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Newtongrange Silver Band
The present Band was founded in 1892 although it is understood that another band had previously existed in the district. For over 90 years the band was closely linked with the coal mining industry which was the sole reason for the existence of the village of Newtongrange.
In the early years the band was supported by the Lothian Coal Company which would make jobs and houses available for incoming players. A voluntary weekly subscription from the miners employed at the Lady Victoria Colliery was a major source of income and the Dean Tavern (operated as a trust with profits used to support organizations and activities in the village) has always been a source of financial support.
From 1926 the administration of the band was in the hands of the local Miners Welfare Committee. Following the closure of the Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange the miners at the nearby Bilston Glen Colliery continued the mineworkers' support for the band. This came to an end in 1985 and since then the band has sought commercial sponsorship to supplement its own fundraising activities to meet the band's running costs.
Scottish Brewers were the main sponsors until 1993 and the excellent relationship enjoyed with this major company over a number of years has allowed the band to develop expertise in meeting the requirements of a commercial backer. Support has also been forthcoming from various local businesses and, in the year 2000 Neil Williams Haulage became the band's principal sponsors for an initial period of three years. The agreement with Neil Williams Haulage was successful in winning an award under the Arts & Business Pairing Scheme. Currently the band is without a sponsor.
As with most brass bands participation in band contests has long been a major activity. For many years the band enjoyed periodical successes but without making an impact at the top level. That however has all changed in the last 30 years as the band has firmly established itself as one of Scotland's finest bands and amongst the top bands in the UK.
Champion Band of Great Britain and also winning the UK Mineworkers' Contest (both at Second Section Level) later that year. Since then the band has competed almost exclusively in the Championship (or premier) Section enjoying regular successes. Scottish Champions (1st Section) 2004 Only twice since 1980 has the band not competed in the Championship Section in 2004 and 2009 both times securing an immediate return to the Championship Section. 2004 saw the band win the First Section at the Scottish Championships and was placed 4th at the National Finals. Later this year the band will once again compete at the National Finals.
On a number of occasions the band has qualified to represent Scotland in the National Championship finals in London's Royal Albert Hall and the band has also represented Scotland in the European Brass Band Championships. Many wins have been registered in various other contests throughout Scotland and the band regularly travels south of the border to compete against other bands from throughout the UK.
In 1991 the band became Scottish Champions for the first time. This was repeated in 2005, when, as a newly promoted band, they became Scottish Champions under the baton of Allan Ramsay. All connected with the band are determined to bring further success at Scottish, British and European levels and constantly strive to achieve this under the musical direction of top professional conductors.
Recent years have seen the band undertake a wide variety of engagements in Scotland and beyond, often displaying the considerable versatility of a top brass band. Events have ranged from the Edinburgh Festival Cavalcade procession to pre-match entertainment at Premier Division football matches, from the Royal Highland Show to the annual banquet of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association. A particularly memorable occasion involved the provision of garden party entertainment at Gleneagles Hotel before a Concert by Jose Carreras and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Various PR companies have used the band's services from time to time.
The band has appeared on national TV and radio on a number of occasions including broadcasts for the popular BBC Radio 2 programme "Listen to the Band". The band has also released six recordings, the most recent of which, "Homecoming Brass" was launched in May 2009.
The band is one of the busiest in Scotland with the calendar of engagements including concerts and appearances at many local festivals and events. This results in the band being seen and heard by many thousands of people each year. The band has also toured abroad to Germany, France and Hungary, the most recent trip being to Germany in October 2000.
Notwithstanding the band's rise into the top echelons of British brass banding, it has never forgotten its roots and still plays a most important role in the life of the local community. In days past the band gave regular concerts on the bandstand in the public park drawing large crowds. Nowadays, local performances range from the village Gala Day to the annual New Year's Day concert, which always draws a packed house.
The local community takes a great pride in and gives excellent supped to what is very much its band. Midlothian Council recognised the value of the band to both Newtongrange and Midlothian as a whole and is very supportive as are our local MP and MSP.
Newtongrange band from 1997 annually promoted its own summer event in the village entitled "Brass In The Park". This event is held over a weekend and is staged in a tented village specially erected within Newtongrange Park. Bands from many parts of Scotland & Northern England and large numbers of spectators are attracted to this event which is unique in British brass banding and is now one of the major events on the Scottish Brass Band calendar. In 2003, with the event having grown considerably over the years, a separate organisation was set up to run the event. The strong link between Newtongrange Silver Band and Brass in the Park was however maintained with the band working in partnership with the new organisation and taking on the role of host band for the event. Further details of this event can be found at the Brass in the Park website.