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Mossley Temperance Band

Winners of First Belle Vue Band Contest in 1853

[from the "Reporter", 31st August 1935)

Shades of 1853!

Reconstructed on the Bellevue Stadium according to a scenario prepared by Mr. John F. Russell, librarian of the Henry Watson Music Libriary, the B.B.C. are tomorrow (Sunday) and on Friday evening next reproducing the first championship brass band contest held at Belle Vue 83 years ago. And successors of the first winners are to take part! The winners of the first contest were the Mossley Temperance Band, and their successors, the Mossley Borough Prize Band, have been engaged to participate in the reconstruction programme. Mossley Band will broadcast from 5-30 to 6-15 p.m. tomorrow, and also next Friday evening. Owing to the limited time which the B.B.C. can allow for the reconstruction programme, it will be impossible for the Mossley Band to play each selection fully, and, therefore, they will give abridged selections, each piece lasting about four minutes. For many years bands taking part in the Belle Vue contest were permitted to play pieces of their own selection in addition to the set test piece. At the first contest two "own choice" pieces were allowed, and Mossley Temperance Band is reported to have impressed the Judge by their rendering of the "Halleluiah Chorus", from Handel's "Messiah". Six or seven bands competed, and the result was:-
  1. Mossley Temperance
  2. Dewsbury
  3. Bromley Temperance
  4. Bury Borough

The Programme

The B.B.C. are anxious that at least three of the original test pieces should be played, and the Mossley Borough Band will tomorrow play excerpts from "William Tell", "Tancredi", "Hallelujah Chorus" (Handel), "The Heavens are Telling" (Haydn), "Lucrezia Borgia", and "Anna Bollini". It Is noteworthy that in 1853 the Mossley Temperance Band contained only ten players, for at that time there were no rules governing the number of players. The band was established in 1841, and, though it changed its name, the Mossley Borough Band is definitely the same band. It has been reorganised several times, and at present has headquarters at the Town Hall, with the Mayor (Councillor H. Laming), president; and Councillors Major R. B. Glover and S. Whitehead and Mr. L. Rawson, trustees. The band is supported entirely by public subscription. The history of the Mossley Band does not appear to have been written up, but the "Reporter" has been able to glean some interesting information about the ten men who so many decades ago brought honour to the town and about some of their successors.

60 Years Follower of the Band

Mr. George Frost, tobacconist, of Stamford-street, who has followed the fortunes of the Mossley Band for over 60 years, remembers all the men who took part in the first Belle Vue contest, and when the "Reporter" showed him their photographs he immediately recognised them. In a chat with a "Reporter" representative. Mr. Frost revealed that nearly all the men who won at Belle Vue in 1853 were employed in local cotton or woollen mills. William Taylor, the conductor, said Mr. Frost, was a spinner at Robert Shaw Buckley's mill, and in addition to conducting the Mossley Band he also acted as conductor to a band at Linthwalte. Julius Schofield, the solo baritone, was a painter, and for a time went to live in Scotland. John Rhodes, the second baritone, was bookkeeper at Scout Mill, while Robert Schofield, bornbardon, was employed at C. Kershaw's Valley Mill, Brookbottom. James Sykes (bombardon) was a spinner at Kershaw's Mill; Richard Fawcett, solo horn, was a noted player, and eventually went to London; Joseph Robinson, solo cornet, was a joiner, and from Moseley went to Oldham, where he became conductor of the Oldham Rifles Band. "That is the reason he is wearing a rifleman's hat", explained Mr. Frost.

The Cotton Panic

John Meakin, second horn, was a spinner. He was father of the late Mr. Meakin, of Lorne Street, an old Mossley Rugby footballer, and grandfather of Mr. F. Meakin, a member of the Mossley A.F.C. Committee. William Fielding, second cornet, carried on business as a pork butcher in Stamford Road, while Samuel Taylor, solo euphonium (brother of the conductor), was a woollen weaver at premises in Wyre Street. Mr. Frost related how, during the cotton panic of the early '60's several members of the Mossley Band turned their musical abilities to account to support themselves and their families. James Sykes, Roger Fawcett. John Meakin, and Samuel Taylor, all went away and accepted engagements in various places, Mr. Frost related that about 30 years ago, when Mr. Fawcet was buried in St. George's Parish Church graveyard, a man arrived in Mossley to attend the funeral. He said he had come from London, that he had played with Mr. Fawcett in the same band there, and that he had never heard Mr. Fawcett's equal as a musician. At one time the band practised in an upper room at Baguley, but for many years their headquarters were at the Old House at Home, Lees Road. Afterwards they went to the clubhouse in Waterton Lane, now the Mossley Bowling Club.

Alex Owen as Conductor

Mr. Alex. Owen took charge of the Band at one period. Mr. Frost recalls that in 1881, under Mr. Owen's conductorship, the band entered for three contests. At Royton they tied with Littleborough for third and fourth prizes; at Northenden they won the first prize; and at Boarshurst they captured the second prize. The following year. at Trawden, near Colne, the band won the premier award. The band won many contests, and one piece with which they achieved quite a number of successes was entitled "Knight of the Road". It was a quickstep march, and it is said that no band could play it as well as the Mossley Band. The next time Mossley Band won the Belle Vue contest - in 1897 - is an occasion within the memory of a large number of Mossley people. They played "Moses in Egypt", were conducted by Mr. Alex. Owen, and gained all possible marks - a remarkable achievement. Noted players who have figured with the Mossley Band include the late Herbert (Tib) Scott, the well-known euphoniumist and J. F. Carter, also a noted euphoniumist, who acted as conductor for about ten years.

Practising at 4 a.m.

Two daughters of the, late Samuel Taylor are living in Seel Street, in Mrs. Gee and her sister, Miss Taylor. They told the "Reporter" that their father afterwards became attached to the orchestra of a travelling circus, and for some years travelled the country with the circus. William Taylor, the conductor of the band, was their uncle. They have no recollection of the first contest at Belle Vue - it was before their time - but they have vivid memories of the band in subsequent years; how the men would begin practising at 4 a.m. and how their father used to act in the capacity of a "knocker-up" with a clothes prop to get some of the more sound sleepers to the practices. On Tuesday evening the band had a practise at the Yorkshire Ward Conservative Club preparatory to their engagements with the B.B.C., to which they are looking forward with great interest. In addition to the pieces mentioned above, the band will also play excerpts from "Semiramide" (Rossini) and "Moses in Egypt" Further practices will take place at Yorkshire Ward Conservative Club to-night (Friday) at 7-45, and on Sunday morning at 11 o'clock. Several members of the Boarshurst and Dobcross Bands, who received their training at Mossley, will take part with the Mossley Band in the broadcast.

They Couldn't Resist Playing

A good story is told of the Mossley Temperance Band's return after their success in the first contest at Belle Vue. The band, it is stated, went to Belle Vue by wagonette, and news of their success reached the town in the evening, causing a large crowd to assemble at the station to give them a rousing welcome. Time passed, however, but the band did not put in an appearance, and when the midnight hour had long since chimed, the people, tired of waiting, wended their way to their homes. So when the members of the band arrived in Mossley in the "wee sma' hours" there was nobody to greet them. Anxious not to disturb the slumbers of the townspeople, tbe bandsmen decided to proceed to their homes as quietly as possible, and on alighting from the wagonette they removed their shoes and walked up Stamford Road in their stockinged feet But the temptation was too great. The bandsmen were Intoxicated with success, and long before they had reached the top of Stamford Road they had struck up one of their favourite tunes, regardless of the slumbers of the inhabitants.


Aw know aw havna bin i' th world as lung
As th' owder foaks,
But aw've travelled fare to middlin un
Awve met mi share o' sorts.
Theers sum chaps good tin sum chaps mean
Un sum aw conna stand,
But awve never met a grandelier set
As th' lads i' th' Mossley Band.

Thi might'nt be o angels theer, nay that
Aw wudna say,
But thi wouldna du thi deauwn like sum
Un send thi on thi way.
Theers allus a cheery "Ow art lad" un a
Friendly shake ut th' and,
Yu'll travel far afoor yu meets
Lads like i' th' Mossley Band.

Yu con keep yur lot o' fancy foaks
Them as thinks thi are su fine,
Gi me a chap as is a friend
He'll do me ony time.
Fer he's u' th' sort who'll stond by thee
When things aren't allus grand,
Un he's the sort o' lad yu'll meet
If yu plays in' th' Mossley Band.