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Elland Silver Band
Brass band traditions in Elland reach back more than 120 years into the past, and Elland Band has maintained these traditions over the years under a variety of names with numerous headquarters; but always with the main objective of making music in the unique brass band manner. The band has had a varied and colourful existence since its formation. It was formed during the early part of Queen Victoria's reign, at a time when it was usual to start one's working life at 10 years of age, and almost fifty years before the motor car became accepted as a form of transport. It has, over the years, been successively known as, Elland Old, Elland Victoria, Elland Silver, Greater Elland Silver, and finally since 1950 as Elland Silver.
One of the earliest engagements that can be traced was a flower show in 1866 in fields which are now Victoria Avenue.The Band has had its moments of glory and also its difficult periods, with, on a few occasions, the instruments being put into store to await more favourable times – notably during the two World Wars. Despite all its setbacks it has always made a recovery, and is still functioning and in popular demand at the present day.Probably the longest link with the Band's distant past is through Mr Joe Brearley, formerly of Oak Street, Elland, who died in 1859 aged 87, and joined what was then called Elland Victoria as a boy in 1887. Mr Brearley was also the driving force behind its re-formation in 1950, since when it has operated continuously through to the present.The Band was first formed in 1850, and was known as Elland Old for over thirty years, its name being changed to Elland Victoria - probably in connection with with Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
In those early days rehearsals were held in Elland Prison – the old goal-house opposite the Town Hall, which fell into disuse when the police station at Burley Street was opened, and was last use as a bus shelter until it was demolished in 1963. Records do not show whether rehearsals were regarded as a treat or punishment by the occupants! When Mr Tom Dearing (who was with the Band for 48 years) joined then in 1896 they were practising in a wooden hut in Jepson Lane where the Rising Sun Inn now stands, and the headquarters were moved to a warehouse in Briggate in 1902.It was also in 1902 that the Band had another change of name, this time to Elland Silver. This change also had great significance and still has to this day, because it was brought about by the purchase of a full set of new silver-plated instruments, some of which are still in use today. The story goes that, one Sunday morning due to Mr Joe Brearley's conversation with an instrument salesman at a Belle Vue contest, a complete set of brand new silver-plated instruments arrived at the bandroom. The committee were aghast, and promptly resigned rather than face the prospect of paying the bill. However, an agreement was reached to pay for them at 3 per month, the Committee resumed office, and within nine months the full purchase price had been raised. This was after having had to sell an instrument the previous year to pay the rent.The cost of this set of top-quality instruments in 1902 was 350. Today a similar set would be around 50,000.
In the years leading up to the First World War the Band made great strides forward and became well known for its efficiency. A large number of prizes were won at contest, and it was at this time classed amongst the best bands in the area.In 1921, having been interrupted by the war years, headquarters were moved to Eastgate where Jeremiah Crowther was conductor for a number of years. Four new bases were bought at this time costing 200.00, and great improvements were being made with the playing members. They were once more becoming a successful combination and some of these improvements must have been the results of Mr. Tom Dearing's efforts. He would sometimes have as many as 16 learners all at the same time at his home for practice. He then lived in Springfield Road and said that he didn't know what the neighbours thought about it - he had never asked them!
In the mid 1920's they played at Crystal Palace, conducted by Jerry Crowther, who was later succeeded by Luther Dyson. This was followowed by a very active and successful period, including a contest at Alexandra Palace in 1938 conducted by Norman Crompton, where they won second prize. Unfortunately, these activities were interrupted by the Second World War and, as many of the bandsman went into the Services, the instruments were put into the store in the care of Elland Urban District Council.
Although Elland Band was not-reformed until after the war, the instruments were brought out of store in 1941 and used by Brighouse Home Guard Band. This band was made up of a few Elland members, together with the bandsmen from surrounding districts.An attempt to re-form in Elland was made in 1946 conducted by Tom Casson, and this time know as Greater Elland Silver. This did not have lasting success and, after a further period of inactivity, the Band was finally re-established in 1950, due to mainly the efforts of Mr Joe Brearley (then 79 years of age), and once more became known as Elland Silver. The headquarters were now on the top floor of a disused warehouse in New Street, which had neither light nor heat and needed extensive renovations. Total assets at this time were 7 10s. 0d. and a tremendous effort was put into making the premises habitable, particularly by the secretary Mr Tommy Bushell, who had had associations with the band as long ago as 1911. They now had as their conductor Mr Norman Newsome, who was succeeded by his son, Roy, in the following year. They also obtained a set of uniforms with the help of a grant from Elland Urban District Council.When the New Street headquarters were due for demolition, rehearsals were held temporarily in the old Brooksbank School. until the band was offered premises at Spa Well which had formerly been used as a nursery school and were ideal bandrooms.
The band will probably be best remembered in these later years when, under the baton of Roy Newsome. In addition to a great many prizes won locally, at Belle Vue and elsewhere, it won it way to the London Finals in 1958 and went on to win the Fourth Section at Hammersmith Town Hall. At this same event Mr Newsome was presented with a Baton on Honour, and was the youngest conductor ever to receive this award.
The Elland Silver Band was reformed in 1983 and has gone from strength to strength, qualifiying for the National Finals three successive years in a row 1994, 1995 and 1996 and rising from the 4th to 2nd section under the leadership of Mr John Harrison. Since then, the band has continued to develop and succeed forming a youth band in 1995 and more recently a training band.
The building has been transformed to provide excellent training and teaching facilities. In 1996, The National Lottery provided funding to purchase a complete new set of instruments which enabled the existing instruments to be passed down to members of the youth band and learners. Membership today stands at over 75 players ageing from 6 to 70 years old, making the band one of largest community organisations within Calderdale.The band has continued its success in the contesting field and continues to improve on its achievements. The band has also featured on the Yorkshire TV drama's "Where the Heart is" and "Last of the Summer Wine".
In October 2004, the organisation produced it's first CD recording, "And All That Jazz", which includes tracks recorded by the Training band, Youth Band and Senior Band. Funds raised from concerts and subscriptions enable the band to provide every member with an instrument, music and uniforms. A remarkable achievement for an unsponsored organisation. In 2005, the band has performed some 30 concerts across the region and has competed in several competitions. The band has also just returned from a short tour of Jersey in honour of the bands president Mrs Slyvia Graucob. We are currently in the process of raising fund to enable the rebuilding of our bandroom.In recent years, the band has been conducted by Professor. Philip Wilby, Morgan Griffiths and Dr Owne Wedgwood. The bands current Musical Director is Phil Shaw