Brass band magazine still in tune

Black Dyke Band in action at last weekend's English National Brass Band Championships at Preston.
Black Dyke Band in action at last weekend's English National Brass Band Championships at Preston.
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The baton for one of the world’s leading oracles on the world of brass bands, British Bandsman, passed to Northamptonshire seven years ago.

And it means the 125th birthday celebrations for British Bandsman magazine will see corks popping in Wellingborough this year.

British Bandsman editor Kenneth Crookston

British Bandsman editor Kenneth Crookston

The magazine moved to its home at 66 - 78 Denington Road in the town in 2005 and remains the only weekly publication of its kind in the world.

A special anniversary concert is being held at Birmingham Symphony Hall this Sunday to celebrate the anniversary.

British Bandsman editor Kenneth Crookston edits the cosmopolitan publication from Edinburgh. It is designed in Holland, published in Wellingborough and printed in Wales.

The Northamptonshire town is the latest in a long line of homes the publication has had over the years, including one at the heart of London’s Fleet Street area.

Brass bands at the Royal Albert Hall in 1967, with former British Bandsman Editor, Geoffrey Brand, conducting Black Dyke Mills Band

Brass bands at the Royal Albert Hall in 1967, with former British Bandsman Editor, Geoffrey Brand, conducting Black Dyke Mills Band

In his own take on the magazine’s long history, Mr Crookston says the anniversary is one which deserves to be marked.

He said: “In an age when the printed media is fighting for its very existence, coupled with much of the UK public’s misconception of brass bands as more of a curiosity - a relic more suited for a Victorian industrial museum perhaps - than the sophisticated art form that they are at the highest level of performance, the 125th anniversary of an institution that encompasses both is surely a major cause for celebration.

“Thus British Bandsman magazine, formed in 1887 and still published weekly from our headquarters in Wellingborough, is about to embark on the most ambitious celebration in our illustrious history, which has survived two world wars, the great depression and, more recently, industrial decline in the UK that has impacted hugely on the numbers and nature of brass bands themselves.

“If you’ve seen the hit film, Brassed Off! or the successful television series, A Band for Britain, you will have an idea what brass bands are about, but you should be warned that ‘BB125’ will be on a vastly different scale in terms of concept, quality and presentation, which is reflected in our choice of Symphony Hall for our celebration.

“British Bandsman itself has documented almost the entire history of brass bands, and although having reached the grand old age of 125, remains at the cutting edge of banding journalism and central pillar of the worldwide brass community, which is thought to number over 100,000 in the UK alone.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Crookston said: “We have got a tremendous history as a magazine and in that time it has become established as one of the biggest publications about brass bands, and the only weekly brass band magazine in the world.

“When we were faced with such a significant anniversary, we had to do something to make it special. So we got the finest and most successful brass band in the world.

“Originally it was in Fleet Street until the 1970s – for almost the first 100 years of its existence it was in the Strand.

“Then it moved to Beaconsfield until 2004 when it was bought by what is now known as the Salvation Army Trading Company. It moved to Wellingborough in 2005.

“There are quite a lot of brass bands in the Wellingborough area and a lot of strong Salvation Army bands and tradition.”

For more information on the magazine and the anniversary concert visit the website www.britishbandsman.com.