Archived Histories of Brass Bands 
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This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.

Fodens Band

The origins of the band go back to 1900 when the village of Elworth near Sandbach in Cheshire formed its own band, having been let down in its attempts to secure the services of a local town band, to feature in the celebrations marking the relief of Mafeking in the Boer War. Two years later the original village band was dissolved but from this base, local industrialist Edwin Foden formed the Foden Motor Works Band.

From modest beginnings, the band achieved Championship status in 1908. A prestigious position which has been maintained since. Success followed shortly after with a win in the British Open Championship in 1909 at Belle Vue and second place in the National Championships. In 1910 the band went one stage further and completed the coveted "double" by winning both the British Open and National Championships in the same year.

With contest success came a growing number of public engagements and by 1912 the band was no longer able to attend minor contests. This same year the band won its third British Open Contest. On the 23rd April 1913 the band were invited to give a concert at Crewe Hall, home of the Marquess of Crewe, in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary. After the concert the King spoke to the conductor, E. Wormald, inviting the band to play the very next morning before the royal party returned to London.

During the 1914 - 1918 war the National Championships was abandoned. However, the British Open continued to be staged with the band winning for the fifth time in 1915. A tragic event was suffered during this period with the loss of the band's principal cornet Edwin Firth to the Great War.

1924 proved to be a most important year in the band's history. This was the year the Mortimer family moved to Sandbach. Alex first, followed six months later by his father Fred and brothers Harry and Rex Mortimer. Fred Mortimer was appointed Band Master with William Halliwell remaining as Professional Conductor. The band had not won a major honour for ten years so some changes in playing personnel together with a lot of hard work was undertaken to improve standards. These improvements paid off as the band won the British Open Championship in 1926 for the sixth time. This was followed with wins in 1927 and 1928 bringing the total number eight.

In 1929 William Halliwell retired as Professional Conductor after twenty years service. Fred Mortimer was then appointed to the position of Musical Director and his son, Harry Mortimer, became bandmaster.

1930 saw the band win its second National Championship. Another win in 1932 brought the band's third win in the competition followed by wins in 1933 and again in 1934. The last three consecutive wins resulted in the band being barred in 1935. This did not give the band an opportunity for rest. The summer months were usually spent touring seaside resorts followed by weeks in the London Parks and tours of Scotland. There were also radio broadcasts and recording sessions to be fitted in.

New ground was covered by the band during 1935 when they became screen stars, featured in a film entitled "The Small Man". The film was made at the Stoll Studios, London, for Universal Pictures.

The band entered the National Championships  in 1936 when the contest was won for the sixth time. After the contest the band undertook its first overseas tour spending five weeks in South Africa. The highlights being appearances at the 1936 Empire Exhibition in Johannesburg. Whilst the band was on tour disaster struck at home. The Crystal Palace, home of the National Championship since 1900, was gutted by fire. Arrangements were made for the Championship to be staged at the Alexandra Palace. In 1937 and again later in 1938 the band again won the National Championship.

Earlier in 1938 the band received its second royal honour when it was summoned to appear at Windsor Castle on the occasion of the annual parade of King's Scouts. Traditionally held during the afternoon of the Sunday nearest to St. George's Day. The band was commanded to provide a concert during the morning of the 24th of April, this being presented on the famous quadrangle in the presence of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth and their family. 1939 brought the beginning of the second World War. As in 1914 the National Championship was abandoned. In 1941 King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth made a tour of the North-West to visit bomb damaged areas during which they attended a rally held on the Crewe Alexandra Football Ground where the band provided the music.

Early in 1945 the band was asked to tour the liberated countries to give concerts for the troops. The scarlet and gold uniforms were replaced by plain khaki ones and after documentation and a final rehearsal at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, the band set off, in its own bus, on active service.

The band followed in the wake of the victorious army through France, Belgium and Holland, covering over two thousand miles and giving concerts in hospitals, convalescent camps and camps for liberated prisoners of war. Towns that had recently been in the centre of the fighting such as Lille, Melbrook, Louvaine, Antwerp, Eindhoven, ghent and Bruges were visited, sometime the band giving as many as three programmes a day and everywhere the performances were received with high appreciation and overwhelming enthusiasm.

With the return to peacetime in 1945 the National Brass Band Championship was re-established, being staged at the Royal Albert Hall where, with the exception of a couple of times when the Empress Hall was the venue, it has been held since.

In 1950 the band won the National Championship for the ninth time. During 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations a special brass band contest was arranged at Bournemouth which the band added to its list of successes by gaining first place, receiving the title of Festival of Britain Champions.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place during 1953, the band being in great demand to take part in the many celebrations held that year, included in which was a series of concerts in the London Parks. At one of these concerts, given a few days after the Coronation, the sad news from Elworth, that Fred Mortimer, who had been unable to accompany the band, had died. Harry Mortimer took over, although he was not appointed to the position of Musical Director, later in the year led the band to its tenth victory in the National Championships.

In 1955 Harry Mortimer formed the famous "Men O'Brass", a massed unit of seventy five players. In this the band joined with Fairey Aviation and Morris Motors bands to create an all star combination with which it has taken part in many prestige concerts and recording sessions.

In the following year Harry Mortimer was appointed to the post of Musical Advisor to the band, his brother Rex Mortimer taking over as Musical Director. The position of Bandmaster became obsolete although it was reintroduced for a short time between 1968 and 1971 during which the post was held by E. Gray.

In 1958 the band won the National Championship for the eleventh time which led to an appearance on the television programme "This is Your Life". The celebrity in question was the celebrated dance band leader Ted Heath. One of his life long ambitions was to conduct a brass band so who better than the National Champions! At the end of the programme this ambition was realised when he conducted the band through a rousing march. A unique event in brass band circles occurred in 1970 when Harry Mortimer celebrated sixty years of music -making, forty five of which had been in association with Fodens. A special Diamond Jubilee Concert was arranged in his honour at Belle Vue, scene of so many triumphs, at which the band ws proud to have the honour of taking part. Nostalgia flowed freely on that evening and many old bandsmen, long retired, joined in reliving memories of earlier achievements well after the concert had ended.

In 1974 Harry Mortimer resigned as Musical Adviser.  The following year Rex Mortimer retired as Musical Director, his retirement marking the end of fifty one years continuous leadership of the band by the Mortimer family. In recent years the link with the Mortimer family has been re-established with Rex Mortimer & Margaret Mortimer accepting the posts of Honorary Vice Presidents.

In January 1983 the band accepted sponsorship from Overseas Technical Services (Harrow) Limited, and was renamed the Foden OTS Band. The Managing Director, Carlton Tickell, was born in Wallasey in 1916. It was his Cheshire upbringing and his love of brass bands which led him, through his company, Overseas Technical Services, to provide the necessary sponsorship to keep Fodens as one of the finest bands in the country. Sadly, less than three weeks after his Company's association with the band commenced, on 14th December, 1982, Richard Carlton Tickell died in Beirut, where he had lived for nine years. To his memory, and in his honour, the band commissioned a March by Darrol Barry entitled "Carlton Tickell" which was regularly performed at concerts.

July, 1986 brought a further change to the band's name with the acceptance of sponsorship from The Britannia Building Society. The band becoming known as the Britannia Building Society Foden Band. This was later changed to The Britannia Building Society Band. The band's successes under this banner have included the title of European Champions in 1992, Swiss Open Champions in 1995 and All England Masters Champions on four occasions between 1990 and 1995. The band was also successful in the area of entertainment contests winning the Granada Band of the Year in 1989, Brass at the Octogon, Yeovil in 1986, 1987 and 1989, Brass in Concert at Spenymoor in 1987,  1988 & 1990 and also UK Entertainment Champions 1990.

In September 1997 a new sponsorship was negotiated with the French Instrument Company 'Antoine Courtois'. Ironically the band won the French Open Championships in 1998. Apart from Television and Radio appearance and a very busy domestic concert schedule the band has recently undertaken a number of tours in Scandinavia and Europe. Future plans for the year 2000 include trips to Holland, Flanders and Norway. On Saturday 16th October 1999 Fodens Courtois won the Boosey & Hawkes National Brass Band Championships for the twelfth time. The contest took place in the Royal Albert Hall, London. The band is again proud to be associated with the Foden family with William and David Foden both becoming Honory Vice Presidents. The name of 'Fodens' can once again be included in the band's title.

In 2003 the band became the Fodens Richardson Band when Richardson Developments of Oldbury, Birmingham took over the Sponsorship.

By the end of 2007 and the start of 2008 the Foden band were again looking for sponsorship as the Richardson association came to an end. Instead of one major sponsor the band has become self-financing and has joined a number of organisations who have become “Partners” in the band.