This is the History of Hebden Bridge (so far!)
It is not absolutely clear when Hebden Bridge Brass Band was founded
but in 1978 they held their centenary celebration. It has therefore
been in existence for at least 122 years. In the early days of brass
banding, members were made up from the workforce of the local mills
who sponsored them and they, the mill owners, in return got relatively
cheap advertising for the mill and products, particularly if the
bands performed well and won prizes and recognition at local and
Hebden Bridge Brand did very well in this respect and in 1911 saw
its biggest contest victory becoming the 59th British Open Champions.
They returned to Hebden Bridge to find the streets filled with crowds
of well wishers wanting to share this great occasion with their
The name Harry Mortimer is synonymous with both brass banding and
the Hebden Bridge Brass Band. He joined Hebden as a lad on 3rd Cornet
when his father Fred Mortimer was the Bandmaster. An old committee
minutes book reads "Master H. Mortimer is to be provided with
a cornet on which to learn". He went on to become the famous
cornet and trumpet player. Harry Mortimer also became a well-respected
conductor and was rewarded by receiving an OBE and a CBE in the
Queens Honours list for his contribution to music. The year 2002
celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth.
In 1968 the band won the 2nd section at the area contest held in
Bradford each year and therefore qualified for the National Finals.
The Band has had a chequered history since those days some 30 years
ago with a wide range of players and conductors. However, over the
past few years many dedicated players have joined and with the appointment
of Mr Ian Coleman as musical director in 1996, the band has gone
form strength to strength.
1998 was the bands first year in the 3rd section and we struggled
somewhat in the contests we entered. The highlight was the Whit
Friday Contests where we gained two 2nds, a 4th and 5th places,
a good achievement considering the large number of bands that enter.
1999's contesting got off to a great start in the Yorkshire area
contest at Bradford. The test piece was Eric Ball's "Main Street"
and we finished in 3rd place, missing out by only one point to qualify
for the National Finals. Further contests entered that year include
the Whit Friday March Contests where we gained two 1st prizes for
3rd section and at Scouthead we finished 8th overall out of 58 bands.
A great experience was the band playing in scenes for the film "Fanny
and Elvis" as part of the Millennium New Year celebrations
in Hebden Bridge. The Film was released in October of 1999.
In the same year we performed prestigious concerts at London's Hyde
and Regents parks over the August Bank Holiday.
In October the Philarmonie Royale Concordia from Ottignies in Belgium
travelled to Hebden Bridge for the return visit of an exchange.
A joint concert was held at the Hebden Bridge Picture House with
the proceeds to the Overgate Hospice Charity.
The year 2000 saw the band only manage 8th place at the areas. Things
got worse when, a week before Whit Friday, principal cornet Steve
Gardner was knocked off his motorcycle and suffered a badly broken
leg. Despite all protests he was not allowed out of hospital to
compete! 2nd man down Phil Hadfield stepped into his shoes (ugh!)
and did a superb job, with the band gaining best 3rd section band
at Ashton, with some other good results in the open sections.
Later that year the band won 2nd prize in the 3rd section of Wilkinsons
Northern Open, with principal Steve recovered enough to win best
solo cornet (even if he did need crutches to get on stage!)
Last year the band had a disappointing result at the areas (10th),
but recovered to win the third section of the Pogson Bray contest
(Huddersfield). This was the last job with Ian Coleman as conductor
as he had decided to hang up his baton and join the bass section.
The band was pleased to be able to appoint Mr Ian Craddock as new
conductor. With his wealth of experience Mr Craddock has managed
to get excellent results from the band in this last year - most
recent successes include winning the 3rd section at the Yorkshire
area, winning the 3rd section at Rochdale contest, 3rd at Tameside
and achieving a clean sweep of Hymn Tune, March and Test Piece at
the Pogson Bray contest at Huddersfield Town Hall. The band is now
preparing for Whit Friday and hopes to continue this run!
The band now has a very settled membership, with many family connections.
The principal Steve Gardner is married to the rep Di, principal
euph Ian (the nose) Plant to solo horn Tracy, 2nd man down Phil
Hadfield to 2nd horn Caroline (furry lights), 3rd cornet Mark Tempest
to 1st horn Helen (indeed he learned to play as he was fed up with
Helen being out with the band all the time!) 3rd man down Grant
Taylor is son to Bb bass Roger (the only man who can clear a cinema
with one fart), 1st baritone Rick Cowens is son to Alison on 2nd
trom, who is sister to Ian Coleman on Eb bass! The band has even
decided to bite the bullet and have allowed LANCASTRIANS into their
At present the band are in need of a sop, a front row standard cornet,
and a percussionist so if anyone out there is interested, drop us
a line on email@example.com
D. Gardner © 4BarsRest