Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band look forward to 200th anniversary

Band Manager Philip Woodward,(centre with glasses) with members of the Senior Band - part of Kirkbym

Band Manager Philip Woodward,(centre with glasses) with members of the Senior Band - part of Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. - Credit: Joan Russell

Musicians from a small market town have much to celebrate as Esther Leach reports

Band Manager Philip Woodward,(centre with glasses) with members of the Senior Band - part of Kirkbym

Band Manager Philip Woodward,(centre with glasses) with members of the Senior Band - part of Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. - Credit: Joan Russell

The town is known as Kirkby, rather than Kirkbymoorside and it sits on the southern edge of the North York Moors between Helmsley and Pickering. If you know anything about the area you’ll understand why Phil Woodward says it is a pretty marvellous place to live. ‘The countryside around here is just lovely and we have everything else we need,’ he said just before getting ready for Sunday afternoon band practice. ‘It’s just a shame I have to travel into the city to work, but I suppose it’s a small price to pay when I can come home to all this.’

Phil is the band manager of Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band, his wife Sarah is the junior band master or rather mistress and their three children Alex, Hannah and Jake all play in the band. ‘We are not the only family who are members of the band,’ Phil hastens to point out. ‘There are other families of course, that’s what makes it so good. There are junior members from about 11years and the age goes up to 65 years and more and everyone gets on. That’s the good thing about the band; young and old learn from each other, and I don’t think many young people have the chance to mix with older people and you can learn so much.’

Phil has been band manager for about eight years. He plays the euphonium and can step in to play other key instruments when necessary as do other members of the band. At least 80 per cent of the band are from Kirkby with a sprinkling of dedicated bandsmen from York and Scarborough.

Next year is a significant year for the musicians as they celebrate the band’s 200th anniversary. ‘There hasn’t been a brass band for 200 years in Kirkby but there has been a band in different forms in Kirkby for 200 years,’ explained Phil. ‘We haven’t yet decided how we will celebrate but we are beginning to think about it and plan. It’s an exceptional length of time for a relatively small place like Kirkby but I think it is because there are so many families in the band. Children follow their parents into the band and it’s a very enjoyable thing to do.’

Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire.

Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire. - Credit: Joan Russell

The band generates its own income with public performances, making a good bit of their money at Christmas performing carol music almost every evening throughout December. The band competes too in national and regional competitions. ‘We practice and practice but public performances are different of course, it’s what it is all about,’ added Phil.

A quick opinion poll of band members revealed how much they care about Kirkbymoorside and their music. Members said: ‘The band is important to Kirkbymoorside because Kirkbymoorside is important to the band. We are one of the only subscription bands (non-sponsored) to play at our level, so we rely heavily on the community to support us.

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‘We are also proud to be Kirkbymoorside Town Brass band and carry the town with us when we compete at the highest level. We celebrate our 200 year anniversary next year and since the current members are just the custodians of this wonderful band for this time we are lucky enough to play in it, our job is to make sure it is still here in another 200 years. We will be holding special events throughout the course of next year and involving Kirkbymoorside in our celebrations as much as possible.

‘Kirkbymoorside is a great place to live. It’s the gateway to the moor but with A170 just skirting the bottom edge, we also have a thriving market town that has kept many of its shops and its character without being overrun by traffic.

‘We are very lucky to be able to boast some world leading firms in the town, Forum, Marshall Aerospace, DBA, Ryedale Printers too name a few. This means that young people can grow up and actually get good jobs in the town. We have seen the band play a part in this too, with a generation of our players now having gone to university then returning to work and live in Kirkby and play in the band.

‘It is brilliant playing in the band. Almost all the band members learnt to play with the band, so when we practice we are making music with friends, neighbours and some family members. Of course that means when we are on stage performing or competing nothing can match that emotional connection. You can go to band practice with a headache after a bad day at work and after that first piece of music everything is literally blown away.’

Footnote: It perhaps wouldn’t surprise lovers of Yorkshire history to learn that Kirkbymoorside goes back to the 11th century and has been a trading centre since 1254 when it became a market town.

There are quite a few villages and towns around the region that have similar roots. Many more people will appreciate, I suspect, the fact that Kirkbymoorside was the last town in England to adopt double yellow parking lines.

This town though, is worth a visit to catch a performance by the Kirkbymoorside Town Band, explore the town’s historic past and to enjoy the marvellous countryside.

About the band

There are six bands within the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band

• Beginner Band – this is usually made up of children who have just begun to play

• Learners – this is a progression from the beginners’ band

• Community Band – this band is nearly two years old and is made up of adults that have just started or are returning to play a brass instrument

• Training Band – this was formerly known as our Junior Band however there are now a number of adult players that have progressed into this band

• Senior Band – 1st Section Brass Band with an age range from 11years to quite a lot older, 65 years and over

• School Bands - band members Sarah Woodward and Jeanette Kendal also teach brass instruments at schools in Kirkbymoorside and Nawton

In total 113 people play brass instruments associated with the band. Sarah Woodward, Jeanette Kendal and Ben Smailes teach all the bands except the Senior Band and John Woodward is the Senior Band’s conductor.

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