This is Queensbury, a hill-top village between Bradford and Halifax on the A647.
Why is it famous?
It is the village where John Foster founded his world famous Black Dyke Mills , home of the equally famous Black Dyke Mills Band.
In the 1960’s, the then principal Cornetist of Black Dyke Mills Band, James Shepherd, was a brass tutor for the West Riding Authority and teaching in many schools, including Queensbury. The year 1969 saw the introduction of a Youth Section of the National Brass Band Championships, and Mr. Shepherd decided to enter his most proficient pupils. With the support of families, the Queensbury Music Centre Band (then known as Queensbury Schools Youth Brass Band) under the direction of Mr. Jack Haigh, music master of Shelley High School, competed in London and became the first
National Youth Champions of Great Britain!
A Continuing Story of Success!
This first win was followed in 1970 by the band being placed 3rd, then 1st again in 1971, and gaining 2nd prize in 1972.
At the Teeside International Festival in 1970, the band won 1st prize, and were runners-up in 1972. They were also runners-up at the British Youth Brass Band Championships in Liverpool in 1971.
As the number of players increased they were divided into juniors (8-12yrs) conducted by Mr. James Shepherd and the senior band (12-17yrs), now conducted by Mr. Andrew Owenson. Both groups at this time numbered approximately 30 players each.
In 1973 and 1974 the Senior Band took part in exchange visits with Kortedala Band of Gothenburg, SWEDEN. This tremendous experience led to many repeat visits by individuals and groups, and also a 10th Anniversary Exchange in 1983/84. Many relationships still exist between the families involved, over 30 years later.
We also had a successful exchange with a band from Selkirk, SCOTLAND, and a visit from a youth band from Hamm (Bradford’s Twin City) in GERMANY .
More Contests Successes!
Contest win followed contest win, Oldham, Calderdale, Trans-Pennine etc.
It soon became apparent that the music policy of our new Education Authority in 1976 was placing too many restrictions on the band’s contesting activities. So, it was decided that the players and committee should become independent of Bradford Education Authority in order to gain freedom to rehearse and compete throughout the Brass Band Year. It was also in 1976 that the band left the Youth Section and entered the 4th Section, playing against adult bands for the first time. This resulted in our becoming. 4th Section National Champions at the first attempt! We were now eligible to compete in the 3rd Section in 1977. Promotion to 2nd Section followed, then to the Championship Section.
What a thrill!!
It was a reward for their dedication, to compete against the TOP-BRASS of the country,BLACK DYKE, BRIGHOUSE & RASTRICK and GRIMETHORPE COLLIERY to name but a few!!
The Cost of Success!
Sadly, this tremendous success led to a decline in the band’s fortunes. Many of our most experienced players were tempted by ‘expense allowances’ to join neighbouring sponsored bands.
This change of fortune led in part to the development of our present
Our group of dedicated players, who now had family and work commitments, appreciated the less intense atmosphere of non-competitive music-making. They still, however, endeavoured to perform to the high standard they’d been used to!
Our activities are now largely in the field of entertainment at social functions, ceremonial dinners, weddings etc.
Three members of our original band of the 1970’s are still part of this experienced group, with the addition of new members who have moved into the area and players promoted from our Junior Band, which is always our aim.