In possibly the most unique move in recent brass band contesting history, the Todmorden Old band has relinquished its registration as a Yorkshire Championship Section band and moved to the North West Region to compete at the forthcoming Regional contest on the 10th March in Blackpool.
Following their recent move to a new bandroom in Rochdale they applied to become a registered band within the North West Regional Qualifying Championships, and in November were accepted to compete at this years Regional Championships. The current rules allow such a move as their new bandroom is within the old county boundary of Lancashire and as such this qualifies them to enter the North West Area Contest.
Todmorden Old are a band that has made a huge impact on the contesting scene since they came under the baton of Dennis Hadfield, a musical relationship that has seen the band rise from the depths of the Fourth Section to win the Grand Shield British Open Qualification Contest, come 6th at the All English Masters and become a real competitive force in the Yorkshire Area Championship Section since 1998.
In their first year in the top section they came 10th at the Yorkshire Area and have since followed this with 4th place in 2000 and 6th place in 2001. Prior to this they had won the Fourth Section title, come second in the 3rd and 2nd Section, win the 1st Section Regional title and win the 1st Section National title by 6 clear points.
The move in many ways reverses the geographical anomaly that saw the old Todmorden band actually rehearse on the old political boundary that separated Yorkshire form Lancashire before Local Government reorganisation in 1974. The old bandroom actually straddled the old boundaries between the old counties.
The move also means that the band will compete at the North West Area Contest at a time when two of the foremost bands there have already pre qualified for the London Finals, even though there have been moves by them not to compete because of this. No news has reached us yet of whether the Regional Committee has agreed to Fodens and Williams Fairey’s proposal to stage a fund raising concert to help raise funds for qualifying bands from the lower sections to help them meet expenses for their own finals in September.
The Championship Section Contest will therefore see two further bands qualify for the finals from the North West from a fairly strong field that will include bands such as Besses, Leyland, Wingates, Freckleton, Mossley, Ashton Under Lyne, BT and Stalybridge. Todmorden can justifiably think that they would have a pretty good chance against the opposition given that two places have already been automatically awarded and they could in fact come 4th and still get the invitation to compete at London come November.
Dennis Hadfield explained to 4BR that it was the matter of where the band now rehearsed that meant that they decided they competed in the North West, and not as many sceptical people thought as it was an easier way to try and qualify for London.
“We are sad to move away from Yorkshire, especially in light of our record through the Sections over the years and our performances in the top flight since 1998. The move to Rochdale means that we fall within the boundaries of Lancashire and the North West Area and as the majority of our players come from the area it was only fair and proper that we registered to play in the appropriate Area Contest. The move has been undertaken in the proper way and we are now looking forward to competing in a very hard contest in March. It’s certainly no easier than Yorkshire.”
And so Todmorden Old will line up in Blackpool and not Bradford to play “Whitsun Wakes” and in doing so will raise the entry level to 12 bands in the North West whilst Yorkshire’s top section will be reduced to 15 bands.
There is of course no substance to the rumours that because of this move other bands may be changing postcodes to Cornwall or using a PO Box address in London to try and secure an easier passage to London. Perish the thought.