Netherthong Brass Band & Netherthong Philharmonic Band Mk.1 & 2

Netherthong Brass Band
Netherthong Brass Band

In all the years I have been reading and researching the history of Netherthong , I have  only come across a few short  references to a Netherthong Brass Band. My search  involved  reading through all the local Huddersfield newspapers from 1850 onwards and I have decided to give it and the Philharmonic Band their own chapter which, in all probability, will regrettably remain  short on detail.  The Netherthong Philharmonic Band,  which  appears to have been born in the late 1870s,  went into abeyance in 1902-3 and was then re-born  and re-formed in 1908 to be finally disbanded  in about 1915.

Netherthong Brass Band.

Netherthong Village Band c 1880s
Netherthong Village Band c 1880s

 I  received ( May 2016 ) the above photograph from Judith Wobst, who has many  ancestors with Netherthong connections. She said that the photograph is a Xerox of a broken picture on the back of which it says Netherthong Village Band in the 1880s. From looking at the instruments, I would guess it is the Brass Band rather than the Philharmonic Band. Because of her family connections she has been able to identify a number of the musicians. Martin Sykes – back row 3rd. from the right – was her grandfather. Joe Hallowell – front row far right – was the husband of Annice Sykes. Tom Sykes (?)- back row far right. Tom Woodhouse – front row far left – grandmother’s older brother ?. Walker Child – back row 4th. from the left – father of cousin Nellie Child. It is the oldest photograph in my history and is the most exciting showing the uniforms of the musicians with their instruments. It is possible, that in common with other local brass bands,  their  instruments could have been  purchased from and repaired by T. Reynolds, instrument manufacturers of Chapel Street, Manchester.  I  finally finished reading all the newspapers from that era and my meagre findings are shown below.

  Thanks mainly to those back issues of the Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter, it would appear that the Brass Band could have been formed in 1866 and disbanded in 1887. What  intrigued me about the Band is  that our small village of Netherthong supported not only this Brass Band but, during the same period, also had a Philharmonic Band. Bear in mind that the standard complement for a brass band was about 25 musicians. As you read on you will see that the number of reports I found were very few and far between and consisted mainly about the Band leading processions at local feasts. What did they do for the rest of the year, where did they practice etc. ? Did they ever partake in any competitions. ? What was their relationship with other local brass bands, namely Meltham and Honley ? I have reports that in 1873 and 1876 that some members of Meltham and Honley brass bands did attend and play at the funerals of two musicians of Netherthong Band. However I have just come across, in a newspaper report from January 1872 ,a report of a funeral of  one of the Band’s musicians.

The  references are.

Huddersfield Chronicle, June 1872 was the earliest reference to the Band that  I  found in that paper.  At the annual Sunday School feast the scholars formed in procession and, led by the Netherthong Brass Band, proceeded to the residence of Mr.Josiah Mellor.

In the Huddersfield Examiner for January 1872, the remains of Herbert Bocock were assigned to their resting place in the cemetery at the Parish Church.  ( There is no reference to him in the Index of burials). The members of the Band, in addition to several belonging to Meltham Mills, were present when the procession  marched from the deceased’s residence to the church and they played the ‘Death March’. They played ‘Luther’s Hymn ‘ over the grave and the Rev. A. Jones , the curate, read the funeral services.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter – June 1873. At the Annual Festival of teachers and scholars the procession was headed by the Netherthong Brass Band in ‘their splendid uniforms’. In  November of the same year the paper reported –  On the last Sunday in October the remains of Mr.John Mallinson, musician and a member of the Band, were interred in All Saints burial ground. ( The index of burials lists a John Mallinson, aged 43, with date of burial 26 October 1873 ).Members of the Meltham Mills, Honley and Netherthong Brass Bands met at the house of the deceased, the Clothiers Arms Inn, and preceded the coffin playing the ‘Death March.’ Over the grave they performed that solemn piece of music, ‘Luther’s Hymn’ in the presence of a large number of spectators who had assembled to witness the funeral ceremony.’

There were three references in 1874. The first was in May when they assisted at the Hall Sunday School, Austinley, annual school feast. The following month they made their regular appearance  at the annual festival for the All Saint’s Sunday school when they headed the procession through the village. The last report in August was about a cricket match played at Town End between the members of the Netherthong and Town End Brass Bands.  Town End scored 29 runs but lost to Netherthong who amassed 56 runs. It had been intended to hold a gala following the match but the weather turned bad and it had to be postponed.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter , June 1875.  At the annual festival of the teachers and scholars attending the Parish Church school, a procession of about 160 formed a procession and headed by the Netherthong Brass Band made its way to Thongsbridge.

 Huddersfield Examiner & West Riding Reporter – Saturday February 26 1876. The annual tea party connected to the Brass Band was held in the house of Mrs. Mallinson, the Clothier’s Arms Inn, when nearly 90 people sat down to eat. The evening was spent singing and dancing. In July of the same year there was a rather unusual and intriguing reference in that members of the Band played their annual cricket match with the Deanhouse Cricket Club on the grounds of the latter. It would appear from the report in the paper that 18 of the musicians batted and scored 58 runs. 11 members of Deanhouse Club reached 46 for 7 wickets before time was called resulting in a draw. A gala and sports were held in the evening and lots of young people assembled to dance to the diverting strains of the Band. Several old English sports were introduced during the evening.

 Another interesting report in the same paper in October 1876, included  information that indicated the Band could  have been formed in 1866. A funeral was held at All Saints for Mr. Martin Hoyle, 42 years, who had been connected with the Netherthong Brass Band as a cornet player since its formation about 10 years previously. The members of the Band met at the practice room and, assisted by a few members of the Meltham Mills Brass Band, accompanied the corpse to its burial ground.  Hundreds of spectators congregated to witness the funeral ceremony.

 At the Whitsuntide celebrations in 1877 for the Wesleyan Sunday School, the procession proceeded to the Deanhouse Workhouse headed by the Netherthong Brass Band.

The annual school feast for the   Parish Church Sunday School  was held in June 1878 and the procession, which was formed and paraded round the district, was headed by the Netherthong Brass Band.

There were two references in 1879, with the first being on Whit Monday when the band formed part of the procession for the teachers and scholars of the Wesleyan Sunday school. In the evening, when everybody adjourned to a field for games, they played music at intervals. Later in the same month the Parish Church Sunday schools held their annual festival which, as usual, involved a procession round the village led by the Brass Band. During the activities the band played several selections of music.

In March 1880, the Brass Band held its annual party at the Wagon and Horses Inn, Holmfirth when 60 persons sat down to a 1st. class sandwich tea well served by Mrs. Tyas. Afterwards a ball took  place  and members of the band played music for dancing. Songs were given by Messrs. James Mosley and E. Brown during the evening. The room was crowded and, in an unusual turn of events, they decided to have another tea on the following Monday and at that event 40 people sat down for tea. The following year the annual tea party and entertainment was held in the large room at the Clothiers when about 90 people took part. The Band had recently joined the E Company as a volunteer band and was trying to get a new set of instruments. The next report didn’t occur until June 1882 when once again the Band led the procession for the annual Parish Church school feast.  No report appeared in 1883  but in 1884  they were back leading  the Parish Church Annual school feast procession in June.

They organised a concert of vocal and instrumental music in the National schoolroom in February 1885 in aid of funds. The artistes engaged were Mrs. Hardy, soprano; Miss England , contralto ; Mr. F. Haigh , tenor ; Mr. H. Hardy, bass and J. Senior, violinist along with the band. The paper reported that the concert was a great success musically  but financially would only leave a small balance for the Band. Once again the Band was involved in the Annual Sunday School feast and , in addition to leading the procession, they played a choice selection of music in the evening. The Parish Church Sunday and Day schools held their annual procession in June 1886 and once again, as in 1885,  it was headed by the Brass Band.

  Holmfirth Express, December 1886. ” At the Christmas Day treat at Deanhouse Workhouse at 7a.m., the Netherthong Brass Band and the Netherthong Philharmonic Band played in front of the house and in the hospital.” Oh for a photograph. There must have been close on 50 musicians present.

 Holmfirth Express , June 1887.  On Whit Monday the scholars and teachers made a procession along with scholars of the Methodist Free Church and, headed by the Netherthong Brass Band, marched to the Deanhouse Workhouse. In the same month  Netherthong village joined in the Jubilee Procession in Holmfirth and the Netherthong Brass Band was involved .The last reference I have found about the Band was in September 1887 and it reported the death of George Henry Wood who was a well known musician and had been leader of the Netherthong Brass Band. He was buried in All Saints’ Church on September 22, aged40 ( The Index  of Burials records a George Henry Wood being buried on September 22 ).. There is a reference in 1881 that he had also been  the conductor of the Philharmonic Band.

There were brass bands in most of the local villages. Meltham & Meltham Mills Bands were in existence from 1846 to 1996 and Ron Massey  published a book full of photos and details titled ‘150 years of Music’. There is a copy in the Archives Library at Kirklees but there is no reference in it to the Netherthong Brass Band. A ‘History of Honley Band’ was written by Peter Marshall of Honley and published in 2010. If you read through my separate chapter on the various processions held in the village, you will see how many of the local bands were involved. In 2015 I spoke to Jeffrey Turner, Holmfirth born and bred, who had written a book titled ” Brass Bands in the Holme Valley “. It is full of stories, information and facts about many of the local bands. Unfortunately he did not have any specific information about the Netherthong Brass band but did confirm that he had come across odd comments about its existence. The book is available from the author.

Then lo and behold , in December 2017 , I received an email which gave some further insight into the history of the Brass Band. It was from David Hirst, secretary of the world famous Black Dyke Brass Band. He is from Holmfirth and was involved with Holme Brass Band for many years. He wrote ” Netherthong band was one of many local bands that developed in the very popular days of Brass bands at Holme, Hade Edge, Hepworth, Hepworth Iron Works, Crowedge, Honley, Hinchliffe Mill, Wooldale, Fulstone, Holmfirth Temperance, Kirkburton to name a few. The standard line up of 25 brass plus percussion was not established until the late 1870’s by John Gladney – MD of the prize winning Meltham Mills Band. Prior to this bands were made up of a variety of brass instruments and sometimes included woodwind. Netherthong may not have contested nationally but would certainly have competed locally.” He also included the following web site address . 

I list below four contests from that site in which Netherthong competed. The conductor in each of them was W. Battye

13 July 1872 – Shelley  – 2nd. place

27 July 1872- Meltham – unplaced – test piece Croix d’Honneur.

16 August 1873- Kirkburton – unplaced – test piece Atilla.

19 September 1874 – Honley – 5th. place – Il Trovatore.

The following photograph was kindly lent to me by Ann Watson. It does show the Hade Edge Brass Band leading the procession on the Hospital Field Day, July 24, 1920. ( see more details in chapter titled Combined school feasts etc.). I’ve included it as it shows what a procession would have looked like headed by our own village Brass Band.

Hospital Field Day
July 24, 1920

Netherthong Philharmonic Band – Mk 1

I have only come across a few references for what I have called Netherthong Philharmonic Band Mk1. The first one was dated November 1878 and the last one 1902. They did appear to be separate from the Brass Band, although there could very well have been a cross-over of members from time to time.

 The United Methodists held a tea and public meeting in December 1878.  It was reported that the Philharmonic Band attended and gave music to the satisfaction of the audience. 

In 1879 the three churches in the village held separate  processions for their Sunday Schools. The Wesleyan Methodists and the Free Methodists both held theirs on Whit Monday and, as mentioned above, the Brass Band played at the Wesleyan event and the Philharmonic Band  was involved with the Free Methodists.

At the beginning of 1881 the inmates at Deanhouse Workhouse were treated to a concert by the Philharmonic Band and several vocalists. Some months later in April, the Methodist Free Church held a public tea and, as part of the entertainment, the Philharmonic Band, under their conductor, Mr. G.H.Wood, played selections of music. Members of the Band played at the concert given in December in aid of funds for the Deanhouse Cricket Club.

The Netherthong Co-op Society held its first meeting on January 14  1881 and, from the minute-book, there is an entry that at Easter 1882, they held a tea party and the entertainers included the Philharmonic Band under their conductor, Mr.G.H.Wood.  The Band played selections of music at the United Methodist Sunday School annual tea in November 1882. At the Christmas Day celebrations in the Workhouse in December 1885, the Band started playing at 7am and , as reported by the paper, ” the strains of the Philharmonic Band reverberated through the building ” – almost like a reveille call!

 The Philharmonic Band along with the Brass Band played at the Christmas Day treat in December 1886 at the Deanhouse Workhouse .

 The Deanhouse Workhouse celebrated the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. The inhabitants of the village and the children from all three Sunday schools marched in procession headed by a brass band ( not identified ) and the Philharmonic Band. This is the last report I have found.

Philharmonic Band Mk. 2

According to the Holmfirth Express the ‘new’ Philharmonic Band was formed in 1908. The conductor was C.A.Wood and the leader S.W.Bray. The ‘orchestra’ consisted of about 30 instrumentalists and presented a concert each year in the village. The band disbanded  in 1914/1915. 

 In  March 1909 a vocal and instrumental concert was given by members of the Band and, although there was a blizzard raging , the school was crowded with the largest audience for many years. The Band, under the direction of S.,Bray and conducted by Charles Wood, consisted of 36 members . All the vocal artistes as well as the accompanist, Herbert Cousen, were natives of Netherthong and Holmfirth. The newspaper report concluded…” the demeanour of the members of the orchestra, particularly during the rendition of the vocal items, from the leader down to the tympanists was most commendable and yes, and especially yes, the gay drum major.”  In September of that year the Band provided music for dancing at the Football Club garden party.

 The 2nd, annual concert was held in January 1910. The Band had arranged an admirable programme and enlisted the engagement of a Netherthong celebrity, Mr. Frank Dickensen, who regularly appeared round the country. The other artistes were Miss Elsie Stringer, soprano, Mr. Tom Johnson, solo violin cello, and the accompanist Mr .H. Cousen, The members of the Band were : 1st. violins – Mr. W. Bray ( leader ), H. Hinchliffe, Miss F. Hirst, J .Hobson, F. Walker and B. Batley. 2nd. violins – G. Sheard, B.Dyson, R. Thorpe, H .Shore, H. Thorpe, A. Mellor.  Violas – L. Ramsden and A. Hobson. Violoncello – T. Johnson ( principal ), J.Charlesworth, W. Hobson and H. Mallinson.  Bass – L. Braithwaite and W. Buckley.  Flutes – J. Hebbelthwaite and W. Buckley. Clarionets – D. Wood and C. Woodhead.  Oboes – C. Garner and C. Hanson.  Bassoon – W. Lodge.  Horn – H. Clough.  Cornets – V .Kay and A. Green.  Trombones – H. Hellawell, M. Bailey and W .Coldwell. Drums – G.  Swindon.

 At the 3rd. annual concert in 1911, C. A. Wood was still the conductor and the two named soloists were D. Wood, clarinet, and L.Green, Cornet.

 January 1912 was the date of the 4th. concert and even though the weather conditions were atrocious  they did not stop a large number of villagers attending. Mr. Couzen was the accompanist

 At the 5th. annual concert in addition to their own share of the programme, they had the following artistes. Soprano – Miss Florence Sanderson. Bass – Mr. George Oxley. Solo violin – Joseph Butterworth. The conductor was C. A. Wood, the accompanist was J. Goddard and J. Butterworth was the leader.

 The 6th. and final Annual Concert was held on March 21, 1914. There was a full orchestra of  30 performers along with three guest singers – Miss Florence Sykes, soprano. David Oxley , tenor and Arthur Roberts bass.  The front seats were 1/6, second seats 1/- and Backs 6d. The programme was Entry of the Gladiators, Raymond , Dans La Forge and Haydyn’s Farewell Symphony. In the second half, the programme included God of Thunder, Semiramis and Esmerelda.  The impending  war  and the fact that many of the musicians would be enlisting were the main reasons this concert was to be their last one.

I have two further references to the Band that occur in obituaries. The first was for Private Charles Woodhead who was a member of the Band and played the clarinet. He was 20 years old when he was killed in 1916 fighting for his country in WW1 in Europe. The second was for William Hobson of Outlane who died in March 1927 aged 77 . He was a member of the band and a familiar figure with his cello. He was also a member of the United Methodist string band – see below.

 I have found one reference to a Netherthong String Band which played at a social in the National School in 1902 under the direction of Mr. C. Wood, who was also the conductor of the Philharmonic Band from 1908 onwards. The Band played a varied selection of music and there were refreshments of tea, coffee and confectionery provided by the caterer, Miss Mitchell of Netherthong.

Because old photographs get into the habit of “disappearing”, I have decided to include photos of local brass bands that at one time or another might have played in the village. I’m not sure of the identity of many of them. Plus .this is one of my favourite chapters.

1919 victory celebrations with Holme Silver Band
1919 peace celebrations with Holme Silver Band.


School Feast procession 1979


mm22. Procession led by Brass Band coming up Outlane to Towngate



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