History of Marsden Band
In The Beginning
Marsden Band was formed in 1889 following the decision of the Holme Mills Brass Band to change its name to reflect the name of its village. At this time the main industry in Marsden village was wool - with numerous textile mills dotted around the landscape. Marsden had little if any transport links to and from the nearest large town of Huddersfield and so unsurprisingly the Band's membership was made up of mostly mill workers. The Band had no headquarters and led a nomadic existence holding rehearsals at a succession of different hostelries around the village.
Early Band Life
Marsden Band was a typical village band, spending its time rehearsing for and playing in contests and playing at the usual social events organised by the local community. They also participated in local celebrations such as a march that was held to mark the end of the Boer War. Highlights were appearing in the annual carnival, and the opening of the new bandstand in 1912; which was a big occasion for this mill village.
Records are sketchy of contests, but an achievement that stands out was the 1st place at Belle Vue in 1936, as well as appearances in the British Open in the 1930's. The Band managed to keep going through WW2 and survived where many bands fell by the wayside - even though rehearsals were sparsely attended and so many of its members were serving soldiers. The Band bounced back in 1946 and are on record as having competed in the first Yorkshire area held in that year.
After WW2 time marched on and the Band continued in much the same vein as in the beginning of the century, with local galas and carnivals to keep it occupied. Milestones included rebuilding and refurbishing its headquarters (which used to house a fish and chip shop) and in 1961 the arrival of their 1st female brass player! But competitively, although there are contest successes on record, the Band remained in the lower sections - until the arrival of Alan Widdop in the early 1990's, followed by Glyn Williams in 2004.
No history of Marsden Band is complete without mention of its success at march contests. Over the last twenty years the Band has built up an enviable reputation, with accolades including Brighouse Champions for three consecutive years, frequent wins at Morley and Hebden Bridge, as well as winning other local march contests. But it is Whit Friday where the Band really come into their own, having been crowned Local Saddleworth Champions many times. The band contests on Whit Friday began as evening entertainment for the bands that had spent the morning marching with their local church processions. Up until 2012, Marsden still continued to participate in the morning walk from Diggle to Uppermill, which made the evenings successes all the more meaningful. There is an immense sense of pride felt by the Band on Whit Friday each year as they process down the high street at Delph to the accompanying cheers and applause.
After 11 successful years with Marsden Band, Glyn Williams departed for new challenges in South Wales. Following a brief musical partnership with John Hinckley, the band welcomed the return of Alan Widdop in October 2016 as Musical Director of the band. We aim higher at each contest - with our best to date being 2nd place at the Scottish Open in 2013. And we are looking to expand our audience, with recent ventures including new concert formats, appearing on Yorkshire Tea adverts, playing (our instruments!) at the 2013 Test Cricket matches, and even providing the entertainment for a tea party aboard the Orient Express. 2014 saw our 125th anniversary and we celebrated this in style with a CD recorded to include pieces that held a significant place in our history, and a large concert to reunite current and previous players.
No matter where we go, we always remain proud ambassadors for the village of Marsden.