Most information and the extracts are from the book compiled by Ted Lewis:
‘Northallerton Brass and Bands of Music 1797 – 1993’ (published 1994)
‘Brass banding is a pastime – if not a way of life….
COME AND ENJOY IT!’
The History of Northallerton Silver Band
‘A military band presence in Northallerton in 1797 was recorded, the town’s history being steeped in military activity from Roman times until the present day.
In the church warden’s accounts for 1797 there was an entry for a band paid for playing in church. The band was probably the band of the Local Volunteer Corps commanded by Capt. Peat who died in Northallerton, October 17th 1802. A marble tablet was erected to his memory near the tower in Northallerton church’
‘The local Volunteer Band was recorded in the History and Annals of Northallerton in 1800. Volunteer bands…. would be composed largely of reed, wind and string instruments with trumpets, horns, percussion and trombones, and an intermingling of local musicians drawn from church bands, village bands and the Militia. This combination provided an important legacy for the development of the Brass Band movement. Bands made up entirely of brass instruments existed from the 1830’s, the Northallerton Borough Band and the Northallerton Temperance being two such bands in town.’
‘The Northallerton Borough Band under the leadership of Bandmaster T. Jenkinson won 2nd prize in the National Finals in the National heats in the Darlington Silver Band competition.’
Northallerton Borough Band in 1875
‘The laying of the corner stone of the new Chancel at the restored Parish Church was one of the last public engagements of the Northallerton Borough Band due to the Redistribution Bill of 1884’ which eliminated the Parliamentary Borough of Northallerton. ‘It reformed with the name Northallerton Town Band.’
‘Northallerton Town Band consisted of bandsmen from other bands’ (Northallerton Temperance Band, Northallerton Borough Band).
The Northallerton Temperance Band ceased to exist in 1914 when ‘Members physically fit went with their instruments to France’. Two instruments that survived the war were still in use in 1993, ‘one being a Flugel horn which was presented to the Northallerton Borough Band by G.W. Elliott MP for the Borough.’
Northallerton Volunteer Band in 1910
Northallerton Town Band in 1913
‘Northallerton Town Band took part in a contest in Harrogate under the baton of Bandmaster Mr Rush Barker. The band ….gained a commendable 2nd place, ….and the determination to take a place at a contest in Ripon. The Band was placed third and gained a cup….the Bandmaster then decided to rename the band ‘The Northallerton Town Prize Silver Band’.’
‘In September 1929 Northallerton Town Prize Silver Band ventured forth to the Capital to take part in the Brass Band Contest and Festival held annually…..at the Crystal Palace…..the greatest satisfaction came from the team spirit and the hard work put in at practice before the great day.’
‘The interval between the two World Wars was the heyday of this Northallerton Band with regular engagements and fund raising, all contributing to the financial stability which enabled them to purchase new uniforms.’
'The band purchased new uniforms for the 1937 Coronation. The money was raised in 12 months which in those days was a great effort. The uniform was a green tunic trimmed with red and gold, navy blue trousers with a green stripe edged with gold down each leg.’
Northallerton Town Prize Silver Band
Northallerton Town Prize Silver Band
The Northallerton Town Prize Band was reformed after the Second World War and played in the first Armistice Day Parade after the War. The band rehearsed twice a week in a disused stable/hay loft at the rear of public houses in the High Street and latterly the Station Hotel, Romanby.
‘Brass Band contests were held in Romanby at the D.M.P. Sports Ground. The first contest was staged in 1949.’
At the second annual contest in Romanby, in 1950, not all the instrumentalists were men. ‘There was one ‘Bands woman’, Miss Olive Strong who played the cornet in the Blackhall Colliery Band.’ At the end of the day a special presentation of a Certificate giving Life Membership of the British Brass Band Club was made to Mr ‘Rush’ Barker, Bandmaster of Northallerton Town Silver Prize Band for over 60 years. The band was unable to play at that contest due to a lack of players/members in the band and following the contest Mr Barker resigned as Bandmaster.
At the annual meeting of the band the President, Councillor J.L. Swain encouraged former members of the band to return to form a flourishing band. At the same meeting, a request was made that the band supply 6-8 players to take part in the Festival of Britain pageant in Northallerton. The band accepted the request. ‘It was reported that the band was at present an octet.’
Mr Gordon Place said he was training 21 youngsters to play and expected another 8 to come the following week. The Junior Band was formed and successfully played at several functions in the town.
The fourth band contest in Romanby was the last due to lack of support.
For some time the band had been faced with the problem of obtaining players and there had been some difficulties about a conductor. In 1952 the committee recommended that the band be disbanded but proposed that the title be immediately given to the Junior Band.
After receiving the instruments from the members of the old Town Prize Silver Band, the Trustees handed them out to the new Northallerton Town Band, the former Junior Band, Bandmaster Mr (Jimmy) G. Place.
Mr William James (‘Pop’) Lewis started the annual Brass Band Festival of Thanksgiving, held in All Saints Parish Church, Northallerton.
The instruments were recalled by the Trustees and held in storage pending a report on the state of the instruments. After the band laid down their instruments the Lewis Brass quartet together with a few other players formed the Lewis Brass Players with a complement of 10 members to carry on the tradition of Brass Bands in the town. The band was reformed as the Northallerton and District Silver Band by Mr William James (‘Pop’) Lewis with 16 players.
On 14 October 1978 Northallerton and District Silver Band’s new band room on Romanby Road was officially opened by Sir Timothy Kitson MP. Work on converting the property cost approx. £2000.
For the first time the band had a permanent home. Useful church bell oak beams were salvaged from the town’s Parish Church and used for lintels; discarded stone from the church tower was used on the staircase wall and inside the building. Children who lived nearby spent an Easter holiday cleaning bricks.
Sir Timothy Kitson performs the ‘Opening Ceremony’ in 1978
‘Pop’ Lewis with Junior members of the band in 1978
An appeal was launched to raise £4,000 to buy new instruments for the band, to replace instruments which dated back to Victorian times. In March 1979, 5 cornets costing £160 each were presented at the band’s Annual Meeting.
Mr W. J. ‘Pop’ Lewis taught hundreds of children over the years. ‘Having devoted nearly 90 years to music, suddenly on July 17th 1989, while representing the people he loved at a Town Council Meeting, Pop departed this life.’
Mr David Lewis retired after 30 years as Musical Director of the band He took over as conductor of the band after Pop - his father - retired. His involvement with the band continued, however, as he took over the beginners and junior section.
His achievements with the band included being the first winner of the Teesdale brass band contest and the Parkin Raine trophy, winning a cup at the ninth annual contest at Hardraw Scar and three trophies in the 35th Yorkshire and Humberside brass band contest in Scunthorpe. Between 1962 and 1993 the band was awarded ten cups and 15 certificates of merit.
Following the retirement of Dave Lewis, the band appointed Mr David Prest as Musical Director of the band.
In October 2001 Northallerton and District Silver band expanded its premises after having made do with one room in a house on Romanby Road since 1978. The room had been rented out for a peppercorn rent by the late Mr William "Pop" Lewis, but in 2001 the band bought the whole building. The band won a £40,000 grant from the Foundation of Sports and Arts, and its 25 members raised the rest of the cash over six years. Richmond MP Mr William Hague officially opened the refurbished building on 20th October 2001, almost 23 years to the day that his predecessor, Sir Timothy Kitson, opened the original band room in October 1978.
After the move, the band hoped to raise a further £15,000 to refurbish the old rehearsal room and buy much-needed new instruments.
New cornets presented at the Annual meeting in 1979
Mr Dave Lewis with Northallerton Silver Band
Jack Hobson, a member of Northallerton Silver Band for 19 years and President of the band, died on 6th September 2007 after a long illness. He began as a baritone player and moved on to euphonium before ending his playing days in the bass section. When he finished playing, Mr Hobson and his wife, Maude, still attended practice nights and he remained the band's president and an active committee member.
Mr David Prest stepped down as Musical Director and left Northallerton Silver Band after more than 54 years. A long-time member of the band, he started playing at the age of 11 at Bedale School, and joined Northallerton Silver Band in 1964, playing various instruments until settling on Euphonium.
He and his wife, Pam, had greatly supported and encouraged the band in many ways, taking on many important roles over the years and securing the future of the band.
In 2019 Mr Simon McCue, was appointed as Musical Director of Northallerton Silver Band replacing David Prest who had left after many years’ service.
David Prest conducting the band at the Last Night of the Proms concert in 2016