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Chadderton and District Band
First Brass Band
Brass bands are a notable feature of many northern textile towns, and Chadderton is no exception. The earliest band, of which there are records, is that which existed at Healds Green in the 19th century. It is believed that this band's origins may have gone back to the 18th century. It later moved to central Chadderton where, as Chadderton Brass Band, it played local heroes out to the Boer War in 1899. It also welcomed home from the Olympic Games, in the early decades of the 20th century, Henry Taylor, the local champion swimmer.
When the First World War was declared, virtually all members of the Chadderton Band enlisted. These included one of the trombonists, James Moore, who at 49 was the oldest man to enlist in the Oldham Pals, the local battalion of the Manchester Regiment.
A social club, known as the Chadderton Band Club, was opened in Chadderton on Radclyffe Street, Busk, and this was probably associated with the above band. The urban renewal of the 1960's, meant the demolition of this clubroom, but a replacement was built on Bentley Street, not far from the town hall. This survived until its closure and demolition in the late 1990's. However, long before this period, Chadderton Band Club had ceased to have any connection with local bands.
Origins of Chadderton and District Band
During the later years of the Chadderton Brass Band, a second local band was being formed at Busk under the title of the 9th Boys Brigade Band. The bandsmen were taught the rudiments of music on the blackboard, for at first there were no instruments! One of the original members, Joe Mills, (now deceased) was then very active in the band! Early in 1927, a set of instruments came into the possession of the band, and progress was such that they were able to put themselves on show at the Brigade camp held in the autumn of that year.
Changes in the leadership of the Brigade led to the sale of the instruments, but determination by a group of the members led to the acquisition of another set from the Manchester firm of Thomas Reynolds. The band was reformed about 1932, and with these new instruments came the new name of Busk Congregational Prize Band.
The first music teacher was Mr. T. Powell, of Ogden Street, Chadderton. On his death the position was filled by Mr. J. H. White of Newton Heath, who had to travel more frequently from Manchester, to give lessons, as the band grew in numbers. Although he only charged 7s. 6d [37½p], the band could often only afford to pay his bus fare!
During the Second World War many members were called up to serve in the armed forces, and this caused considerable disruption to the band. Some of the instruments were loaned out to the Chadderton Sea Cadets, a move which prevented them deteriorating.
At the end of the war the band re-formed, and were joined by members of the former Chadderton Brass Band. The band now rehearsed in the newly built Chadderton Congregational Church on Garforth Street, but as this was not very convenient, due to rehearsals and church activities coinciding, the band had to move to other venues around the area.
Official Town Band
The band sought permanent premises for rehearsals, and in the 1950's, the former Chadderton Urban District Council offered them council facilities, with the invitation that the band change its name to Chadderton and District Band. This they did, becoming Chadderton's official town band, and they have continued to meet in the upper lecture rooms of the central library ever since.
Honours and Successes
In past years the band took part in many contests, but presently does not participate so frequently. On six occasions they took part in the London finals of the National Contest, the band being in Section 3 or Section 4. They have also enjoyed minor successes at Belle Vue, Manchester, Bolton, and Haslingden where they won on two occasions. Although the band is not active in contests it still takes to the road on Whit Friday, the day when brass bands come into their own as they march through nearby Saddleworth. In the late 1960's, Chadderton Band were placed higher than the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band, who were then the reigning National Champions. On two successive occasions they won the local prize at the Greenfield Whit Friday Contest in Saddleworth.
Many players who started with Chadderton have subsequently moved on to First Section bands. Most of them gained their fundamental grounding under William Orcher, Chadderton's one-time conductor, who was a founder member of the band. Bill is well respected and admired by all who have known him, and has been congratulated for his method of teaching young players. A former pupil of his was to be recognised as possibly the finest soprano cornet player in the country.
In 1983, Joe Mills and Bill Orcher were honoured by the Chadderton Band, and the North-West Brass Band Association, for their services to the band movement.