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The Top 10 Worst Brass Band Uniforms of All Time

Here they are for New Year then. The top ten, worst, crummiest, seedy, tactless and down right horrible set of uniforms it has ever been a bands misfortune to have to wear – not for a bet, but on a contest stage. All we can ask is why? Why on earth someone could possibly come up with the great idea that kitting out a band in a set of uniforms so awful it makes Kurt Cobain look like Fred Astaire.

These were for us were the worst. There may be even worse crimes of humanity done by fellow human beings to one another, but to make a group of 28 grown adults wear varying types of suede, velvet and crimpolene is something that even the Court of Human Rights would find would turn their stomachs. We’ve compiled our list in the Xmas spirit so please don’t be offended if your bands appears.

We haven’t got pictures for them all – the evidence may have been destroyed to protect the innocents who had to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, but if anyone has a picture out there of these monstrosities, let us know. This is X rated stuff

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1. Grimethorpe Colliery Band (circa 1970 –1997)

It just had to be didn’t it? This was so OTT it became a byword for kitchness that even Julian Clarey couldn’t get away with. It was of course those purple shirts that did it. Topped off with bow ties the size of South American fruit bats and the uniform itself made out of the type of material only found on the kneepads of industrial welders, it summed up everything about Grimey that you ever needed to know.

Some university clever dick would possibly say it was post ironic iconoclasm and in the strange world inhabited by the likes of Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen it would indeed by considered even fashionable. No – it was crap. Crap with a big huge capital C. It’s passing should be celebrated with bonfires and parties for small children. Our deserved winner bar none.

2. Hammonds Sauce Band (circa 1977)

There are many good things about being a sponsored band, but having to wear the companies’ colours as part of the uniform isn’t usually one of them. Take Hammonds for instance. Hammonds made sauces, and by the looks of the uniform the poor players of the band had to endure, Hammonds only made the type of brown sauces that were the same shade of off - colour magnolia you found painted on the walls of mental health institutions.

Thus they had to wear on stage a concoction of light brown jacket with added dark brown frills around the lapels, brown bow ties, brown trousers all toped off …….. wait for it, with brown suede shoes. It was unspeakably evil.

3. The Hanwell Band (circa 1976 – 1980)

This is one that has been passed to us by word of mouth – a legend of an outfit that rendered many of the players incapable of leading full and rewarding lives for years to come after the experience of having to be forced to wear it.

We haven’t got a photo for it, but by all accounts the band had sponsorship of some kind by the famous Roneo Vickers Company who decided it would be a good idea to kit the band out in their works colours. The problem was that the works colours comprised a bubblegum pink jacket with added accoutrements that made the band look like cheerleaders of a Gay Pride March in San Francisco.

This was as bad as bad can and whoever had the bright idea to kit the band out in “Shocking Pink” should have been locked up in an institution with electrodes placed on their nether regions. It was criminal.


4. William Davis Construction Group Band (circa 1997 – 1995)

A fine and lamented band cursed with a uniform that made certain players (who were not strangers to the odd fish and chip supper) look like the fat bloke “Tango” man off the soft drinks advert.

Orange is a nice colour primarily on oranges and not a lot else. Making your band look like a Christmas bowl of juicy tangerines may seem like a good idea on paper, but in practice it makes the faces of the players glow as if they’ve had too long on the old sun bed at home. A dreadful choice that was the one part of the bands history that should be consigned to the dustbin. Bleeding terrible.

5. Gotenburg Brass Band (circa 1992)

Our European friends are usually held up as harbingers of good taste and refinement. Sweden for instance has a reputation of good stylish design, cool and sophisticated and usually bloody expensive. This is the country that has given us Habitat, Ikea, the Volvo S70 and Sven Goran Erikson. How on earth then did they happen to kit out their girls in frocks that seem to have been designed by a blind man on an acid trip?

The poor girls (and it was only the girls of Gothenburg) turned up in these ghastly creations at the European Championships of 1992 in Cardiff and immediately were given a sympathetic round of applause by a Welsh audience for their bravery in wearing something that would have given a chameleon a migraine. All this and the skirts were pleated as well! Null points.

6. Tredegar Town Band (circa 1979)

Sorry to be a bit parochial on this one but, this was an example of creation by committee. Tredegar needed a new uniform and being Welsh they decided to form a committee to discuss and decide the outcome. All of you who have had the misfortune to serve on a committee will know that they never work in deciding something sensible and well thought out.

The result in Tredegar’s case was the ensemble of Blue jacket, red burgundy shirt, blue crimpoline tie and grey sports slacks that had wider flares than could be found on a group of gay sailors on a spot of shore leave. It was the type of design that was finding favour at the time in Soviet Russia and it wasn’t until the demise of the Berlin Wall that evidence was found that Tredegar had in fact been infiltrated by two Soviet spies who’s intent was to overthrow the capitalist system through undermining men’s outfitters in the valleys. It so nearly worked.

7. The Flowers Band (circa 1993)

Ever wondered where the Taliban got their ideas about the way in which the women in their society should dress? It looks like it came from the South West of England on this evidence (although the Flowers Band were by no means the only ones that ensured their female players had to wear the equivalent of a Bourka).

There was a time of course when full-length dresses were an essential fashion item for the liberated woman – but that was about 1972 and this picture was taken in 1993. This of course is not to say that the darkest reaches of the West of England are behind the times, but the poor lasses must have felt as sexy as a welder in his overalls in this garb. They looked like Daleks for Heavens sake!

Thankfully for Flowers the garments have been burnt, but there are still examples of these hideous creations still being worn out there. Mmmmmmmm……

8. Besses O’ th Barn ( circa 1993 onwards)

Besses are one of the most famous names in the banding world, but even this couldn’t save them from having to endure a uniform form Hell.

There is nothing more depressing than grey – especially when it’s that type of grey that seemed to the national colour of East Germany after the War. Add to this the lovely inspired choice of bright red bow ties and matching handkerchief for the top pocket and you’ve got the ensemble that elderly men on a Saga holiday wear to impress the girls at the Darby and Joan Club social evening.

Given that someone also thought it would be a good idea to have black buttons – the type that caught onto the instrument causing euph players to bust their lips when trying to extricate their instruments on stage and you’ve got one hell of a mess on your hands. In a way we think this was chosen deliberately to get into our top 10. It worked.

9. Desford Colliery Band (circa 1986 – 1999)

In a strange way, a band can be as famous for the contest wins they have under their belt as they are for the hideous concoction of assorted crap they have to wear above them. Take Desford for instance.

For four years or more they were without doubt the best band in the land, but they also just happened to wear a uniform that was universally regarded as something that would only looked good on a “Penny for the Guy”. This was the type of uniform that could stun a pig from 200 yards. Purple is the type of colour that looked good on Julius Caeser and the rest of the Roman Emperors, and even Brighouse and Rastrick have a toned down version. Desford however had jackets that gave you radiation burns. Whoever had the idea to mix and match different shades of the stuff should hang their head in shame.

It remained the bands colours for many a year, and even given the fact that something, however awful will possibly come back into fashion after a long enough period, perhaps the band thought it might make a revival. Thankfully it didn’t and has now been dumped in favour of a much more sensible black outfit, although they still wear purple bow ties.

10. Leyland Vehicles Band (circa 1979 onwards)

You’ve got to hand it to Dicky Evans haven’t you? Given the chance to create a band in his own image he comes up trumps with an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place on Clarke Gable.

The pity was his band was primarily made up of blokes the size and shape of a Gable end on a semi detached house and so the effect of suave sophisticated white tuxedo suits, toped off with a dicky bow and red rose, shiny patent shoes and trousers with creases you could cut bread on was lost a little.

Thus the image was somewhat more of ice cream sellers, poncy Italian waiters or even more cruelly, the type of seedy pimps you happened to bump into in a Soho strip joint the night before the National Finals (don’t ask how we know that). Great band though and they certainly had the balls to carry it off. As Dicky was prone to wearing a cravat you seemed to think they couldn’t actually complain too much. A deserved entry in our top 10.

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