ELHAS News - November 2016

Meeting Report November 2016

Our last meeting of 2016 brought us an illustrated talk about the history of the Black Dyke Band by former band member John Clay.

John began his talk by explaining a little about his own history. He began playing the cornet at age nine and from then on his ambition was to play in a brass band. At fourteen he was offered a place with the famous Black Dyke Band and sold his bike, with help from his father, in order to buy his own cornet. He was to spend the next fifteen years playing with the band, becoming principal cornet and winning many awards. The band also influenced his choice of career. Since reaching the age of fifteen, and having been a band member for a year, he simply asked the company for a job and so went to work in the textile industry.

Beginning his history of the band John explained that there was a tradition of reeds and brass bands in the Queensbury area which dated back to 1816. The Black Dyke Mills band however sprang form the Queenshead band which had got into difficulties in 1855 and was rescued by John Foster, owner of the Black Dyke Mill after which the new band was called. The band was not only made up of employees of the mill, although many were included in the line up. But also employed professional conductors whose task was to ensure that the band was one of the finest in the country, and a worthy winner of the National Championship, an accolade it was achieved many times in its existence. In fact we were amazed as John recalled over 150 years of the history of the band, naming all the conductors and principal players and the awards they had received. He also explained the dedication and commitment needed from band members to be able to compete at the highest level, and we were impressed by his own obvious enthusiasm and devotion to not only the band but to music in general. He explained how the band was a leader in the world of brass bands, by making a recording as early as 1904, and embarking on a five month tour of the United States and Canada in 1906. His tremendous knowledge of the band's history made fascinating listening and we enjoyed his recollections of life as a bandsman. He was also proud to point out stories of famous people who were associated with the band from Edward Heath to Paul McCartney. The litany of concerts and events attended by the band over the years made us exhausted just to think of it.

We thoroughly enjoyed John's talk and wish the Black Dyke Mills band every success in years to come. The meeting ended with warn drinks and mince pies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tim Green aka atouch

The next meeting on Monday 30th January 2017 will be an illustrated talk by Ross Horsley from the Local Studies Department of Leeds Central Library entitled "The Ghost Stories of Lord Halifax" - Eerie goings on at Temple Newsam no doubt.