Rabbits and antimacassars: raising money for band funds

Concert fees, contest prizes (where lucky), carol playing and busking, and sponsorship (either through corporate patronage or individuals’ subscriptions) have always been the traditional main sources of income for brass bands. Many other mechanisms have been used over the years – merchandising (postcards, badges, mugs etc.), events (such as dances, balls, benefit concerts, bazaars, fetes), raffles and prize draws, more recently sponsored activities (e.g. play-a-thons, silences!). Here are few examples from the past – a larger selection of items will feature in a future paper of mine on brass band ephemera.

Hartlepool Temperance Band held two prize draws in 1895 and 1896, which featured some magnificent prizes – e.g. a 10 stone bag of flour (63.5 kg in “new money”), a woollen shirt, a gent’s felt hat, half-cwt [hundredweight] of Best Pilot Biscuits (25 kg), 1 cheese, couple of rabbits, a pair of antimacassars, a piece of cloth. All for a penny a ticket.

MINE (17)

MINE (15)

Another raffle, in 1894, by the Newtown Cornet Band of Pennsylvania, offered a slightly better prize – that of a gold watch – but this would cost 10¢ a ticket.

fr-raf (USA PA)

Two bazaars, or sales of goods, were held by the Mealsgate Rechabite Brass Band in 1890 and the Penmaenmawr Silver Band in 1902.


fr-bz (2)

A benefit concert on behalf of the Tapanui Brass Band (New Zealand) was held on 12 April 1889 at the Athenæum Hall.


Fund-raising dances or balls feature in these following items – the Schaghticoke Brass Band (New York) held its second annual ball on 27 December 1855, while the Canal Ironworks Band held its Carnival Dance at Saltaire on 9 November 1929.

The Mandurama Brass Band (NSW, Australia) held a Grand Ball on 16 November 1906, and the Sand Bank Cornet Band (New York) held its fourth annual ball on Christmas Day, 1891 – tickets 50¢ and supper an extra 50¢!

fr-ball (4)


Busking and carol playing was a key way to raise money for a band, some even announced their intentions in advance – e.g. Grimsby Borough Band’s Christmas season offering in 1906.


Finally, one of the more peculiar merchandising products sold by bands is this Phul-Nana Perfume “Bouquet of Indian Flowers” on behalf of the Pendleton Old Prize Band. The card itself was perfumed, to persuade the recipient to buy the product. The perfume was launched in 1891, containing notes of bergamot, orange, neroli, geranium, tuberose, ylang-ylang, patchouli, benzoin, cedar, sandalwood, opoponax, tonka bean and vanilla. It paved the way for oriental fragrances today – and is still available…




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Brass and tobacco

While there is a clear link between brass bands and alcohol – either in the various bands that supported the temperance movement, or the enjoyment of beer, in particular, that slaked the thirst of players – a similar association with tobacco products was not so evident, though many bandsmen smoked cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco or took snuff.

I am only aware of five British brass bands that were associated with tobacco companies:

  • Wills Tobacco Factory Brass Band (Bedminster, Bristol) – Founded in 1888, conductor G.A. Webb. Still active in 1900.
  • Cope Brothers and Co. Brass Band (Liverpool) – Founded in the early 1880s. Still active in 1887. Conductor J.B. Ridge in 1885. Cope Brothers were tobacco manufacturers.
  • CWS Tobacco Factory Band (Manchester) – A group of workers from the CWS Tobacco Factory got together to form a band in 1900, one which quickly made a name for itself on the concert and contest circuit. In September 1901 Mr J C Cragg, the manager of the CWS tobacco factory, built the ad hoc band of his employees, stumped up £300 for some second hand instruments and made himself bandmaster. It later changed its name to the CWS (Manchester) Band – either in 1937 or 1946 [reports differ]. The band enjoyed considerable success until the Co-op dropped the sponsorship in 1985. A short period as City of Manchester Band followed before finally disbanding in 1993.
  • Hignett’s Tobacco Works Band (Liverpool) – Founded in 1888. Active through to the 1900s.
  • Ogden’s Tobacco Works Band (Liverpool) – Active in 1893.

In the early days of cigarette packets, card were inserted to stiffen the paper packs, these were originally printed with advertisements for the tobacco company, but gradually changed to portray pictures of actresses, sports stars and other popular images. Eventually most manufacturers adopted these cards and produced different sets that people could attempt to collect as they consumed the products. Some of these cigarette cards featured brass instruments, and some examples are given here.

This example is from a set of “Musical Instruments” by Duke’s Cigarettes in the USA around 1898 – portraying a lady tuba player. Other brass instruments featured in that set included a bugle, cornet, coaching horn, french horn, herald’s trumpet, hunting horn, trombone, as well as a selection of drums.


z2 (4)Gallaher’s Tobacco Company issued a set of cards in 1923 entitled “British Champions”. Among these was “Luton Red Cross Band” (number 42 of 100). “Winners of the 1000 guinea trophy at the Crystal Palace in Sept. 1923. Our illustration shows the bandmaster Mr F. Mortimer, with the trophies won by the band.”


Churchman’s Cigarettes (and also Edwards, Ringer & Bigg), both part of Imperial Tobacco, included the set of 25 “Musical Instruments” in 1924. Brass instruments that featured included:

No. 4 “The Bombardon” – “These large valved instruments are indispensable in military and brass bands, to which they contribute the mass of the bass tone. Bombardons or tubas are built in two forms – circular, so that they pass over the shoulder with the bell directed forward; and upright like a large euphonium. These instruments are often regarded as Bass Saxhorns, though strictly speaking they belong to another family; the bore of the Bombardon being wider in proportion to its length, its lowest note is an octave below that of the Saxhorn.”


No. 6 “The Cornet” – “The modern Cornet or Cornet-à-Piston, which was evolved from the Post Horn early in the 19th century, is a brass valve instruments with cup-shaped mouthpiece, intermediate between the Trumpet and the Bugle. Its mouthpiece is larger than that of the Trumpet, and its tone rather less brilliant. The simplicity of its mechanism, and its great technical possibilities have given the Cornet great popularity as a solo instrument. It is often employed in brass bands and occasionally in orchestras in place of the Trumpet.”


No. 21 “The Slide Trombone” – “The earliest Draw or Slide Trumpets were known in England as Sackbuts; the more modern name Trombone being of Italian origin. The Trombone is essentially a simple form of Trumpet, in which the cylindrical tube is lengthened by means of a slide in order to vary the pitch of the note, the instrument being at its highest pitch when the slide is closed. The characteristic big brassy tone of the Trombone is rather more solemn that that of the Trumpet, the difference being chiefly due to the larger mouthpiece.”


Lambert & Butler (from London) merged with Imperial Tobacco in 1901 but retained its own brand name. The “London Characters” set of cards from 1934 featured “The Cornet Player” (number 8 of 25). “A character never lacking in London streets is the Cornet Player, who provides a type of music that draws dogs like a magnet to him. He relies chiefly upon licensed houses for his living, and can usually be recognised by his bulk. Cornet players may be divided into amateurs and professionals, the latter being readily recognised by their superiority in breathing. They receive many requests for an encore of their most popular number “Home Sweet Home” which they so regularly play. Why a bowler or hard felt hat should be part of their uniform, no one has ever been able to discover!”


Two companies produced cigarettes branded “Bandmaster”. The first was Cohen, Weenen & Co. of London, the second Major Drapkin & Co. (also of London).




w1John Player & Sons produced a brand of cigarettes called “Drumhead” – more military in association than “Bandmaster” perhaps, but they should have appealed to all drummers in bands!








Finally, all these tobacco products (apart from snuff) are no good with out a suitable flame to light them. Here are three “trumpet” branded matches – two from Belgium and one from Sweden.


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Test piece blues

Don’t you just love it when the MD rolls out a new test piece for an upcoming contest – perhaps even one you’ve heard before and enjoyed – until you see your part. All those notes and accidentals! Never mind, let’s have a go…

Pere Ophecliede No1 (1)Pere Ophecliede No2 (1)Pere Ophecliede No3 (1)Pere Ophecliede No4Pere Ophecliede No5 (1)Pere Ophecliede No6Pere Ophecliede No7 (1)Pere Ophecliede No8

There again, my usual excuses for split notes and missed entries has never been a large piece of fluff in the bell – but there is always a first time!  x1x2x3x4x5



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Brass band concert programmes on postcards

Many of the times that a brass band has performed a concert, a printed programme has been available for the audience, giving the details of the pieces played, their composers and arrangers and, where appropriate, the names of the conductor and any soloists.

Sadly, few of these reminders of the concerts have survived over the years. Most will have been discarded soon after the event; some will have been saved or collected, but later lost. There are relatively few still in existence to allow us to see what our banding forebears performed for their audiences.

In some instances, the band’s programme was published in advance on posters or in the local press, or possibly printed in reviews after the event. Those in newspapers can still be found (assuming the printed or digitised issues are available), but few posters survive – ephemeral material, like the printed programmes themselves. The programmes and posters are usually simple printed sheets, but occasionally they were more elaborate – like this one from Lincoln:


Between 1904 and 1913, at least, those charged with raising funds for the hospitals and orphanages in Hull promoted various brass band concerts. These committees or “good causes” were, variously:

In addition to promoting the concerts in the local press (and possibly by posters around the town), they also made use of various printed postcards. These would be showing the typical pictorial scenes on one side, but on the message/address side there would be overprinted the details of the concert programme. It is not know whether these were sold in advance of the concerts, as promotional material, or if they were sold at the concerts themselves, informing the audience as would the normal paper programme, but with the added advantage of being a useful product thereafter (to send a message to friends/family).

So far have only seen such postcards representing bands and charitable concerns in Hull – but here are a dozen examples:

West Park, Hull, Sunday July 17th 1904 – Thomas Wilson’s Sons & Co. Prize Brass Band, conductor A. Dennis

Promoted by Hull Royal Infirmary, Newington Ward, Working Men’s Committee

March: University (J.H. Carter); Air Varie: Rousseau’s Dream (H. Round); Selection: Poliuto (Donizetti); Euphonium Solo: The Village Blacksmith (W.H. Weiss) soloist W. Brocklesby, medallist; Selection: Don Sebastiano (Donizetti); Trombone Solo: Ora Pro Nobis (M. Piccolomini) soloist A. Gibson, medallist; Fantasia: Gems of Tschaikovsky (arr. E. Swift); Selection: Gems of Welsh Melody (arr. J. Ord Hume).


West Park, Hull, Sunday July 30th 1905 – Barton Cycle Works Prize Band, conductor George White

Promoted by Hull Royal Infirmary, Newington Ward, Working Men’s Committee

March: Viva Birkinshaw (Rimmer); Glee: Strike the Lyre (Cooke); Selection: Rossini’s Works (arr. A. Owen); Sacred Air Varie: Austrian Hymn (arr. E. Swift); Kyrie & Gloria from 12th Mass (Mozart); March: The President (W. German); Selection: from the works of Meyerbeer; Sacred Air Varie: Hanover (arr. H. Round); Selection: La Cenerentola (Rossini); Chorus: Hallelujah (Handel).


West Park, Hull, Sunday May 31st 1908 – Sons of Temperance Silver Prize Band, conductor C. Norman

Promoted by Hull Royal Infirmary, Newington Ward, Working Men’s Committee

March: Merry Maids (Pearson); Fantasia: Gems of Song (Rimmer); Cornet Solo: At Eventide (Ord Hume) soloist C. Norman; Selection: Old Memories (W. Rimmer); March: The 3 D.G.’s (Brophy); Air Varie: The Vesper Hymn (Round); Intermezzo: Napoli (Lewis Ham); Grand Selection: Robin Hood (Macfarren).

West Park, Hull, Sunday June 28th 1908 – Hull Waterloo Silver Prize Band, conductor Arthur Gibson

Promoted by Hull Royal Infirmary, Newington Ward, Working Men’s Committee

March: Bravura (George Allan); Selection: Old Memories (W. Rimmer); Overture: Poet & Peasant (Suppé); Selection: Fernando Cortez (C. Godfrey) (test piece, Belle Vue, 1907); Selection: Mendelssohn (arr. C. Godfrey); Chorus: Heavens are Telling (Haydn); Selection: Tannhauser (Wagner).


East Park, Hull, Sunday July 12th 1908 – Hull Sons of Temperance Silver Prize Band, conductor C. Norman

Promoted by Yorkshire Foresters’ Orphanage Hull District Committee

March: Amazon (Farrell); Air Varie: The Austrian Hymn (Swift); Euphonium Solo: The Village Blacksmith (Weiss) soloist T. Norman; Overture: The Viking’s Daughter (Rimmer); Grand March: The King’s Bodyguard (Ord Hume); Fantasia: Jubilation (Rimmer); Selection: Tutti in Maschera (Pedrotti); Chorus: Hallelujah (Handel).

West Park, Hull, Sunday August 16h 1908 – Hull Postmen’s Military Band, conductor P.F. Bultitude

In aid of St John Ambulance Brigade, Hull Corps

March: The Filibuster (G. Southwell); Madrigal: Sing a Joyous Roundelay (J.Barnby); Selection: La Vestale (Spontini); Intermezzo: Rose Garlands (Lilian Raymond); Selection: Opera Gems (arr. H. Round); Aria: The Pilgrim (H. Round); Serenade: Moonlight (Neil Moret); Overture: Miralda (J. Ord Hume).


West Park, Hull, Sunday August 30th 1908 – Sons of Temperance Prize Silver Band, conductor C. Norman

Promoted by Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, Working Men’s Committee

Quick Step: The 3 D.G.’s (Brophy); Fantasia: Gems of Song (Rimmer); Air Varie: Sandon (Dodsworth); Selection: Gems of Mendelssohn (arr. C. Godfrey); March: The Charmer (McAlister); Euphonium Solo: The Pilgrim (Round); Selection: Crispino (Ricci); Intermezzo: Jubilation (Rimmer).

East Park, Hull, Sunday June 13th 1909 – East Hull Prize Silver Band, conductor J.G. Longman

In aid of the Poor Children’s Summer Outing

March: Up Guards (J. Ord Hume); Fantasia: Amazona (R. Rippin); Cornet Solo: The Light of Life (J.G. Veaco); Selection: Memories of Balfe (arr. Rimmer); Overture: Crown of Merit (Bennett); Air Varie: Vesper Hymn (Round); Selection: Saffo (Pacini); Chorus: Hallelujah (Handel).


West Park, Hull, Sunday June 27th 1909 – East Hull Prize Silver Band, conductor John G. Longman

Promoted by Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, Working Men’s Committee

March: The Wizard (George Allan); Selection: Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti); Cornet Solo: The Lost Chord (Sullivan); Grand Selection: Memories of Weber (W. Rimmer); Overture: Poet & Peasant (Suppé); Euphonium Solo: The Village Blacksmith (Weiss); Selection: Souvenir de Meyerbeer (E. Swift); Chorus: Kyrie & Gloria from Mozart’s 12th Mass.

East Park, Hull, Sunday June 26th 1910 & West Park, Hull, Sunday July 17th 1910 – Hull Sons of Temperance Prize Band, conductor C. Norman

In aid of Hull & Sculcoates Dispensary Working Men’s Committee

March: Vigilant (J. Farrell); Fantasia: Gems of England (Rimmer); Andante: From C Minor Symphony (Beethoven); Grand Selection: Memories of the Past (Rimmer); Quick March: Senator (G. Allan); Air Varie: Sandon (T. Allsopp); Intermezzo: In the Twilight (Rimmer); Grand Selection: Robert Devereux (Donizetti).


West Park, Hull, Sunday July 10th 1910 – Hull Sons of Temperance Prize Band, conductor C. Norman

In aid of the Poor Children’s Summer Outing

Quick Step: March at Ease (Rimmer); Overture: Zampa (Herold); Intermezzo: Napoli (Lewis Ham) soloist euphonium C.H. Gray; Selection: Memories of the Past (Rimmer); Quickstep: Vigilant (J. Farrell); Fantasia: Gems of England (Rimmer); Andante: From C Minor Symphony (Beethoven); Grand Selection: Gems of Mozart (Mozart).

West Park, Hull, Sunday June 15th 1913 – Hull Postmen’s Band, conductor P.F. Bultitude

West Hull Working Men’s Committee

March: Romola (E. Hazel); Overture: A Gypsy Romance (J. Ord Hume); Intermezzo: Endoria (Ardre); Selection: Iolanthe (Sullivan); Fantasia: Euphonia (Webb); Gavotte: Editha (Carlo Mora): Song: A Dream of Heaven (Crook); Selection: Gondoliers (Sullivan); Overture: Tancredi (Rossini); Hymns: Ancient and Modern.


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The brass bands of Boroughbridge

There is no longer a brass band in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, but it did enjoy the music of a number of local bands in the town from around 1855 until the last one disbanded in 1955. Aldborough is a village adjacent to Boroughbridge which has shared some of its musical endeavours. Little remains of these bands, a few memories, a few pictures and the odd appearance in the local newspapers.



Aldborough Brass Band – this was active in 1864.

Aldborough & Boroughbridge Brass Band – Active in 1873, when it was described as being “only young” – so it was probably formed in the early 1870’s. However there was a Boroughbridge Brass Band in the 1850’s, so perhaps this was a successor band. It was still active as Boroughbridge Brass Band in the late 1880’s. Conductor was T. Archer in 1877.

Boroughbridge Brass Band (1) – This was active in 1857 to 1887. A successor band was formed in 1894.

Boroughbridge Brass Band (2) – Founded in 1894, its first public appearance was at Christmas 1894.



Boroughbridge British Legion Band – Founded after WW1. In 1929 its conductor was Harry W. Hill and its founder was Johnny Pickering. It disbanded in 1955. After WW2, when the band reformed, clothing coupons were gathered from the townsfolk of Boroughbridge which helped the band to acquire its first uniforms around 1946. After it disbanded the instruments were stored for a while by the British Legion Club in Boroughbridge until they were finally sold off some time thereafter.




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Hot air and brass bands

A number of postcards were produced in the early 1900s which would have been insulting to the recipient – likening their verbal utterances to an extreme amount of hot air – i.e. a “brass band”. One assumes, like the later “smutty” seaside postcards, that these were meant to be taken humorously and not to take offence! Various designs were produced and a slight variant is also seen, replacing “hot air” with “B.S.” (supply your own words) – but that does not work as well.







One can only assume, based on the assertions of the above cards, that the band below is being kept aloft by the exertions of its brass players!





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Brass bands on screen

Over the years the brass bands in the UK, and elsewhere, have appeared numerous times on screen, whether in feature films or on television programmes. In most cases they are small appearances fulfilling the role of a “local” band in the background or supporting a musical event in the plot of the drama. At other times band have a more central role in the production, featuring in a documentary or being a major part of the activity. With the help of some Facebook brass band groups I have extended my original listing of about 120 such appearances to around 450, from 1931 to 2019. This can be found on my Academia site at


Here are a few stills from film and TV shows:

up for the cup

Sing as we go





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