Tameside: Stand By for Whitsuntide 2017

East of the M60’s preview to this year’s Whit Friday Brass Band Contests in the Tameside area

Hard to believe we are three weeks away from either getting Strong and Stable Government®, or government for many and not the few.

Right, never mind that, it is also three weeks away to The World’s Greatest Free Show on Earth. Ladies and gentlemen, we at East of the M60 mean… Whit Friday. Hence our preview of the contests taking place in the Tameside area.

Stalybridge is the birthplace of the Whit Friday Brass Band Contest and it is claimed that the Cheshire town has held one since 1870. Then on the 05 June 1884, Mossley and Uppermill also held Whit Friday Brass Band Contests alongside Stalybridge. Slowly but surely, it spread beyond the three pioneering venues.

By the 1980s and 1990s, brass bands travelled to the Tameside and Saddleworth contests from as far afield as Cornwall. Come the 21st century, it became the norm to see at least one band from mainland Europe as well as Elland and Mossley Hollins School. With improved road, rail, and air connections, the number of contesting bands at each venue rose from around fifteen in the late 1960s to fifty by the late 1980s.

Tameside’s contests

In the last decade, the Tameside area has sustained ten to twelve brass band contests on a given Whit Friday. This year will see some changes, particularly in Ashton-under-Lyne and Dukinfield.

Since 1980, the Broadoak contest has been held at The Broadoak Hotel. With the landlord retiring, the contest has now moved 400 yards up St. Alban’s Avenue, to Ashton-under-Lyne Rugby Club.

The newest addition to the Tameside circuit is The Albion Hotel in Dukinfield. This will be Dukinfield’s second brass band contest venue with The Tame Valley servicing residents on Park Road. The Albion Hotel’s contest will be the first in the middle part of Dukinfield since the late 1980s, where The Black Knight pub was a venue.

There has previously been brass band contests in Hattersley, the Roaches Lock Hotel, Micklehurst (New Bridge Inn), the Cheshire Cheese pub in Newton, and The Station pub in Ashton-under-Lyne. Sadly missed among brass band lovers is the Millbrook contest which took place outside the Community Centre off Huddersfield Road.

This year’s Whit Friday contests

Ashton-under-Lyne:

  • Broadoak: Ashton-under-Lyne Rugby Union Football Club, St. Alban’s Avenue, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 8TU (1700 – 2300);
  • Hurst: Ashton United Football Club, Hurst Cross, Surrey Street, Hurst, OL6 8DY (1630 – 2215).

Audenshaw:

  • Aldwinians Rugby Union Football Club, Droylsden Road, Audenshaw, M34 5SN (1600 – 2230).

Denton:

  • Denton Cricket Club, Egerton Street, Denton, M34 3PB (1615 – 2300).

Droylsden:

  • The Bush Inn, Moorside Street, Droylsden, M43 7HL (1630 – 2300).

Dukinfield:

  • The Albion Hotel, 66, Jeffreys Drive, Dukinfield, SK16 4BZ (1630 – 2300);
  • Tame Valley Hotel, Park Road, Dukinfield, SK16 5LX (1630 – 2300).

Mossley:

  • Upper Mossley, Mountain Street, Mossley, OL5 0ES (1630 – 2200).

Stalybridge:

  • Carrbrook: Buckton Vale Social Club, Carr Rise, Carrbrook, SK15 3NY;
  • Heyrod: Heyrod Village Hall, John Street, Heyrod, SK15 3BW (1630 – 2230);
  • Stalybridge Celtic Football Club, Bower Fold, Mottram Road, Stalybridge, SK15 2RT (1630 – 2300);
  • Stalybridge town centre: The New Labour Club, Acres Lane, Stalybridge, SK15 2JR (1630 – 2200).

Best Venues for…

Wet weather: we hope this year’s Whit Friday isn’t going to be as soggy as last year’s. Ashton United Football Club is the best venue option for torrential rain, due to its grandstand facing the bands.

Acoustics: the reverb from two of the Stalybridge contests (Labour Club and Bower Fold) is second to none. This is also helped by the concrete floors at both venues. This is also true with the playground at the back of St. Joseph’s School in Mossley.

Nearby takeaways: the Stalybridge Labour Club is a short stride across Acres Lane from the Sun Lok chippy. The Golden Fish is similarly convenient for the Denton contest. Hurst Cross and Upper Mossley contests are also very good for chips. The lure of George’s chippy could be too good to miss for our latest venue in Dukinfield.

Taking your dog: Ashton-under-Lyne and Aldwinians rugby clubs, and Denton cricket club are probably the most dog friendly. As always, please remember to carry the poop scoop bags.

A good sit down: The New Labour Club at Stalybridge has plenty of chairs at ground level. Plus there’s 250 to choose from at Hurst Cross.

Public transport: for bus connections, the Hurst Cross and Stalybridge Labour Club contests are your best options. The Aldwinians contest benefits from being off the 216 bus route and regular trams.

Your Whitsuntide Calendar

Whit Friday is part of what is known as Holy Week in the Christian church’s calendar. Here’s how Tameside will celebrate Whit Week.

  • 04 June (Whit Sunday/Pentecost): Whit Walks in Dukinfield (1000 – 1200) and Stalybridge (1330 – 1530);
  • 05 June (Whit Monday): a normal workday (sorry folks);
  • 09 June (Whit Friday): Whit Walks in Mossley (0930 – 1100) and Whit Friday Brass Band Contests (various venues, 1600 – 2300).

Please note that bus services may be delayed, diverted or suspended on Whit Sunday and Whit Friday. Arrive as early as possible and allow more time for your journey. For Stalybridge and Mossley, the train might be a better option.

And finally…

With many contests being a short distance on foot, it is possible to walk to your local contest. Whatever happens on Whit Friday weather wise, you will be in for a memorable day. No wonder it is hailed as The Greatest Free Show on Earth.

S.V., 19 May 2017.

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