The History of Morecambe Band
In 2004 MORECAMBE BAND celebrated its Centenary. Imagine our surprise then when in 2011 more information and documents were discovered showing the Band in existence in 1875.
(See Documents Below, some copied from the local newspapers, others from letters)
Morecambe Band’s History: Morecambe Times & Lancaster Guardian
• Friday October 8th 1875. The annual “End of Summer Season concert featuring The Subscription Band took place, followed by The Ball.
• Friday October 6th 1876. The Annual Farewell Concert was given by Morecambe Subscription band.
“The selection played by the Band was very good, but crippled owing to the small group of instrumentalists”
A cornet solo featured Mr R.T.Ward………..”it was an uncommon performance of a piece entitled Cavatina (Nubucco) featuring an air and variations played with such skill as to call forth a vigorous encore”
• February 22nd 1888. The formation of a Brass Band in the town was contemplated following the unsatisfactory collapse of the former Subscription Band. Charles Waller (President) invited promises of subscriptions
• 28 June 1894….a private letter….(see photocopy)
To J Williamson Esq MP Rylands
Dear Sir Private
By the enclosed circular and letter you will see that you are the “victim of popularity” and that your name and money are essential in this as in other instances. The members of the Band want you, and the trustees will feel honored by your influence and help.
We want to engage Mr Whitehead (Bandmaster of the Lancaster Regiment) as instructor. Our years expenses will be nearly £100.
Our treasurer is writing to Mr Foster of Hornby Castle.
You will understand everything else.
This is my private letter. Can you spare £10 this year, and £1 a year afterwards.
Excuse my “impudence”.
Yours v.truly A.W.Gorton Chairman
• 28TH June 1894. To J.Williamson Esq MP. Rylands, Lancaster
Kindly receive the enclosed circular. I am directed by the trustees of the above band to ask you to kindly accept an invitation to become president of this band. The trustees and members of the band desire to establish it on a sound and popular basis, and as you hold the most important office in the Division the band want you to lend your influence to what will be of interest and benefit to Morecambe. By the enclosed circular you will see we
require influence and monetary assistance.
Your favorable reply will be esteemed.
Yours v.kindly A.W. Gorton. Chairman
• January 27th 1904 To the Editor of the Morecambe & Heysham Times.
The Morecambe Volunteer Band
In a letter which has been freely distributed about the Town I notice it is proposed to form a “Town’s Brass Band” . In common fairness to the Volunteer Band already in existence, I think it only right to make the following statements:
Fifteen months ago (October 1902) there was no Brass Band in Morecambe
There is now a fairly competent and united band at the disposal of the town.
In the present state of trade, and considering the many calls upon the inhabitants, there is no justification for any individual to run a band for his own personal interests.
There has been several previous attempts to form a “Town Band” and the results have always been disastrous.
The committee of the Volunteer Band have a scheme in hand for supplying a set of new instruments at a cost of £250, and the order has practically been placed.
In case the volunteers should be disbanded these instruments will be handed over to a committee for the benefit of the town.
The volunteers are doing their best to fulfil an important part in their country’s defense, and their object not being one of self-interest, they earnestly ask all good townspeople not to support any scheme that may tend to ruin the work they have in hand.
Yours respectfully. J.E.Marsland. Secretary & Treasurer. Morecambe Volunteer Band.
• January 27th 1904 To the Editor of the Morecambe & Heysham Times.
The Morecambe Volunteer Band
Further to the correspondence of last week…..
When this (new) Morecambe Borough Band which is now in progress have worked hard for a new set of instruments, they will belong to the Town and be under the management of a committee on behalf of the Borough (well wisher)
Records are quite sparse for the long period up to the 1970’s but following the reorganisation of local government in 1974 the band changed its name from Morecambe Borough Band to MORECAMBE & HEYSHAM SILVER BAND.
Under the baton of John Fleming, the conductor for many years in the 50’s,60’s, the band reached the Section 4 National Band Finals in 1979. The year 1984 signalled the arrival of a new musical director, Stephen R. Tarry, F.L.C.M., G.L.C.M. and almost immediately the band’s contesting fortunes took a dramatic upward turn. The band rapidly gained promotion from section 4 to section 1 Nationally and eventually Championship section in the North West Region. They reached the National Finals in London in 1986, 1987, and 1991. They again played at the National Finals and were placed 3rd in section 2 in 1993, a very creditable achievement.
In 1981 the MORECAMBE YOUTH BAND was formed and under the guidance of Bernard Vause and Joe Kenyon, the band has provided a constant stream of talented young musicians, many of whom have and still do play with the senior band. In May 1995 the Youth Band were the very first brass band in the UK to receive Lottery funding. The successful bid meant that £47,500 could be spent on new instruments and equipment.
Training has always been of high priority and in 1999 the MORECAMBE BAND MUSIC SCHOOL was inaugurated. Records show that in September 2001 it began to operate on Saturday mornings and that in 2005 its name was changed to MORECAMBE BRASS ACADEMY under the leadership of Anna Thackrah. When Anna left in Jan 2007, Carol Blaylock offered to take up the role of Director with an increased staff to cope with the growing number of pupils wanting to learn.
Since 1987 the Morecambe Band has had the benefit of sponsorship, firstly through the Marsden Building Society then from 1992 Nuclear Electric, now British Energy (Heysham Power Stations), and from April 2001 to April 2004 Lancashire Life and Lake District Life Magazine.
Valuable publicity has been generated for Morecambe & Lancaster and the Regional Brass Band movement by the band through several foreign tours. 1990 saw the band on tour in the Lake Constance and Kressbronn areas of Germany and in 1992 in the Moselle Valley region. In 1995 a tour of Holland was undertaken.
Throughout the years the band has had several “homes” ranging from Euston Road School to the old Telephone Exchange at Heysham and finally to its splendid headquarters at Birkett’s Place. The present band room was formerly the City Council deck chair store which was purchased in 1993, superbly converted and renovated mainly by the members themselves, and now recognised as perhaps the finest brass rehearsal facilities in the North West. In the last year we have added such luxuries and a Pool Table, Dart Board and Satellite TV.
In September 1998 Steve Tarry married and finally bade farewell to the band and all his friends after 14 years as Musical Director, taking a teaching post in Kuwait. His departure meant the appointment of a new MD, and in September 1998 ANDREW WARRINER was appointed. His experience as a player with Fodens, Leyland, Grimethorpe and others was soon put to good effect when in November 1998 the Band was placed third at the prestigious PILKINGTONS NORTHERN BRASS BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS held in St. Helens, a sure sign of even better things to come.
In 2000 the MORECAMBE BRASS ENSEMBLE (MBE) came into being; its purpose was to fill the gap between the Youth Band and Morecambe Senior Band. Sadly the changes within the schools music service and the introduction of charges for lessons meant that the numbers in the Youth Band began to fall until eventually the committee decided in 2010 to amalgamate the Youth band with The MBE, forming a new viable group with a new name and uniform…MORECAMBE BAY BRASS. (MBB)Engagements are undertaken throughout the area and bring much pleasure to players & public alike.
In September 2001 the Band competing in The National Championships of Great Britain at Preston Guild Hall were declared winners at Section 3 level…. the highest accolade in the Band’s history.
By winning the Nationals in Preston we were automatically promoted to Section 2 and in the North West Area qualifying Competition in March 2002 the Band performed well again and qualified for the Finals in Torquay. A second National Title however was not to be, the Band finishing in 6th place in Devon.
In March 2003, the Band said goodbye to Andrew Warriner as he returned to playing with Fodens. Fortunately a replacement MD was soon to move into the area as a music teacher at a local secondary school. Chris Larder moved to Morecambe in September to take up his first job following graduation at Leeds University where he studied music. Chris has been principal Euphonium player with Rothwell Temperance Band, a Championship Section Band from Yorkshire.
In May 2004 the band changed its name to reflect its many and various facets. The organisation was re-branded as The Morecambe Brass Band Association, to encompass the Morecambe Brass Band, Morecambe Brass Ensemble, Morecambe Youth Band and Morecambe Brass Academy.
July 2004 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Bands’ formation (see top for latest information). To celebrate the event, the Band ran an International Competition for a new piece of music. The judges were to be the audience at the Anniversary Concert in The Dome Morecambe on 10th July. The finalists were selected by an eminent panel of Brass Musicians. Dr Roy Newsome, David Horsfield and John Miller. The winner, Andrew Baker of Manchester received a cheque of £1000 for his music entitled “The Cistercians”. In September 2004 our Anniversary celebrations continued with a celebrity concert and master class given by Dr Robert Childs, the world famous euphonium virtuoso and conductor.
In the summer of 2005 a group of musicians & friends from the band spent 5 days on a visit to Barcelona, Spain. In 2006 the Band returned (after a three year break) to contesting again when they entered the third section at Blackpool. In September 2007 we lost the services of Chris Larder as MD as he left to take up new responsibilities in school. Fortunately Andrew Warriner offered to help & subsequently agreed to return on a permanent basis in January 2008. In December 2007 we replaced our Grey Nuclear Electric Uniforms with new Red Uniforms.
In 2009 the band successfully applied to be registered as a Charity, so opening up the possibility of further grant funding.
January 2010 (as a result of falling numbers) saw the end of Morecambe Youth Band as it amalgamated with the B Band so drawing to an end 29yrs of distinguished service.
In July 2010 the old slate roof on our Bandroom was replaced with a steel roof costing £29,000. Unfortunately, having removed the slates, Morecambe experienced very heavy rain causing serious water damage to our internal fabric, requiring months of hard work to reinstate our rooms to their previous high specification.
At the AGM of 2010 our secretary Bernard Vause relinquished the job having served the Band as Youth Band Leader, Chairman, Secretary and fundraiser for over 29years.
March 2011 saw the band declared Area Champions in section 2 at the North West Area Championship held in Blackpool. This led to the Band playing in the National Finals at Cheltenham in section 2., when they were placed 6th out of 17 bands a very noteworthy achievement.
The Band was promoted to first section in 2012. As part of the 2012 Morecambe Visitor Annual Sunshine Entertainment Awards, the band was voted Winner of the Community Group Category.
2013 was a particularly successful year for the Band. Morecambe achieved second place at the Butlin’s Mineworkers contest and at Brass at the Guild a month later. The hat trick was completed with 2nd place at the North West Areas, and an invite to the nationals in September. The band rounded off the contesting year by winning at Fleetwood.
In 2014 under the direction of Andrew Warriner the band was promoted to the Championship Section. During the summer of 2014 the band performed at the inaugural Morecambe Carnival, and were invited to play at the Lancaster Music Festival in October.
In 2015 (as the first Lottery Winners) we were invited to London to take part in a TV presentation; then in March 2015, competing in the Area Qualifiers at Championship level, the band were placed 5th…an outstanding achievement for the town band.
As 2015 closed and we moved into a New Year, so the Band went through a prolonged period of change which resulted in 2016 to the appointment of Stephen Simpson as the MD; players departed, some for University and others to pursue their music making elsewhere. The halcyon days of 2015 soon became a distant memory as the new MD struggled to maintain the high standards achieved over previous years but with fewer players to call on. Sadly in February 2018, through lack of numbers, our second band “Bay Brass” had to fold and merge with the Senior band in an endeavour to produce one viable ensemble.
Through 2016, 2017, 2018 the committee have been able to maintain a steady stream of engagements, some Civic and others events such as Parades, Bands in the Park and concerts as far away as Threlkeld near Keswick, all essential if funds are to be maintained for the continued running of the Band.
In November 2018 Stuart Bateson was appointed Chairman so replacing Mick Seage who had steered the ship for 10yrs, whilst Sheila Grundy took on the job as secretary.
In Spring 2019 Steve Simpson left as MD and in June Andrew Porter was appointed our new MD.
In November 2019 the National lottery celebrated their 25 years of supporting good causes, of which Morecambe Band was the first in March 1995. As part of their celebrations a new artwork “United by Numbers” was commissioned by world-renowned artist David Mach in which a collage of previous winners were featured, including 8 players from MBBA.
Little did we know that in March 2020 the Corona Virus would reach Morecambe so making us part of the worldwide pandemic. Life as we knew it stopped, which meant no Bands, no social mixing, no entertainment, no visiting friends and family etc, and so it was to be from March 20 to July 21, apart from very brief “opening up” as Covid numbers fell. Then sadly lock down again as a virus variation swept in from abroad.
The Band suffered as did all, but ever resourceful Bands around the country found others ways of practising and performing thanks to Zoom Technology and the skills of technophiles to stitch together the separate band parts and so produce a concert whose standard depended very much on the skills of individuals and especially the skills of the MD. In our case we found in Andrew Porter and others (unseen), unappreciated & untapped technological skills which eventually led to the production of a programme of music worthy of acceptance as part of the Kapitol Cory online Brass Band Championship 2021. The results placed Morecambe Band as clear winners in their section and the following report appeared in the Magazine “4bars rest”
Another major highlight of the overall event was the attraction for bands at all levels to compete — with no less than 20 contenders in a fabulously entertaining Fourth Section. In the end it was a highly polished Morecambe Band under Andrew Porter that deservedly claimed the unanimous decision from the judges. Their ‘A Brief Encounter by The Sea’ theme saw a mix of classy playing and visual imagery blended together to seriously impress — something that did just that with Cory MD Philip Harper who said the performance “would stay with me”. ‘All By Myself’; ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ and ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ featured many of the bands soloists and left the judges bowled over. In addition to the overall prize, flugel player Carol Porter won the ‘Best Soloist’ award with accolades also claimed by their ‘Best Euphoniums & Baritones’ and ‘Best Percussion’.
Our winning performance! https://youtu.be/xFevdc-Tauw
History Update June 2022
Our history shows that playing standards under our MD Andrew Porter has steadily improved to such a degree that at the Area Brass Band Competitions held at Blackpool on 27th February 2022, Morecambe Band, drawn no 5 were so successful as to be declared Area Champions in Section 4 thereby qualifying us to travel to Cheltenham in September to compete in the National Brass Band Finals.
On June 19th 2022 the Band once more competed successfully in the local Kirkby Lonsdale entertainment competition. Our fabulous soloist Becky Stead won the best instrumentalist and the band won the deportment prize for our marching, best Hymn tune, best fourth section band and the overall Entertainment prize! The biggest reward for us was hearing the cheers from the audience, many of whom have given us kind words of praise and appreciation.
During the 2 years of lockdown when Happy Mount Park remained silent, the park managers were able to address an issue which had long frustrated Bands invited to entertain there during the summer weeks namely the totally inadequate surface on which they were required to sit. It was uneven and far too small to accommodate all the players. Now however appearing for the first time after a prolonged absence, on Sunday 5th June 2022 we were able to fit snugly on the enlarged, flat surface available to all performers, a much improved development for which all involved were truly thankful.