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Grimethorpe Colliery Band

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grimethorpe Colliery Band
OriginGrimethorpe, South Yorkshire, England
Occupation(s)Brass band
Years active1917–present 

The Grimethorpe Colliery Band is a brass band, based in Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, England. It was formed in 1917, as a leisure activity for the workers at the colliery, by members of the disbanded Cudworth Colliery Band.[1] It achieved worldwide fame after appearing in the film Brassed Off, and, along with the Black Dyke Mills Band, the band became the first to perform at the Proms.


The year after the band's formation saw it enter its first competition at Belle Vue in Manchester.[2] Its first radio broadcast was in 1932 and from 1941 to 1951 was on UK national radio every month.

George Thompson was musical director from the early 1950s until 1972 during which time the band won the British Open Contest for the first time. Thompson was followed by Elgar Howarth as Professional Conductor and Musical Director. 1974 saw the band, along with Black Dyke Mills Band, become the first to perform at the Proms.

The band continued through the industrial troubles of the 1980s and the closure of Grimethorpe Colliery on 13 October 1992. The band gained first place with 99 out of 100 on 17 October 1992 in the National Brass Band Championship at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Following the closure of the Grimethorpe Colliery in 1993, the Band was sponsored by RJB Mining (later UK Coal plc) and then by Powerfuel.


The Grimethorpe Colliery Band has premiered some of the most important brass music of the 20th century, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Grimethorpe Aria, written for the band, and Hans Werner Henze's Ragtimes and Habaneras as well as several pieces by Sir Malcolm Arnold.

Rock and pop

The band has appeared on rock and pop records, notably "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease", on Roy Harper's 1975 HQ album, and Peter Skellern's 1978 and 1979 albums Skellern (including the hit single "Love Is the Sweetest Thing") and Astaire. In 1976, the band assisted comedian Max Bygraves in recording a song specially commissioned by the National Coal Board called "Do It The Safety Way", in order to promote safety procedures in coalmines.

One former member of the band, trombonist Andy Cato, went on to co-found electronic music duo Groove Armada.[3]

In films

International fame came with the film Brassed Off, the plot of which was based on Grimethorpe's struggles against pit closures, and whose soundtrack was recorded by the band. The band also performed Ron Goodwin's film score for the 1976 Disney film Escape from the Dark (also called The Littlest Horse Thieves), with the composer conducting. They also recorded some of the Beautiful South's hits in the 1996 and the tracks were given as extra tracks on the cd single issues


  • National Brass Band Championships – Winners 1970, 1992, 2006 and 2007.[4]
  • English National Brass Band Championships – Winners 2007,[5][6] 2008.[7]
  • Yorkshire Champions – 1963, 1967, 1973, 1983, 1991, 1995, 2005, 2006.[2]
  • Brass in Concert Champions – 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001 to 2005, 2010 and 2014.[8]
  • Mineworkers' Champions – 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973 to 1980, 1983, 1985 to 2002.[2]
  • British Open Champions – 1969, 1984, 1991, 2015.[2]
  • Granada Band of the Year – 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1985.[2]

Other events

The band represented England at the European Brass Band Championship in Norway in May 2008 and came second behind the Cory Band, both on 194 points.[9] In June 2008 Grimethorpe gained its second successive victory at the English National Brass Band Championships, thus qualifying to represent England once again at the European Championships in Ostende, Belgium, in 2009. The band gained further worldwide attention with its rendition of the Olympic Hymn during the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Notable members

Partial discography

Year Album Conductor
1976 Grimethorpe Special Elgar Howarth
1991 A Night at the Opera Elgar Howarth
1992 Paganini Variations Frank Renton
1993 Wilby Frank Renton & Garry Cutt
1995 Wagner Elgar Howarth
1997 A White Christmas with Grimethorpe Major Peter Parkes
1999 Grimethorpe Colliery Band – Australian Tour Edition Elgar Howarth
2001 Eric Ball – The Undaunted Elgar Howarth
2002 Grimethorpe in Concert Garry Cutt
2004 Grimethorpe in Concert Volume II Richard Evans
2004 The History of Brass Band Music – The Golden Era Elgar Howarth
2004 The History of Brass Band Music – The Salvation Army Connection Elgar Howarth
2005 The History of Brass Band Music – The Early Years Elgar Howarth
2006 The History of Brass Band Music – The Modern Era Elgar Howarth
2007 Grimethorpe in Concert Volume III Richard Evans & Philip Harper
2007 The History of Brass Band Music – Classical Arrangements Elgar Howarth
2008 The History of Brass Band Music – New Adventures Elgar Howarth
2008 Hymns Phillip McCann
2010 Grimethorpe in Concert Volume IV James Gourlay
2010 Hymns Volume II James Gourlay
2011 By Request Brian Grant


  1. ^ "Brass band keep their shine", Western Daily Press, 1 September 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e Concert programme, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (20 November 2018). "Groove Armada: how we made At the River". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  4. ^ "The National Brass Band Championships" Archived 29 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Harrogate Band, accessed 17 December 2007
  5. ^ "Colliery band hits top prize note", BBC News, 1 July 2007
  6. ^ "English National Brass Band Championships" Archived 2 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, British Federation of Brass Bands, accessed 17 December 2007
  7. ^ Results: 2008 English Nationals,, accessed 28 June 2008
  8. ^ Results for 2014 and The Sage Years at
  9. ^ Buffet Crampon, woodwind instruments : clarinets, professional clarinet, oboe, bassoon Archived 14 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Video clips

This page was last edited on 18 May 2020, at 03:22
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