, preparatory to a general onslaught on something more substantial, when in rushed a man, named John Nield, and, with more emphasis than reverence, exclaimed, "D- it, lads, yoa mun bi sharp, they're playing the very devil wi' um on th' fielt". The Band did not relish the idea of leaving so many of the good things of this life, so they stared at Nield, and then at one another, but not one of them felt disposed to quit a good position for fear of a distant enemy. In a short time, however, a man named John Cotterill rushed in, and as soon as he could command sufficient breath, he exclaimed, "Lads, yoa mun be off, as they're smashing bands, and cutting folks down, and if they catch yoa, they'll smash yoar instruments, and they'll smash yoa, or put yoa in th' New Bailey". A council of war was held upon the receipt of this intelligence, and some advised an instant retreat, others objected on the grounds that sundry rounds of beef were waiting to be attacked; and in the whole history of music, musicians had never been known to retreat from sirloins of beef, although there were innumerable cases upon record where they had attacked them. However, "retreat" or "attack" - was the question to be settled quickly, and the former won the day. Then the order was given for a retreat, and the poor, weary, hungry members of the band feasted their eyes, for the last time, upon the sirloins of beef, and with heavy, beating hearts they commenced their famous "retreat from Peterloo". Instruments were seized with the avidity which should have been displayed at the beer; and our informant states that "We entered the front door with the ringing of Hunt's 'Gentlemen of the Stalybridge Band' in our ears, but we sneaked out of the back door, and down a ricketty ladder, and through back streets until we arrived near the canal". They afterwards thought of calling at the George and Dragon, Pin Mill Brow, but at the time a man rushed up, and holding up his hat, swore that, "They'll sarve yoa same as they've sarved me, if they con catch yoa". An examination of the hat was made, and it showed that the crown had been cut off as clean as could be by the sword of one of the dragoons. The Band took the hint, and pursued their retreat with still greater energy, and with greater speed than they had previously done. On they went until they came to a cow-lane, when they observed two dragoons approaching. "Boom" went the big drum over the hedge, followed by the drummer and the other members of the band, who got over just in time to avoid the soldiers, who were content with swearing at the band, and promising what they would do at them if caught. It afterwards turned out that the soldiers were conveying despatches to a detachment of dragoons who lay in a hollow at no great distance. On went the members of the Band faster than ever, and on they still rushed until they arrived at a hut on the banks of the canal. There another council of war was held, and the subject of debate was how the retreat was to be conducted. One proposed one scheme, another suggested a different one, but at last one said the safest plan would be to keep upon the canal bank until they arrived at Ashton Moss. The reasons advanced for this plan were that the soldiers could not follow them above two or three abreast, and if the worst came to the worst, they could take to the canal and on to the other side, whence it was fondly hoped the soldiers would not follow, and another advantage would be that, in due time, they would come to the Moss, and if the soldiers were at their heels, they would have to dismount there or give up the chase. After sixpenny worth of "buttermilk" had been disposed of to cheer their drooping spirits, the retreat was again commenced with order and regularity, and continued until the band arrived in the neighbourhood of the Moss. Then another sixpenny worth of "buttermilk" was drunk, and on the retreat went until Taunton was reached, where they were treated to a gill of ale each; then on they went through Hurst-brook, Botany, by Heyes' coal-pit, and the coke ovens, and at last they arrived at Currier Slacks, Cock-brook, where a better organisation was made preparatory to entering Stalybridge. It has been stated that the band entered the town playing "See, the conquering hero comes!" but our informant says there is not a word of truth in it. They entered the town in a body, but not with music; and some of those who were opposed to Hunt did not fail to jeer them, and a land-lord who loved things as they were, remarked to them as they passed his door, "Pigs are very quiet, neaw th' butchers bin amung um". The Band purposely avoided Ashton to prevent the Tories, who watched them through the town in the morning, sneering at them. However, after all, the retreat was a successful one, and reflected the greatest credit upon the generals who conducted it, inasmuch as all the Band and their instruments arrived safe home. They lost, however, the ten shillings per man they should have received for their engagement, and they also lost their ride home in the coach they had engaged for the day. In other respects, however, they were gainers, as the Band increased in popularity, and its members were looked to as patriots who had suffered in defence of popular liberty. The very night the Band arrived from Peterloo they met at the Spread Eagle Inn, and, instead of drinking "buttermilk," they regaled themselves with a crown bowl of punch, and many were the jokes which were "cracked" that night, and for years after, at the expense of the Band.

The Band practised at the Mechanics' Arms, Market Street, kept by the Hallsworth family, John Hallsworth, one of the first players, afterwards becoming the landlord of the house. About the year 1832 William Haley succeeded T. Avison as leader, and a circular issued by the Band, signed by William Haley, and bearing date December 23rd, 1839, refers in quaint terms to an earlier appeal to the gentry, who "by contributing so liberally to our funds enabled us to purchase instruments which we stood in need". being anxious to maintain that celebrity, respectability and esteem with the public which we had previously attained as a Country Band. Having now had the instruments some time in practice, we flatter ourselves that, although we cannot boast of being proficients, yet we trust that you will not be averse .to hearing our feeble efforts at music upon the instruments we now possess, this coming Christmas.''

The instruments acquired were ophicleide, cornopean, drum, four clarionets, and a serpent, so that wood wind was represented by the last five instruments, the serpent being a wooden tube covered with leather, with keys and vents. The circular refers in a modest fashion to the amounts contributed, and sets out that, while the gentlemen of the borough contributed £17 7s. 6d., the members of the Band "individually began to vie with each other in extra subscriptions", thus raising a further amount of £32 6s. 6d. While this purchase of wood-wind instruments in the year 1839 clearly shows that the Band was then a mixture of brass and wood instruments, there is every reason to believe that during the forties it became a brass band. The third leader is recorded as being Samuel Hopwood - quite a stripling he must have been for he died in his thirtieth year. A presentation to him of a silver snuff-box by the players is an indication of one of the habits of the age. His brother was Dr. Hopwood, a well-known Stalybridge worthy, a staunch supporter of the Band, and its president at that period.

A member who joined in 1848, at the age of twelve years, and left about ten years later (Mr. T. A. Wood, now of St. Helens), writes of his connection with the Band as follows: "My father was striken with famine fever about 1856, died and was buried within twenty-four hours, leaving my mother with five young children. I began work at nine years in Ryecroft Mill at 1s. 3d. per week, ended at Leech's Mill at 24 years. Was ten years with the Old Band, was in turn schoolmaster, bandmaster, solo cornet, organist and choirmaster, and private tutor. I was a sort of chattel to the Old Band. I loved the Band, and the bandsmen loved 'Little Tom'. They found in me a student and an enthusiast, they placed me under Mr. James Melling and Dr. Marsden, sent me to Jullian's grand orchestral concerts to hear the best artistes and imbibe style and finish. The name of John Sykes is especially dear to me - he gave me my first correct notions of instrumentation, transposition, and harmony, and suppressed the laughter at my first crude and bungled attempts.

"During the Forties, bandsmen were surely live enthusiasts. Then there were no Trade Unions, no dreams of a minimum wage, or of eight hours work, eight hours play, &c. Instead, we worked twelve hours, wages low, very dear bread, Chartist risings, and religious disturbances. Band practice after twelve hours toil in the mill was surely a well-earned luxury. Music was nearly all in manuscript, and was very expensive, besides being very indistinct. Our sources of supply were W. Blight, Mr. Tideswell, Mr. Melling, and as recommended. Improved scoring for brass bands came much later, together with Band journals and other aids.

"I got quickly among the classic composers, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Weber, by studying vocal music under Old Bill Farrington, Sam. Garlick (Cr. Harmonic), and Dr. John Marsden (Cr. Philharmonic), while Sykes and Cooper led others to Psalmody and quartett playing. Lip-training, and double and triple tongueing was often done among the mountains. Not the least interesting were our. Socials, 'Christmasing', Concerts, Balls, Excursions, and talks of coming events.

"About 1852 the Originals and we had a Re-union at the Mechanics' Arms, and the event was a revelation to me. The old faces, old instruments, old music, old stories, &c., were delightful and inspiring."

The players in 1848-58, to the best of Mr. Wood's recollection are as below. Possibly the list is incomplete, for six members who left the town in 1857 do not appear.

Samuel Hopwood
John Sykes, pro tem only.
William Blight (the "iron-lipped,")
James Melling - also instructor
Dr. John Marsden, for Concerts

CORNETS - S. Hopwood, "Little Tom" Wood, David Mellor. Ned Norton, -Swallow, and (later) John Reece, Columbus Sykes
HORNS - Tommy Norton and G. Reece
TROMBONES - Andrew Matley and Hiram Schofield
BARITONES - James Harrison, John Sykes
Trombone, Oliver Gatlev
Ophicleide, John Harrison, John McMahon
Bombardon Eb, Ned Cooper
Side Drum, Aaron Matley, G. Perry
B Drum, J. Harrop
Keyed Bugles - Joe and Tom Thompson

On the evening of 5th October, 1857, there was great commotion amongst the bandsmen, for six of the principal members then left the town for Australia. Their names were Z. Swift, soprano; Nat. Hallas, cornet; B. Broadbent, cornet; H. Middleton, Eb horn; S. Royle, solo ophicleide; and E. Hulme, bass ophicleide. Many a bumper was drunk to the health and prosperity of the young emigrants, and it is interesting to know how successful they all were in musical careers, their first step being to answer an advertisement for a German Band and what is more, they got the job, en bloc.

Following Mr. Hopwood the next conductor was Mr. J. Marsden, who was also conductor of the Philharmonic Society of that day. In the year 1859 the Band sprung into prominence at one bound by taking the First Prize of £15 in cash at Wolverhampton on Easter Monday, the conductor being Mr. James Melling, of Manchester. In the following year a contest .at London was attended, at which forty-four bands competed. The Old Band were one of the twelve selected to play off, and whilst rendering their selection, "William Tell", one of their players got the keys of his ophicleide fast in his waistcoat pocket.

A presentation of a handsome cigar case was made by the members and a few friends to Mr. Jabez Pagdin on December 17th, 1859, as a token of respect and esteem. Mr. Pagdin was a whole-hearted supporter of the Band, and figures as president at a later date.

The following is a list of players in 1860:

John Reece
Joseph Hinchliffe
George Salkeld
William Hilton
Columbus Sykes
William Schofield
David Mellor
John Hurst
Samuel Tootil
George Reece
Samuel Reece
       Samuel Stubbs
Seth Gill
James Stubbs
Hiram Schofield
James Willerton
Joseph Green
John Mahon
F. Peelthorpe
Edward Cooper
Thomas Cunliffe
George Perry
John Harrop

The three Reeces were brothers, also the two Stubbs. An entrance fee of £3 10s was required from all would-be members of the Band, and a guarantee had to be signed by which the player was held liable for damage to his instrument up to five pounds. Some of the instruments were of French or German make, with rotary valves or pistons. The introduction of the valve action ultimately led to the disappearance of all instruments with side-holes, such as the serpent, ophicleide, &c.

As the promoter very kindly paid expenses to London and back the Band again entered in quest of a prize in 1861, but without success. There were eighteen judges, and the test piece was the Hallelujah Chorus. Later in the year the first prize, £20, was won at the Ashton-u-Lyne Agricultural Show, with the selection "La Sonnambula".

The Jubilee celebrations held on Good Friday, 1864, created immense interest in the town, and the Band were honoured in their own country in right good style. At one o'clock on the 24th March bands began to arrive from all points of the compass, and proceeded to the Mechanics' Arms for the initial purpose of serenading, by way of greeting. The bands concerned and their dining rendezvous were as follows:

BandLeaderNo.Where dined
Old Original BandT. Avison10Mechanics Arms
Old BandW. Schofield 22ditto
Stalybridge Ancient Shepherds J. Lawton15Royal Oak
Stalybridge CatholicA. Taylor16Wheat Sheaf
Millbrook BandT. Mellor19Star Inn
Ashton VictoriaB. Pearson23Q Inn
Mottram BandW. Wilde16Fleece Inn
Moorfield, DentonE. Moss18Refuge Inn
Hurst VillageJ. Wrigley24Rose & Crown
ParkbridgeJ. Buckley18Fox Tavern
Mossley BandR. Fawcett16Moulders Arms

The Old Originals now numbered ten - players who had lived to see the pleasant valley change and develop into a prosperous community. After dinner the Originals gave the "Tenth" by Webber, and were loudly applauded, when they played the "Gee Cross Waltz", one of the players observing that they could .beat the young ones yet. Later in the day the whole of the town was astir with music, as the various bands moved from their headquarters towards the Mechanics' Institution, where a concert was responsible for a packed house.

After the " Grand Jubilee March," specially composed by Mr. Melling, the Mayor (Dr. Hopwood) made an interesting speech, in which he referred to the great admiration he had had as a boy for the sky-blue uniform then worn by the Band, and said that the audience ought to feel proud that they had in the town a band which had the vigour of youth, the strength of manhood, and the experience of old age.

Then came the Originals with instruments which were in vogue when they were lads. Their appearance was the signal for a big burst of applause. They gave "Auld Lang Syne" in a manner which evoked a thunderous encore, when they substituted a lively tune. Encores would have gone on all night, but they could not find wind - only the triangler and the drummer could keep it up - and the veterans were wise enough not to risk anything on the hopes of finding their "second wind." Their names were: John Hallsworth, Thos. Harrison, James Buckley, William Cottrell, John Sidebottom, James Sidebottom, Geo. Nield, Mark Wild, Thomas Lomas, and Edward Norton.

Overtures and selections were given by the Shepherds' Band and the Millbrook Band, and the first part concluded with the Hallelujah Chorus by a massed band of 150 instruments - the effect of which can be imagined. The second part was brought to a close by the whole body of players rendering the National Anthem. Hundreds of people were outside the Hall, enjoying the music served by fellow bandsmen in honour of the town's premier musical organisation.

It was stated that since the Band was formed in 1814 they had spent £3,000 in instruments and music.

Within the compass of the Jubilee year three of the Old Originals, whose performances were such a great feature of the event, passed away. (1) Edward Norton, of the Fox Tavern, was attended on his last journey to Old St. George's Churchyard by the Band, with muffled drums and crepe-covered instruments. At his residence was played that affecting dirge, "Vital Spark," and the "Dead March" marked the passage to the Church. After the body had been committed to the ground "Vital Spark" was again played as it should be played - in admirable taste. (2) John Hallsworth, of the Mechanics' Arms, who had joined the Band at its outset, and been a prominent member for many years, was also given full musical rites. "Vital Spark hath Fled" was played before the Band left his home, and the players headed the mourners on the way to St. Paul's. (3) The third of the old members to pass during Jubilee year was William Cottrell. The solemn moment when his body was carried out of the house was marked by the strains of "Vital Spark," which thrilled the large concourse of people assembled. The "Dead March" was played on the way to St. Peter's, Ashton.

All good music is sacred; music such as this, played with masterly care by fellow bandsmen, has an added solemnity from the emotional and conscious communion between the players and the soul that has fled, reaching and touching the inmost feelings of hearers with a power beyond that of all eloquence.

Playing members in the Jubilee year, 1864

Cornets: J. Reece, J. Hinchliffe, W. Hilton, W. Schofield, E. Taylor, C. Sykes, D. Mellor, Lee, J. Grimshaw
Horns: Tootill, S. Recce, G. Reece, S. Stubbs
Baritones: C. Robinson, S. Gill
Ophicledes: J. Mahon, F. Peelthorpe
Euphonium: S. Bredbury
Trombones: H. Schofield, J. Willerton, J. Green
Bass: T. Cunliffe, E. Cooper, W. Heathcote
Drums: G. Perry, J. Harrop

In 1864 the Band secured the second prize, £15, at Belle Vue contest, under difficulties, their conductor being objected to for some reason, and his duties were taken over by three of the players, N. Cooper, W. Hilton, and C. Robinson. The audience very emphatically showed that the "Lads' Band," as they called it, met with approval.

At the Knutsford Show Contest in 1864 the Old Band was declared winner of the first prize of £15, but did not receive the cash for about six weeks, and then only after one of the players, W. Hilton, had made his affidavit before a magistrate that he was not a professional player.

In 1865 the entrance fee was reduced to £2. Mr. Reece, the leader, left the Band in 1868, and a deputation was sent to consult Mr. Salkeld, of Manchester, a fine cornet player, who recommended Mr. A. Owen, then quite a young man and apprenticed to a cavalry bandmaster. Arrangements were made for Mr. Owen to come to Stalybridge, and he played with the Band for the first time on August 22nd, 1868, at Burnley. The Old Band claim the honour of introducing Mr. Owen to the contesting field in which he was to gain so many remarkable successes, both as a player and as conductor. Mr. Owen left the Band in 1871, and eventually became the licensee of the Bath Hotel, Stalybridge, removing in 1897 to Manchester. From the year 1875 Mr. Owen was solo cornet for Meltham Mills, a famous band whose brilliant contesting career came to a close in 1887; and his later connection with the Besses o' th' Barn Band is known to all.

About the year 1868 the Band removed their headquarters from the Mechanics' Arms to the Pine Apple Inn, Kenworthy Street, kept by Mr. J. S. Brierley, who became treasurer in succession to Mr. James Hallsworth. The secretary was then Mr. John Harrison, and Mr. Tom Cunliffe, bass player, was president. In 1869 the Band became the providers of martial music to the local volunteers.

List of Officials for Honorary Members from 1861

1861 President W. Earnshaw, Secretary H. Heap
1862 John Tootill & E. Mundy
1863 Jabez Pagdin & E. Mundy
1864 S. Newton & E. Mundy
1865 S. Newton & D. Roberts
1866 W. Roberts & D. Roberts
1867 A. Green & D. Roberts
1868 T. Cunliffe & John Harrison and Geo. Perry

Treasurer up to 1864, John Hallsworth; 1864 to 1867, James Hallsworth, 1868, John S. Brierley

At the Denton Contest, August, 1868, the Band played a selection from "Robin Hood," and one from "William Tell," at the close of the latter piece there were loud hurrahs and a cry of "They'll won." However, they and the Wednesbury Band had to play off, and the latter secured first prize; the second, value £14, coming to Stalybridge. At this contest the Besses o' th' Barn were awarded fifth prize.

The plum of 1869 was the second prize at Disley, where Mr. Owen was conductor of the Old Band, and Mr. Gladney was one of the judges. Their own selection was "Lucrezia Borgia," while the test piece was "Italiana in Algieri." The second prize gained was made up of £8 cash and a cornet value £10.

Altrincham Contest, September 25, 1869, was advertised as being open to Cheshire Bands only. After an argument as to whether Stalybridge was in Lancashire or Cheshire, the Band was allowed to play, and at the close the Stalybridge conductor was invited to conduct the united bands. This meant only one thing to the delighted players, but judge of their surprise when Compstall were awarded first, and they only secured second place.

In 1870, under the baton of Mr. Owen, the Band carried off first prize of £20 at Huddersfield, their selections being "Zampa" and "Attila."

Playing members in 1870

Cornets: A. Owen, J. Hinchliffe, W. Schofield, G. Barker, C. Sykes, J. A. Schofield, R. Wright, C. Newton
Horns: J. Clark, J. W. Kinder, J. Pinder, J. Blocksage
Baritones: J. Wild, D. Shaw
Trombones: G. Bayley, H. Schofield, W. Pemberton, J. Green
Euphonium: S. Bredbury
Bass: T. Cunliffe, S. Kershaw, W. Davies, W. Heathcote
Drums: G. Perry, J. Willerton

The three Schofields were brothers, their father, Wellington Schofield, being the landlord at the Royal Archer, and also an old honorary member of the Band.

Contests having become a popular institution it was no matter for surprise that such an event was suggested for Stalybridge, and no sooner was the project mentioned than a subscription list was opened, which in a very short time mounted to ££130, mostly subscribed in small amounts. A splendid prize list of £96 10s. was offered; judges of the rank of Dan Godfrey of the Grenadier Guards, J. Hirst, of the 22nd Regiment, and Irvine Dearnaley, of Ashton, were appointed; an enclosure at Thompson Cross was secured, and a splendid entry of bands arranged. The bands began to arrive soon after nine o'clock (August 27th, 1870) and enlivened the town. Although the weather remained fine until quite 4,000 were on the field, rain commenced later, and damped the ardour of players and spectators. When the Bury Band mounted the platform it was so dark that naphtha lamps had to be used. The first prize, £25 cash and a ten-guinea Courtois Soprano was awarded to Darwen Rifles; second to Matlock; third to Bury; 4th to Meltham Mills.

But for the watery visitation the Contest would have been most successful. The promoters celebrated the termination of their labours by a supper at Mr. Hyde's, White House, when a presentation of a writing desk was made, inscription: "Presented to Mr. John Harrison by the promoters of the Stalybridge Brass Band Contest for his services as Secretary, August 27th, 1870."

No prizes were gained in 1871. Probably the Band did not attend any contests, as this was the year in which differences developed in the ranks. The unfortunate result was that Mr. Owen left, together with some members who were in sympathy with him, and the formation of the Stalybridge Borough Band dates from this period. Incidents which a healthy rivalry would have disregarded were occasionally a cause of discord, but the passage of years brought about a more harmonious feeling.

In 1872 Mr. J. Reece rejoined the Band as conductor, and two first prizes were secured - at the Hyde Agricultural Show, and at Abbey Hey. Other conductors about this time were Mr. J. Briggs, Herr Grosse, and Mr. B. Ellis. When the latter gentleman failed to arrive at the Kidsgrove Contest in 1873 his engagements with the Band naturally came to a sudden end.

The Band in 1872 after having been filled up, after Mr. Owen and his followers left

JOHN REECE, Soprano and Conductor
Soprano: Jos. Hampshire
Cornets: J. Hinchliffe, C. Sykes, R. Wright, H. Worsnap, J. A. Green, J. Chadwick
Horns: J. Clark, J. W. Kinder, J. Pinder, J. E. Sheffield
Baritone: S. Kershaw
Euphoniums: S. Bredbury, J. W. Brierley
Trombones: G. Bayley, K. Mickletwaite, J. Green
Bass: G. Hadfield, A. Hurst, W. Heathcote, W. Davies
Drums: G. Perry, W. Whitehead

At the opening of Stamford Park, in July, 1873, the trumpeters were Mr. Reece of the Old Band, and Mr. Owen of the Borough Band.

In November, 1874, Mr. Richard Sourbutts joined the Band as soprano player and conductor. Professionals were engaged from time to time, but to Mr. Sourbutts there must be awarded a good deal of credit for the excellence attained at this time. His connection continued till 1878, when he took up duties with the Kidsgrove and other bands in the Midlands.

Mr. Joseph Peers, the celebrated cornet soloist, was secured as a playing member about 1873-4. His musical career began early, and he carried off prizes before he was fifteen. In the three years before entering the ranks of the Old Band he had won fourteen first prizes as solo cornet. He had at this time won eleven cornets, two silver cups, and one timepiece, besides money prizes. Mr. Peers delighted his hearers with his efforts; his fine sympathetic tone being specially noticeable. At the Annual Meeting in 1874 Mr. Peers was presented with a Louis XIV Timepiece by his Stalybridge admirers.

In the year 1874 Mr. Frank Ridgway became Financial Secretary, while Mr. Harrison took over the correspondence side. Mr. Ridgway retained his position for about ten years, and was an effective promoter of the efficiency and musical perfection attained, although outside the conductorship in a musical sense, he was still very much to the fore where enterprise and powers of organisation were needed.

The Band's playing had been steadily improving during the last three years. At the Kidsgrove, 1873, contest the judge had spoken of them in terms of great praise. At Kidsgrove again in 1874 they wore no uniform, and "looked anything but prize-winners," yet appearances proved deceitful, for they went through "Simon Boccanegra" in fine style, and took away the first prize to hearty cheers from the thousands present; at Dalton Gardens their playing of "Worthy is the Lamb" was remarkable for its fine opening - all the instruments being heard as one - and the smooth, even manner in which the whole piece was played was picked out by that important person, the judge, as being the most enjoyable portion of the day's programme.

Leadership, solo playing, and ensemble had all combined in effecting a big advance in the art of tone production - the band having come under the influence of Mr. Gladney. One of their selections was "Stiffelio," and a most successful composition it proved. Bands were allowed in many cases to choose their "own selection," and this arrangement from Verdi's opera was a favourite choice of the Old Band, and often of the judge, too.

The fact that a prize was gained at nearly every contest attended in 1874 shows the definite advance in playing power. One interesting meeting was at New Mills, where their rivals, the Stalybridge Borough Band, were the first to ascend the platform; conductor, Mr. Alexander Owen; selection "L'Africaine." The Old Band played eighth, and went through "Stiffelio" in even better fashion than usual, the concluding movement being rendered with much energy and passion, with splendid effect. The Meltham Mills Band followed, and they and the Old were required to play again. "Worthy is the Lamb" and the "Amen Chorus" from the Messiah were played by the Old, and "Elijah" by Meltham. The judge spoke of the Old Band as being "a very fine band indeed. Unison of tone and good body, solo playing most excellent, accompaniments very refined, light and shade well observed, the whole of the Band well in tune; should recommend this band to enter for the contest on the Continent." First prize to Stalybridge Old Band £30 in cash and a £13 10s. B-flat baritone. Rockets were sent up when the Band reached Market Street. The Borough Band secured fifth place.

During this season four firsts were won, and four other prizes, while only twice was the Band unsuccessful - at Mossley and Belle Vue.

In 1875 the Old and the Borough met at Halifax, where the Old began their year of splendid doings by taking first, and first in glee contest. The Borough came third. "The supporters of the two Stalybridge bands were in full force, amongst their numbers being several of the sporting fraternity, whose little caps displayed their ruddy ears to perfection."

At Linthwaite three bands were asked to play again - Meltham, Saltaire, and the Old. The latter had played their new "Tannhauser" selection at first, but on the replay they very wisely gave "Stiffelio," and it brought the first prize their way, though the judge was still so undecided as to put Meltham and Stalybridge as equal first, with not a hairsbreadth between them. Mr. Sourbutts was the Stalybridge conductor, while Mr. Gladney had charge of Meltham.

The Borough Band promoted a contest in August, and in the All-England section the first and second prizes were divided between the Old Band and Darwen Temperance - £18 for each, while as the baton for first prize winner could not very well be divided, Darwen took it away and gave 30s. to their partners in the day's honours.

This dividing of prizes can only be called remarkable, for on a third occasion, during a period of about six weeks, was this peculiar distinction gained. At Wyke, the judge being Mr. Gladney, the first and second prizes were divided between the Old Band and Buttershaw Mills.

The eminently successful season of 1875 was brought to a close by the fourth prize being secured at Belle Vue, the value being £42 13s. A two-weeks' engagement was fulfilled at the Isle of Man in July. After the first week the players journey to Stockton and to Bury, securing £43 in prizes, then back to Manxland for another week.

Mr. Joseph Middleton gained several prizes for solo euphonium, and delighted many audiences by the artistic finish and excellent manipulation of his solos and variations.

The players in 1875 were

Soprano: R. Sourbutts
Solo Cornet, J. Peers
1st Cornet, J. Hinchliffe
2nd Cornet, J. Whittington
3rd Cornet, J. A. Green
1st Flugel, R. Wright
2nd Flugel, J. Hampshire
3rd Flugel, W. Hurst
1st Horn, J. Clark
2nd Horn, E. Blodwell
3rd Horn, J. E. Sheffield
4th Horn, H. Collins
1st Baritone, J. Wilde
2nd Baritone, J. Clarke
1st Euphonium, J. Middleton
2nd Euphonium, J. W. Brierley
1st Trombone, W. Taylor
2nd Trombone, G. Bayley
Bass, J. Green
Eb Bass, G. Hadfield
Eb Bass, C. Sykes
Bb Bass, W. Davies
Bb Bass, W. Heathcote
Side Drum, G. Perry
Bass Drum, J. Willerton

A three years' engagement of Mr. J. Sidney Jones (Bandmaster 5th Dragoon Guards) as professional coach and conductor was now entered into, the salary (£100 yearly) being guaranteed by a number of local gentlemen in case the Band were unable to pay it. Robert Platt, Esq., C. Hyde, Esq., and R. Bates, Esq., were among the guarantors.

Meltham Mills were renowned for their playing of a selection from ”Elijah," and at Stockport, May 13, 1876, they took first prize with it; Stalybridge being second with "William Tell." At Marsden, the following Saturday, the positions were reversed. At this contest the Old Band gave "Le Prophete," arranged by Mr. J. Sidney Jones - a fine showy selection, well suited to their powers, and they gave it with great splendour of tone and brilliant effect, securing the premier prize of £20.

Mr. Edwin Swift conducted the Band at Huddersfield on June 17th, and at Greenfield on July 1st. At the former contest much feeling was raised because the judge placed Clayton-le Moors before Meltham and Stalybridge.

A little unsteadiness in the bass lost Stalybridge the second position. A few weeks later the Old Band again encountered Clayton-le-Moors, this time at Whalley, where they divided the first and second prizes.

A contest was arranged by the Band on June 24th, 1876, at Liston's Pleasure Retreat, Cheetham Bill Road, eleven bands competing for £66 in cash prizes. Meltham played "Elijah," and took away first honours, while Linthwaite, who gave the finest rendering of "William Tell" the judge had ever heard, were awarded second place. A dividend of 4s. 6d. per £1 share was paid to the promoting shareholders of this venture.

The Band laboured under the disadvantage of Mr. Sourbutts having both to play and conduct at many of the contests. At Abbey Hey, July 15th, points were lost owing to this, and to the illness of Mr. Middleton, solo euphonium. Kingston Mills earned first prize, Stalybridge were placed next, with Meltham third. A fortnight later Meltham and Stalybridge divided the first and second prizes at Raikes Hall, Blackpool.

At the end of the year the headquarters were removed to the Royal Archer, kept by Mr. John Wild, who played first baritone, and who now took over the duties of Treasurer in succession to Mr. J. S. Brierley.

The 1876 season left the Band in the possession of the following excellent record: three first prizes, two ties for first, six seconds, three thirds, one fifth, and once unsuccessful. Their greatest rivals were Meltham Mills, whose successes included first prize at Belle Vue. The Old Band met Linthwaite eleven times and defeated them seven; they met Meltham ten times, tied with them once, and were defeated six times. The meetings of these three bands were events of note, their merits being so even as to make the task of adjudication very difficult.

Other famous bands were now rising, such as Kingston Mills and Denton, and the Old Band was a little in the shade in 1876. One difficulty was that the conductor was also a soloist, another was lack of funds to pay for professional tuition. "If money goes before, all ways do lie oven." The Band had gained a position of eminence which it found a difficulty in maintaining. But so also was it with its contemporaries. Indeed the finest band of 1876, Meltham Mills, ceased to exist as a contesting band within ten years of its most glorious successes; and where now is the Bacup Band, which in 1869-71 won thirteen first prizes in succession?

Mr. Sidney Jones, who had written the "Tannhauser" and "Le Prophete" selections for the Band in 1875-6, wrote a contest piece from Gounod's works early in 1877, and equipped with this the players entered the lists at Edinburgh. Whatever the reason may be the facts are that they got no prize and that that piece was relegated at once to limbo. It must be remembered that music which one generation derides is often held to be inspired by a later era, and Mr. Jones' work might now win approval from the critics.

The Band was invited to entertain the guests at a shooting party at Etherow House, by Mr. T. H. Sidebottom, M.P., on ,5th August, 1877. They played several of their prize selections, and Mr. Peers played the air from "Norma." Mr. Cross (afterwards Lord Cross) was one of the guests, and asked for Mr. Peers to be presented to him, when he congratulated him, and said he did not think there was anyone in that part of the country who could play the cornet so well.

The headquarters were again removed to the Pine Apple Inn in 1877. Mr. J. Wild left the Band, his successor as 1st baritone being Mr. J. W. Brierley. Early in 1878, Mr. Rd. Sourbutts severed his connection as conductor, and as some delay occurred before the position was filled the Band felt the loss. Mr. Reuben Taylor, of the Kingston Band, became bandmaster in 1879, and Mr. Tom Taylor (his son), a clever euphonium player, also joined the ranks, together with Mr. Alfred Monks, a brilliant cornettist. These changes meant a period of transition.

Mr. W. Seth Gill took over the duties of corresponding secretary.

An old member of the Band died in 1879 - Mr. J. Hinchliffe, who had played 1st cornet for twenty years. The Band attended his funeral.

Mr. J. Gladney was secured as conductor in June, 1880. He had led Meltham Mills to their many victories, and also had charge of Besses o' th' Barn, who had not yet risen to their best. Mr. Gladney's career is well summed up by the title given to him in later years of "Father of Brass Bands." Born in Belfast in 1839, he played the piccolo at eight years of age, and at ten was a member of Julien's Orchestra, Manchester. In 1851 he sailed with his father's regiment to Cephalonia, and on the outbreak of the Russian war he went with the troops to Turkey. When the army embarked for the Crimea the non-combatants returned to England, and young Gladney then learnt valve instruments and trombones in order to help his father in knocking music into men who had never handled an instrument before. When he first tried his hand at conducting, he confesses he had a decidedly higher opinion of his abilities in that role then than in later years. He joined the Halle Orchestra in 1861 as a clarionet player, and only retired after playing at over 2,000 concerts. His great interest in brass arose from his conviction that musicians had relegated to an inferior position instruments capable of really fine effects. His career as trainer of over 100 different bands was remarkable. In the years 1876-7-8 his band, Meltham Mills, won the first prize at Belle Vue three times in succession.

Within three months of Mr. Gladney's advent the Band were within an ace of securing first prize at Belle Vue, being defeated only by Black Dyke. Besses got nothing, and Meltham were excluded because of their three successive wins. The test piece was from Verdi's opera, "I Vespri Siciliani" and the judges' remarks are remarkably similar for the two leading bands, showing how close the contest was. Mr. Monk played the cornet, solos, and Messrs. Tom and William Taylor the euphonium and trombone parts. The judges' summing up of the Old Band's effort was: "Accompaniments well subdued throughout; general quality excellent; finale rendered with great energy; ensemble good; a capital performance." Second prize of £20, gold medal, and cornet value £16 16s.

The vagaries of contesting were well shown in the contest which the Band promoted in the following month, when, to quote from one critic, "something like a howl of execration went up when the judge placed an unknown band like Chorlton-cum-Hardy before Linthwaite"... two or three of the disappointed bands joined and played the Dead March from Saul before leaving the Drill Shed." At this contest Boarshurst took first prize and Meltham second.

A smaller number of contests were attended by the Band in 1881, with a high average of success. The first prize, £40, was taken at Peel Park, Bradford, Mr. Dan Godfrey, of the Grenadier Guards, being judge. He remarked that the quality of playing was far above the average, in fact he had never heard better brass band playing at a contest in his life. In awarding the Old Band the first prize he paid it a compliment which may recall to some and outline to others the capabilities of their town's oldest musical organization. He said "The quality of tone was rich and full; the general body of the band excellent the recitatives by trombone were played with wonderful smoothness, accuracy, and beauty of tone; while the euphonium solos were extremely well executed, being a marvel of beauty in tone, and brilliancy of execution and artistic shading in style; the solo cornet played with an excellent tone, and his general playing throughout was the great feature of the selection." Linthwaite were second, Black Dyke third, Boarshurst fourth, Meltham fifth. A good portion of the £40 prize was paid in threepenny bits.

The third prize was secured in September at Belle Vue - that famous Belle Vue combination, Black Dyke, securing the first prize again. At Chorley, the following Saturday, the first prize was won, so that the two successes yielded prizes value £57.

A novel contest opened the 1882 season at Liverpool where the audience were the judges. The Old Band played their Reminiscences of Weber. Each person present had one vote allowed, the papers were collected and counted later, with this result: Old Band, 1,242 votes (first prize): Liverpool L.R.V., 756 votes (second). Mr. Gladney was thrice recalled by the audience after the Band had played. The number of first prizes secured during the season shows the perfection attained under Mr. Gladney's tuition.

The remarks of the various judges are conclusive as to the massive tone and ensemble, good attack, excellent phrasing, admirable balance and perfect finish of their performances. In Mr. Gladney's opinion at this period, "no Lancashire Band ever played better than the Old Band does at present - not excepting the celebrated Bacup Band."

Players in 1882

Conductor, John Gladney

1st Soprano, S. Hoyle
Solo Cornet, Jon Peers
1st Cornet, Joseph Frith
1st Cornet, W. Sharp
Repiano Cornet, J. H. Andrew
2nd Cornet. J. Holloway
3rd Cornet W. Ward
1st Flugel Horn, James Hadfield
2nd Flugel Horn, J. Hampshire
3rd Flugel Horn, J. Scholes
1st Tenor Horn, H. Collins
2nd Tenor Horn, W. A. Wilson
2nd Tenor Horn, James Sheppard

1st Baritone, J. W. Brierley
2nd Baritone, John Clarke
1st Euphonium, Tom Taylor
2nd Euphoniuim, O. Hallsworth
1st Trombone, W. Taylor
2nd Trombone John Peel
Bass, Joseph Peel
E Bombardon, J. Bellfield
E Bombardon, J. Mellor
Bombardon, George Hadfield
BB Bombardon, W. Heathcote
BB Bombardon, W. Davies
Side Drum, G Perry
Bass Drum, J. Willerton

A complete record of prizes won by the Stalybridge Old Band down to the year 1882 is now appended.


Easter Monday - Wolverhampton - 1st - £55
(Agricultural Show) - Ashton-u-Lyne - 1st - £20
Sep 5 - Belle Vue - 2nd - £15
Sep 7 - Knutsford - 1st - £15
Aug 4 - Buxton - 3rd - £5
Sep 4 - Belle Vue - 4th - £8
Aug 15 - Denton - 2nd - £14
Aug 22 - Burnley - 4th - £5
Sep 16 - Glossop - 4th - £8
May 1 - Newchurch - 5th - £8 3s
Sep 11 - Lyme Park - 2nd - £18 10s
Sep 22 - Glossop - 3rd - £16
Sep 25 - Altrincham - 2nd - £5
Apr 20 - Accrington - 5th - £2
Jul 2 - Burnley - 2nd - £10
Aug 13 - Outlane (Huddersfield) - 1st - £20
Aug 16 - Elland - 5th - £5
Aug 22 - Matlock - 4th - £6
In 1869 and 1870 the conductor was Mr A. Owen
Aug 25 - Abbey Hey - 1st - £18
Sep 10 - Hyde - 1st - £24 12s
Sep 19 - Middleton - 3rd - £10
Jun 23 - Kidsgrove - 2nd - £22 10s
Jun 28 - Linthwaite - 5th - £3
Aug 2 - Abbey Hey - 3rd - £4
Aug 20 - New Mills - 1st - £12
May 31 - Huddersfield - 1st - £13
June 6 - Golcar - 3rd - £10
June 15 - Kidsgrove (and Specials) - 1st - £59 12s
Jun 27 - Huddersfield - 3rd - £12
Jul 4 - Bury - 4th - £8
Jul 18 - Dalton Gardens - 1st - £14
Aug 22 - New Mills (and Specials) - 1st - £43 10s
Aug 24 - Barnsley - 2nd - £12 10s
Nov 22 - Todmorden Solo Contest - J. Peers 1st - £3
Dec 12 - Accrington Solo Contest - J. Peers 1st - £2 15s
Mar 29 - Halifax - 1st - £15
Mar 30 - Halifax Glee Contest - 1st - £5
May 15 - Abbey Hey - 2nd - £14
May 18 - Batley - 3rd - £10
Jun 5 - Golcar - 3rd - £12
Jun 14 - Kidsgrove - 2nd - £22 10s
Jun 26 - Huddersfield - 4th - £8
Jun 28 - Workington - 3rd - £17
Jul 3 - Blackburn - 3rd - £12
Jul 10 - Linthwaite - Tie 1st - £20 10s
Jul 19 - Stockton - 1st - £27
Jul 24 - Bury - 2nd - £16
Aug 7 - Blackpool - 4th - £12
Aug 14 - Stalybridge - Tie 1st - £19 10s
Aug 21 - New Mills - 2nd - £16
Aug 28 - Wyke - Tie 1st - £17 10s
Sep 5 - Belle Vue (Cash and Specials) - 4th - £42 13s
Solo prizes (Same Year)
Feb 27 - J. Peers - Abbey Hey - 1st - £3
Feb 28 - R Sourbutts - Abbey Hey - 2nd - £1
Mar 27 - R Sourbutts - Preston - 1st - £2
Jun 14 - J. Peers - Kidsgrove - 1st - £2 10s
Nov 23 - J Middleton - Abbey Hey - 10s
Dec 18 - J. Peers - Darwen - 1st -£2
Dec 18 - R Sourbutts - Darwen - 2nd -£1 10s
Dec 18 - J Middleton - Darwen - 1st -£2
Feb 5 - Solo Contest - J Middleton, Euphonium - £2 10s
Apr 1 - Solo Contest, Uppermill - R Sourbutts - £1 1s
May 13 - Stockport (and Duet Contest) - 2nd - £13
May 20 - Marsden - 1st - £20
May 27 - Rawtenstall - 1st - £18
Jun 17 - Huddersfield - 5th - £6
Jul 1 - Greenfield - 3rd - £12
Jul 8 - Whalley - Tie 1st - £17
Jul 10 - Middlesboro - 2nd - £18
Jul 15 - Abbey Hey - 2nd - £15
Jul 17 - Stockton - 3rd - £10
Jul 22 - Blackburn - 2nd - £20
Jul 29 - Blackpool - Tie 1st - £30
Aug 5 - Oldham - 2nd - £17
Aug 5 - Oldham (march) - 1st - £1 10s
Aug 7 - Kidsgrove - 3rd - £10
Aug 16 - Woodsome - 6th - £1
Sep 2 - Bardsley - 1st - £25
Sep 11 - Longton - 2nd - £12
May 5 - Abbey Hey - 3rd - £8
May 12 - Holme Mills - 3rd - £10
Jun 9 - Ashton - 5th - £3
Jun 16 - Mossley (march) - 1st - £2 10s
Jul 7 - Stockport - 3rd - £10
Jul 14 - Kingston - 2nd - £17
Jul 28 - Clayton-le-Moors - 4th - £7
Jul 28 - Clayton-le-Moors (march) - 1st - £2
Aug 4 - Oldham - 2nd - £17
Aug 4 - Oldham (march) - 1st - £1 10s
Aug 11 - Stalybridge - 1st - £20
Aug 11 - Stalybridge (march)- 1st - £2
Aug 11 - Stalybridge (trombone solo) - 1st - £10 10s
Aug 25 - New Mills - 3rd - £11
Jul 20 - Farnworth - 2nd - £7
Aug 17 - Leeds - 3rd - £10
Aug 27 - Buttershaw Mills - 4th (and 1st in march) - £8
May 12 - Chorley (and Special) - 1st - £20
May 24 - Pemberton - 4th - £3
Jun 3 - Nottingham - 4th - £5
Jun 3 - Nottingham (trombone solo, Mr Nottingham) - 1st - £5
Jun 14 - Haigh - 2nd - £8
Jun 26 - Queensbury - 5th - £2 10s
Jun 28 - Padiham - 1st - £20
Aug 30 - Newton Heath - 3rd - £5
Nov 22 - Dewsbury (T. Taylor, euphonium contest) - 1st - £1 15s
Sep 6 - Belle Vue - 2nd - £20
Sep 6 - Belle Vue - cornet, value - £16 16s
Sep 6 - Belle Vue - gold medal - £3 3s
1881 - J Gladney, conductor
Jul 23 - Leeds - 3rd - £10
Aug 6 - Bradford - 1st - £40
Aug 10 - Workington - 2nd (and 1st in Quadrille) - £31
Sep 5 - Belle Vue - 3rd - £15
Sep 5 - Belle Vue - euphonium, value - £14 14s
Sep 5 - Belle Vue - gold medal - £3 3s
Sep 10 - Chorley - 1st - £25
1882 - J Gladney, conductor
Mar 25 - Liverpool - 1st - £21
Jun 10 - Hawes - 1st - £25
Jun 24 - Mossley - 1st - £20
Jul 3 - Chesterfield - 4th - £3
Jul 8 - Farnworth - 1st - £24 9s
Jul 29 - Southport - 1st - £20
Aug 5 - Bakewell - 1st - £20
Aug 19 - Shildon - 3rd - £10
Aug 26 - Lincoln - 2nd - £15
Sep 4 - Belle Vue - 5th - £7
Sep 9 - Preston - 4th - £7
Total of money and special prizes won:
1859 - £15
1861 - £20
1864 - £30
1865 - £13
1868 - £27
1869 - £47 13s
1870 - £43
1872 - £53 12s
1873 - £41 10s
1874 - £178 7s
1875 - £301 3s
1876 - £249
1877 - £122 5s
1878 - £25
1879 - £70 5s
1880 - £40
1881 - £138 17s
1882 - £172 9s
TOTAL - £1587 1s
A very respectable record and for the 18 years represented averages about £88 per year.

At this point the reader may be willing to turn aside from the playing record, and to glance at a summarized history of the band's efforts as promoters of annual concerts which were remarkable for quality and for continuity. The records seem to show that the early ones were more of the nature of an anniversary tea-party and celebration of the first walk-out. November 5th was sometimes selected as the day which it was proper to observe by a tea party, followed no doubt by a free-and-easy concert of the variety now classed as smoking concerts. As the concerts became more public, their aspect changed into the Grand Miscellaneous variety, and their location was the Town Hall, and more often the Mechanics' Institution. The dates are generally in the last four months of the year.

The 37th Anniversary took place September 17th, 1851, at the Drill Hall, (People's Hall), and the performers included the famous Mrs. Sunderland, soprano; Mr. Creed Royal, whose solos were played on Siccano's Patent Diatonic Flute; and Mr. W. Pigott, who combined the duties of humorist and accompanist. The Band, under Mr. S. Hopwood, played five selections.

Mr Allen Avison, son of the founder of the Band, was a frequent performer in the seventies. The vocalists were generally from the London or Manchester concerts, while Mr. Enos Andrew acted as accompanist.

At a concert held in February, 1876, the Band was assisted by the Linthwaite Band, under the conductorship of Mr. J. Sidney Jones. This combination of forces not only showed the friendly feelings of the two great rivals in the contesting field, but also provided an excellent concert, supplemented as the brasses were by two soloists. The world-renowned contralto, Madame Antoinette Sterling, was heard with splendid effect at the 62nd concert, along with other principals.

Madame Paley and Mr. Edward Lloyd were the stars of the 64th event, and were supported by Madame Nouver and Mr. Maybrick ("Stephen Adams" the well-known composer).

The great Joseph Maas figured at the 66th concert at the highest figure ever paid in Stalybridge. He had with him on the programme Miss Jose Sherrington, Miss Damian, Mr. Wadsworth, with Mr. Gladney as conductor and Mr. Dearnaley as accompanist.

The famous Carl Rosa principal tenor was re-engaged for the 67th, in the year 1881, so great had been his success. The hall was crowded, and the financial returns satisfactory.

A splendid programme was also offered in 1882, when Mr. Edward Lloyd, the famous tenor, was the chief vocalist. Mr. Gladney and Mr. Brossa gave clarionet and flute solos and duet, and Mr. Irvine Dearnaley was accompanist. The Band were led by Mr. Gladney in their Fantasia from Weber's works and "Elijah" selection.

In the following year Signor Foli, the Italianized Irish bass vocalist sang "I fear no foe", "I am a roamer", and "The Shipwright", with great success. The Band was conducted by Mr. W. Taylor.

Joseph Maas was re-engaged for the 70th concert in 1884, together with Madame Farrar-Hyde and Miss Helen D'Alton.

The next programme contained the names of Miss Amy Sherwin, Madame Enriquez, Mr. Harper Kearton, and Mr. Barrington Foote. Mr. Dearnaley was still the accompanist, and the conductor of the Band was now Mr. J. W. Brierley.

At the 74th concert, September 13th, 1888, the famous prima donna, Madame Marie Roze, sang "Softly sighs", from Der Freischutz, "All in a Garden fair", Habanera from Carmen, and in a trio from Faust. She was supported by Mdlle. Desvignes, Signor Pasini, and Signor Abramoff, and in the opinion of one well able to judge, this combination was productive of the best concert ever arranged by the band

High fees alone could secure high-class talent such as the Band brought to the town year by year - expenses for artistes alone were generally between £50 and £60 - and only by regularly filling the seats at good prices could the standard be maintained. In 1890 a loss was sustained, although the artistes included Madame Valleria and Signor Foli. An extra concert was arranged for the following February in hopes of recovering a little of the lost ground.

The now famous Jean Gerardy (then aged 13) was secured for the 1891 concert, along with Madame Marie Anderson, Mr. Lester Barratt, and others, but although the talent was excellent and the concerts well advertised, there was again a lack of thorough success. An extra concert was given in March of the following year by the famous Blue Hungarian Band, and a decided success made.

In 1892 Madame Dews and other vocalists appeared, also the Stalybridge Orpheus Glee Party (Messrs. Wild, Plant, Jones, and Cartledge).

After the 79th annual concert, December 5th, 1893, the committee abandoned them because of their small return for such an amount of work as was entailed. It was not without a pang of regret that this was decided upon, as the next would have been the eightieth of a series in many of which had appeared singers whose names are known and honoured throughout the civilised world.

Turning again to the players in 1882, and looking back on the history of this organisation - then nearing the threescore years and ten - it is only to be expected that its record of successes in the contesting arena would grow small by degrees and beautifully less until there came the final collapse. This, the expected, did not happen at all. The Band ended its contesting period in a very crescendo of successes, as the record for 1882 will show. After the Belle Vue contest the members decided to rest on their laurels; to work steadily at the reduction of the debt incurred for expenses of tuition and contesting; expenditure on special music; and loss on some of the annual concerts. As an instance of the way expenditure was incurred, the band used to pay as much as £20 to Mr. J. S. Jones for one piece, in order to have a selection of their own for contest purposes.

Mr. Gladney was succeeded as conductor by Mr. Wm. Taylor, the solo trombone player. Mr. A. Ferrett was the president, and Mr. J. Scholes secretary. The honorary members lessened in numbers, and some of the Band's soloists also left, the place of Mr. Tom Taylor was filled by Mr. J. W. Brierley as solo euphonium, and vacancies were filled by young players (some of them being connected with the band for a number of years and doing yeoman service for the welfare of the society) amongst whom may be named Messrs. W. H. Smith, J. Lee, and J. Halliwell.

Playing members of the band in 1883 -

Cornets: F. Roberts, J. Tomlinson, J. Hadfield, J. Scholes, J. Halliwell, W. H. Smith, J. Lee, J. Swift
Horns: H. Collins, O. Hallsworth, S. Holloway
Baritones: J. Wilson, J. Clark
Euphoniums: J. W. Brierley, J. Holloway
Trombones: W. Taylor, John Peel, Joseph Peel
Bass: J. Bellfield, J. Sheppard, W. Davies, W. Heathcote
Drums: G. Perry; J. Sugden

Mr. W. Taylor spent much time with the young players in order to get them proficient, and great credit is due to him for the patience and perseverance he displayed. The band took an engagement at the Isle of Man at the Wakes, combining business with pleasure. At Laxey Gardens they were performing on a raised platform on which a number of gentlemen were seated. In order to give the Band room the seats were perilously near the edge, and one old gentleman became so interested in the performance that he forgot himself and toppled over on to the ground.

In 1884 an engagement was again fulfilled in Manx-land at Wakes week. Earlier in the year began the connection of the Band with the Whit-Friday procession of Old St. George's Schools - an engagement which the Band have kept yearly since.

Mr. Taylor left the Band to join Kingston Mills (then in their zenith) in 1885, after eleven year's active membership. He was succeeded as conductor by Mr. J. W. Brierley, who joined the Band in 1871 as 2nd euphonium, played 1st baritone from 1878 to 1882, when he changed to solo euphonium.

1885 - Whit-Friday Oddfellows' Hall - 1st prize 1885 - Whit-Friday Heptonstall - 3rd prize

The services of Mr. Wm. Heathcote were lost in the following year, w'hen he became the licensee of the Church Inn, and afterwards of the Pine Apple Inn - then the headquarters of the Band. He joined the Band in 1864, and was a man of splendid physique and a first-rate double-bass player, indeed he and Mr. Wm. Davies were spoken of as the finest double-basses of their day. Mr Heathcote was heart and soul in the Band and its activities; were the gentry to be approached, Mr. Heathcote was the man. The most difficult tasks were those he undertook with pleasure. He was secretary for a short period in the early seventies. Up to the year 1882 he was a hard worker, after that period he, along with other old players, gave up their active management of the Band to the younger generation. He died January, 1901.

Another well-known bass player was Mr. Columbus Sykes, whose father, John Sykes, had been a member of the Band for a long period before him. "Columbus" as he came to be called, joined in 1854, playing the flugel horn for many years and then the E-flat bass. He was a well-known character, and Stalybridge Old Band were picked out in contesting circles by means of his figure alone. He retired as a playing member in 1885, but would often take a turn and help again for a short time. Later he would delight in walking in front of the Band, until he got so that he couldn't walk sharp enough and the Band would often open out and pass him. In May 1876, he was presented with a silver lever watch, chain, and gold pendant, and in 1903 the members gave him a walking stick to help him along life's way. At his death in May, 1910, the Band and old friends - numbering about 65 - played at his funeral.

Two other old players of this period may also be mentioned. Mr. John Clarke joined in 1869 and played the 1st horn until 1888, when he changed to the 2nd baritone. He was of a quiet, unassuming nature; in 1876 he was elected President, and he left the ranks about 1890. Mr. John Bellfield was of a decidedly jovial nature. He used to come from Woodhouses to work in Stalybridge, and would stop for rehearsals before going home. At times, when the Band were at rest, he would play some jig or other lively air on his E-flat bass, finishing with a hearty laugh. He was a member from about 1878 to 1886.

A fund for a new uniform was opened in 1886, the uniform being worn for the first time at Douglas I.O.M. at the Wakes engagement. As the band did not clear the cost, a number of dances were held at the Foresters Hall, etc., by which the balance was raised. These dances entailed a considerable amount of work on a few of the band, along with the President, Mr. A. Ferret, and Vice-President, Mr. P. Gordon.

1886 - Whit-Friday Oddfellows. Hall - 2nd prize

During the Queen's Jubilee festivities of 1887, an engagement was secured at Queen's Park, Manchester, and their efforts secured great applause.

In 1887 Mr. William Davies retired from his position as B-flat Bass, for which his well-built frame fitted him. An easy-going man, never in a hurry, he was often found to be missing just as the players were mounting the platform, and when everybody was thoroughly nervous as to his whereabouts he would stroll leisurely in and unconcernedly take his place. He joined in 1867, and retired after twenty years' membership. During the latter part of his life he was greatly troubled with his eyes, being partially blind. He died August 2nd, 1913. When he left the Band his son Tom (who had been in the band about three years) took his position on the double-bass, proving a worthy successor.

1887 - Whit-Friday Oddfellows' Hall - 3rd prize
1888 - Whit-Friday Oddfellows' Hall - 2nd prize
1889 - Whit-Friday Glossop - 4th prize
1889 - Whit-Friday Oddfellows' Hall - 3rd prize

The Band were striving at this time to reach a state of solvency, an occasional concert or "presentation of prizes" being promoted to that desirable end. On the 30th November 1889, was celebrated the 75th anniversary. when past and present players met and marched round the principal streets to the strains of "Old Friend John" in the form of a march, finishing up at the Oddfellow's Hall. where a first-class dinner was provided for about 174 persons. Some who took part in the Jubilee of the Band, twenty-five years before, were seen in the day's procession, namely, Messrs. W. Schofield, G. Perry, C. Sykes, J. Willerton, J. Green, W. Heathcote, T. Garlick, W. Davies, D. Shaw, S. Reece, and G. Reece. At the meeting which followed, the president. Mr. A. Ferrett was supported by the secretary, Mr. J. Scholes, the bandmaster, Mr. Brierley and the Committee. After welcoming the old members, the chairman called on the secretary, who said that when the Band finished contesting in 1882 their total debts were £340, which had been reduced by nearly one-half. The proceedings were enlivened by the reading of the history of the Band's great Retreat from Peterloo.

A presentation of a gold medal was made to the conductor (Mr. J. W. Brierley) and to the secretary (Mr. Joseph Scholes) in 1890 in recognition of their past services. In June, Mr. Brierley resigned his position, and Mr. W. Taylor was re-engaged for one year. At Christmas Eve the secretary, Mr. Scholes, caught a chill, which developed into a serious illness, and he died on December 29th. He was first an honorary member a playing member from 1880, and secretary tor eleven years. His earnest work on behalf of the Band was recognised by their attending his funeral at the Baptist Chapel, Wakefield Road.

In 1891 the secretarial office was taken by Mr. James Sheppard, who had been an honorary member in 1880, afterwards playing 3rd horn, and changing to E-flat bass in 1883. He was nine years on the committee before his election as secretary. Mr. J. Halliwell left about this time, after nine years' service, latterly as soprano cornet.

In June, 1891, Mr. James Holloway was engaged as conductor, and retained the position until his death in 1904. He joined the Band to 1879 as 3rd cornet, then played 2nd cornet, and in 1882 changed to euphonium. He joined the Borough Band as solo euphonium, and became a player of repute. He had been conductor of Oldham Rifle Band, Hollingworth and Glodwick Brass Bands, the latter being very successful under his tuition, as also was St. Mark's Drum and Flute Band. He came back to the Old Band in 1891, and as he was a first-class musician, acting as judge at various contests, and composing several pieces of music, he achieved a fair amount of success in his tuition. There is little doubt that, had he been spared, Mr. Holloway would have made a mark in the history of brass bands.

In the year 1802 the Band began to discuss the advisability of going into rooms of their own, and as a result of their deliberations they took over premises in Cross Leech Street, and made the necessary alterations in order to make them suitable for a club and bandroom, the tenancy coming in January, 1893, on a five years' lease. The committee at this time were Messrs. A. Ferrett (president), G. Perry, W. H. Smith, J. Sheppard (secretary). J. Lee (treasurer), G. Reece and D. Higgins. They were also guarantors for the lease, etc., and carried through all the alterations, establishing the club on a firm footing. With the opening of the rooms the membership increased considerably, some of the new members interesting themselves in the welfare of the Band and proving themselves firm adherents. After getting settled in the club premises a few additions were made to the committee, amongst whom the following deserve special mention: Messrs. W. Woodhead, A. Fernley and J. Kershaw. These proved very valuable additions, and during their membership were untiring workers for the interests of the Band and Institute generally.

Playing members of the band in 1893:

Conductor and Solo Euphonium: J. Holloway
Cornet: G. Harris, J. Lee, J. Ratcliffe, W.H. Smith, R. Reece, W. Henderson, J. Holden, R. Bardsley, J. Lawton.
Horns: A. Fernley, H. Bolton
Baritones: C. Broadbent, D. Higgins
Euphonium: G. Reece
Trombone: A. Green, T. Cooper
Bass: C. Sykes, J. Sheppard, L. Marchington, T. Davies
Drums: G. Perry, T. Genty

In 1894 Mr. William Woodhead succeeded Mr. Sheppard as secretary, and carried out his duties for seven years with great satisfaction to the members. On December 22nd a contest was promoted at the Drill Hall, but the day proved so boisterous that a full success was not secured. Mr. J. Gladney was judge, and the officials were President Mr. J. Harwood, treasurer. Mr. J. Kershaw, secretaries, Mr. Woodhead and Mr. J. Lee.

As already mentioned in another page, the Band abandoned their annual concerts in the year 1894. At the following Easter the Band took a prize at Compstall, and silver medal for solo euphonium (Mr Holloway), and at a social meeting a silver-mounted baton was presented along with the medal to Mr. Holloway.

1896 - Whit-Friday - Levenshulme - 4th prize

In 1897, on the expiration of the lease, the club premises were enlarged by the addition of another cottage, and a ten years' lease was entered into. This time, instead of having seven, there were fifty guarantors, which augured well for the success of the venture. A move was also made to purchase new instruments. A fund was opened, the members agreed to pay so much each and take a subscription book to solicit help from the public. The gentry were approached by the president, Mr. Ferrett and Mr. Holloway, and the general response was liberal. The Oddfellow's Hall was engaged for three months, and dances were organised. The general support was such that £120 was raised. which paid tor nine new instruments - a decided acquisition. The duties of secretary and treasurer were taken by Messrs. Woodhead and Lee.

1897 - Whit-Friday - Oddfellows' Hall - 2nd prize
1899 - August - Greenfield - 3rd prize
1900 - Whit-Friday - Oddfellows' Hall - 2nd prize

The position of secretary was vacated by Mr. W. Woodhead in 1900, owing to his absence from the town in connection with his work. It was with much regret that the members accepted his resignation. For a few months the duties were performed by Mr. J. Hurst, then Mr. Henry Collings accepted the position, and retained it until his death in 1911. Mr. Collings entered the Band in 1874 as 4th horn, working his way up to solo horn, and playing this instrument in many contests. He retired from the Band in 1888, but rejoined as a social member in 1893. He was a committeeman for many years, and was president in 1900, and subsequently became secretary. Mr. Collings was of a jovial disposition, and the life and soul of any gathering of a social nature. His services were highly appreciated, and a movement was actually on foot to make him a suitable presentation when his untimely end came. A portrait was prepared to hang in the bandroom, and an artificial wreath was placed on his grave. Could he only have lived a few years longer he would have been one of the proudest of men to take part in the centenary of the Stalybridge Old Band.

Early in 1901 another Band Contest was arranged, seven years having elapsed since the last. It took place on March 9th, and was a decided success. The judge was Mr. R. Stead. An active committee carried out the details, under Mr. Joseph Kershaw, president; Messrs. J. H. Harwood and A. Ferrett, vice-presidents; Mr. J. Lee treasurer; and Messrs. H. Collings and H. Watson, secretaries.

At the close of the year another good hard-working member retired in the person of Mr. Wm. H. Smith, whose years of service numbered close on twenty, and tallied with the period of uphill work which the members and committee encountered in their efforts to re-establish the sound position of the Band. Mr. Smith joined in 1882, playing the cornet for ten years, and the 1st baritone subsequently. He was on the committee for a long period, and was vice-president 1893-1902. On his retiring to become "mine host" at the 13th Cheshire Rifleman Inn he was presented with a gold albert and pendant inscribed: Presented to Mr.W. H. Smith by the members of the Stalybridge Old Band and Social Club, on his retirement from the Band, Dec. 10th, 1901.

Players in 1903

Conductor: J. Holloway
Cornet: J. Lee, J. Hassall, W. Hopkins, T. Power, H. Watson, W. Buckley, A. H. Lockwood, J. Lowe
Horns: S Hill, W Gregory, J. Wade
Baritones: W Jackson, A Halliwell
Euphonium: C. Broadbent
Trombones: H Beech, F Sykes, W Taylor, H Watson
Bass: H Stelfox, P Watson, W Schofield, GH Gill
Drums: G Perry, F Fletcher

At Whitsuntide, 1903, the members of the Band were photographed, and a framed print of the group was presented to the managers of the Old St. George's Sunday School, in commemoration of the Band's 20th engagement for the Whit-Friday procession.

1903 - Whit-Friday - Oddfellows' Hall - 3rd prize
1903 - Bardsley (& Special for Euphonium) - 1st prize

A concert was held in the Drill Hall in November, 1903, for the benefit of Mr. James Holloway, whose health seemed undermined. The Northern Military Band (conductor, Mr. A. Gray), Mr. W. Wild, tenor, and Mr. T. Cheetham, pianist, all gave their services. As a result, a very fair amount was realised and handed to Mr. Holloway. The concert was arranged and worked by the Old Band, and the St. Mark's Drum and Flute Band, Dukinfield.

After a very severe illness Mr. Holloway passed away, May 23rd , 1904. This seemed a real and personal loss to the members, and as a mark of respect the Band attended the Church service on the Sunday following his funeral. He had been conductor for nearly fourteen years.

He was succeeded by Mr. J. Lee, the present conductor, who, after taking lessons from Mr. W. Sharp, joined the Band in 1883 as 3rd flugel horn, eventually rising by steps to 1st cornet and leader. He was elected to the committee in 1885, was assistant secretary in 1886, 1889, 1890, and was bandmaster under Mr. Holloway from 1893, being appointed treasurer about the same time. In these offices Mr. Lee strove hard to clear off the incubus of debt - a task which occupied a quarter of a century. On March 17th, 1900, the Band and social members presented Mr. Lee with a gold albert guard and pendant and a walking stick, both suitably inscribed to him "for services rendered as bandmaster".

1904 - Whit-Friday - Oddfellows' Hall - 4th prize

Mr. Ferrett retired from the post of president in March 1905. He had followed the fortunes of the band since 1881, and had been president since 1883, with one year's break. The members showed how well his services were appreciated by giving to him a gold pendant suitably inscribed, and a handsome pipe. Mr. G. Swift was elected president in succession, and held the position for four years. The vice-presidents for the same period were Mr. P. Watson and Mr. H. Gill.

Engagements to play in Manchester Parks were secured for 1905 and three following years. Heaton Park, Alexandra Park, Birch Fields, Queen's Park, and Boggart Hole Clough were all visited. A new monster double bass B-flat was purchased at a cost of £24. The need of a new uniform also became apparent in 1906, and a prize draw was arranged for Easter, 1907. Tickets were readily disposed of by the Band parading on Saturday afternoons, so that it was possible to pay spot cash for the outfit, which was first used at the procession in celebration of the jubilee of the borough. Mr. E. Jones acted as secretary of the uniform fund.

The Wingates Temperance Band was engaged to give two concerts, December 2nd, 1906, with a very fair result. In the following year Wingates, having meanwhile taken first prizes at Belle Vue and Crystal Palace, were re-engaged (October 20th), and a gratifying result was that a new E-flat bass was purchased, and the funds were strengthened.

A contest was held at the Drill Hall in 1909, the entries numbered fourteen, and the venture was a success. Judge, Mr. A. Gray, Manchester. President, Mr. J. H. Harwood; vice-president, Mr. J. Kershaw; treasurer, Mr. L. Lee; secretaries, Mr. H. Collings and Mr. G. H. Gill. This year also saw the election of Mr. J. Kershaw as president in place of Mr. G. Swift. In 1910 Mr. P. Watson was elected president, with Mr. J. Harrop as vice-president. Mr. Watson had been on the committee for a number of years, having joined the Band in 1899, and done much good work. He still retains his position as president of the society.

1910 - August - Market Street - 4th prize

In December, 1910, death robbed the Band of another member, Mr. H. Watson, bass trombonist, whose membership had lasted thirteen years. The band attended and played at his funeral at St. Paul's Church.

No contest was held in 1910 on account of the King's death. In the following year a silver cup was offered by Smith and Co., proprietors of the Champion Music Journal, to the first-prize winners, and a successful contest ensued, 17 bands competing. President of Contest Committee, Mr. David Buckley; vice-president, Mr. P. Watson; treasurer, Mr. J. Lee; secretary, Mr. G. H. Gill.

The Band lost Mr. Collings' services by his death in 1911. His successor is the present secretary, Mr. Joseph Hassall, who joined in 1897 as 3rd cornet, advancing to 1st cornet and occasionally playing soprano. He retired as a playing member in 1910, and as secretary has proved himself fully qualified by discharging his duties in a highly satisfactory manner.

1911 - August - Market Street - 3rd prize

Encouraged by the success of previous contests, the committee decided to hold one annually, and Smith and Co. offered another cup, to be won three times before becoming the property of any band. A date was fixed in April, 1912, but as the coal strike necessitated alteration it was actually held May 4th, and despite the change another capital success was recorded. The entries numbered 16. Judge, Mr. G. H. Mercer, of Sheffield. President of Contest Committee, Mr. D. Buckley; vice-president, Mr. J. Swift; secretary, Mr. G. H. Gill.

1912 - Market Street - 2nd prize

Death took two members early in 1913. Mr. Francis Ashworth, solo euphonium, who died January 27th, in his 26th year; and Mr. George Perry, whose death occurred April 23rd at the age of 72. Mr. Perry was almost the last link between the Band's Jubilee and the present time. He was born in 1841, and played side drum in the Royal Archer Fife and Drum Band at a very early age. His grandfather, John Hallsworth, being one of the Originals, probably accounts for his transfer to the Old Band in 1854, although he did not actually become a member, the fee being .£3 10s. During the Russian War young Perry was attending Robert Smith's school, and was brought out and sent round the town with a couple of flute players to drum up the soldiers. When he grew tired he was hoisted on a man's shoulders, where he continued his "music" He played with the Old Band at Wolverhampton in 1859, when the test piece was a set of waltzes. When the Band went to London in 1861 a 7ft. drum was used. Millbrook Prize Band was in existence some years later, and it was said that after one contest in which they had been unsuccessful the members hid their diminished heads by walking home along the canal bank. Mr. Perry was secretary to the Old Band for some years; was connected with it for nearly sixty years; and was a member of the late Mr. S. R. Platt's private orchestra (Oldham) for nearly twenty-five years, the conductor of which was Dr. Marsden, a brother of Mr. John Marsden, a former conductor of the Old Band.

One old Jubilee member only remains, namely, Mr. Joseph Green, bass trombone, who is well known in the town, but has latterly been confined indoors. Another old veteran who was connected with the Band in the seventies is Mr. J. Kilroy, now in his 75th year, but still hearty.

1913 - Whit-Friday - Oddfellows' Hall - 4th prize

The contest arranged by the Band in 1913 attracted an entry of 19 bands, and was so successful as to furnish funds for the purchase of a cornet, a tenor horn, a baritone, and a bass trombone, a splendid addition to the efficiency of the Band's equipment. The judge at the contest was Mr. J. Eaton, of Batley. President of Contest Committee, Mr. D. Buckley; vice-president, Mr. R. Lilley; secretaries, Mr. J. Hassall and Mr. F. Richardson.

The present Professional Conductor of the Band is Mr. A. Gray, the well-known bandmaster of the North, whose connections with leading bands, including Besses, Fodens, Wingates, Irwell Springs, Batley, Wyke, etc. are well known to all. He has conducted 90 different bands in the last 10 years, winning several hundreds of prizes, besides acting as Judge in England, Scotland, Wales - recently travelling specially to Australia to act as adjudicator at several musical festivals.

The members were anxious for the Band to enter a contest this year, just to stir things up a little for the centenary. So New Mills was selected as being close at hand. Mr. A. Gray gave the Band a few lessons on the selection and brushed thorn up generally. The contest was held April 6th, 1913, and great satisfaction was felt when the first prize and silver cup value £10 were won, also special prizes for conductor and double bass.

As we have entered on the Centenary year the task of arranging for a worthy celebration has been delegated to a special committee - Messrs. S. Holloway and R. Lilley being president and vice-president, and Messrs. J. Ainsworth and S. Sykes the secretaries. The Band are encouraged by kind promises of support from the local gentry. John Wood, Esq., M.P., has promised to be Hon. President, and will also preside at whatever function is arranged in due course. His Worship the Mayor (Ald. James Bottomley), has consented to act in the capacity of vice-president.

Present Committee of the Stalybridge Old Band

President: P Watson
Vice-President: R Lilley
S. Hill, J. Harding, J. Pattison, S. Holloway, H. Watson, C. Greenwood, J Ainsworth, H Sykes, F. Richardson, R Bowers.
Treasurer: J Lee
Secretary: J Hassall

Besides the playing members, the society numbers in its ranks a few energetic, hard-working individuals who, although holding no particular office, are nevertheless worthy of praise for their allegiance.

The players in 1913 and 1914 are:

Cornet: W. Ashworth, J Lee, H Watson, R Ashworth, E Tregilgas, J Hallsworth, J Gill, N Holloway, J Oldham., E Andrew
Horns: H Sykes, S Hill, A Ratcliffe, J Lavin
Baritone: W Ashworth, H Holloway, R Marsden
Euphonium: M Hinchliffe, W Thompson
Trombone: F Sykes, F Richardson, H Dobson
Bass: H Stelfox, P Watson, J Pattison, H Gill
Drums: H Mellor, C Haley

In this list are two brothers, (sons of Mr S Holloway, president of the Centenary Committee) who can claim relationship with Mr. Thomas Avison, the founder and first conductor. There are also two descendants (son and grandson) of Mr. Seth Gill, who was in the Band in 1860.


In looking back over the Band's history, the achievement which stands out above all others is not the glorious contesting period, but the fact that the Band haa weathered the ups and downs of a century and still exists no healthy state of efficiency, free from debt.

There is no doubt that a little more enthusiasm from within, added to extra support from the public, would greatly improve the position of the Band in the musical world.

The Old Band! What hundreds of self-sacrificing players have enrolled under its name; what hours of preparation; what innumerable services have been given for the benefit of public functions during its existence.

This "abstract and brief chronicle" of its history can hardly visualise the whole crowd of actors, every year bringing some slight change in the taste. Players who filled up a scanty leisure in the study of an uninteresting part - some meaningless cadenza possibly - secretaries and officials, conductors from whom was demanded not only correct reading, but an intelligent insight of the composer's meaning, and possibly of the judge's peculiarities as well.

But if scenes, instruments, music, and players have all changed, the Band still lives on, and as a hearty centenarian may rejoice that it enters on its second century heartier and stronger than when it began the first.