The Brighouse and Rastrick Band is undoubtedly the best and most consistent ‘public subscription band’ in the world. The people of the villages of Brighouse and Rastrick made donations to establish the band in the late nineteenth century. Today it still continues to be supported through public subscriptions and its own fund raising efforts. Traditionally its amateur members pride themselves on being financially independent, yet are still regarded as one of the ‘elite’ on both contest and concert platform.
Evidence exists to show that a band existed in Brighouse in 1858, but B&R officially celebrated its centenary in 1981. Until the 1920’s the Brighouse and Rastrick Band could be described as just another band, but their steady progress culminated in 1929 when B&R won both the July and September Contests at Belle Vue Manchester, a feat only achieved once before and not equalled since. The band won The British Open Championship (September), again in 1932-33-34, was barred in 1935 but regained it in 1936. They have continued to feature in the prize list ever since, but had to wait until 1978 to win the ‘Open’ again.
In 1945 the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain began. B&R won this title for the first time in 1946, conducted by a young Eric Ball, one of many famous names to be associated with the band. When the World Championships were introduced in 1968, B&R were the first World Champions, successfully retaining the title in 1969 to become the only band to win this short lived contest on more than one occasion. They were National Champions again in 1973 and 1980, just missing out in their centenary year 1981 when they were runners up, but carrying off the European Championship the following day.
In 1989 a new competition, the All England Masters Brass Band Championships was established in Cambridge. This quickly gained prestige, attracting entries from the top bands in England. In 1993 Brighouse and Rastrick became the first Yorkshire band to win this title.
The Brass Band Championships of Great Britain were again won 1n 1998, the band was conducted to victory at The Royal Albert Hall by professional conductor Allan Withington; successfully defending the title won in 1997. Allan and the Band created a unique triple of championship titles held in one year, when in May 1998, in Kerkrade Holland, B&R won the title Champion Band of Europe; followed three weeks later by victory at the All England Masters Championships.
Brighouse & Rastrick s foundations for the new millennium were firmly established with a victory for the band and Allan Withington in the 2001 All England Masters Championships, Allan succeeds William Halliwell as the most successful of the band s professional conductors.
Success in ‘media’ competitions has also been enjoyed by B&R. In 1968 they were BBC Band of the Year and in 1975 Granada Television Band of the Year. B&R have always been a prolific prize-winner at the Whit Friday Quick Step March contests in the Saddleworth area of Northern England. The records show the band have won more prizes than any other band – over 400 since 1910.
In 1977 B&R had unique success in a more unusual way. For nine weeks they were at No.2 in the British ‘pop’ charts with their recording of ‘The Floral Dance’. Held off the top by Paul McCartney, they still achieved sales of over a million, earning both Gold and Silver discs.
Today, with countless radio, TV broadcasts and recordings to its credit, the band is kept very busy giving concert performances both nationally and internationally.
The band moved into their purpose built headquarters, ‘West Ridings’ in 1995, and is looking forward to making their mark on the 21st century, upholding their traditions and continuing in their success.
Used with Permission from:Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band