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Est. 1943

Besses Boys' Band


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75th Anniversary Year

Chocolate Bingo Fundraiser

Butlin's Mineworkers Contest  2018

After Eight days of back-to-back rehearsals and less than two weeks into 2018. the band travelled to Skegness to participate in the annual Butlin's Mineworkers Contest.

Performing the compulsory test piece, 'Variations for Brass Band' by Ralph Vaughan Williams, fifteen bands took to the stage in the hope of winning over second section adjudicators, Alan Morris and Paul Andrews. The piece consists of eleven variations which link seamlessly together, each with its own character and complexities, showcasing the different sections of the band. Praise was given to the bass section, singled out by the adjudicators for their sonority and ensemble playing. After a committed performance, band MD James Hold, Commented: "I am absolutely delighted with our performance. Today the band has produced exactly what I asked of them and more. They are a credit to the Besses Boys' Band name and I am very proud to stand in front of them"


The band were placed 6th overall; the Second Section Champions Banner and winners trophy was awarded to Haydock

Lady Wilton Hall in Simister looked something akin to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory on Saturday 8th April. The day marked the band’s ‘Chocolate Bingo’ fundraiser, and thanks to the generous sponsorship from Slattery Patissier and Chocolatiers, the prizes did not disappoint the eager families who came to support the event.











Over 60 attendees joined in for games of bingo, ‘heads or tails’ and the children’s colouring in competition. There were also cakes, pizza and hotdogs on offer for those who had their fill of chocolate. A record number of thirty prizes were won over the course of the afternoon









Musical Director, James Holt relinquished the baton for the day with a new starring role as the Bingo Caller – a role he filled with panache and enthusiasm. When asked to comment of the event, he said

“It was great to see so many local families, as well as familiar Besses Boy’s Supporters at the event. There was an excellent atmosphere and we raised almost £700 for the band. We would like to thank Slattery’s for their generous support – the donations were spectacular”

Are you a former member of besses boys band? Have you ever donned the famous jacket? The band this year celebrate our 75th anniversary year. As part of the celebrations the band will be holding a commemorative concert featuring the current Besses Boys Band and a reunion band. If you would like to play in the reunion band on 13th October, there will be a rehearsal in the afternoon before the concert. Please email your name, instrument, years you played for the band and your current playing commitments to

If you wish to add any music that stirs memories of your time with the band please also include this.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

NWABBA Rochdale Contest 2017

Blackpool 2018: Best Percussion Section awarded to Besses Boys'

Five years ago, the band made their debut entrance into the Second Section at the North West Areas. Since their Third Section win in 2012, the band have always had mixed success at Blackpool, with placings as widely spaced as 15th and 3rd. 2018 was no different, with a lower than expected overall placing (15th) juxtaposing a prize-winning performance from the percussion section.

This year’s test piece was ‘Ex Terra Lucem’ by Jonathan Bates. Drawn 16th, the band gave what 4barsrest described as a marker piece. The online brass band media site, who often comment that the band exhibit too much exuberance on the contest stage, reported that it was a “mature performance”, noting a “warm tonality” that was “controlled from the start.”  Following their performance, MD James Holt congratulated the band for doing exactly what he had asked of them, calling it a “superb performance”, in particular referring to the muted section, which he described as “outstanding.”

Whilst the adjudicators’ scoring did not always correlate, there was agreement in the awarding of ‘Best Percussion Section’ to Besses Boys Band, following their excellent delivery during the performance.

Principal percussionist, Luke Taylor, commented: “The percussion section has seen a number of transitions over the past two years with players coming and going, so it’s really satisfying to be recognised as the best section out of the numerous bands in the second Section performing today. I’m really proud of our team; this prize reflects the close-working relationships, camaraderie and respect that we have for each other, which obviously came across in our performance.”

Over the past 3 years, the band line-up has changed dramatically, introducing many younger players; a number of whom are newcomers to the banding world. With every performance, they are gaining both confidence and experience. The comments made by the adjudicators are always helpful in developing skills and techniques unique to the contest stage, as well as shaping the overall band sound.

On Sunday October 29th, the band took part in the annual NWABBA Rochdale Brass Contest, performing Jan de Haan's 'Flashback'. Written in 2009, de Haan's test piece for second section contains many contrasts and complexities; the time invested in mastering these certainly paid off, resulting in a well-executed performance full of light and shade which secured fourth place within the second section. From its opening dance-like passages to the achingly lyrical slower sections, fragmented syncopated phrases to melismatic counter-melodies, there was much to please adjudicator Andrew Warriner, who commented on the effectiveness of dynamics, the balance of the ensemble and success in creating shape at certain key points within the piece. Despite the challenging acoustic of the Town Hall, rhythmic passages were crisp and percussive, punctuated effectively by the silences in between.

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BBB Join Forces with Brighouse

Besses Boys' Win Second Section at Blackburn & Darwen

Band Awards Night

Besses Boys Band are delighted to share the stage with the National Champion Band of Great Britain, the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.


The Band have been invited to perform at Bury Parish Church on the Rock on Saturday 29th September will the current National Champions.


The Concert will feature a plethora of music and will be a display of quality music and massed band items.


Tickets for the concert are available from the House of the Rock Cafe at Bury Church of by contacting Besses Boys' Band on 07955098659 or alternatively emailing:


Besses Boys’ Band recently celebrated the end of the year with an Awards Night and Social for band members and their families. It was a great opportunity for band members to enjoy the highlights, with current and former players celebrating the year.

Awards were given to recognise the hard work and contribution of band members over the last twelve months. Vice-Chairperson and Solo cornet player Bradley Hirst won ‘Bandsperson of the Year’. Bradley took on the position of Vice-Chairperson this year, and has proven himself to be a one-man-machine through his dedication to the band and its illustrious heritage.

On winning the award, Bradley said “It is a huge reward to take home the bandsperson of the year trophy and be recognised for the hard work that has gone into the organisation this year. There has been lots of change in the last 12 months and a lot of people continue to give up their time and effort to support our band. To be awarded bands person of the year really does mean a lot”

Other, more jovial awards were won for clumsiest band member, best (accidental) soloist, and BBB fantasy football league winner.

As it is a special anniversary year for the band, Slattery’s Chocolatier were kind enough to donate a birthday cake. The awards finished with a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for the Besses Boys’ Band.

This weekend launched the beginning of the new banding calendar with a trip to Blackburn and Darwen for their annual Hymn and March Contest. The event has become a regular performance for the Boys’ Band, who have attended the contest annually for the last few years. The contest consists of a march through Darwen town, followed by a performance in the market square, which is currently under refurbishment.

On the stand, the band chose to play a rendition of ‘Crimond’ arranged by Geoff Richards, or ‘The Lord’s my Shepard’ for those more familiar with the word setting. This was followed by the march, ‘The Senator’ by George Allen. The band previously had success with this march at the Whit Friday Contest at Carrbrook in Tameside, where they also took away the 2nd  section prize.

The band were delighted to take away the prize for the winning 2nd Section Band for their efforts.

 MD James Holt said “It was a great day at in Blackburn and Darwen today – we always look forward to this event as it as a great start to the banding season! The organisers do a great job to create a community-focused contest for all to enjoy.”

The band will be back rehearsing this evening as they prepare for the forthcoming trio of concerts, featuring guest soprano soloist Nicola Fox (22nd September), Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band (29th September), and for their 75th Anniversary Gala Concert and exhibition (13th October). Tickets and details for all these events can be found on the website at

Full List of Awards

Most Improved Player – Josh Ryan

Most Promising Recruit – Lucy Thomas

Best Attendance Record – Josh Panter

Services to the Band – Alice Bell

MD’s Band Member of the Year – Joel Rongong

Bandsperson of the Year – Bradley Hirst

Section of the Year – Flugel & Horns

Chairman’s Award – Laura Hounsome

Band Service – Eliza Whyman

Band Service – Becca Hurst

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BBB March towards 75th Anniversary

Besses Boys' Band team up with ticket source

Fond Farewell to Principal Bass Player

Besses Boys Band will start their 75th anniversary celebrations at the forthcoming Whit Friday march contests.

Besses Boys Band started in 1943 and went onto to win the National Youth Championships

Besses Boys Band will officially launch their 75th anniversary celebrations this weekend at the famous Whit Friday march contests in Tameside and Saddleworth. It will mark the start of a number of different commemorative events and projects over the coming months cumulating in a reunion concert and exhibition in October.

The band was conceived during the darkest days of the Second World War by two members of the famous Besses o' th' Barn Band, Fred Cowburn and Nathan Snape. They passionately believed that the way for it to survive was to train young people in musicianship, as the stark reality of wartime service had meant that no less than thirteen senior players left the band during the war years.

Initially a 'nursery class' was formed with four lads, Jim Cowburn, Rowland Curless, Harold Galloway and Stan Warburton, but soon grew and was recognised as Besses Boys' Band on October 11th 1943 by the Alex Owen Brass Band Festival Committee.

The boys initially played carols in local streets during Christmas before the boys' first official engagement was held in July 1944.

They went on to become a pioneering ensemble, winning the National Youth Band Championship of Great Britain on five occasions between 1945 and 1950 before becoming a highly respected adult band.­

A special 75th Anniversary Concert will take place at The Victoria Hall in Bolton in October later this year which will feature the current band and a reunion-massed band, open to all former band members.

Besses Boys' Band would like to wish all the best to our Solo BBb Bass player, George Mitchell.

George joined the band 10 years ago, when he started learning in the Besses Boys' Trainng Band. Now the prinicpal Bass player of the National Youth Brass Band, George has developed into a fine musician and feels it’s the right time to part from the band and take advantage of other opportunities to further his musical career.

George was awarded a Plaque in recognition of 10 years dedicated service to Besses Boys' Band, He has been a great attribute to BBB, especially to our Bass team and the band are sad to see him go

TicketSource is a free online ticketing system. It was launched in February 2004, and since then, has been used by over 20,000 event organisers and venues of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK. In 2014, shortly after celebrating their 10th anniversary, ticket source also made the service available in the USA and the Eurozone.

Ticketsource are committed to keeping customer booking fees lower than all our major competitors. From the outset, their goal has been to make just enough profit to be a viable business that can sustain top notch customer service, ongoing system development and best practice system security measures, while remaining as competitive as possible for user.­By them making thier profit commission based, they have committed to increasing sales for bands and organizations like ours and this helps us by promoting our events for free and continually optimising the customer journey for our audience.

The band is now auditioning for a new Bass player ahead of their upcoming contest and concert engagements.

The band is also auditioning for Cornet players to complete our line up.

If you are interested in any of the vacancies, please get in touch with our musical director.

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Besses Boys' Band 75th Anniversary Celebration

The world famous Besses Boys’ Band celebrated their 75th anniversary in style on Saturday night with a gala concert at the prestigious Victoria Hall in Bolton. The MC for the evening was Dave Guest, the presenter of BBC’s North West tonight. The concert featured the current Besses Boys’ Band, a reunion band of ex-players developed by Besses Boys’ Band, some of whom have gone on to perform in professional capacities all over the world. Players came from far and wide and travelled from across Europe and all over the UK to attend the event. The concert was a fantastic celebration of the band’s history and success and allowed members to reminisce about their times in the band and to catch up with old friends to enjoy the evening.

In the first half of the concert, the band performed a selection of traditional and modern pieces under the baton of long-serving musical director, James Holt. This included the premiere of a specially commissioned composition “The Beehive”, written by local composer, percussionist and former band member Andrea Price, who was in the audience on the night. Other former band members present on the night included life member Pat Edgar,  Brian Hooton, Jim Murray. Each of these former players was presented with a gift from the band in recognition of their respective contributions.

During the interval, the audience members had the opportunity to explore an exhibition of band memorabilia, such as instruments, regalia, trophies, photographs, and newspaper articles spanning the last 75 years.

The second half of the concert featured a reunion band made up of former members and conducted by the former Musical Director, Steven Sandiford.  Mark Wilkinson, who formerly played for Besses Boys’ Band performed the well-known cornet solo, Hailstorm. There followed a presentation to long supporting sponsors, Slattery Pastier and Chocolatiers and Silletts Funeral Service who have been loyal supporters to the organisation for three decades.

The evening was concluded with a rousing massed finale performed by the combined current  Besses Boys’ Band and the reunion band; a total of 75 players took to the stage! The band’s Chairman, Bradley Hirst, would like to thank all involved for their support and their contributions to such a successful celebration.