Garforth was once home to a contesting brass band, however not much information is known other than it has not existed for several decades. A non-contesting band – Garforth Jubilee – was set up in 1977 to honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, meeting in a local primary school.
In 2004, Steven Bailey – a local peripatetic music teacher at the time – decided he wanted to get back into the brass band scene, having played in top class bands in the past. He gathered together some like-minded people to busk over the Christmas period, resulting in a band forming on 1st January 2005. Originally it was known as Garforth Community Brass Band, meeting in the local Scout Hut on a Sunday morning.
Garforth Community Brass Band entered the Yorkshire regional contest for the first time as a 4th Section band in February 2005 and came 2nd, qualifying for the national final in Harrogate. They also came 2nd in the final and were promoted to the 3rd Section for the 2006 season. By now the name had changed to Garforth Brass, and the band moved to Garforth Community College, rehearsing on a Sunday evening.
Having built up a strong team, the band came 2nd in the 2008 regional contest and again qualified for the national final in Harrogate. They were disappointed to come 16th in that competition, but undaunted, entered the Butlin’s Mineworkers’ Festival at Skegness in January 2009, coming 5th place in the 3rd Section after a 5 o’clock start on a freezing cold day.
Two months later came their finest hour so far, when they became Yorkshire 3rd section champions in 2009. Other contests entered that year included Otley, Morley and Easingwold, as well as representing Yorkshire again in the national final in Harrogate.
The other big news in 2009 was the move to rehearsing at Garforth Methodist Church. The Minister at that time, Ray Hinch, was a huge supporter of the band, and in fact arranged for the band to play at his leaving service in August 2010.
After promotion to the 2nd section, 2010 was a year for consolidation, and 5th place was achieved at the 2nd section regional contest in March. Not long after that, the band’s first CD “Making Tracks” was recorded at Garforth Methodist Church.
In January 2011 Garforth Brass had another early start when it made an appearance on Daybreak on ITV national television, providing live music as a backdrop to an article about keeping fit and living a healthy lifestyle!
By the time of the 2013 competition the band was back in the 3rd Section and Steve Bailey felt it was time for him to move on, so in April 2013 the band appointed Mark Wildie from Wakefield as their new Musical Director. Although Mark was very enthusiastic and took the band to several successful contests and concerts, there was still a problem with players leaving the band. However, having pulled out all the stops and called in favours from many past acquaintances and new friends, we did manage to get a full band together to perform Partita in Bradford in 2014 and the band did themselves proud on the day.
Following Mark there was a brief spell under the direction of Charles Fyffe, a music graduate from Huddersfield University, who had studied under Philip McCann. The baton was then passed to Michael Cox; one of the founding members of the band, being there with Steve Bailey at the very beginning in 2005.
Michael took the band to Bradford in 2015 and we came a respectable 8th, but unfortunately due to the way the rankings are worked out, this was not enough to secure our position in the 3rd Section. The band had a successful year in 2015 within the 4th section, taking part in Ripon Entertainment Contest in May and performing a well-supported concert as part of the Garforth Arts Festival at St Mary’s Church. We also held a Summer Fayre to celebrate our 10th Anniversary and to help raise much-needed funds. Falling numbers unfortunately meant we were unable to enter the regional competition in 2016, and due to a personal change of circumstances, we said a reluctant farewell to Michael.
- Since March 2016, we have been involved in ‘come and play’ days in Garforth, generously sponsored by local music wholesalers John Hornby Skewes. Members of the public are able to try a range of brass and percussion instruments out and receive a taster lesson.
Following a short spell under James Beecham, we started 2017 by appointing John Thompson as our Musical Director for both Senior and Training Bands. The band has continued to rebuild and become stable in terms of players and engagements.
Following three successful years under John, including going to the National Finals in 2018, we were lucky to become top of the 4th section just before lockdown took hold. This means that from 1st January 2021 we will be in the 3rd Section, for the first time since 2015 and we look forward to being able to get out and about again, bringing live brass band music to Garforth and beyond