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Chapel en le Frith Town Band
The brass band has been part of the cultural life of Chapel-en-le-Frith probably for at least 150 years since the middle of the 19th Century when the standardisation of instrumentation was adopted by groups of brass musicians in the towns and villages of the North of England.
In later years, the brass band movement swept across the British Isles and eventually to many countries around the world where it thrives today
Groups of musicians, playing brass, reed and string instruments, provided music for services in Churches and at community social functions in Chapel-en-le-Frith in the earlier centuries.
However, it is believed that a particular group of brass players which had provided music at Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Church formed themselves into the Town Band in 1882 when their services were no longer required at the church following the installation of the organ.
Brass bands were hugely popular sources of entertainment in the 19th century and it is often said that there were some 40,000 in existence in Britain around 1900.
In the early part of the 20th century, a number of bands were active in and around Chapel-en-le-Frith, including the Town Band and the Volunteer Band, and there were also bands in Castleton, Chinley and Bugsworth, as well as Whaley Bridge, Dove Holes, Peak Dale and Fairfield.
There was great rivalry between the bands and there are stories of competitions between them, which involved playing while marching up the steep cobbled incline of Church Brow.
By the end of the Second World War only the Chapel-en-le-Frith Town Band survived in the township and at that time it entered one of the most successful periods of its history.
In the late 1940s the Town Band gained Championship status at various competitions in the North of England and competed at the prestigious Belle Vue Championships, Manchester, against the cream of the country's brass bands, under the direction of Mr Frank Moss, a local musician.
For major competitions, the band was frequently coached by some of the country's leading band conductors, including the members of the legendary Mortimer family, including Fred Mortimer, conductor of the famous Foden's Motor Works Band, and two of his sons, Harry and Alex.
In the early 1950s, Mr Moss and a number of players left the Town band to form the Ferodo Works Band, based in the town, where, for several years, they were generously supported by the company.
The Ferodo Band became one of the country's top bands, winning the Belle Vue Championships in 1955 under the direction of George Hespe. But the Town Band, recovering from the loss of players to Ferodo, itself attained a high standard winning the National Championship of Great Britain (Second Section) in London in the same year, under the direction of Mr Joe Cooke, another local musician.
After a period of several years, the Ferodo company withdrew its sponsorship and the works band folded. For the past 50 years, the Town Band has fulfilled engagements throughout the district and competed in competitions throughout the country, providing entertainment for audiences, introducing many young people to the joys of music-making and helping to raise many thousands of pounds for various charitable causes within the locality.
In the 1980s, the band flourished with an influx of many young people under the direction of Mr Gordon Booth, a former Royal Marines bandsman.
In 1994 he and his wife Jean were awarded a Dedicated Service award in recognition of their services over 11 years. Following his retirement, the band continued to progress under the direction of Mr Geoffrey Bradley, of Tintwistle, and later Mr Peter Christian, of New Mills, a former member of the Black Dyke Mills, Foden's and Fairey Aviation Works bands.
Competing in the National Championships, the band performed at a number of leading venues, including the Wembley Arena, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, progressing from the Fourth to the Second Section of the competition.
In October 2000, the band, conducted by Mr Christian, competed for the first time in its history at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in the finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain (Second Section) representing the Midland Region.
In the Summer of 2002 the Town Band initiated a highly successful Proms in the Park event at the Memorial Park which raised a substantial sums for various charities, including the High Peak Hospice, Prostate Cancer research, and The Children's Society's Safe in the City initiative.
In 2004 the Band, under the musical direction of Aidan Howgate, a graduate of University of Salford music faculty, introduced a Cool2playbrass education project aimed at strengthening membership and encouraging young people to take up brass playing.
A junior band called SK23 has been formed along with a learners group called Brass Monkeys. Already young learners have graduated to the senior band.
The band returned to the contesting stage on the 10th February 2008 at the BEMBBA Contest held in Derby. The band came a very respectable 3rd which truly signals its return to form!