A Brief History of the Marsden Colliery Band

The Marsden Colliery Band started life in 1896 as the South Shields Temperance Band by a group of Salvation Army musicians. In 1913 for financial reasons the band realigned itself with the Marsden Lodge and was renamed the Marsden Colliery Band. The bands contest debut took place at Middlesbrough on the 9th August 1913. There was then a rapid rise under the direction of J W Taylor then Robert Humble, the band were soon nearing senior section status. In 1923 they took second place to the St Hilda Band in their first senior contest at Newcastle. Also in 1923 they took second place in the Crystal Place Grand Shield contest, winning the People Challenge Shield.

In 1924 Jack Boddice ex-solo euphonium with Harton was appointed as bandmaster and
J A Greenwood as professional conductor. It was now that the band began the long, hard road to it’s greatest triumph. The 1925 Crystal Place contest was to become Marsden’s finest hour. The weeks preceding the contest were spent in the Queen’s Theatre South Shields where over a hundred rehearsals took place during a miners strike. The band had commissioned a piece entitled Joan of Arc for the contest which was brought up to competition standards.

On the day of the competition 25th September 1925, Marsden were drawn 4th to play the suite 'Joan of Arc' out of 17 competitors who represented the best bands and musicians in the country.
Under the inspirational leadership of JA Greenwood the band produced an outstanding performance which created one of the biggest upsets in the competitions history.
Adjudicators Denis Wright commented “ it was the finest he had ever heard, for combination playing, balance, light and shade, it was quite faultless. Lt Charles Hoby proclaimed that Marsden won on its superior delicacy and refinement.

The band also collected another accolade on the day with a total of 197 points. This was the highest points achieved in the competitions history.
In the dressing room after the contest Denis Wright told Marsden “No other band was near you”


1st Marsden Colliery Band
2nd Irwell Springs Band
3rd South Moor Colliery
4th Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band
5th St Hilda Colliery Band
6th Foden’s Motor Works Band.

                                                 The Marsden Colliery Band 1925


On their triumphant return to the North East a large crowd had gathered at South Shields railway station. The arrival of the train from Newcastle was heralded by explosions as detonators had be place on the line to alert the crowd. When the musicians and officials made their appearance they were greeted with a outburst of cheering. The band and the crowd formed a procession which proceeded slowly down Mile End Road, up Fowler Street to the Town Hall with people cheering all the way.
About 20,000 people had gathered outside the Town Hall, the mayor Ald JG Winskell gave a speech of congratulations. After several more speeches the crowd went quiet and listened to a special performance of Joan of Arc on the steps of the Hall. 

             Images of the Medal all the band members received following their win. 


         Photos courtesy of Mr Colin Gray. Colin's grandfather JH Gray was a member of the prize winning band. 


In 1930 the bands activities were suspended by the Marsden lodge whilst financial irregularities were investigated. On the 1st March 1930 the lodge took the decision to disband the band and sell all it’s assets. Amongst the assets sold included a lot of music which was bought by the Harton Colliery Band, this included the original test piece ’Joan of Arc’ The instruments were brought by the Dinnington Colliery Band.

The bands last engagement took place on the 6th March 1930 at the funeral service and parade for a colliery fatality.

B Cauwood 2013

sources 1)British Bandsman
              2) Shields Gazette

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