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2011 North of England Regional Championship — Darlington preview

Numbers are down in the North of England — but the appetitive for banding remains as strong as ever.

Dolphin CentreThere is always is lovely warm welcome for visitors to the North of England Regional Championships – but behind the smiles there must be concern that there won’t be as much music making to enjoy this weekend as there has been in the past.

Cold chill

A cold chill has blown through some bands in the area since 2010 – a chill that this year sees just 39 competitors making it to the starting line ups over the two days. 

It’s the lowest number since the Miners strike of 1983.

Hit harder

The area has been hit harder than just about anyone else – there were 52 bands here in 2003 - and despite the hard work of Alan Hope and his committee, there must be concern that after a couple of years of progress an area with such a rich banding heritage has seemingly taken a step back.

This year there is no Flookburgh, Barrow Shipyard, Kirkby Lonsdale, North Skelton, Craghead, Spennymoor or Stape – although there is the welcome return of Lockwood.

Numbers down

Whatever the reasons, numbers are down, whilst contesting success have been disappointing too –the qualifiers for both London and Harrogate returned home less successful than in 2009, with just the one top six finish.

There are no bands at the British Open, only one at the Grand Shield, no promotions from the other Blackpool contests, no real appearances of note at Pontins or Butlins in any sections either. 

Strangely, even the big money Doctor Martin Entertainment event last year (with a top prize of £4,000) didn’t attract a great deal of local participation either.

2010 really was a step back after two significant steps forward in 2008 and 2009.

Not all doom and gloom


However, not all is doom and gloom, with the fledgling grass roots showing promise at the likes of NASUWT Riverside Concert, who enjoyed a wonderful experience at Harrogate, as well as emerging bands such as Catterick Brass, South Milford and Barton, and young conductors such as Jonathan Fenwick, Brendan Wheeler and Steve Malcolm amongst many.

The organisation as always is first class and the appetite to listen to banding remains undiminished (just look at the turn out at Brass in Concert) – its just that the locals haven’t had much to cheer about in the last 12 months.

Lets hope that starts to change this weekend.

Iwan Fox



Lofthouse Brass Band - Mayor's Annual Charity Concert

Monday 23 April • Ossett Town Hall, Market Place, Ossett WF5 8BE WF5 8BE


Regent Hall Concerts - Clarendon Brass Ensemble

Friday 27 April • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


Egremont Junior Band - Egremont Town Band and Workington Town Band

Friday 27 April • Workington CA14 3AW


Wotton and District Silver Band - Tom Hutchinson

Saturday 28 April • St Mary's Church, Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire GL12 7LS


Black Dyke Band - Lincoln Cathedral

Saturday 28 April • Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PX


Silver Spectrum Wind Band

April 24 • Brass Players wanted for established Sheffield based wind band. MD George Morton.. Rehearsals Mondays 7:30 to 9:30 pm. We enter the NCBF festival where we have gained many gold awards and on one occasion a platinum.. Wind players also welcome to apply.


The Corsham Band

April 24 • With a solid result in our first year in the Second Section at the Regional Contest, the band are now looking for an experienced Front Row Cornet Player to join our friendly and enthusiastic team.


Hathern Band

April 23 • Hathern Band are looking for a PRINCIPAL EUPHONIUM to join their Championship Section Band. This position has become vacant because the present player wishes to retire. We are looking for a committed player to fill this key seat. www.hathernband.co.uk.


Jonathan Pippen


Conductor, Adjudicator, Trombone Soloist & Clinician