Andrew Simpson has been researching the history of Chorlton cum Hardy, near Manchester, and uncovered some great detail about the brass band that existed in the village. There had been a brass band of sorts in Chorlton since 1820, the last one only ceasing to exist at the end of the last war.
Chorlton cum Hardy was a small rural community just 4½ miles south of Manchester. In 1851 there were just 761 people many working on the land. It was a place of farms and market gardens, providing food for the growing city.
The first band was formed in the 1820s by a young group of farmers and agricultural labourers many of whom were Methodists. It consisted of “brass instruments, clarinets, and piccolos and it was made up of about 24 members, including William Chessyhre, William Moores, William Gresty, and George Lunt with John Axon as drummer.” 1 All five men also played in the Methodist choir and it is possible that other choir members also played in the band. These included James Brundrett who played the flute, Thomas Williamson and Thomas Taylor who played clarinet. William Gresty and George Lunt played bassoon.
There is a delightful story that the drum was made by James Axon the brother of the drummer but was found to be too large to get out of the cottage. Little more is known of the band and it survived for only a few years.
A second band was formed in 1850 as a drum and fife band and this in various forms survived into the middle of the twentieth century.
It was a subscription band and in 1851 three of its leading members raised £28 towards purchasing instruments. Like the earlier band its members were engaged in agriculture. Sadly only three of the founding band members are known. These were Daniel Thomas, Thomas Chesshyre and Thomas Hill, of these Daniel Thomas was a gardener and Thomas Chessyre a market gardener, who had been a Methodist but went on to be the respected Parish Clerk.
During its first year the band relied on a pensioner for instruction but in 1851 it turned to a Mr Kellsall who was the band master of the Stretford band who remained their instructor until a local policeman took over.
Over the years the band survived, finally reaching an end around 1945. For more details of the band (at least as far as is known at present) see www.ibew.co.uk/misc85.htm.