Time Team - August 2008


4BR goes back 40 years to find out what was happening in the banding world during the Summer months of 1968...

This month we go back in time to the hot summer of 1968 (we think it was hot anyway). 

It was the year of Flower Power, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Richard Nixon in the White House, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, West Brom winning the FA Cup and Lester Piggott winning the Derby on Sir Ivor.

In the banding world it was the time of Challenging Brass, the GUS Footwear Quartet winning a hat trick of National titles, over 100 bands at the Spring Festival, Vinter’s ‘John O’Gaunt’ for the British Open, Vaughan Morris in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, and the centenary of Granville Bantock’s birth.

Plenty going on...

Black Dyke
Paul McCartney meets the most famous band in the world...

However, with the quiet period of the Summer hols there was still plenty going on in the brass band world…

At the beginning of the July Paul McCartney (referred to in British Bandsman as ‘The Beatle’) had just met the Black Dyke Band to record ‘Thingumebob’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’.


Meanwhile a young (and kilted) Philip McCann had got married, whilst there were some very prescient and timely words from the grave, published in an extract from British Bandsman of January 1910 about adjudicators.

”As judges we must have men of education, those who keep themselves abreast of the times from a musical point of view.

It is necessary for a judge to study the possible effects in a selection as for the conductor,and the really conscientious man will always endeavour to do so.”

When asked whether or not a judge should give up his notes immediately after the awards have been presented, the man in question replied: “Certainly not. I think it is ridiculous. Some men make abbreviated remarks and must rewrite them for the compositor. I myself must go through my notes again, otherwise the pressmen would have a fit!”

William RimmerAs for having more than one judge in the tent?

”I consider judges are best left alone. Band Committees are responsible for the selection of these gentlemen and if they deem them incompetent they should not appoint them. The remedy lies entirely in their own hands.”

The man with the very forthright views was in fact one William Rimmer (right).

Brass Band Queen

Meanwhile a possible sign of the times was that a young lady called Mavis Jordan, aged 22 had been crowned ‘Brass Band Queen of Great Britain’, and Albert Jakeway tried to get in on the exciting space race by composing a new march called, not surprisingly, ‘The Astronaut’.

Whatever happened to them both we wonder?

It was also announced that Vilem Tausky, Chief Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra was lined up to conduct the massed bands at the Royal Albert Hall. In addition to the bands of CWS (Manchester), Grimethorpe, Luton, Shaftesbury Crusade and Wingates, John Clough and Derek Garside were to be the featured soloists as well as the hat trick winning GUS Quartet.

Latest releases

Pye Records

Latest Releases on the famous Pye Record Label

Latest releases on the ‘Top Brass’ label from Pye Records included ‘The Champions’ by Black Dyke Mills Band; ‘Brass from Brighouse’ by their great rivals and the then World Champions, as well as a release called ‘Patterns in Brass ‘ by the Crossley Carpets Works Band.

Bands listed as ‘Playing in the Parks’ during the July and August period were the likes of Eastbourne Silver, Hammonds Sauce, Bradford Victoria, Derby Railway Works, Hanwell, Barnet, Sheffield Recreation and Kippax Old.

Like many of these bands, the venues themselves are now just ciphers of a bygone age – Wallasey, Worthing, Minehead, Mansfield, Ilkeston, Golders Hill and Bishop Park.

A man of promise

GregsonMeanwhile, The British Federation of Brass Bands met at Belle Vue to discuss such items as publicity and finances, whilst demand for tickets for the National Finals was such that a classified advert in British Bandsman read: “Wanted. National Finals Contest tickets. Cash by return!”

Strangely, there was also the first introduction to the banding world of a young composer by the name of Edward Gregson (right)  – ‘…a young man of outstanding promise and talent’ as he was described.

He was due to fill in as guest Editor of British Bandsman during August 1968, whilst a young tenor horn player called Kevin Wadsworth was the first recipient of the Pye Records Trophy awarded at the National Youth Brass Band course in St Helier in Jersey.

Where are they now?

Conservative bandsmen

The month of August closed with the startling news that an article in ‘The Composer’ magazine by John Golland had described bandsmen as ‘ultra conservative’ “They are possibly the world’s worst for condemning without first trying or listening’, the writer remarked.


Even 40 years later, some things never change…


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