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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:50 pm 
Spider Lady
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Location: Staffordshire
Burnley Express
17 October 1936

Disbanded After Eighty Years
Briercliffe Brass Band's Proud Record

The Briercliffe Brass Band, one of the oldest musical organisations in Lancashire, has ceased to exist. Formed over 80 years ago, the band had a fine record, having been served by some of the finest musicians in the country, but during the past few months, the members have found it increasingly difficult to carry on, finding, like their local bands, that engagements are very few, and the cost of carrying on such an organisation too great for the income.
A few weeks ago the instruments were disposed of, much to the regret of those who have been endeavouring to save the band from extinction and many of the villagers who have taken a keen interest in its activities, and a local link with one with one of the most notable periods of band music in the country has been severed.
Formed in the year 1854, when Briercliffe was only a scattered community, the centre of which was the small hamlets of Haggate and Lane Bottom, and before Harle Syke came into being, the band gave a good account of itself beyond the confines of the village, for according to a printed advertisement found on the premises of Messrs. Alfred Cheshire (Outfitter) of St James's-street, Burnley, during alterations in the early part of 1925, Briercliffe brass band was engaged to play "selections from the most popular composers of the day," at Wild's Colossal Pavilion, Burnley, during a "Fashionable night" (Friday) January 28th 1859?. Their appearance was an added attraction to the performance of the five-act play, "Ignomar," or "Son of the wilderness".
The band was reorganised in 1866, with twenty members, and a new set of instruments was obtained. These instruments arrived at the township, from Bank Top Station, on the same day that the foundation stones of Haggate Baptist Chapel were laid. For some years the band was known as the Haggate band and its members included Mr. John Foster, a noted solo euphonium player, and at one time conductor of the Haggate Chapel choir; Messrs. Robert Foster, James Atkinson, Robert Bannister, R. Proctor, John Proctor, Harry Bannister, W. Bannister, John Edmondson, James Edmondson, Whittaker Whittaker, Wm. Whittaker, J. Hartley, J. Banks and Robert Thomas. Two members who were most enthusiastic were Messrs. Edmund Atkinson, father of the present band secretary, and Robt. Bannister. The latter, who lived at Lane Bottom, also played with Trawden band, and would walk to Trawden for the practices two and three times a week. He was often accompanied by Mr. Atkinson, who on the erection of Queen-street Mill, created a sensation by climbing the chimney stack on its completion and playing a cornet solo from the top.
At the outset the members themselves paid for the instruments they used, and were afterwards repaid when the band obtained sufficient funds, the whole of the instruments becoming the property of the band. Rehearsals began in a room at Finnymoore Foot, near Walverden, and the members were self-taught. All of them were singers, some being members of the Haggate Baptist choir, and with their ability to read music it was not a difficult matter for them to pick up a fairly good knowledge of instrument playing.
The first bandmaster on record was Robert Bannister, and after three or four years existence the band entered its first contest at Hollingworth, with the test pieces of the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "Kyrie" and "Gloria." Their performance was so creditable that they won the fourth prize of £5 and a soprano cornet. This was the beginning of a long and honourable competitive career, successes being gained at Trawden, Middleton, Nelson, Stoneyholme, and Halifax. Mr. Joshua Kippax also brought distinction to the band with his noted success in the trombone solo class.
The band's headquarters were subsequently moved to "T'owd smithy" at Haggate, but this was soon disposed of for £25 when the site was required for the erection of the Council School. Rehearsals were held at the "Hare and Hounds" for a short time until a room was built at the rear of these premises at a cost of between £70 and £80. All the money that was obtained for playing during the greater part of the next twelve months was set aside to meet the cost of the room, with the result that it was paid for in one year.
An illustration of the seal displayed in those early days is afforded by the large quantity of hand-written music that the band possessed, but it was their misfortune that during the period at the smithy it was all ruined by dampness in the place where it was stored.
Subsequent conductors were Messrs. J. Banks, Whittaker Whittaker, J. Bailey and Joshua Kippax, the latter charge in 1891 coinciding with a marked improvement in the proficiency of the band, due to the employment of a professional coach. Two years later, Mr. Tom Greenwood became conductor. The band enjoyed a good measure of local support as was instanced in 1892, when a bazaar was held to procure new uniforms, which were to cost £128. Over £200 was raised by the bazaar, its success being in no small measure due to the energetic secretary at that time, Mr. Robert Halstead. During subsequent contests at Keighley, Warncliffe, Blackpool, Darwen and Wigan, Briercliffe band, as it again began to be called, competed with some of the best bands of the day. An instance of their high standing was shown in 1895, when they contested at Wigan against 15 bands. On this occasion the judge remarked that he had 'adjudicated at fourteen contests and had been particularly waiting to hear the test piece properly played. That day Briercliffe had played it in a manner that almost reached perfection.
From 1902 the membership dwindled, and the band became practically extinct, but about 1906 it was revived, thanks to the untiring efforts of Mr. Albert Foster, who by the persuasion of Mr. James Taylor, made three attempts to restart the band, and on the third occasion was successful, a fairly good band of 23 members resulting.
Because the entrance to the room at Haggate had to be reached through licensed premises, the headquarters were removed to the Church Institute, and a short time afterwards the band purchased the Socialist Club, just outside the borough boundary, which has remained their headquarters up to the present time.
One of the best instrumentalists in the district, Mr. James Kippax, who has for a number of years been a member of the Irwell Springs Band, received his training with the Briercliffe band. During recent years that band has had as conductors Mr. J. Birtkett who was in charge prior to joining up in 1914, Mr. Albert Proctor, who since the war has served the band for about eight years, and Mr. H. Tregilgas, who has served twice since 1919, and who was the last to conduct the band - he conducted them in their broadcast early this year. Mr. E. Bannister served as secretary from 1910 to 1921, and was followed for a short time by Mr. Alf Healey, and then until 1933 the secretarial work was in the hands of Mr. J. Atkinson, the band's oldest member, who joined when he was 18 years of age, and has 46 years' service with the band. He relinquished the post for two years to Mr. W Chadwick but resumed his duties in the final stage of the band's career.


Searching for lost relatives? Win the Lottery!

Last edited by Mel on Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:36 pm 
Computer Whizz
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Location: Near Chorley
James Kippax was my great grandad. There is an article about the time Irwell Springs played for the King at Knowsley before he went to the races at Aintree.--- http://www.bacuptimes.co.uk/band19271930.htm


I'd be dangerous with a brain.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:07 am
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Location: Briercliffe
That is a very good site Gloria,lots of interesting information,particularly liked all the information on the local public Houses.

Genealogists do it in the library.

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