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Ebor Brass Band
The formation of York's newest brass band was not planned! Basically, it came about in return for help given to its founder by some of his friends, who then needed a band to play in themselves, but for reasons of their own did not want to play in any of the established bands.
The founder of the Band was Brian Henderson, who was born in 1952 and at the age of twelve decided he wanted to learn to play a brass instrument. He therefore went to the York Railway Institute and received lessons from the late Mr Fred Holmes. He progressed into the Junior Band and when Fred Holmes retired from the Band in l967 he had his first experience of teaching learners by default. Once his 'O' levels were over, he progressed into the Senior Band, but still continued teaching the learners, and over the years has taught literally hundreds of people of all ages to play brass instruments.
In l979 he was asked by one of his friends in the Senior Band to take over conducting another band, which he agreed to do. It was agreed that some of his friends (who were experienced players) would assist him in this task by playing alongside the existing band members. As a result, the Band improved rapidly, but after about six months, there was a change of policy, to the effect that only members of the organisation to which the Band belonged could be members of the Band. Effectively, this meant that Brian's five friends had to leave the band. Although he was not a member of the organisation, he was told that he could remain as Conductor,k but he decided to remain loyal to his friends and left also. As a result, on 1st March l980 these six people decided they would try and form a band of their own, and 'Ebor Brass' was born. The Band was formed out of loyalty, and this quality is still of paramount importance today.
The Band had no name, nowhere to rehearse, no music and very few instruments. After much discussion it was felt that the name should reflect the City in which it was based. 'York City Brass Band' was suggested, but it was felt that this would require the permission of the City Council, which may not have been forthcoming in those early days because of the lack of members and uncertainty of the future of the Band. It was, therefore, decided that the next best thing would be for the Band to be called 'Ebor Brass'; 'Ebor' being an abbreviation of 'Eboracum', the Roman name for York.
As only two of the five players had instruments of their own and the Band did not have any music stands or music, Brian had to purchase these items from his own funds. The Band had nowhere to rehearse, but in view of the fact that Brian was still a playing member of the York Railway Institute Band and teaching learners for that Band, they allowed 'Ebor Brass' to use their rehearsal room until they could find one of their own.
After a few months, they managed to hire a church hall in Dalton Terrace two nights a week, where they remained for the next two years, following which they then moved to a room in Micklegate. With the assistance of Cyril Waite (who was a local Councillor at the time), the Band became affiliated to the Youth Services, who provided them with rehearsal facilities at Oaklands School, where they have remained ever since.
In those early days, it was difficult not to become despondent, as when you only have a few members to start with, if any are missing from rehearsals, then it does not leave many players. As with anything, there were always those who were quick to 'knock' the Band. However, others were very supportive, and enough cannot be said in gratitude for the encouragement and assistance given to the Band by the late Fred Bradbury, who was leading figure and driving force in the brass band movement in the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association.
As more people joined the Band, instruments still had to be purchased from funds loaned to the Band by Brian Henderson. However, eventually the Band had grown large enough to be able to give public performances, and the funds received were used to finance the Band.
However, in l982, Brian Henderson was transferred by his employers to Bristol, and then to Newcastle, Enfield and Croydon, before being transferred back to York in l990. Whilst he was working away from York, he continued to manage the Band and he attended rehearsals and public performances most weekends, whenever he could. Derek Warley (one of the original members of the Band) took over as Conductor, and the Band continued to progress and successfully entered a local competition under his leadership. He was succeeded by John Atkin, who in tern was succeeded by Shaun Murphy.
Whilst Brian was working away, however, there was no-one to teach the learners, which in turn lead to a decline in the size of the Band. When he returned to York in l990, there were only six members left in the Band, and it was therefore necessary to once again set about rebuilding the Band.
The Band is always looking for people of any age who want to learn to play brass instruments. All lessons and instruments are provided free of charge, and all this is asked in return is that they remain loyal to the Band by playing in it once they have reached the required standard, which the majority of them do.
The Band meets for rehearsals in the hall at Westfield School on Monday and Friday evenings from 6.30 to 800 pm. Anyone interested in joining the Band or learning to play a brass instrument should contact Brian Henderson on (01904) 798616.