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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



The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - EYMS Brass Band at Hull City Hall

Saturday 20 January • Hull City Hall. 67 Carr Lane,. Kingston upon Hull HU1 3RQ


Black Dyke Band - Morley Town Hall

Saturday 20 January • Morley Town Hall, Morley, Leeds LS27 8DX


Wantage Silver - Gary Curtin

Saturday 20 January • Reading Central Salvation Army RG1 7JR


The Hepworth Band - Soprano Sarah Ogden

Sunday 21 January • Christ Church, Sude Hill, New Mill, Holmfirth HD9 7BL


The Fairey Band -

Sunday 21 January • The Hawth Theatre. Hawth Avenue. Crawley. RH10 6YZ RH106YZ


Strata Brass

January 20 • Bb/Eb BASS.Rehearsals SUN/WED,bandroom 5 mins from J35/36 M1 (Hoyland).. Yorkshire 1st Section under dynamic MD Jonathan Bates (Solo Horn - Fodens Band).. Sensible concert/contest schedule.


Sandhurst Community Brass

January 20 • We would be delighted to hear from any tenor horn players who are looking to join an enthusiastic, very friendly band. Any other players can apply, we can find a space for you


Ilkeston Brass

January 20 • We are looking for a Tenor and Bass Trombone plus 1st Baritone. All other positions are always welcome.. Under MD Geoff Hawley we have a sensible mix of concerts and a few contests per year. . Rehearsals Thursday and Sunday evenings just off M1 J25/26.


Nicholas B. Hudson

FTCL LGSMD (Hons)
Musician | Trombonist | Educator