Nationals 2001: 101
you really wanted to know about the National Championships of Great
Britain, plus all you really didn’t need to know and all that you
couldn’t really care about!
– there may be something in here to get you boring your friends
(if you have any if you remember all of these) down the pub after
first Championships took place on Saturday 21st July
1900 at the Crystal Palace, London.
The first band ever to perform were Aberdare Town, from
South Wales conducted by J. Manley playing the test piece “Beauties
first winners were Denton Original conducted by the great Alex
Owen who beat Black Dyke into second place and won the princely
sum of 75 guineas and the famous £1000 trophy.
Championships were the brain child of John Henry Isles who set
up the contest to demonstrate what brass bands could musically
achieve and to help the “Absent Minded Beggar Fund”
fund was set up to financially assist veterans of the Boer War
who had fallen on hard times.
results were announced in reverse order at the very first contest
after the “Great Concert” later on the same day, when the public
had paid 6d admission.
full names of the players in the winning Denton Band are still
available and include the repiano player, Elia Shaw Jnr, who
subsequently moved to South Wales and became Principal Cornet
of Tredegar Workingmen’s Town Band.
£1000 Guinea Trophy now resides in the Welsh Museum of Life
at St. Fagan’s outside Cardiff.
It’s not allowed to be moved, but has been the subject
of a contest in it’s honour in the early 1990’s.
The winning band was allowed to have its photograph taken
with it, but not allowed to take it home with them!
second Finals took place in the September of the following year
when Lee Mount won off a number 3 draw in a 27 strong field
playing “Gems of Sullivan’s Opera No 3”.
They were awarded 127 points and secured a two-point
victory over Irwell Springs.
Dyke’s first victory came in 1902 when they completed the first
“Double” after taking the Open earlier in the year.
They won with 140 points and with a five point winning
margin from Wyke. The
famous John Gladney conducted.
Owen completed his second win with Besses O’ th’ Barn in 1903
when he also conducted the band that came second, Rushden Temperance.
Abertillery Band (still going strong in South Wales and now
in the 4th Section) came 5th in 1904,
beating Black Dyke Mills in 6th place.
What ever happened to them?
Rimmer conducted 5 of the top 6 bands at the 1906 contest (only
5th placed Goodshaw spoilt it).
He also conducted three other bands at the contest on
the same day.
1909 Rimmer completed a nap hand of five consecutive victories
at the contest, which was achieved conducting three different
bands. He never
conducted at the contest again.
success was overtaken by William Halliwell who won his first
of six in a row in 1910 (the first four with different bands).
He went onto win a total of 11 titles.
famous St. Hilda Colliery Band won their first title in 1912.
They subsequently won it again on four occasions before
being barred as being a “professional band.”
Springs won the last contest before the Great War in 1913, playing
the first ever-original brass band contest composition, “Labour
and Love” by Percy Fletcher.
were no contests during the War years, but the contest was revived
in 1920 when St. Hilda won playing “Coriolanus” by Cyril Jenkins
from a field of 18. They
took home with them 100 guineas prize money.
Halliwell equalled William Rimmer’s effort of 1909 when he conducted
five of the top six in 1921.
He also took two other bands on the day.
does it again in 1923 as he takes Luton Red Cross to the title
(with a little help from certain Mortimers).
He takes the first five places with his bands, but Hebden
Bridge and Wingates – his sixth band and seventh bands of the
day come nowhere.
sees bands perform for the first time in the now traditional
this they stood in a square formation.
Dyke’s second win comes in 1928 when Halliwell takes them to
the title from a number 4 draw in a field of 16. Strangely the
band only gets 50 guineas for their troubles in playing “A Moorside
Suite” by Holst.
sees the Newcastle Steel Works Band from Australia compete at
the Nationals. They
had won the Open just a month prior at Manchester but they could
only manage third place at the Nationals.
Hilda Colliery were barred completely after their last win 1926
and subsequently never competed again.
Horwich RMI also disappeared just four years after they
too won the title.
Glasgow nearly become the first winners to take the title out
of England in 1929 when they come second to Carlisle St. Stephens.
They have to wait until 1990 to finally achieve it.
Foden’s Motor Works hegemony starts in 1930 with the first of
their seven victories in nine years under the baton of Fred
new band called Munn and Felton’s take the title in 1935 when
Foden’s are barred to give William Halliwell the last of his
Crystal Palace, the venue of the contest since it’s inception
burnt down in 1936 and the venue for the contest changed to
the Alexandra Palace in London for the first time on the 25th
September 1937. Foden’s
won of course.
Second World War stops the contest in 1939 when the bands were
to perform “Clive of India” by J. Holbrooke on the 23rd
Contest is revived in 1945 under the banner of “The Daily Herald”
newspaper and Regional Contests are introduced for the first
to this, bands were invited to compete at the contest each year
– in much the same way as the British Open.
however are barred from the 1945 Contest on the grounds that
they had achieved the “Hat trick” in 1938!
1945 Contest takes place at the Royal Albert Hall – the third
venue for the contest since it’s inception.
Aviation win by five clear points under the baton of Harry Mortimer
from Horden Colliery and Parc and Dare.
A young man called Eric Ball conducts Brighouse and Rastrick
into fourth place 11 points behind the winners.
following year Eric Ball conducts Brighouse to the title (their
first) and his only conducting success at the contest.
He appears in other forms however over the forthcoming
contest moves from September to October in 1945, although it
goes into November a few years later for a short while.
first of Black Dyke’s first ever National’s “Hat trick” comes
in 1947, when Harry Mortimer leads them to victory over Fairey
(who he also conducts) and his father and Foden’s in third place.
sees Fred Mortimer’s last appearance at the Finals when he takes
CWS (Glasgow) off a number 13 draw.
They come out of the prizes.
Mortimer has a record of seven victories at the contest – all
with Foden’s. He made his first appearance in 1929 when they
came out of the prizes. In addition to the seven victories he
also gets a third and a sixth.
reclaim the title they last won in 1938 when Harry Mortimer
takes them to victory in 1950 on “Pageantry”.
In 1937, his father had conducted the band to victory
on the same piece.
Mortimer continues the family success story in 1951 when he
masterminds Black Dyke to their fourth title in five years and
beats his brother into second place to boot.
decides that this must stop and wins the next four contests
with Fairey’s, Fodens and Munn and Feltons.
also repeats the feat of his brother by conducting Black Dyke
to victory in 1951 on “Epic Symphony”, the same piece that his
father had tasted victory with in 1938.
bands that took place in the Finals before each of the Wars
had strange names. What
ever became of Hucknell Temperance, Rise Carr, Crooke, Ferndale,
Silverdale, Gossage Soap Works, Tonyrefail, Barton Cycle Works
after World War One?
Band became the first and only band to be disqualified at the
Finals in 1906 – for what we are not sure.
what happened to bands such as Upper Norwood, Birtley St. Joseph's,
Metropolitan Works, Gwauncaegurwen, Baxendales, Blyth LNER,
Manvers Main and Bradford City – all of whom played before the
Second World War.
actually came 6th at the Nationals in 1950! They
are still going strong in the lower sections in Wales today.
Mortimer wins the contest for the last time in 1955 with Munn
and Feltons off a 19 draw.
His record stands at nine victories – two more than his
sees the first victory for the great Major George Wilcocks who
steers Fairey’s to victory over CWS (Manchester) on “Festival
Music” by Eric Ball. He
wins the title three times before he dies in 1962.
sees the first victory for Stanley Boddington who himself goes
on to win the title four times. He steers Munn and Felton’s
to their third title success on “Variations for Brass Band”
by Vaughan Williams.
give Rex Mortimer – the third Mortimer brother the National
title in 1958. It
is Foden’s last success at the contest until 1999.
year of 1959 gives Black Dyke the title playing “Le Roi d’Ys”.
The performance becomes the stuff of legend.
Mortimer conducts both Cooperative bands at the Nationals in
1960 to 5th and 6th place.
As they were based in Manchester and Glasgow the travelling
between rehearsals in a time before motorways were opened must
have been awful.
Wilcocks last triumph with Black Dyke comes in 1961 when they
take the title with a two point victory over CWS (Manchester)
in a filed of 27 bands.
People” newspaper takes over the running of the Nationals from
the “Daily Herald” in 1964, but it was a crisis time as in 1965
one in five bands withdrew fro the Regional Contests.
contest was handed over to Vaughan Morris the following year,
and he run it without sponsorship from that date.
1954 contest sees the only time in the contests history when
five of the top six bands in the prizes play in the first seven
in the draw. Numbers
6,4,1,7 and 2 in that order fill the places with band number
14 (Brighouse) coming fourth. The
winners were Fairey.
1965 contest is won for the only time by Leonard Lamb with Fairey’s.
It also means that the band do the “Double”.
last Mortimer victory comes in 1963 with Alex and CWS (Manchester)
winning on “Belmont Variations”.
In total the Mortimer clan win the title on no less than
20 occasions, including a period of nine years in a row from
1947 to 1955.
the Cammell Laird band under James Scott come runners up at
the contest. In
1959 they had won the Fourth Section, in 1961 they won the Second
Section before coming 4th at the Championship Finals
in 1964. In 1966 they came 4th again and 6th
in 1969. By the
beginning of the 1970’s however they were gone for good.
sees the first victory for a brass band playing the new “low
pitched” instruments after Boosey and Hawkes had decided they
would no longer produce “high pitched” instruments in the previous
year. Black Dyke take the title on “Journey Into Freedom” under
“Wee Professor” – Walter Hargreaves takes the first of his two
National titles when he directs Brighouse and Rastrick to victory
in 1968. It is the bands second title since their first way
back in 1946. They
beat their traditional rivals, Black Dyke into second place
in a field of 25 bands.
sees Brighouse retain the title when they again beat Black Dyke
into second spot playing “High Peak” in a 24 band field.
Dyke are last band on, but can’t do enough and lose by
sees the first Dutch band to take the Nationals stage when the
Excelsior Band from Holland conducted by J. den Toonder play
off number 3. It
is not recorded where they come.
sees the introduction of the so-called “World Championships”
which take place on the same day as the Nationals.
Black Dyke take the title in a seven band field that
includes Fairey who come second, GUS who come third, Brighouse,
CWS (Manchester), Fodens and Concord Brass Band (Copenhagen)
who supposedly represented the whole of the rest of the world.
Nationals themselves do not include these bands and it’s Grimethorpe
who take the title under George Thompson, with a one point victory
over Ransomes, then Hanwell and Shaftesbury Crusade of Bristol
in a 16 band field.
sees it happen again, but this time GUS take the title under
Stanley Boddington playing “Energy” by Robert Simpson.
They win the title by five points from Fairey.
Brighouse are third, whilst the other “world” bands are
Black Dyke, CWS (Manchester), Foden’s and Grimethorpe.
Nationals take place on the same day without these bands and
Wingates take the title under Dennis Smith.
It is the bands fourth National title, but the first
since 1931. The
y also won in 1906 and 1907.
They take the victory from City of Coventry, Cory and
to the original set up in 1972 and Dyke win on “A Kensington
Concerto” by Eric Ball, who is in the box.
The three-point victory over GUS signals the end of an
era at Dyke as many players leave to form James Shepherd Versatile
Brass soon afterwards.
Dyke win £500 for their trouble.
£500 first prize is the biggest leap in the prize money at the
contest for many years.
Up to 1966 the winners were still paid in guineas and
from 1945 to 1966 it had remained at 200 guineas.
Ball wrote the test piece for the Finals in 1956 “Festival Music”,
1967 “Journey Into Freedom”, 1969 “High Peak” and 1976 “Sinfonietta
– The Wayfarer”. He
also adjudicated in 1960, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972,
1973, 1975 and 1983. He
also conducted the wining band in 1946, arranged the test piece
for the 1978 Finals (Checkmate by Arthur Bliss) and judged at
the World Championships in 1971. Some record.
Scott recorded his only National title success in 1973 on “Freedom”
by Hubert Bath. They
pip CWS (Manchester) to the title by a point off an early number
7 draw in a 19 band field.
following year off the same draw as reigning champions James
Scott and Brighouse only manage to come 5th as Cory
and Arthur Kenney become the first non English band to win the
National title. They
win by a clear two-point margin over Grimethorpe.
were conducted on the day by Elgar Howarth, who although he
never wins the title has a pretty good record of near misses.
He comes second in 1974, third in 1972 and fifth in 1976.
1973 contest should have seen the bands play “Contest Music”
by Wilfred Heaton. It
is stopped, as it is believed to be too “modern” and replaced
by “Freedom”. It
appears as the set test in 1982.
– 1977 sees Black Dyke reign supreme at the contest with a “hat
trick” of wins – the first two by three point winning margins
and the last by five points.
Peter Parkes conducts a superb band that takes the title
for a fourth time in five years in 1979 by another five point
Parkes has a phenomenal record of success at the Nationals since
making his debut in 1975.
He has won the contest on no fewer than seven occasions,
the last in 1993.
Dyke’s absence in 1978 sees Yorkshire Imperial Metals under
Dennis Carr take the title for the only time in their history
when they beat Besses O’ th’ Barn to take the trophy. Besses
come second off the number 1 spot – the first time in the contests
history that a band playing first had come in the first two
return in 1979 to take their fourth title and the increased
prize money of £650 from Cory in second (five points behind).
Tredegar in 6th place are 16 points behind
the winners in 21 band field.
1980’s start with an increase of the prize money to £2000 for
the winners, who are Brighouse and Rastrick under Derek Broadbent
who stop Black Dyke winning their fifth consecutive crown.
Brighouse are drawn 19 and Dyke 20, but it’s a repeat
of 1968 and 1969 as Brighouse thwart the Queensbury band.
get revenge on “Blitz” the following year as Brighouse must
take second place. William
Relton makes his second appearance in the box after his debut
to have made an appearance in the box in the 1970’s include
Havelock Nelson, Eric Bravington, Kenneth Dennison, Trevor Sharpe,
Buxton Orr, George Evans, Vilem Tausky, Joseph Horovitz, Ernest
Tomlinson and Noel Cox.
Cory years begin in 1982 when they take the title home to Wales
for the second time on “Contest Music”.
Dyke is pipped again, but some other new bands start
to come to the fore as well.
OTS start to appear regularly in the prizes under a chap called
Howard Snell, as do Jones and Crossland, Sun Life and Leyland
achieve the “Hat trick” in 1984 when they win on “Dances and
Arias” by Edward Gregson. It is the second time Gregson has
composed the set test for the Finals.
Cory away, the title goes back to Yorkshire in 1985 when Black
Dyke wins on “Cloudcatcher Fells”.
David Read makes his first appearance in the box with
Bram Gay and Sir David Willcocks.
Fairey’s win in 1986, the contest becomes the property of Desford,
who win in 1987,88,89 and 1991.
The latter win in particular needs a mention as they
win off a number 3 draw.
(Glasgow) become the first Scottish Band to take the title in
1990 when they pip Fodens to take the cup over the border.
They repeat the feat in 1996.
take National crown for the second time in 1992 when under intense
media scrutiny they take the title but lose their jobs.
sees Williams Fairey take the title on Bourgeois’s “Devil and
the Deep Blue Sea”. It
is the third time he composes the finals set test and does it
again in 1999. The
pieces used have been, “Blitz” in 1981, “Diversions for Brass
Band” in 1986, “Devil” in 1993 and “Concerto No 1” in 1999.
1993 win sees 5 of the top 6 play in the first half of the contest,
with bands 9,8,7,4 and 1 coming in the prizes. Only Grimethorpe
off number 17 get a look in from the second half of the field
of 21 bands, as Tredegar, Sun Life, BNFL and CWS (Glasgow) fill
and 1995 see the last two Black Dyke victories at the contest
under the baton of James Watson.
Yorkshire Building Society band announce themselves as
contenders as they come 3rd in 1994 and 2nd
in 1995. They too
have yet to win.
Watson has a superb record at the Nationals with victories on
six occasions – four with Desford and two with Black Dyke.
He has also conducted the Parc and Dare band at the finals
as well as taking Brighouse and Rastrick to 5th place
only woman to conduct at the Finals was Mrs Barbara Stone who
conducted Hanwell bands in 1977 and 1978.
She will be joined this year by Mrs Catherine Underwood,
who will be taking Kidlington Concert Brass.
and Rastrick won the titles in both 1997 and 1998 conducted
by Allan Withington, but were pipped from making it a “hat trick”
in 1998 when they came second to Foden’s Courtois who won the
title in their centenary year and the first time in 41 years.
Brighouse have won the title on seven occasions.
most wins belong to Black Dyke with 18, the Foden’s with 11,
Fairey’s with 7, Brighouse with 7 and Munn and Feltons (GUS)
with 6. Cory have 5, as do St. Hilda and Wingates and Desford
have 4 apiece.
top conductor is William Halliwell with 11 victories, followed
by Harry Mortimer on 9, Peter Parkes and Fred Mortimer on 7,
James Watson on 6, William Rimmer on 5, Stanley Boddington and
Arthur Kenney on 4 and Alex Mortimer and Major George Willcocks
top marks awarded to the winners since 1945 have been 99 points
for Grimethorpe in 1992.
BAYV Cory in 2000, Desford in 1988, Black Dyke in 1977
and Fodens in 1950 have all been awarded 198 points.
The lowest winning score was 180 points to Fairey’s when
they won in 1945.
the past 26 years William Relton has appeared in the box on
17 times, whilst David Read has appeared 11 times.
John Wallace has appeared three times, Bram Gay four
times, whilst Roy Newsome will be making his fourth appearance
and Nicholas Childs are the first set of brothers to win the
National title in consecutive years since Alex and Harry Mortimer
in 1950 and 1951 – exactly 50 years ago.
John Childs, the brothers father, also conducted Tredegar
band to 6th place at the National Finals in 1977
First Prize of £2000 has been in place since 1980. On the economic
fact that money loses half it’s value every ten years, the top
prize is now only worth in reality £400 – less than was on offer
in 1972. In real
terms it should be around £8000.
the competing bands that were at the Final last year, the top
four are automatically invited back.
The only bands from 2000 not to qualify again this year
are, Bodmin, Desford, Ever Ready, First City Brass, Grimethorpe
and Unison Kinneil.