Written for the Band's newsletter by John Clay, the following pages briefly recount the history of the Clifton and Lightcliffe band from its origins, up to the recent past.
According to the Brighouse Echo of September 1938 the band was formed in 1838 as the Clifton Silver Prize Band. Celebrating a 100 birthday that year. I have tried to find evidence from local newspapers about this date without success.
The nearest I can find is a report of a brass band concert held in the Oddfellows hall in Bailiff Bridge in 1873. Maybe this was the Clifton Band or had Bailiff Bridge its own band? For those of you who may not know where the Oddfellows hall was. It was in a row of terrace houses opposite the 6 story mill on Bradford Road opposite Ebenezer Methodist Chapel.
The nearest I can find is a report in the Brighouse News dated Dec 11 1880. This tells of a general meeting of the band held at the Black Bull in Clifton on Tuesday Dec 7 1880. “ Mr H Farrar presided. The chairman expressed the pleasure it gave him to be present, and he complimented the band upon its prosperous condition and the numerous engagements it had had during the past year. It had now been in existence three years, and numbered 24 members”. So 1877 seems the most likely date for the beginning of the band. If anyone has any further evidence please get in touch with me.
The following people were elected onto the committee. President Mr H.Farrar, Treasurer Mr B Stocks, Secretary Mr F.Hirst, Assistant Secretary Mr J.B.Brinkley. Committee, Messers H.Brealey, F.Rayner, J.Roberts, L.Womersley and A.Bottomley.
Mr Fairburn Rayner was elected as the conductor and remained until 1902. So he was the conductor for at least 22 years. The finances make interesting reading for that year. A total income of £30.11sh .2½p. After all payments the band had a surplus of £9.0sh.4 ½ p.
It wasn’t until 1882 that a declaration of trust was set up. The first trustees were Sir George John Armytage Bart. of Clifton, Esquire. John Medley Wood of Clifton, Wire Manufacturer and Charles Ramsden also of Clifton, Leather Merchant.
At this time the band owned the following instruments:- 2 Soprano Cornets in Eb, 7 cornets in Bb, 2 Tenor Troms in Bb, 1 Bass Trom, 1 Baritone in Bb, 1 Euphonium in Bb, 1 Flugel Horn in Bb, 3 Tenor Sax’s in Eb, 1 Bombardon in Bb, 3 Bombardon’s in Eb. 1 Bass Drum with cymbal, bell and sticks, 1 side drum with shoulder strap and sticks. Therefore it was quite well off for instruments at that time.
In May of 1883 the band paraded around Brighouse to show off their new uniforms, which had been made by a Mr Smith of Clifton Road. They were of military fashion with white ornamental facings, belts, pouches, and shell caps. On Whit Monday of that year they were photographed by a Mr Martin Manley of Church Street, Brighouse as they led the procession of witness around the town.
In June of 1883 the band was engaged to play for dancing at Nostell Priory by the Brighouse Conservative Association. Everyone went by train from Clifton Road station. The fare being 1 shilling for 3rd class and 2 shillings for 1st class passengers.
In 1885 the band was again engaged by the same association but this time at Wharncliffe Crags near Sheffield.
During the next 8 years it seems the band went through a difficult period, as it was found they only had 11 instruments plus a bass and side drum in 1893. Which were still in the band room at the old curriers shop. Now I wonder if anyone knows where that was situated in Clifton. If anyone has this information please let me know.
The following year on April 13th the band held a public tea and entertainment evening in the local school room. This was attended by approximately 100 people. The entertainment consisted of violin solos, duets and a few band selections. There was also a most amusing dialogue. A further tea and social was held in the school rooms on Easter Monday of that year.
In 1894 the band was called the Clifton Private Subscription band. I wonder why private subscription? During that year on the 14th May the band led the procession for St John’s Church around the village. (116 years later in 2010 the band is still performing at St John’s Church).
The photograph shows the band in 1894.
Another big change occurred for the band in 1895, when it moved premises from the curriers shop to the “Prospect” band room situated at the Black Horse Inn. Things were now much improved as the band had a profit of £5-11sh-5 ½ p for that year.
For some reason in 1896 Mr Fairburn Rayner must have given up the baton for a time as it is recorded that a Mr W.Atkinson of Wyke was engaged to take the band at a fee of 3 shillings per rehearsal.
Over the next 4 years the band regularly played for the Whitsuntide walk around Clifton for St Johns Church.
The AGM on February 1st 1902 was held in the evening at the church school room, with Mr Sam Walton presiding. A Mr H. Brearley gave a lecture on “Clifton in the olden times”. Songs were also performed by Miss Hemingway of Halifax. What is interesting is the fact that Thomas Rayner performed two cornet solos.
I can well remember my teacher, John Womersley referring to this gentleman being a member of Black Dyke in later years, possibly between 1902 and 1912.
Probably the greatest indoor occasion for Clifton Band was the Grand Bazaar, as reported was a spectacle of colour and beauty, showing much forethought and taste on the part of Mr Sam Walton and his helpers. With Mr H. Brealey in the chair, this bazaar was declared open by Mr Joseph Hirst on Easter Saturday, April 11th 1903. Adding to the attractions of the day, the Clifton band played selections of music at intervals and dance music when requested. The prices of admission to this grand bazaar were:- season tickets, one shilling; Saturday, sixpence; after 6 o’clock three pence; Monday sixpence; Tuesday three pence; For this three day event a grand total of £113 – 1 shilling and 7 pence was raised.
In 1904 the band assisted at the annual whit walk for St Johns church in Clifton. In July the band also played at Bailiff Bridge Cricket Field. Those are the only two entries I have found for the band for that year.
The Brighouse News of 20th January 1905. The annual report of the band stated: Balance sheet, brought forward from 1903. £7-18sh – 8 ½ p. Engagements realised £51–17sh-9 ½ p, from Contributions £13-9sh – 6p, Annual Subscriptions £8-19sh-2p. Total £98-3sh-8 ½ p. The major expenditure was for the conductor and professional assistance, which left a balance of just £5.
In January and in March the band held two social evenings to help raise funds. In August of 1904 the band performed at a concert in aid of a Mr T.Bottomley who had been ill. Tommy Raynor played a cornet solo. This gentleman was held in high esteem by my first teacher, John Womersley.
A rather disturbing piece of news emerged in 1905, when on August 11th we read in the Brighouse News that “ Clifton Brass Band in the County Court.” Here is the extract from the newspaper of the day.
At the Halifax County Court on Tuesday, the Clifton Subscription Band were plaintiffs in an action entered against Mr Reynolds, brass instrument maker, of Salford, for the sum of £5-10sh. Money paid for an alleged defective instrument - a bass in E flat. Mr W.F.Rhodes (Messrs C. T. Rhodes and son) appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr Hinchcliffe for the defendant. The latter took objection that the band, not being registered as a band, were not competent to sue.
Mr Rhodes asked for leave to amend his summons by instituting the names of the forty members. He had supplied these names to the defendant. Mr Rhodes contended that his honour had the power to do this. The band did not exist for the purpose of gain. The members paid a weekly subscription, but got nothing.
His Honour said he had no power to start the action as there was nothing before the court. His advice was that the band should register themselves, and appoint two or three gentlemen who would accept this office of trustees. Mr Rhodes said the instrument was a bassoon nearly thirty years old, and was only fit to be classified as old metal. The defendants, he said, guaranteed to return all moneys paid for instruments if not approved after certain periods of trial were allowed. His Honour said he had no alternative but to non-suit the plaintiffs. No costs were allowed. So the band lost its £5 -10sh and had to pay its solicitors costs.
In 1908 the band undertook the raising of funds to purchase new uniforms. To this end a series of dances and concerts were held.
Also during August the King Cross band organised a March and Waltz contest at the White House Farm, Savile Park. The 1st prize for the best waltz went to Black Dyke Juniors with Clifton placed second. The march contest was won by Brighouse Temperance Band (the fore runner of what is now Brighouse & Rastrick) with Clifton again in second place. Assuming both bands entered both sections this will be one time when Clifton beat Brighouse in a contest!!