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Worksop Miners Welfare Band History

 The first ever mention of Worksop Band was on 16th August 1832 making us one of the oldest bands in the country.

Arthur R.Taylor, in his book 'Brass Bands' (Granada Publishing 1979) says: 

'In the Midlands, according to the minutes of the Worksop Gas Company, no less, the Worksop Band were present when town gas was first switched on in the streets on 16th August 1832. The band 'contributed greatly towards enlivening the gay scene by playing several popular airs in superior style'.' 

Although 16th August 1832 is well established as documentary proof of its existence at that time, what we don't know is how much further back does it really go? It has to be acknowledged however, that no Band can claim to be a Brass Band before the 1830's because the system of valves had not been invented by Adolfe Sax, and many 'Bands' were in fact wind Bands comprising a variety of woodwind and brass instruments. 

Throughout the 1800's the band played at many civic functions 

In 1860, there was the first published photograph showing the Worksop Band "after having been placed fourth in a competition at Belle Vue, Manchester." This is slightly incorrect as the competition in which the Worksop Band was placed fourth was the British Open Championship which took place at Belle Vue in 1857. 
Another photograph said to date from 1870 shows Band players standing beneath a banner in Victoria Square. 

In the Worksop Guardian on July 15th 1871, it was reported that the annual festival held on the previous Monday (10th) of the various lodges of the Oddfellows. These lodges were connected with the Nottingham Sherwood Order of Oddfellows. The members of the Abbey Lodge No.131 assembled at the house of Mr Joseph Garside, the Priorswell Inn, where about 130 members had a substantial dinner. This lodge was established about 1843. The Lodge was headed by the Worksop Brass Band, who also played a programme of music in a tent. A presentation was made to Mr George Gregory for his services to the Band. This was in the form of a wooden Cornet Box made by Mr Townsend another member of the band. 

The Worksop Guardian reported on May 8th 1896, that the Worksop Band under the conductorship of Mr H.Pressley played in the Market Square and Victoria Square on alternate Wednesday evenings, where collection boxes were taken round in order to raise funds for the band. 

Also in 1908 the Worksop Band took part in the Priory Sunday School Treat on the Plain Piece (now known as Bracebridge recreation ground). The children and adults congregated on the Market Place where the band played 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. The procession made its way to the Plain Piece via Sparken Hill. At that time the Band was 16 strong and the conductor was Mr H.Pressley. The children were given tea, after which they enjoyed themselves in games and races. Some of the adults danced to the music of the Town Band. 

1910 was a busy year for the Worksop Band. The July 1st edition of the Worksop Guardian made reference to Empire Day Celebrations with Worksop Band in attendance. 

In addition to new uniforms a number of new instruments were purchased through the generosity of the late Mr William Allen. 

The Great War takes it's toll on the Band

The Band 'disbanded' during the first World War, during which many musicians were on active service. Three members of the Band did not return, having been killed in action. They were Charles Redfern, James Ratcliffe, and Walter Malkin. 

Worksop Guardian - Friday September 17th 1915 

"THE GREAT SACRIFICE - Local men killed and wounded 

Drummer Malkin, Worksop, Killed 

Old soldier's gallant end 

Among the brave who have fallen in the fierce fighting at the Dardenelles is Drummer Walter Malkin, 9th Sherwood Forresters, of 32 Abbey Steet, Worksop, and son of Mrs Malkin of Thorpe Hesley, Near Rotherham, and brother of Sgnt. Malkin of the Worksop Territorials. Drummer Malkin had an adventurous career. He had long served as a soldier and was a time-expired man, when he rejoined to fight against the brutal Germans. Worksop people will remember him best by reason of his association with the old Town Band, of which organisation he was, as drummer, a most picturesque and useful asset. It was a spectacle worth seeing to witness him marching along, with the big drum slung in front of him, and swinging his sticks in masterly fashion. As a drummer he knew his business as well as any drum-major in the Army." Walter Malkin was killed in action on August 4th. 

Band gets into debt!

In 1922 new instruments were purchased costing £484. The President Mr C.A.Longbottam gave £50 and lent them another £50 towards the first instalment of £200. 

Mr T.H.Bell took over the baton in 1920,

A hectic period of contesting accounts for the trophies now in the Band's possession, two of which were presented by local firms for competition in Worksop. 
1937 the band changed it's name to Worksop Silver Prize Band but the storm clouds were gathering over the future of the band. 1927 saw a flurry of correspondence with the Worksop Guardian over the cost of servicing a loan taken out in 1922 for the purchase of new instruments and an outstanding debt of £120 + 5% pa. 

On Friday 29th April 1927, the Worksop Guardian printed the following letter: 

"I understand the Worksop band are making special efforts to wipe out the debt on their new instruments this year, and are working very hard in that direction. It is up to us who love music to assist them in their efforts by our attendance at concerts and by our subscriptions when possible and I trust that when they are cleared of their debts, they will use their efforts to try to get together a band which will eventually compete in the same class as Creswell. This can be done if the people of Worksop and district will give their support. I trust the weather will be favourable and that the public will turn up in their thousands if only as an appreciation of the Creswell Band, for the many sacrifices they have made for charities in Worksop, and also a reward for the untiring efforts which are being made by the officials of the Town Band" 

Yours faithfully G.Sharp 

By way of reply, the Worksop Guardian printed a follow-up letter on the following Friday, 6th May, 1927 

Dear Sir, Having read in the Guardian a letter signed by 'G.Sharp' last week, I would like to reply through your valuable newspaper. My sincere thanks to the writer of that letter, it gives be great pleasure to know that Worksop has people with real sporting spirit. 

There is not the slightest doubt that give Worksop people the goods and they will support it to the utmost, and that is one of the efforts of the Worksop Town Prize Band - to give the people a chance of hearing a band that ranks with the best bands in Great Britain. We have appealed several times to the public to help us wipe off the debt on our instruments, which is holding us back. This done, we shall be able to extend our efforts in the brass band world. It is up to the public of Worksop and district to give Creswell Prize Band a real good welcome to both afternoon and evening concerts. Do as 'G.Sharp' says, come in thousands, support our efforts land hear music as it should be played. 

Yours truly, M.E.Dixon (Secretary) 

The following advertisement appeared in the Worksop Guardian of Friday April 29th 1927: 

"Worksop Silver Prize Band - Instrument Fund. Great attraction. Two Sacred Concerts by the Creswell Colliery Institute Prize Band on Sunday May 8th 1927 on the Cricket Ground Worksop at 2.45pm and 7.45pm. Admission 1/- & 6d 

A further letter to the Worksop Guardian on May 20th 1927 from the organising secretary of the band Mr E.Dixon reads as follows: 

Dear Sir, I shall be more than obliged if you will spare me space once again in your valuable paper. What I really want is the public of Worksop and district to know the exact financial position of the Town Band to date. It is now five years since it purchased a new set of instruments on, in the true sense of the word, the easy payments system. At present we owe the firm £120 with a %5 interest per annum added. The Committee and bandsmen readily agree that we have not paid our account as it should have been paid, as per our agreement. This being a Colliery Town, we had a great setback last year 1926, owing to the Coal Dispute, and I can safely say, the Band did all they could in their playing, to help the Children's Feeding Fund, free of charge. Accordingly I feel sure that no one in Worksop would like the Town Band to surrender their instruments, owing to not being able to meet the payments, and no-one can say the Band and Committee have not endeavoured to reduce that account by Whist Drives, Dances etc. We even went to the expense of engaging the famous Creswell Colliery Institute Band for two concerts, but unfortunately these were not successful. 

Since our balance sheets have been sent our, we have had a good response to our appeal. Below I give a list of subscribers and I shall be more than grateful for every penny subscribed to the Band, as our aim is to clear the debt off by the end of 1927. 

List of subscribers since January 21st 1927: 

Mr J.T.Shardlow £5-5-0
His Grace the Duke of Newcastle £3-0-0
Mr L.H.Allen £1-1-0
Worksop & Retford Brewers £2-0-0
Councillor T.Fullard £1-0-0
Councillor J.White 10-0
Mr F.Lawman 10-0 

Messrs F.Atherton, C.V.Berry, F.C.Wellacott, W.Knowles, J.Haslam, H.A.Borrowdale, E.J.Ellis, J.H.Storey, R.T.North, F.W.Welham, A.W.Kirkham all 5/- each. Mr A.Kelley 3/- Messrs J.H.Woodhall, A.Friend, J.H.Smith, C.Godfrey, E.J.White, J.Morrison, W.Gunn, H.Wilkinson, D,Stacey, A.Tank, W.E.Parkin, W.E.Grimshaw all 2/6d each. Messrs G.Warnick, E.Lane, H.Smith, F.E.Black, J.W.Freeman, A.Hunt, J.Stringfellow & Mrs Wilkinson 2/- each. Messrs J.Callaghan, G.Laws, A.Kettingham, H.Ellis 1/- each. 

If any Lady or Gentleman would like a balance sheet of the year ending 1926 I shall be pleased to let them have one by applying at the address below, or to Mr F.Handley, Band Secretary, Bridge Street, or Mr G.Lee, 46, Church Walk. 

The situation was clearly resolved in due course and Messrs Boosey and Hawke's account cleared. The crisis also encouraged the Band to appoint trustees to secure the future of its assets, and a legal document was drawn up which remains in force today, requiring the Band to appoint succeeding trustees for that purpose. 

More Prizes for the Band

Between 1925 and 1927 three Annual Brass Band contests were held in Worksop, promoted by the Worksop Silver Prize Band. It was during this period that three more trophies came into the Band's possession. 

On 20th March 1931, at the North Notts Music Festival the Worksop Borough Silver Prize Band entered three quartets in the open section with an own choice of music, and the results were as follows: 

Worksop Town Band "A" quartet, 90 points, Worksop Town Band "C" quartet, 89 points, Worksop Town Band "B" quartet, 83 points 

All the quartets were conducted by Mr Clyde Pressley. 

On May 1st the Worksop Guardian reported that the Worksop Borough Silver Prize Band were amongst the competitors who had entered the Manchester Belle Vue contest the following day, Saturday 2nd, and that on the same evening (Friday) they were to play their test piece at the second performance at the Pavilion Theatre. 

At the Committee Meeting of "Worksop Silver Prize Band" on August 5th 1931 it was resolved "that the resignation of Mr R.Allison be accepted with regret and that a letter of thanks be sent to Mr Allison in recognition of long and valuable service to the Band of over 40 years." The meeting was also attended by Messrs A.Allison, T.Allison and H.Allison. 

The same meeting agreed for the Chairman Mr Sam Martin to interview a Mr R.Allison Junr re becoming a member of the Band. This provides a classic example of how families become involved in brass banding, there being up to five members of the Allison family involved at this time in its history. 

It was further resolved "that every Bandsman be notified to be at the French Horn Hotel on August 9th to be measured for uniform." 

It was also resolved that "best of thanks be accorded to Mr G.Raynes and Mr W.Finch for their willingness to be bandsmen for £50.0.0 each to the National Bank to enable the Band to obtain new uniforms." 

At the committee meeting on August 19th 1931 it was resolved "that the action of the Chairman, Secretary and Financial Secretary be confirmed re uniforms from Messrs Boosey and Hawkes re price etc be accepted as satisfactory." Twelve days later, and no doubt with a degree of urgency in view of the impending Charter Day celebrations the new uniforms had arrived. The committee meeting on August 31st resolved "that a letter of appreciation be sent to Boosey and Hawkes regarding uniforms as to quality, fitting and time in turning out same." 

Another name change

At the Committee Meeting on 1st February 1932 it was resolved "that the Band Stamp be changed and that a new one be purchased with new name Worksop Borough Silver Prize Band" Clearly this was a reflection of the granting of the Worksop Charter in 1931, where the band decided that the change in name brought a closer association with the local authority of the day. 

The generosity of Messrs Raynes and Finch in funding uniforms in 1931, was recognised seven years later when they appeared on the letterhead as President and Vice-President respectively. 

Prior to this the band was called Worksop Silver Prize Band, but by 1949 the 'silver prize' had been dropped and the title changed to "Worksop Borough Band". By then the headquarters were the British Legion on Westgate; the Chairman was Mr E.Booth and the conductor Mr H.Dunwell. The Balance Sheet for that year makes reference to the need to purchase instruments, as the last major acquisition was 27 years previously in 1922. 

In October 1931, under the conductorship of Mr Clyde Pressley, the Worksop Borough Band figured prominently in the Charter Day celebrations. 

In 1932 the Band won the Daily Mirror Challenge Cup at Crystal Palace. Under the conductorship of Clyde Pressley the Worksop Borough Band competed in section 4, junior B contest. There were 24 other bands competing in the same section. Another local band Shirebrook competed in the same section, although the results are not known. 

The Worksop Guardian reported on 15th November 1935, that the Worksop Borough Band had led the Armistice Parade the previous Sunday, 10th November, 1935. "The observance of Armistice Sunday was most impressive in Worksop". The assembly took place in the Station Yard and the parade marched to Newcastle Street Methodist Church in the following order; the Police, the Worksop Borough Silver Prize Band, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, the 8th Sherwood Foresters, the St.John Ambulance Brigade, British Legion Branches, Aldermen, Councillors and staff of the Borough, officers of the Victoria Hospital Committee, members of the Friendly Societies, the Boys Brigade, Scouts and Girl Guides. 

In May 1938, the Worksop Borough Band entered the contest at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, and won 2nd prize in Group C, Group 2. In July of the same year they entered another contest and won fifth prize in Class B. Also in 1938 the band entered the first Butlin's Brass Band Festival at Skegness on September 10th and gained Ist prize in the Third Section. The Adjudicator was Mr Frank Wright. 

The Band also played at Butlin's second Annual Brass Festival at Skegness on 17th July, 1939. The test piece was "Fidelio" (Beethoven), the conductor was Mr Clyde Pressley, and the adjudicator Mr H.Bennettt. 

The band moves home

In 1941 the band moved from the British Legion Club on Westgate to the Club Room at the Swan Inn on Castle Street, and by that time had dropped the "silver prize" from its title, and was thereafter known as the Worksop Borough Band. 

At the end of the Second World War, the Worksop Borough Band performed as part of the Victory Day celebrations in Worksop. 

The Worksop Band became one of the founder members of the North East Midlands Brass Band Association, formed in 1946, and remains a member to this day. 

Also in 1946 the Worksop Borough Band played "Songs of England" at the National League of Bands Association Festival at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, when the adjudicator was Mr J.A.Greenwood. 

The Worksop Guardian reported in 1947 that "it is some years now, since a brass band contest was held in Worksop, and considerable interest was taken in the competition which was held in the grounds of the British Legion Club, Westgate." The contest was arranged by the North East Midlands Brass Band Association, and was the first to be organised by what was then a newly formed Association. The test piece was "Recollections of Mendlesohn", and the adjudicator Mr G.Hespe of Sheffield. The results were as follows: 

Second Section : 1st Prize Worksop Borough, Conductor Mr N.Brown, 2nd Teversal Colliery, Conductor Mr S.Smith, 3rd Killamarsh, Conductor Mr C.Shimwell, Mansfield Borough, Conductor Mr M.---, Shirebrook C.W., Conductor Mr J.Brotherhood, Pleasley C.W., Conductor Mr Wm.Coupe, Langwith C.W., Conductor -------- 

In 1949 re-conditioned jackets and trousers were purchased at a cost of £202.18s.6d. At the 1950 Annual General Meeting held on 27th January at the British Legion Club on Westgate, it was reported that the Income for the year had been £432.9.11 and the expenditure £350.16.6. The retiring Chairman was Mr W.J.Lindley, the elected Chairman was Mr C.Brooks, Vice-Chairman Mr G.Outlow, Conductor Mr C.Pressley, Assistant Conductor and General Secretary Mr H.Dunwell. It was further stated that a learners class had been started with a Mr William Bend in charge. 

In 1951 W.Lindley was honoured by the National Brass Band Club by the award of a certificate of Honorary Life Membership for over 50 years service to the Brass Band movement. It is interesting to note that the certificate is signed by the legendary Harry Mortimer, who at the time was its President, and who died in 1992. 

On the death of His Majesty King George VI, the Worksop Borough Band was engaged to play on the day (Friday 8th February 1952) when the Mayor of Worksop read the Royal Proclamation of the Accession to the Throne of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The ceremony took place in the Market Place and the band played a fanfare, "Abide with me" and the "National Anthem". The Band's expenses amounting to £41.2s.6d. were paid by Worksop Corporation. 

On Coronation Day, Wednesday May 12th 1952, Worksop Borough Band were again engaged along with Shireoaks Colliery Band to play Dance music on the Cricket Ground until about 9.30pm. 

In March 1959, the band purchased 24 Blazers and badges from Worksop Co-operative Society Ltd, Eastgate, for £230.15s.6d. 

Having been secretary for some years Herbert Dunwell took over as conductor when the Band became Worksop Miners Welfare Band in the early 1960's.


The band continues to contest throughout the 1960's and 70's

Also in 1962 Worksop Miners Welfare Band was placed third at the Chesterfield contest. It also competed in the North East Midlands Brass Band Association contest at Thoresby Welfare. This was on 18th November, when the test piece was "Il Travatore" (Verdi) 

Under the conductorship of Mr H.Dunwell, the band took part in another contest when the test piece was "Little Suite for Brass" by Malcom Arnold. This was on 3rd March 1968. The band competed in the Third Section against nine competitors and the adjudicator was Mr W.A.Scholes. 

On 5th March 1978 at Sheffield City Hall, the band again competed in the Yorkshire Welfare Committee of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation 29th Annual Brass Band Festival. The Band competed in the Third Section under the conductorship of Mr K.Morgan. The test piece was "Call of the Sea" by Eric Ball and the adjudicator was Mr E.Denton. 


Under new MD Tony Dowd a German sub group was formed

In the late 1980's a German Band sub-group was formed known as “Die Munchen Muncheners Spasskapellar”, undertaking engagements from a repertoire of German Bierkeller music brought in by the then MD Tony Dowd (former bandsman with the Royal Green Jackets) who had served in Germany.  

 1998 the band becomes a charity

In 1998 after adopting a new Constitution, the Charity Commissioners granted the Band Charitable Status (Registered Charity No 1069527) 

Reg Alletson, who had been Band Secretary for 36 years stepped down as Secretary to become Band Librarian in March 1998, and Richard Chapman took on the role of Secretary. 

At the Bassetlaw Chairman's Charity Concert in February 1999, Solo Cornet Player Tony Beech and First Cornet Player John Raynor also received Long Service Awards. 

Between 1995 and 1999, the Band was fortunate to receive grants from several sources, enabling not only purchase of the music stand banners, but also a full range of waterproofs for outdoor engagements (Bassetlaw District Council), uniforms for young players (Focus on Young People in Bassetlaw, Charity on Wheels and Bassetlaw Disrict Council), leather music folders (Stones Brewery), and financing for a replacement euphonium (Bassetlaw District Council) 


2008 Worksop Miner’s Welfare Band’s longest serving Member gets award. 

Reg Alletson joined the Worksop band way back in 1948 when he was just 10 yrs old and has been a dedicated and loyal member ever since. He has seen players and conductors come and go, but has continued to be a regular attendee throughout.

 Now, as a band concentrating its efforts on entertainment rather than contesting, the band goes further afield, and has performed twice at Peasholm Park, Scarborough in 2000 and 2001. In September 2011, having close connection to the local B&Q distribution Centre the band were invited to play at the opening of the new B&Q headquarters in Southampton and were very well received.

Conductors over the ages

Between 1866 and 1871   C.Coupe was listed as Band master

May 8th 1896,  first mention of Mr H.Pressley as conductor.

1920  Mr T.H.Bell took over the baton.

1931 Mr Clyde Pressley. (son of Mr H Pressley)

Early 1960's. Having been secretary for some years Herbert Dunwell took over as conductor when the Band became Worksop Miners Welfare Band 

1980's Tony Dowd

Late 80's John Flatman

2003 Jane Carlisle

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