Hepworth Band logo Hepworth Band at Preston Guild Hall, January, 2016. Photo by Fred Little.

A brief history of the Band

First photograph of Hepworth Band 1897

First photo of Hepworth Band

Back: S. Swallow, J. Belcher, A. Swallow, H. Alsop, G.A. Marshall, H. Swallow, C. Sykes, H. Hirst, J. Hirst. Middle: T. Broadhead, S. Hellawell, J. Beever, A. Dearing, B. Hellawell, W. Swallow, A. Kaye, C. Kaye. Front: J. Hirst, F. Belcher, W. Coldwell, F. Hirst, J.W. Swallow, J.W. Robinson.

Introduction

Hepworth Silver Prize Silver Band, 1920. Photo: Bray & Son, Holmfirth

Hepworth, the village from which the band takes its name, is situated on the edge of the Peak District National Park, close to the “Summer Wine” town of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire.

There has long been a strong tradition of Brass Bands and music making in the Holme Valley, and Hepworth Band has been a part of this since its formation in 1882.

In August 2007, we were delighted to be able to announce that the Huddersfield based property developers, Cookson Homes had agreed to become the Band’s Principal Sponsor.

Historical summary of Hepworth Band

The village of Hepworth, from which the band takes its name, is situated about two miles from Holmfirth. About 20 years ago a few men joined together and formed a small brass band, each man purchasing his own instrument. This was the foundation of the present band.

Extract from the publication “The Cornet”, 15 March 1902.

The first recorded conductors of the band were, in order, William H. Schofield, James Haigh, Hinchliffe Battye and George Wadsworth, but there is no record of how long each one stayed with the band. However, it is known that in 1898 Mr. John Belcher was appointed to the post and under his leadership Hepworth began to make a name for themselves in the Brass Band Contest field. In 1900 the band engaged Angus Holden as professional conductor and in 1901 won first prizes in both the Holmfirth March Contest and the Yeadon Waltz Contest.

The first decade of the twentieth century was an important era in the progress of the band. In 1902 they purchased a “full set of first class silver plated instruments” at a cost of £120 and in the same year Hepworth held the best record of all the Yorkshire bands for contest successes. Another significant investment was the purchase of a new uniform supplied by Huddersfield firm Hodgson & Co, “tunic, cap, trousers and ornaments complete”.

During the 1914-18 war the Band was led by Mr. W. Coldwell who was succeeded by Allen Kaye, who struggled to keep the band going with only eight or nine players. After the war Hepworth again appointed professional conductors, one of whom was Willie Mallinson who, at a local contest (to quote Lawrence Schofield, a former player and Chairman) “flung away his baton in disgust and stalked off the platform"—but in true Hepworth style the band carried on, and back came the conductor before the end of the piece— “We wer’ alreight wi art thee” said one member of the band—“I thowt tha’ wer mendin’ a bit” was the reply, and the band ended up among the winners.

Allen Kaye was succeeded as conductor by Ernest and Willie Noble, W Beardsell and eventually by his son, Willie Kaye, who was with Hepworth Band from 1929, through the Second World War, becoming the longest serving conductor of the band.

In 1948, after 19 years as conductor of the band, Willie Kaye handed over the baton, for a short period, to Aner Beardsell, who was then succeeded by Willie’s younger brother George Kaye.

Early Band Picture

The fifties and early sixties was an extremely successful period for the band in the contest field, winning the prestigious Senior Cup at Belle Vue, Manchester in 1959 and gaining first prizes at Holmfirth Contest in 1951, 1960, 1961 and 1963, all under the leadership of George Kaye.

In May 1972 Hepworth Band again won the Senior Cup at Belle Vue and at the 50th. Holmfirth Contest in 1976 the band was awarded first prize. This performance was the last under the baton of George Kaye and it seemed fitting to win, thus bringing to an end a very successful partnership.

After short spells with Gordon Pulleyn and Roy Roe another successful era began with the appointment in 1978 of Peter Wadsworth as Musical Director. Many contest successes were recorded, in particular first prize at Belle Vue in the Senior Cup in 1979. At this time the band released its first LP record “Marching with Hepworth”

Centenary concert at Huddersfield Town Hall, with Roy Castle.

In 1982 the Band celebrated its Centenary and many events were organised throughout the year. Another record was released - “A Century of Brass” featuring many of the band’s soloists. The main event was a Celebrity Concert held at the famous Huddersfield Town Hall, with special guests Roy Castle, internationally renowned singers Marietta and Vernon Midgley and virtuoso pianist Keith Swallow. A capacity audience made the concert a resounding success and a very memorable evening was has by all.

On the retirement of Peter Wadsworth the band appointed Alan Jenkins as Musical Director. Alan, formerly a professional tuba player with the London Symphony Orchestra, immediately made his impression on the band and in the 1984 Yorkshire Area Contest Hepworth band were placed second, thus qualifying as Yorkshire Regional Representatives for the Second Section 2 of the National Contest. In October 1984 the band competed in the Albert Hall against other regional qualifiers and were awarded a creditable sixth place. As a result of this success the Band were promoted to the Championship Section.

Dewsbury Town Hall April 10th 1988.

In 1985, David Loukes was appointed Musical Director, maintaining the band’s Championship status until his departure in 1987. The band’s flirtation with the Championship Section was however all too brief and the late 80s saw a downturn in the band’s fortunes.

After a short spell under the direction of Roy Roe and Douglas Taylor, the band appointed Norman Law as Musical Director in 1990. Norman, formerly principal trombone with the Black Dyke Mills Band revived the band’s fortunes and under his direction, the 1990s proved to be another successful period in the band’s history. There were many highlights on the contest platform, qualifying twice to represent Yorkshire in the finals of the National Brass Band Championships; the band took the title at the Northern Open Championships on three occasions and took first place at the Greater Manchester Police Open Championships, Buxton Festival, Easingwold March Contest and the Holmfirth Contest on no fewer than seven occasions. This consistency on the contest scene was rewarded with promotion back to the Championship Section in 1999, when under Norman’s direction the band were rewarded with fifth place.

It was also during this period that the band established its own annual concert series at venues in and around the Huddersfield area and in 1999 the band recorded its first CD “Carnival”.

Following Norman’s departure in 2000, the band appointed Andrew Duncan as Musical Director. Andrew, a professional tuba player with the Hallé Orchestra and an arranger and composer for brass band maintained the band’s Championship status before moving back to his native Scotland in 2001. This made way for the appointment of Mark Bentham. Under Mark’s direction the band enjoyed notable success, taking the titles at the Northern Open Championships, Brass at the Guild Championships, Brighouse March & Hymn Tune Contest on four successive occasions, JJB March & Hymn Tune Contest and in 2004 being crowned Saddleworth Area Champions at the famous Whit Friday March Contests by taking four first prizes, two seconds and two thirds, as well as a number of soloist awards and also taking the title at the 2004 Scottish Open Brass Band Championships. The band earned promotion from the British Open Senior Cup into the Grand Shield with the opportunity to compete for a place in the British Open. The band’s success saw it climb to 15th in the British Bandman World Rankings

2004 saw the band secure a two-year sponsorship with the Leeds based Housebuilder Persimmon Homes West Yorkshire. The sponsorship enabled the band to fulfil a programme a capital investment, the most pressing being the renewal of instruments.

The band also made its second CD recording “Pratty Flowers” and recorded for BBC Radio 2’s Listen to the Band Programme.

The band won the Grand Shield in 2005 which gave the band promotion to the British Open Championships. We also recorded another CD with the Trumpet virtuoso Huug Steketee. Titled “Shining Waters” this showed the band’s ability to accompany as well as perform as centre band

In 2006 the Huddersfield based House builder and Property Developers Lanson Homes became the band's primary sponsor. This enabled the band to continue its growth and development.

2007 saw the 125th. anniversary of Hepworth Band. It was also the year of our first qualification for the Championship Section National Finals after a fantastic runners-up position at the Yorkshire Areas. 2007 also saw a new Primary Sponsor for the Band in the Huddersfield based Cookson Homes, as well as the release of two further CDs—Portraits and Celebration.

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