The History of Emley Brass Band

Emley Brass Band was founded in 1870 from the basis of a woodwind and brass ensemble.

From the late 1950’s to the late 1970’s, Emley Band had a successful contesting period, being conducted by Charlie Westerby for over 20 years.  The picture (below), taken around 1964, shows the band with a haul of trophies.

In the early1950’s the band was known as Emley Public Band.  In 1965 Emley Band and Clayton West Band combined to become Clayton West and Emley Band.  Sometime later the band was sponsored by the coal mine in Emley, then being known as Emley Miners Welfare Band.  The pit was closed in 1985 and the Band was renamed as Emley Brass Band around 1988/1989, no longer having any affiliation with what remains of the mining industry.

After the coal mine closure, Emley band (along with many other brass bands at the time) had to work hard to survive.  During this period the band struggled for consistency on the contest platforms, having a variety of conductors.

In 1993 the Band was awarded a grant for refurbishment of the bandroom from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. The refurbished bandroom was opened on 1st October 1994 by the then Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Keith Hellawell.

Emley band also received a National Lottery grant in 1995, which enabled them to buy a new set of brass instruments and some extras for the percussion section.

In 1998 Emley Brass Band joined forces with Cawthorne Brass Band, being conducted by Brian Frost.  During this period the bands undertook joint rehearsals and concerts, but didn’t enter any contests.

In 2000 the bands separated again by mutual consent, with Cawthorne Band remaining non-contesting and Emley Band returning to the contest stage, now being conducted by Ian Knapton.

Ian decided to move on to pastures new at the end of 2001 leaving Emley Band without a conductor again.

Jack Boden stepped in and proved to be a great success as, at the Yorkshire Area contest in March, the band qualified to take place in the National Finals 2002 in Torquay.

They then acquired another conductor, Marc Robins who was a Barnsley College graduate after having studied under David Hirst. Marc’s first contest just happened to be the National Finals in Torquay.

Since 2003, Garry Hallas has been leading the band from the front and his enthusiasm to take the band to further heights is very encouraging.

In recent years the band has been competing at many contests around the country, managing to pick up some silverware along the way.

Emley were promoted to the second section in 2013 and this achievement is the highest the band has ever reached. Although they are now back in the third section, there is plenty of optimism for a speedy return to the second section.

As well as playing in contests around the country, Emley have an excellent reputation for producing entertaining concerts and have picked up some silverware from entertainment contests in recent years.