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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.

Rushden Windmill Band

The band started life as a drum and fife band in 1860 but in 1875 a meeting was held at the old Temperance Hall in Rushden, where it was decided to form a brass band, namely the Rushden Temperance Silver Band. The idea of Brass contests originated in the North of England during the 1840's and gradually came to rival the football matches in the affections of the working classes, attended by thousands of rival supporters!! The Rushden Temperance Band (the 'Temps') entered its first contest in 1880 and won first prize!!!

In the early years of the last century, the band regularly competed against the best in the country at the National Championships in London and the British Open Championships in Manchester, gaining many prizes at each competition. Although the band had a resident conductor (C.H.Baker - see also our 'archive pictures') it was common practice (amongst most bands) to employ a 'Professional' for contests - at this time the 'Temps' employed Alexander Owen and he was succeeded by J.A.Greenwood. Both men were well known in the Brass Band movement and along with the other professional conductors, like William Halliwell, were employed by several of the top bands at any one time.

J.A.Greenwood Indeed, J.A.Greenwood also conducted the Haydock Band (1917) and Grimethorpe Colliery Band (1918). By the National Championships of 1923 (won incidentally by the Luton Red Cross Band, conducted by William Halliwell) Mr Greenwood conducted three of the competing bands on the day and Mr Halliwell, six !!! Our own C.H.Baker was known to travel (a little) and remember these men had to travel to rehearsals without cars and motorways.

The First World War put an end to the 'Temps' activities, but thankfully the band reformed in 1921 and quickly regained its nationwide reputation as being one of the foremost concert bands in the country. In the years between the two wars great emphasis was placed on youth and junior members, as the band preferred to look to its future rather than on its past glories. Once more, unfortunately, war intervened and deprived the band of many younger players.

Again the band reformed after the end of World War II, and in 1947 a young man named William Scholes was appointed as the conductor and under his guidance a very successful period began. In his first year Mr. Scholes took the band to the British Open Championships for the first time since 1909. Between 1948 and 1951 the band gained a fourth, two fifths and a sixth place, followed by four more top six placings up to 1960. Mr Scholes left the band in 1962 and was succeeded by George Crossland

In 1949, the band were chosen by the BBC to inaugurate a new series of broadcasts called the 'Local Event'. They teamed up with the St. Cecilia Singers and Mr Douglas Gilbert (Tenor). According the 'papers' it was a hugely entertaining event and did the town proud. We still undertake engagements with the St. Cecilia Singers, please use our 'engagements' and 'links' pages to see any up-to-date information.

In 1965 the band won the BBC's "Challenging Brass" competition (conducted by Ernie Denton), beating Camborne Town, this was broadcast on BBC radio from Leeds Town Hall. After the final, the four semi-finalists, Rushden, Camborne, Luton & Hanwell recorded a massed band concert with Derek Garside as the guest soloist. Up to the 1960's, the Rushden Temperance Band (together with the GUS Footwear Band, formerly the Munn and Felton's Band, Hanwell and the Luton Band) was amongst the most successful bands in the Midlands and South of England.

In 1975 the decision was taken to rebuild the band room, which was situated on land beside the Rushden Windmill Club in Glassbrook Road, Rushden. The club gave assistance to the project and we promoted the club by adopting their name - and so the Rushden Windmill Band was born.

During 1979 the Rushden Windmill 'B' Band was established as a 'learners' band. By 1983, this band had moved to the Working Men's Club in Rushden and eventually became the Rushden Town Band - see also our 'links' and 'archive pictures' pages.

During the 1970's we were conducted by Bob Howard, then Peter Kneale. Bob returned after Peter left, as a Professional conductor - assisted by Dave Twitchings (who 'filled' in), whilst the band sought a permanent conductor. The decade also saw the band being conducted by Ernie Denton, John Cherry and Barrie Johnson (see also the 'archive pictures' pages). 'Phew' - seemingly a hectic time for the band - on the 'man-in-the-middle' front...!!!

By the 'New Romantic' era (i.e. the '1980's'...!!) Dave Goswell was, firmly, installed as Musical Director. Dave has sent me the following information, it is some VERY detailed band history dating from the 1980's. He says:

"During the 1980s the band achieved many successes - mainly in the second section (when there was not a first section). In 1980 the band was down to 15 registered players, but, this improved to a full band. This band went on to achieve numerous Contest successes including : two seconds in the 'Area', a 2nd and 3rd at Pontins, wins at the Aylesbury and Corby contests AND Pontins finalists on two occasions, a first at Clacton and a 2nd second in the open top section, again, at Aylesbury.

There was also a broadcast on Radio Northampton, which is still used today.

Simon Kingsley In addition, people such as Stanley Boddington, John Berryman and Simon Kingsley were involved with the band. Simon hails from Wellingborough and played with Grimethorpe Colliery Band and currently plays for The Travelsphere Holidays Band, formerly Rigid Containers/G.U.S. Footwear (...nice tie and ruffle by the way !!). Peter Kneale wrote Blue John for the band & Simon for a Corby contest. There were also 'high profile' concerts with James Shepherd, Trevor Groom and Nick Hudson, amongst others.

The band also made several visits to Germany AND managed to replace their FULL set of instruments."

Clearly, this was a hugely successful, and busy, time for the band. My thanks to Dave for this extra information.

Unfortunately, by the late 1980's the band had begun to struggle - with membership falling to just six players. However, with much effort (including a newspaper article which provoked a lot of interest), the band has gone from strength to strength. In 1995, under the baton of Lloyd Landrey, the band took 2nd place at the Midlands Area Qualifying Contest and were invited to the Fourth Section Finals in London in the Autumn of that year. Subsequently, under the batons of Martin Dawson and Andrew Keirl the band continued to grow.

Milton Keynes 2002 Richard Graves (Formerly M.D. of Ware Brass and Principal Cornet of the Luton Band) became the band's M.D. in 1999 and, despite dropping back into the 4th Section in 2002 (a temporary setback), the band has continued to do well on the contest stage. In February 2002 the band won the 'B' section at the Milton Keynes Brass Band Festival (M.K.B.B.F.) In 2003 and 2004 we won our section at the Leamington Spa contest and came third and won the highest place 4th section band at the 2004 M.K.B.B.F.

...AND in March 2004 the Rushden Windmill Band became Midlands Area 4th Section Champions and qualified for the finals, which were held in Harrogate on the 11th September of that year - the band came a very creditable 7th. However, despite what some say contests aren't everything. The Band has, in recent years, taken on more prestigious concerts, often teaming up with local choirs and big bands. In particular, the band has performed several concerts promoted as 'On Stage Together' where the guest soloist has been Don Lusher O.B.E.

We were also regular players at the Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival (see also our 'links' page). The picture on above shows the band outside Pershore Abbey at the 2002 event.

From January 2005 the Rushden Windmill Band were promoted back into the 3rd Section. Since then our performances at contests have been a case of 'highs' and 'lows'!

John Fletcher (Former M.D. of the Raunds Temperance Band) took over from Richard Graves as M.D. midway through 2007. Towards the end of 2007 the band won both the Leamington Spa and Leicester contests (with former M.D. Richard helping the band on it happens!). However, the band's 'Area' performances have failed to live up to our expectations - still as they say (and sing!): 'things can only get better!