Film ID:
YFA 5608

WHERE THERE'S BRASS

1969

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a Yorkshire Television documentary, written and presented by Michael Parkinson, presenting the culture of brass bands in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  The film shows several village bands rehearsing, collecting money and entering a competition at Belle Vue, Manchester, together with interviews with band members and miners at Frickley and South Elmsall Collieries working down the pit.

Title: Where There's Brass

The film begins with a family sitting in their living room watching the TV as the FA Cup Final comes to an end, announcing West Bromwich Albion as the winners.  It then switches to show a textile mill, possibly in or near Huddersfield, with brief glimpses of brass band players practising at work or at home.  A group of children are playing on a hill overlooking a textile town.  A brass band player emerges from J Findley, Joiners, Builder and Funeral Directors in Holmfirth.  Other band members make their way in the snow and meet up at Scapegoat Hill Working Men’s Club.  Here the conductor oversees a practice session.  Then we see another brass band practising.  One member explains that in manual labour workers get rough fingers, and that this rules out playing an instrument that requires delicate fingering. 

The film switches to a colliery, probably Frickley and South Elmsall Collieries, with miners coming off their shift and having a shower.  Then the new shift is seen arriving and travelling on the underground rail wagons to the coal face.  As they shovel coal onto a conveyor belt there are images of miners playing in a brass band.

Parkinson comments on the changing face of the communities, different from his youth, as mines and factories close.  One band member explains how he got his first instrument.  We then see the inside of a workshop where brass instrument are being made, and the manager explains the rising costs of these, with a trombone costing £80 5 shillings, and a double bass £327.

A couple of children come running out of E. Green newsagents on the corner of Long Moor Road, and we see various parts of the village of Golcar.  A pram stands outside G S Gee butchers.  It is stated that Scapegoat Hill Brass Band are in debt, and that they have offered to sell their band room to pay this off.  They are then seen in winter playing outside the Working Men’s Club, while supporters go around inside, as patrons are drinking, collecting for the band.  A band member is interviewed, and children play in the snow in a school playground.  Inside the school children are being taught to play brass instruments.  We then see Linthwaite Brass band rehearsing.  There is an interview with older members who explain how they first got involved in the brass band.  A brass band marches through a village, displaying their trophies. 

There is an interview with someone regarding brass band competitions and the four divisions structure of brass bands, and also with Ted Buttress, Secretary of the Brass Band Association, who explains the nature of the competitions as we see the line-up for contest for 1968 and 1969.  Several bands are shown in rehearsal.  Next we see Scapegoat Hill Brass band getting onto a coach and driving through Yorkshire to a competition, overtaking two other coaches carrying brass bands as they do so.  They arrive at Belle Vue Manchester.  The Brass Band Registrar is interviewed, stating that there are 600 registered brass bands, and showing the card index for every single brass band member.  The adjudicator arrives at the hall early, and is escorted inside where he takes his place in the adjudicator’s box.  Here he pours himself tea from his flask ready for 6 hours of listening to 12 bands playing the same tune.  It is explained that his identity is kept secret so that he isn’t nobbled.  It is also shown how every band member has his identity thoroughly checked to avoid cheating.  The first band arrives and plays, and the next waits in the wings.  The small audience claps and the next one comes on. 

At the end the adjudicator leaves his box and is revealed, Frank Wright M.B.E., member of the Corporation of Trinity College of Music.  Then the winners are announced, with the winners receiving £30.  One of the band leaders complains about the practice of poaching band members. 

The film moves on to show the Black Dyke Band playing Rossin’s William Tell Overture at a concert.  There is a view over Queensbury and J. Foster’s Mill.  There is an interview with one of the members of the Black Dyke Band.  Then Michael Parkinson interviews two members of the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.  They are then seen in a recording studio, playing North County Fantasy.  An lp is seen on a turntable, and many brass band lps are seen in a record shop.

A brass band marches through a village playing Colonel Bogey March, followed by a group of children, and collecting money from house to house.  This is followed by various band members explaining the appeal of being in a brass band.  The film finishes with a lone tuba player playing in a deserted rehearsal room.

Bands Playing:
Black Dyke Mills Band
Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band
Carlton Main Colliery Brass band
Slaithwaite Brass Band
Linthwaite Brass Band
Hade Edge Brass Band
West Riding Fire Service Brass Band
Scapegoat Hill Brass Band

Researchers: Isobel Norriter, with the assistance of Mrs Evelyn Brey, Chairman of the Council of Brass Band Association and William Sykes, Manager of Frickley and S Elmsall Collieries, Mr Jack Mckenney, Senior Social Welfare Officer of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, Mr Ted Buttress, Secretary of the Brass Band Association.

Cameraman: Mostafa Hammuri
Sound recordists: Frank Minton, Don Warren, Terry Ricketts, Mike Donnelly.
Editor: Tim Ritson
Producer and Director: Patrick Boyle
Executive Producer: Tony Essex
Yorkshire Television Production