Saddleworth Comes to Blackpool! Boarshurst Silver Goes Fourth

Newly promoted First Section band gains fourth place spot in the North West Regional Championships

  • Oldham Band (Lees) wins First Section prize – and promotion to the Championship Section;
  • Second section joy for Middleton Band;
  • Plus a look at how our other local brass bands fared at Blackpool.
Empress Ballroom Winter Gardens Blackpool
The Empress Ballroom in its full glory. Image by Michael D. Beckwith, 2016.

Yesterday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, Boarshurst Silver Band and Oldham (Lees) Band both had a North West Regional Championships date to remember. The Greenfield-based band, conducted by James Garlick, have made waves in their short time as a First Section band. After clinching a Second Place prize at Brass At The Guild in Preston, they came fourth in the North West Regional Championships.

Only five years ago, Boarshurst Silver Band were a Third Section band. With the nurturing of young local talent and astute appointments, their rise has been phenomenal. At this year’s North West Regional Championships, they were the highest placed brass band in Saddleworth. Out of sixteen bands in their section their closest rivals, Diggle finished fifteenth.

Seventh time lucky – as the thirteenth band!

Oldham Band (Lees), at the seventh point of asking, clinched the First Section title in the North West Regional Championships. Their success will see the Lees based band in the Championship Section. Holly Raynor and Jordan Hall also picked up Best Percussion prizes. They shall be following Freckleton Band to Cheltenham. John Collins, Musical Director said on the Oldham Band (Lees) website: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet – this is the one we really wanted and all the hard work over the past few weeks has paid off.

“Seven members from the original band I started in 2004 were on stage with me yesterday, along with 14 members that have come up through our junior band. I am so proud of what we have achieved. Cheltenham here we come!”

Sarah Groarke-Booth and Glyn Williams adjudicated the First Section contest. Both adjudicators were happy with the overall standard though noticed discrepancies in tone, inflection, and the ‘whole band sound’.

Cheltenham Joy for Middleton, Flixton and Sale bands

In the Second Section, there was joy for Kevin Gibbs and Co. as Middleton Brass Band booked their place in the National Finals. They did so in style finishing as the North West’s Second Section Winners. Unsurprisingly, you couldn’t hide their elation at Gillow’s Bar, which was infectious. Also following them to The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse will be Flixton Band. They finished third behind Bollington Brass.

Stalybridge Old Band were relieved to have finished in tenth place in the Third Section contest. This allayed any fears that Musical Director David Ashworth had of the world’s oldest brass band falling into the Fourth Section. From the Fourth Section, Sale Brass finished second and booked their place at Cheltenham.

Alan Seymour also received a boost in his role as Musical Director for BMP Europe Ltd Goodshaw Band. By the end of December, the band was in a state of flux with missing players. With only weeks to rustle up a band before the North West Regional Championships, he succeeded come February. For their efforts, BMP Europe Ltd Goodshaw Band came sixth. After working wonders with Sale Brass, could he do the same again for a long established Lancashire band off the A682?


Please note that (Q) refers to brass bands that have qualified for the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall (Championship section only) and The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse (Sections 1 to 4). (PQ) also refers to bands that have already qualified. They are also denoted in green text. Bands which finished in the top six places outside the qualifying positions are denoted in orange.

All Greater Manchester based brass bands are denoted in bold type.

Championship Section, Opera House:

Test Piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury);

  1. Foden’s (Nicholas Childs) (Q);
  2. Leyland Band (Thomas Wyss) (Q);
  3. Fairey (Garry Cutt) (PQ);
  4. Vernon Building Society Poynton Band (Stig Maersk);
  5. Pemberton Old Wigan DW Band (Ben Dixon);
  6. Wingates Band (Paul Andrews);
  7. Longridge Band (Mark Peacock);
  8. TCTC Group (Jef Sparkes);
  9. Rainford Band (Gareth Brindle);
  10. Milnrow Band (Mark Bentham);
  11. Ashton-under-Lyne Band (Philip Chalk).

Best Soprano: Richard Poole (Foden’s).

Best Percussion: Leyland Band.

Youngest Player: Adam Penlington (15).

Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent and Jim Davies.

First Section, Empress Ballroom:

Test Piece: Brass Metamorphosis (James Curnow).

  1. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins) (Q);
  2. Freckleton (Paul Dalton) (Q);
  3. Wardle Anderson Brass (Sean Conway);
  4. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick);
  5. Haslingden and Helmshore (Simon Cowen);
  6. Blackburn and Darwen (Dr. David Thornton);
  7. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray);
  8. Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  9. Mossley (Duncan Byers);
  10. Silk Brass (Tony Wyatt);
  11. Crewe Brass (Matt Pithers);
  12. Manx Concert Brass (Ian Clague MBE);
  13. Cheshire Constabulary (David Woollam);
  14. Diggle (Melvin Tay);
  15. Poulton-Le-Fylde (Andrew Warriner).

Best Percussion: Oldham Band (Lees).

Adjudicators: Sarah Groarke-Booth and Glyn Williams.

Second Section, Pavilion Theatre:

Test Piece: Ex Terra Lucem (Jonathan Bates).

  1. Middleton Band (Kevin Gibbs) (Q);
  2. Bollington Brass (Peter Christian) (Q);
  3. Flixton Band (Ian Brownbill) (Q);
  4. Old Hall Brass (John North);
  5. Besses O’Th’Barn (Trevor Halliwell);
  6. Marple Band (Stephen Curtis):
  7. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn);
  8. Greenfield (Tom Haslam);
  9. Pemberton Old Wigan DW ‘B’ Band (Mike Golding);
  10. Blackpool Brass (John Pearson);
  11. Eagley (Christopher Wormald);
  12. Formby (Louise Hough MBE);
  13. Hazel Grove Band (Nigel Beasley);
  14. Farnworth and Walkden Band (Luke Pallister);
  15. Besses Boys (James Holt);
  16. Whitworth Vale and Healey (Chris Binns);
  17. Horwich RMI Band (Matthew Ryan);
  18. Valley Brass (Haydock) (David Chadwick);
  19. Delph Band (Phil Goodwin);
  20. Darwen Brass (Gordon Clough);
  21. Trinity Girls (David Ashworth).

Best Trombones: Bollington Brass.

Best Percussion: Besses Boys.

Adjudicators: Tom Davoren and Derek Southcott.

Third Section, Empress Ballroom:

Test Piece: Napoleon on the Alps (Philip Harper).

  1. Eccleston Band (John Wood) (Q);
  2. Allerton Brass (Adam Taylor) (Q);
  3. Uppermill Band (Dean Redfern);
  4. Littleborough Band (Adrian Woodhead);
  5. Douglas Town Band (Ken Mitchell);
  6. Hoover Bolton (Craig Mann);
  7. Rivington and Adlington Band (Malcolm Wilson);
  8. City of Chester Brass Band (Ewan Easton MBE);
  9. Greenall’s Brass Band (Phil Boardman);
  10. Stalybridge Old Band (David W. Ashworth);
  11. Hawk Green Brass Band (Neil Hewson);
  12. Skelmersdale Prize Band (James Hall);
  13. Golborne Brass Band (Matthew Swan);
  14. Thornton Cleveleys Band (Stephen Craig);
  15. Pilling Jubilee Silver Band (Steve Hartley);
  16. Dobcross Silver Band (Grenville Moore).

Best Percussion: Douglas Town Band.

Adjudicators: Leigh Baker and Gary Davies.

Fourth Section, Opera House:

Test Piece: World Tour (Rodney Newton).

  1. Lostock Hall Memorial Band (Joshua Hughes) (Q);
  2. Sale Brass Band (John Anderson) (Q);
  3. Stacksteads Band (Fred Bowker);
  4. Parr St. Helen’s Band (John Ludden);
  5. Rode Hall Silver Band (Nigel Butler);
  6. BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw Band (Alan Seymour);
  7. Brindle Band (Keith Richmond);
  8. Blackley Band (Adrian Smith);
  9. Ramsey Town Band (Robert Quane);
  10. Cadishead Public Band (David Holland);
  11. Stockport Silver Band (Alex Parker);
  12. Denton Brass Band (Jim Hunter).

Best Basses: Lostock Hall Memorial Band.

Best Percussion: Lostock Hall Memorial Band.

Adjudicators: Paul Holland and Brian Rostron.

On reflection

Whether your band finished first, fifth or fifteenth, getting a band together is fraught with difficulty. Sometimes their positions alone cannot tell the full story. For example: personnel issues – players joining other bands or going to university. Or Musical Directors coming or going. Other issues external to the band can have an effect – such as premises, funding streams, and fundraising efforts.

We would also like to commend the bands who have made every effort to get to the Regional Championships. Especially where players and MDs need to form a band at short notice. With Alan Seymour, Goodshaw Band could be one to watch in the next year.

Following the arrival of Jim Hunter, Denton Brass Band could find their wings and they will. At their recent concert at Boarshurst Band Club, they showed some promise. Denton Brass Band too were in a similar position to their fellow Lancastrian peers. Their position in the Fourth Section on Sunday is at odds with the new air of confidence in their band room.

We wish all our bands the very best in what they do this year and beyond. In the National Finals at Cheltenham we hope Oldham Band (Lees), Middleton Band, Flixton Band, and Sale Brass fly the flag for Greater Manchester. Likewise with Fairey in London come October. Whether your band is going to Cheltenham, London, and/or any of the local contests, the hard work starts now.

S.V., 26 February 2018.

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