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Lower Section National Finals 2002:
Third Section

Test Piece - "Cherchebi" - Goff Richards
Riviera Centre, Torquay
Saturday September 20th

We've tried our best once more to get as much information as we can on the bands that have qualified for the Finals. Lots of the details we have managed to get off the bands own websites, but sometimes these are out of date - so apologies.

(Where possible information on bands has been supplemented with facts from band web sites.)

Arbroath Instrumental

Musical Director: Michael Robertson

Arbroath Instrumental put on a fine solid show in the Scottish Regionals securing the second qualification spot to gain the ticket for the long journey south to Torquay. Last year they battled it out in the Fourth Section and took home with them a lowly 16th place, so hopes will be high to try and make sure this year will be better. To come second this year then and qualify once again was a very fine achievement.

ArrowValley Brass

Musical Director: Andy Culshaw

Principal Cornet Davis Hodgetts
Solo Horn Kerry Keen
Solo Euphonium Ray Farr
Solo Trombone David Deakin
Soprano Cornet Christopher Dowdeswell

Arrow Valley Brass started its life in 1977 as Alcester Victoria Youth Band with a small group of children in Alcester town hall. David Stanley settled in the South Midlands in the early seventies and soon became involved in the local band scene and started Arrow Valley Brass some 23 years ago although it was known then as the Alcester Victoria Youth Band. In addition to his local involvements David Stanley is just stepping down as Chairman of the BFBB. As the band's popularity grew and more people joined, the age and ability gap grew, so it was decided to create two groups, the "Main" band and the "B" band. The latter continues to attempt to develop and improve young (and not so young) players. In 1990 the name was changed to Arrow Valley Brass to avoid confusion with another local band.

David Stanley who was the originator of the band has given unbroken service as musical director. In the contest field, the band originally started in the 4th Section and at present is placed in the 3rd section. During this period in the 3rd section it qualified in the area contests in 1989 and 1990 to compete in the National Finals in Central Hall Westminster. 3rd place at the Regionals saw them take the final qualification place on offer. Andy Culshaw is an experienced man with the baton, and someone who has tasted success at the highest level. This could well prove valuable.

Blaenavon Town

Musical Director: Bryn Davies

Principal Cornet Rhian Linney
Solo Horn Sharon Nicholas
Solo Euphonium Evan Smith
Solo Trombone Mike O'Leary
Soprano Cornet Patrick O'Leary

Blaenavon Town Band is one of the oldest cultural organisations within Blaenavon and its origins are in the latter part of the last century when the Band was known as the Blaenavon Town Silver Band. The Band evolved through this century, being supported by the local colliery when the Band became known as the Blaenavon Colliery Workmens Band until the colliery closed in the late 1970's. The Band does not now receive any commercial sponsorship and has taken the name 'Blaenavon Town Band'.

In early 1996 the membership of the Band dropped to nine playing members and support from a couple of officers. A meeting was held to determine whether there was a future for the Band and a proposal to dissolve was narrowly defeated. The few remaining members started rebuilding from the very lowest point. In mid 1996, following a successful recruiting campaign the Band was nearly full strength and only a few seats remained to be filled. Their progress over the last two years has been mainly down to enthusiasm and to the Bandmaster, Bryn Davies, who has skilfully developed the musical ability of the Band through his determination and ability. The win in Wales was the first time since 1975 that the band had succeeded at the Regionals, so hopes are high for a Welsh success at Torquay.

Briton Ferry Silver

Musical Director: Mike Ford

Briton Ferry have continued to improve over the last year or so and come to the contest after a very successful twelve months. Recent results have seen them promoted from the lower section, came 4th at the National Finals, won the Ebbw Vale contest and were 2nd at both Burry Port and Treorchy. They will be hoping their consistent playing continues to Torquay into 2002 Finals.

Briton Ferry ran Blaenavon close at the Regionals and took the second qualification spot with a little bit of comfort. Mike Ford has worked the band hard and will be looking for success come Saturday.

Carlton Brass

Musical Director: Tony Wilson

Principal Cornet Alan Tyler
Solo Horn John Bailey
Solo Euphonium Paul Watson
Solo Trombone Alan Carlin
Soprano Cornet Steve Parker

Founded in 1902 as the Netherfields Railwayman's Band, they became the Carlton Silver Band in 1950 and finally Carlton Brass in 1998. When following a sponsorship deal with Nottingham City Transport, the learners section which was titled, The New Carlton Silver Band and decided to begin contesting it changed its name to Carlton Brass to avoid confusion

The deliberate conducting style from Tony Wilson has brought out some very good results for Carlton Brass. They have turned out some good performances and have earned their second consecutive trip to the National Finals. Last year they performed well in the Fourth Section and came 6th, but things have improved rapidly since then and they could be one of the favourites here after securing their trip after coming second at the Midlands Regionals. They also came 2nd at the North East Midland Contest earlier this year.

Castleton Brass

Musical Director: David Aves

Principal Cornet Philip Gurney
Solo Horn Isabel Aves
Solo Euphonium Jeff Martin
Solo Trombone Paul Austin
Soprano Cornet Philip Moore

Castleton Brass is based at Eye in Suffolk and was formed in 1935 as The Drayton Band. It went through a transitional period before gaining sponsorship from Norwich Brewery. They underwent name change to Norwich Brewery Brass in the 1980's and moved its base to Norwich, rehearsing at the Brewery. On losing its sponsorship with the imminent closure of the brewery, the band once more reverted to the Drayton Band. Fortunes were changing, with membership was becoming sparse and once again the band moved base. The situation didn't improve so in 2001 the band took the bold step to move base again so that it could attract personnel from both Ipswich and Norwich areas. The new name is taken from Castleton Road, where the band rehearses at the Hartismere High School.

Castleton won the London and Southern Counties Regional with an impressive win and come to the contest under their motivating conductor David Aves. That win was against a 12 band field that saw them take the title with some style. The band also won the East Anglia Spring Festival Contest in Class A.

Ellington Colliery

Musical Director: Denis Wright

Unfortunately the Ellington Colliery website is down and therefore information on the background of the band is sparse. The year proved successful and come to this contest with a win in the Fourth Section of the County Durham contest, 2nd place at the Mineworkers and runners up spot in the North of England regionals. That second place was reward for a lot of hard work from the band and just reward from an early number two draw.

Hebden Bridge (Walkleys)

Musical Director: Ian Craddock

Principal Cornet Steve Gardner
Solo Horn Tracy Plant
Solo Euphonium Ian Plant
Solo Trombone Peter Drinkel

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 the 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. Hebden Bridge Band did very well in this respect and in 1911 saw its biggest contest victory becoming the 59th British Open Champions. The name Harry Mortimer is synonymous with the Hebden Bridge Brass Band. He joined Hebden as a lad on 3rd Cornet when his father Fred Mortimer was the Bandmaster

Yorkshire Champions for 2002, the band has had a chequered history and since 1968 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 Craddock, who for fifteen years was the principal euphonium with the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band, as musical director the band has gone from strength to strength. The Regional win followed two years in which they had come 8th in 2000 and 10th in 2001. The band were runners up in the Fourth Section in Yorkshire in 1997 and came third in the Third Section in 1999. The band came 7th at the Wilkinson Northern Open earlier this year.

Helston Town

Musical Director: Edward Ashton

In 1998 Helston Town was competing in the First Section and have had some success in National contests. Third at the Regionals they were runners up last year and followed that coming 5th at the National Finals. Some good results and possibly another one this time around could see the start of a return back to the top.

Houghton Brass

Musical Director: Tom Gibson

Again information is in short supply. They come from the North of England where they took the title and have been a band growing in stature. They should take on the Nationals at Torquay with some relish. The Regional win came off the number one draw - an impressive win if ever there was one then and the two point winning margin was very well deserved.

Michelmersh Silver

Musical Director: Brian Kelloway

Principal Cornet Jan Boler
Solo Horn Carrie Dobson
Solo Euphonium Kelvin Richards
Solo Trombone Mike Ricketts
Soprano Cornet Nigel Miller

There is no record of the day the Michelmersh band first played together, but its first anniversary is reported in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal for Saturday, November 19, 1887

Winners of the West of England Contest and are located just north of Romsey. They compete in Torquay on the back of two 1st prizes having also won the Wessex contest on Les Preludes. Brian Kelloway has taken the band to the 1st Section locally with these results so should be a strong outfit in this 3rd section contest. The Regional win was by a clear two-point margin with a performance that was described "a terrific reading".


Musical Director: Shane Foster

Principal Cornet Alexis Molyneux
Solo Horn Fred Houghton
Solo Euphonium Steve Jenkins
Solo Trombone Kevin Bradshaw
Soprano Cornet Louise Crane

The Middleton Brass Band was formed in 1876. The first outings by the band were to local pubs in which they played in exchange for ale or lemonade which earned the band the nickname 'The Pop and Ale Boys'. In 1884 the band became the Middleton Public Band then in March of 1887 the band finally became The Middleton Borough Brass Band. Over the years the band has done very well in contests and in 1983 the band won the National Brass Band Championships in the 3rd section. Through non contesting the band became a 4th section band in 1988. At present the band is doing very well having just recently been promoted to the 3rd section after topping the 4th section championship table.

The band go to Torquay on the back of 3 first prizes and two 3rd prizes in contest across the 3rd and 4th section over the last couple of years. There improvement has been gradual and sustained demonstrated when they came 1st in their section at Scouthead in this year's Whit Walks. A race night was just part of their fund raising activity to get to Torquay this time. 3rd place at the Regionals saw them take the final qualification spot on offer for Torquay. The band also won the fourth section top prize at Manchester late last year.


Musical Director: David Moore

Principal Cornet Barry Batty
Solo Horn Mark Taylor
Solo Euphonium Ged Hancock
Solo Trombone Roy Gillespie
Soprano Cornet Max Townsend

The Village of Oughtibridge has supported some sort of music making group for well over one hundred years. Believed to have been started as a drum and fife band when six benefactors joined together and raised the money for instruments, music and other equipment. Formed as a Brass Band in 1890, it engaged in local and national brass band contests in its section. In the 1960-79 period the Band won 23 trophies in various contests. In more recent times the Band have appeared in London in the National Championships on three occasions between 1980 and 1990. The Band has moved between the fourth and second sections over the last ten years. In the recent 2000 Yorkshire Area Contest, the Band finished second, qualifying for the finals in London and also securing promotion to the third section.

The band is based just to the north west of Sheffield and they had an unsettled run up to the qualifying contest with several key personnel changes but pulled out all the stops to finish in 2nd place in the Yorkshire 3rd section regional contest. The two years prior to this they had come 7th in 2001 and were given an average placing in 2000.

Raunds Temperance

Musical Director: John Fletcher

Raunds Temperance conducted by John Fletcher won the Midlands contest from a late draw of 18 out of 19. They put on a belting performance, neatly articulated, plenty of spirit and no lack of musicianship and if they repeat this standard they will certainly be a band to watch at Torquay. A band that travels well - they regularly take part in contests in Wales and last year they came 3rd at the National Finals with a cracking performance of the test piece "An English Suite" by Michael Ball.

Royal British Legion Crownhill (Plymouth)

Musical Director: Denzil Stephens

Principal Cornet Rachel Macrae
Solo Horn Ray Hardie
Solo Euphonium Helen Morgan
Solo Trombone Nick Nye
Soprano Cornet Alli Northcott

The band was formed in 1928 as the Plymouth City Mission Band. A break with their Salvationist roots and a change of name to Plymouth Silver Band saw them progress in the contest scene. In 1982 were offered a permanent home with the Royal British Legion. The band have had mixed fortunes contesting moving through the sections but they feel that this is perhaps there strongest line up for a number of years.

Second in the West of England regionals has secured 2nd section status for 2003. The band has rehearsed for the last couple of months under the direction of the experienced conductor Denzil Stephens. They took three prizes at the Bugle Contest so go to Torquay on a high. Denzil Stephens took them to Torquay and he will conduct the band there as well.

Shotts St.Patrick's Brass

Musical Director: Simon Kerwin

Shott's St. Patrick's Brass won their Regional Contest off a number 1 draw and have had some good results including winning the best 3rd section band prize at Whitburn and coming 4th at the Carnegie contest. They have a solid record since their demotion to the third section in 1998. Simon Kerwin is a very talented chap indeed and has played at the very highest level and should bring something to the band in their attempt to take home the top prize back to Scotland.

Silk Brass Astra Zeneca (Macclesfield)

Musical Director: Ken Mackintosh

Principal Cornet Nicky Longden
Solo Horn Shirley Snelson
Solo Euphonium Bob Goodwin
Solo Trombone Andrew Snelson
Soprano Cornet Ken Norbury

Silk Brass was established in 1997 and held its inaugural concert at the Heritage Centre in Macclesfield, Cheshire on the 10th of October 1997.

Silk Brass Astra Zeneca just missed out of a place at the National Finals last year when they came 3rd but improved enough to gain a trip to Torquay this time. They have shown enough in 2002 to announce that they are contenders and they could do well. Their second place at the Regionals was a fine performance and given that they are such a young band, to gain a place to the Finals is something of an achievement. They also won the North East Midlands Contest and were the highest placed Peak Band at the recent Buxton contest.

Wire Brass

Musical Director: Paul Andrews

Principal Cornet Nikki Rowe
Solo Horn Chris Gleave
Solo Euphonium Kim Thorpe
Solo Trombone Jill Riley
Soprano Cornet Sarah Sanders

Wire Brass was formed in September 2001 out of conversations between musicians in the Warrington area. A number of the band began their playing in the local youth bands but were forced to join bands out of the district to realise their full potential. The band has been very encouraged with almost every position filled proving that a top calibre brass band in Warrington had long been needed.
They played their first concert to a crowd of almost 300 people, at the Sacred Heart Church in Warrington on the 2nd of December 2001.

MD Paul Andrews put down his Baton and picked up his Euphonium to help Leyland out at the British Open last week and he has taken the band from the outset. Graded for contests in the second section locally and the third section nationally their first contest was on the 10th of February 2002 at 'Brass at the Guild' Preston, where we were placed 1st playing 'Spectrum'. Their next contest was the North West Regional Championships held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool which they also won meaning they are to be promoted to second section nationally as from next year. They have some talented players, including Chris Gleave on horn, who is a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. Strong contenders you would have to think.

Yiewsley & West Drayton

Musical Director: Christopher Cole

Principal Cornet Gordon Poole
Solo Horn Paul Barker
Solo Euphonium Calyton Maclean
Solo Trombone John Ide
Soprano Cornet Steve Burgess

The band was founded in 1890 and was first known as the Weslyan Band of Hope. Over the years has changed its name at least five times before assuming its present title in 1971.

Yiewsley and West Drayton made their debut in the London and Southern Counties Regionals following promotion on the back of three years when they came 5th, 15th and 7th in the fourth section. They also came 2nd at the Folkestone contest and won at Hove in the build up to the Regional contest. Runners up spot in March saw them through to the finals in Torquay. The band also won the Hove Contest earlier this year.

So who do we think will take the honours this year at the contest? We've had a good look at the form book and to tell you the truth, we don't really have much of an idea! All the bands seem more than capable of giving a real top quality performance of the test piece, so we think it could be a very close run thing. But what the heck eh? Here goes…….

1. Wire Brass
2. Raunds Temperance
3. Middleton
4. Hebden Bridge (Walkleys)
5. Blaenavon Town
6. Shott's St. Patrick's Brass

Dark Horse: Carlton Brass

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