Haworth Bandsman of 60 years

Jim o'Abes with cornet


I came across this small article from the Yorkshire Evening Post of 4th May 1920 regarding a well-known local Bancroft which is a nice little tale about a James Bancroft printed a year before his death in late 1921.


Yorkshire has long been famous for its brass bands, but it is doubtful whether anyone has played a larger part in their organisation than Mr James Bancroft of Haworth, who has been a bandsman for 60 years, and was the conductor of the Haworth Public Brass Band for 40 years. A day or two ago Mr and Mrs Bancroft celebrated their diamond wedding and the occasion was not allowed to pass at Haworth without due recognition. Mr Bancroft will be 84 years old in July, while Mrs Bancroft is 83.

In the days when Mr Bancroft was the conductor, the Haworth Band greatly prided itself on its “blowing” powers, and revelled in its achievement of playing from the bottom of Bridgehouse Lane to the top of Haworth without a break. This is a very steep accent of a few hundred yards in length, and as a village worthy remarked “A deal of folk are short o’puff enough coming up it without having to play an instrument”

In honour of Mr Bancroft, the band carried out a similar feat a day or two ago, and they are ready to challenger all-comers in regard to the volume of music emitted per mile under similar conditions.

Anyone enquiring at Haworth for Mr James Bancroft, would probably have difficulty finding him, for to most people he is simply known as “Jim o’ Abes”, who means Jim, the son of Abraham.

The exploits of the Haworth Band under “ Jim o’Abes” are well remembered, and talked of in the district. In his teens Mr Bancroft joined the Old Dry Clough Band as a cornet player, afterwards being, enlisted with the Ponden Band, which was famous throughout the district.

In 1869 the Haworth Public Brass Band was formed and Mr Bancroft was appointed conductor.

The Haworth Band’s trips to other towns to take part in brass band concerts still form the subject of many discussions in the village. On one occasion when the band had reach home at midnight, Jim o’ Abes stopped at the bridge near Haworth station, got out his cornet, and broke the silence of the night with a rendition of the “ Last Rose of Summer”


I wrote a longer article about the formation of the Haworth Brass Band and also under the leadership of Jim o’ Abes, which can be read by clicking here. 

To finish this piece here is an amusing anecdote from another local newspaper, relating to the Band’s triumphant return from Crystal Palace in London in 1863 after performing in a competition:

“ 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!”


Jim o' Abes, 3rd from left on back row.


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