|Entrance to the Band's Rehearsal Room|
I spent a very pleasant evening recently at the rehearsal room of the Haworth Brass Band, which is on the old cobbled main street in the village of Haworth, listening to one of their regular weekly practice sessions. The reason for my visit was to research information from their old minute books about James Bancroft [1836-1921], who had a long association with the band as it's leader and as a cornet player.
James started his working life at home as a woolcomber and weaver, no doubt helping his father prepare wool for their hand loom. He married Maria Smith from the nearby village of Oakworth on 28th April 1860 at Keighley Parish Church and interestingly the marriage certificate wrongly states his father as being ‘Edward Bancroft’ as the following copy certificate shows.
|James's marriage certificate|
The items including instruments, which became part of the Band's property were listed in the Trust Deed as follows:
7 B Flat Cornets
2 E flat Cornets
4 E Flat Tenor horns
3 B Flat Euphoniums
1 B Flat Baritone
3 B Flat Trombones
1 Bass Trombone
2 E flat Bombardons
2 BB Flat bombardons
1 Bass Drum
1 Side Drum
plus 21 uniforms, including a like number of bells, overcoats and caps.
While writing this story I was reminded of an old article in the local paper.
“Mr Bancroft, better known as 'Jim o Abes', was one of the foremost bandsmen in the district , and was a cornet player in brass bands for over 40 years. When he retired in 1899 the public of Haworth presented him with a gold watch and chain in recognition of his 40 years service, and Mrs. Bancroft with a silver tea and coffee service”
“ The Haworth Band passed through stirring times under Mr. Bancroft’s control. One of the outstanding events was the visit to London to compete at the Crystal Palace in 1863. On their return to Haworth, stories were related which ‘capped the natives’ of that day. It was said that on this memorable occasion they arrived at the railway station at midnight and took of their shoes and stockings when they started to play through the town ‘so that they did not disturb the residents who had gone to bed!’ “
And another, interspersed with local dialect!
“Another amusing tale is told that one evening the band was rehearsing when a late comer, who had been listening outside, opened the door and exclaimed ‘My word you’re playing sahnds [sic] lovely’. The band put down their instruments and went outside to listen!”
“Haworth Band at that time prided itself on its ‘blowing’ powers. It revelled in the achievement of playing from the railway station to the top of Haworth without a break, and the band was prepared to challenge all-comers on the amount of music put out per mile. A challenge which was never accepted. The shirkers of those days never wanted to hear for a second time, the withering scorn which Jim O’Abes put into his query…”What’s ta' want to stop for?”
|Jim O'Abes with Cornet|
|James & Maria Bancroft with grandchildren|
|James's death certificate|
The Haworth Band continues to thrive to this day, and regularly makes public performances.
|[picture courtesy of "4lifephotography"]|