The organisers of the All England International Masters Championship have confirmed to 4BR that they have taken the decision to cancel the 2018 contest.
Speaking to 4BR, Philip Biggs said that despite extensive efforts by Richard Franklin and himself over the past six months, they had reluctantly concluded that the event, which was to be held at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering on 27th May, was no longer viable.
Explore other avenues
4BR understands that due to the close proximity of the British Open Spring Festival in Blackpool, a number of bands had withdrawn.
"It's been a difficult decision to make, although we are determined to explore other avenues to host the event in 2019, " Philip said.
"A few years ago we had to cancel the contest due to circumstances beyond our control, but returned. I am a banding optimist so we will now look into a number of other options to hopefully seek its return in 2019."
Philip confirmed that bands which entered this year will be refunded their entry fees in full.
"We have enjoyed great support from bands over the years and we would like to place on record our thanks to them all. We will be keeping people updated of progress."
The Masters first took place in 1989 at the Corn Exchange Theatre in Cambridge, and quickly established itself as a major championship event for the very best English bands.
With the exception of Black Dyke the generous prize fund and its uniquely steamy, packed contest day atmosphere — both in the hall and at the nearby pub, attracted the very best top flight English bands, with Leyland DAF claiming the inaugural title.
However, despite the efforts of the the organisers, the contest couldn't gain the approval of the European Brass Band Association to become the recognised qualification route for an English representative to the European Championships.
In 2005 amid much controversy, the event opened its doors to non-English competitors, becoming the All England International Masters Championship. In 2010 the event moved to the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering and its popularity started to wane.
Between 2006 and 2013 the contest was pitted against the short lived English National Championship, whilst in 2014 it was cancelled but returned the following year. The 2017 contest was won by the Milnrow Band.
A few years ago we had to cancel the contest due to circumstances beyond our control, but returned. I am a banding optimist so we will now look into a number of other options to hopefully seek its return in 2019Philip Biggs
One Band Manager that spoke to 4BR said that they hoped the event could be revived, although they felt it was obvious that in the last few years the contest was struggling.
"It's a real pity," they said. "It was such a major contest at its peak. I think it could be again for English banding if that qualification link can be made with the European contest, but that's the only realistic way it can carry on in the future."