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Band Profile: Hebden Bridge
This is the History of Hebden Bridge (so far!)


Hebden Bridge band with trophies

It is not absolutely clear when Hebden Bridge Brass Band was founded but in 1978 they held their centenary celebration. It has therefore been in existence for at least 122 years. In the early days of brass banding, members were made up from the workforce of the local mills who sponsored them and they, the mill owners, in return got relatively cheap advertising for the mill and products, particularly if the bands performed well and won prizes and recognition at local and national contest.

Hebden Bridge Brand did very well in this respect and in 1911 saw its biggest contest victory becoming the 59th British Open Champions. They returned to Hebden Bridge to find the streets filled with crowds of well wishers wanting to share this great occasion with their band.    

Harry Mortimer
The name Harry Mortimer is synonymous with both brass banding and the Hebden Bridge Brass Band. He joined Hebden as a lad on 3rd Cornet when his father Fred Mortimer was the Bandmaster. An old committee minutes book reads "Master H. Mortimer is to be provided with a cornet on which to learn". He went on to become the famous cornet and trumpet player. Harry Mortimer also became a well-respected conductor and was rewarded by receiving an OBE and a CBE in the Queens Honours list for his contribution to music. The year 2002 celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth.

In 1968 the band won the 2nd section at the area contest held in Bradford each year and therefore qualified for the National Finals. The Band has had a chequered history since those days some 30 years ago with a wide range of players and conductors. However, over the past few years many dedicated players have joined and with the appointment of Mr Ian Coleman as musical director in 1996, the band has gone form strength to strength.

1998 was the bands first year in the 3rd section and we struggled somewhat in the contests we entered. The highlight was the Whit Friday Contests where we gained two 2nds, a 4th and 5th places, a good achievement considering the large number of bands that enter. 1999's contesting got off to a great start in the Yorkshire area contest at Bradford. The test piece was Eric Ball's "Main Street" and we finished in 3rd place, missing out by only one point to qualify for the National Finals. Further contests entered that year include the Whit Friday March Contests where we gained two 1st prizes for 3rd section and at Scouthead we finished 8th overall out of 58 bands.

A great experience was the band playing in scenes for the film "Fanny and Elvis" as part of the Millennium New Year celebrations in Hebden Bridge. The Film was released in October of 1999.

In the same year we performed prestigious concerts at London's Hyde and Regents parks over the August Bank Holiday.

In October the Philarmonie Royale Concordia from Ottignies in Belgium travelled to Hebden Bridge for the return visit of an exchange. A joint concert was held at the Hebden Bridge Picture House with the proceeds to the Overgate Hospice Charity.
The year 2000 saw the band only manage 8th place at the areas. Things got worse when, a week before Whit Friday, principal cornet Steve Gardner was knocked off his motorcycle and suffered a badly broken leg. Despite all protests he was not allowed out of hospital to compete! 2nd man down Phil Hadfield stepped into his shoes (ugh!) and did a superb job, with the band gaining best 3rd section band at Ashton, with some other good results in the open sections.

Later that year the band won 2nd prize in the 3rd section of Wilkinsons Northern Open, with principal Steve recovered enough to win best solo cornet (even if he did need crutches to get on stage!)

Last year the band had a disappointing result at the areas (10th), but recovered to win the third section of the Pogson Bray contest (Huddersfield). This was the last job with Ian Coleman as conductor as he had decided to hang up his baton and join the bass section.
The band was pleased to be able to appoint Mr Ian Craddock as new conductor. With his wealth of experience Mr Craddock has managed to get excellent results from the band in this last year - most recent successes include winning the 3rd section at the Yorkshire area, winning the 3rd section at Rochdale contest, 3rd at Tameside and achieving a clean sweep of Hymn Tune, March and Test Piece at the Pogson Bray contest at Huddersfield Town Hall. The band is now preparing for Whit Friday and hopes to continue this run!

The band now has a very settled membership, with many family connections. The principal Steve Gardner is married to the rep Di, principal euph Ian (the nose) Plant to solo horn Tracy, 2nd man down Phil Hadfield to 2nd horn Caroline (furry lights), 3rd cornet Mark Tempest to 1st horn Helen (indeed he learned to play as he was fed up with Helen being out with the band all the time!) 3rd man down Grant Taylor is son to Bb bass Roger (the only man who can clear a cinema with one fart), 1st baritone Rick Cowens is son to Alison on 2nd trom, who is sister to Ian Coleman on Eb bass! The band has even decided to bite the bullet and have allowed LANCASTRIANS into their ranks!

At present the band are in need of a sop, a front row standard cornet, and a percussionist so if anyone out there is interested, drop us a line on sjgardner@tesco.net

D. Gardner © 4BarsRest

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