Black Dyke Band reunited with Queensbury march

The original score to arguably the most famous signature march in the banding world has returned to its musical home.

  John Clay presented Prof Nicholas Childs with the score at a recent band rehearsal

The original score to arguably the most famous brass band march in the world has returned to its musical home.

'Queensbury' has been Black Dyke Band's signature march for well over 80 years — with the opening bars of James Kaye's composition as familiar to any brass band fan as any test piece.

Written around 1938, the unnamed work was rumoured to have been offered to two other bands who rejected it due to it being "unplayable".

Whit Friday wins

However, the legendary Black Dyke Band conductor Arthur O Pearce thought that it suited them perfectly and instructed Band Secretary Joe Wood to purchase it for the sum of £3 and 3 shillings (3 guineas) in time for it to be performed at the 1939 Whit Friday contests.

Following six victories on the day it was subsequently named 'Queensbury' with the title written on the brown paper cover of the score and details of the victories on the back.

Under Pearce, the band went on to record the march for the first time at the Maida Vale studios in July 1939, as well as to mark their 100th radio broadcast in 1943.

Thought lost

It had been thought that the score, which had been gifted to Arthur O Pearce by the composer, had long been lost.

However, thanks to the work of former principal cornet player and historian John Clay, it was found that it was still in the possession of his grand-daughter Kathleen Davies, who has gifted it back to the band alongside 40 other historic scores.


Speaking with 4BR, John said that he was delighted that the original score had been found.

"When the march was purchased, James Kaye gave it as a personal gift to Arthur O Pearce — and the rest as they say, is Black Dyke Band history.

Both would have been delighted to know just how iconic it has become around the brass band world. It is immediately recognisable."

He added: "Having visited the Pearce family home when I was younger it was incredible to see all the honours that were proudly displayed, so to find that this iconic score, which everyone thought had been lost, was such a thrill.

The wonderful generosity of the family to gift it back to the band with other scores means that it will now remain safe and treasured."

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Pearce family for this generous gift which will be proudly displayed in our heritage centre for visitors from across the world to enjoyProf Nicholas Childs

Heartfelt thanks

Speaking at the time of the presentation, the current Director of Music, Prof Nicholas Childs added: "Our heartfelt thanks go to the Pearce family for this generous gift which will be proudly displayed in our heritage centre for visitors from across the world to enjoy.

Our thanks also to John Clay for his gesture in facilitating its return. The band looks forward to preserving and showcasing this precious piece of their musical legacy for generations to come."

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