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Besses Boys march towards 75th anniversary

Besses Boys Band will start their 75th anniversary celebrations at the forthcoming Whit Friday march contests.

bESSES bOYS
  Besses Boys Band started in 1943 and went onto to win the National Youth Championships

Besses Boys Band will officially launch their 75th anniversary celebrations this weekend at the famous Whit Friday march contests in Tameside and Saddleworth.

It will mark the start of a number of different commemorative events and projects over the coming months cumulating in a reunion concert and exhibition in October.

War time beginnings

The band was conceived during the darkest days of the Second World War by two members of the famous Besses o' th' Barn Band, Fred Cowburn and Nathan Snape.

They passionately believed that the way for it to survive was to train young people in musicianship, as the stark reality of wartime service had meant that no less than thirteen senior players left the band during the war years.

Initially a 'nursery class' was formed with four lads, Jim Cowburn, Rowland Curless, Harold Galloway and Stan Warburton, but soon grew and was recognised as Besses Boys' Band on October 11th 1943 by the Alex Owen Brass Band Festival Committee.

They went on to become a pioneering ensemble, winning the National Youth Band Championship of Great Britain on five occasions between 1945 and 19504BR

National champions

The boys initially played carols in local streets during Christmas before the boys' first official engagement was held in July 1944.

They went on to become a pioneering ensemble, winning the National Youth Band Championship of Great Britain on five occasions between 1945 and 1950, before becoming a highly respected adult band.

A special 75th Anniversary Concert will take place at The Victoria Hall in Bolton in October later this year which will feature the current band and a reunion-massed band, open to all former band members.

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Mike Sheppard

B.A. (Hons) Music
Composer, conductor, teacher, author