Tameside turns out for annual Whit Friday Brass Band Contests

The people of Tameside turned out in their numbers last week for the annual Whit Friday Brass Band Contests.

Thousands packed out venues across the borough for the greatest free show on earth with over 70 bands competing in 11 different contests – some from as far as Leicester and Coventry in the Midlands.

Mossley claimed the local championship, finishing third ahead of Stalybridge Old Band and St John’s.

Ashton-under-Lyne Band finished third in the open section after coming runners-up at Broadoak, Hurst Cross and Stalybridge Celtic.

The open title was taken by Foden’s, who have now been crowned winners in 15 of the last 16 years. The band from Sandbach was victorious at Audenshaw, Carrbrook, Hurst Cross, Stalybridge Celtic and Top Mossley.

Tameside also hosted its second youth competition – with Hattersley Brass Band finishing a close second place behind Macclesfield Youth.

The popularity of the traditional event – which has been running for almost 150 years – grows year on year and is organised by Tameside Council in partnership with the Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Brass Band Contest.

The Hyde and Stalybridge MP, Jonathan Reynolds, was in attendance and believes the contests go from strength to strength every year.

He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic! It’s a massive part of our history and culture but it’s also not something we just do because we’ve done it in the past – it’s a really good thing to come to.

“We had a great Whit Walk in Mossley in the morning and then the Brass Band Contests – it really means something. If you wanted to set this up yourself you really couldn’t recreate it.

“All the venues are volunteer-led and it’s keeping the history going. It’s fantastic to see the difference in the age range with people involved too – some who have done it for years and new faces too.”

Paul Norley, the judge of the Brass Band contest at the Stalybridge Labour Club, described the difficult job he had of scoring the bands.

“We judge the bands on musical performances, accurate performances, a good dynamic range and the key is the word ‘performance’ – a sense of performance to everything.

“I’ve done a lot of brass band adjudication but this was my first time at the Whit Friday contests. To prepare, we do a lot of score study, a lot of listening, we like to be on top of the genre so we know what we are listening for so we can reflect on the accuracy.

“It’s a busy job – it’s a case of using your memory, making notes and referring back to them to make sure you place every band in the exactly the right place.”

Robert Frost, the landlord of the Broadoak Hotel in Ashton which hosted one of the contests, added: “It’s a sad day for me because it’s my last Brass Band Contest before I retire in June.

“I’ve been here for 36 years and the Brass Band Contests have been at Broadoak for 38 years – it’s always a fantastic day.”

You can see a full list of results from the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests in this week’s edition of the Tameside Reporter.

By Adam Higgins
Images by Nigel Wood