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Blackburn and Darwen Band
The Blackburn and Darwen Band can trace its roots to 1840, with the formation of the Darwen Temperance Band. This band was established on strict teetotal principles. In the event of breaking a pledge of abstinence a member had to pay a fine of 2s, 6d, for the first offence, for the second offence he would pay 5s and the third time he was expelled. How the band has changed over the years! It is believed that a couple of the founder members had to re-mortgage their own houses in order to buy their instruments.
At first the band had no rehearsal room and therefore they had to practise in various member's houses. Finally they were able to move to a bandroom in Foundry Street, Darwen.
The greatest achievement as a Temperance band was in 1856, taking part in the National Finals at Crystal Palace.
Each of the band members had their railway fare paid by the Crystal Palace Company. These judges chose the best bands out of the sixty to play inside the Palace for the prizes, and Darwen Temperance were among the ones selected. Therefore not only the band but also Darwen as a whole was honoured. Each band had to choose its own pieces, and the Darwen Temperance Band played "Worthy is the Lamb," and "Amen", from the "Messiah". The Darweners were loudly applauded by the audience, but were sadly not successful in carrying off any prizes.
In 1901 the band changed from the Darwen Temperance Band to Darwen Borough Prize Band. However, the exact reason is unknown. The band struggled to survive due to the effects of World War I. Local rivals Pickup Bank (formerly Hoddlesden Shepherds Brass band) gained the upper hand, partly due to backing from local firm Carus mills. Following World War II Hoddlesden also struggled to find players. In 1950 It was requested that both bands have a joint committee meeting to discuss the shortage of players. The conclusion was that both bands amalgamated to form the Darwen and Hoddlesden Silver band. In 1965 the Darwen British Legion offered the band the use of its premises for rehearsals. The band therefore became Darwen British Legion band.
In the early seventies the band changed its name to Darwen band, and under this name had its greatest success. In 1979 the band won the 4th Section National Finals in London and quickly progressed through the 3rd and 2nd sections to achieve Championship status in 1984. All this was under the musical direction of Gordon Clough who conducted the band from 1977 - 1985. Our finest result under Gordon was a magnificent 4th place in the Championship Section of the North West Area National Qualifying Contest.
Alec Evans, the resident conductor at Besses o'th Barn band at that time, then joined us and led us to our finest victory to date: 1987 Grand Shield Winners, beating Swinton under renowned conductor David King by 3 clear points!
In 1986 the band secured support from Blackburn council and was consequently renamed the Blackburn & Darwen Band.
In 1991 we won three local contests on the trot and qualified for London (2nd section) as well. Our conductor at that time was John Anderson who had been resident conductor at Grimethorpe. We played superbly at London but only managed a disappointing 6th place.
On our next (and most recent) visit to London we were under the direction of Paul Dalton. This was in 1994 but again we were unsuccessful.
The band had a rather lean patch after Paul moved with Ted Tarling and Alan Widdop conducting and it is only in the last three or four years that we have had some success in the contesting field again under the musical guidance of Eric Landon