Pride of Cheshire: Foden's are Great British brass band heroes

National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain

Foden's Band performing at the Royal Albert Hall in the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain - Credit: Kapitol Promotions

Cheshire's world-famous Foden's Band, based in Sandbach, are the National Champions of Great Britain – the competition made famous in the 1996 film Brassed Off.

Foden's Band

The National Brass Band Champions of Great Britain – Cheshire's Foden's Band - Credit: Cliff Parker

The 28 musicians took the honours against 18 other finalists after each band performed Heroes, by Oscar-nominated orchestral composer of television, film, and video game scores and concert works, Bruce Broughton, before a panel of three adjudicators who could only hear, but not see the players.

Next up for the pride of Sandbach are the British Open Championships in January and the 2022 European Brass Band Association Championships in May, both being held at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

The band competed against 18 of the best brass from across Great Britain and have received messages of congratulations from across the globe. 

On the eve of their memorable victory at the Royal Albert Hall, Foden's Band, gave a highly polished performance of a contrasting and entertaining programme at Regent Hall, the celebrated Salvation Army venue, affectionately known as the 'rink'. Composer Bruce Broughton was there to watch the performance

Now considered one of the principal brass bands in the world, they were formed, modestly, by Edwin Foden of the local Steam Wagon Works, later Steam Wagon Motor Works, in 1902. In 1909 Edwin tasked his two sons with attending solo competitions across the country in order to recruit the finest musicians to improve and swell the ranks of the band.

With the offer of a company house, a skilled job at Foden’s Motor Wagon Works, and a new instrument it was almost impossible for the chosen to refuse.

Such was the success of this recruitment drive, Foden’s Band went on to win both the British Open and National Contests in 1910, cementing their reputation as one of the finest brass bands in the UK, a title that still rings true to this day. 

Foden’s is heavily involved in various community brass bands, with 40 children from these currently playing in the Foden’s Junior Band.
Ranging in age from nine to 13 years, Junior members can progress into the Youth Band following an audition process by the principal players of the Foden’s Band.

This prestigious 60-strong band of musicians, all under 19 years, is partnered with the Love Music Trust and the Royal Northern College of Music, allowing them to rehearse monthly, compete and play four concerts a year. 

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The Great British Brass Band Championships 2021:

Test piece: Heroes (Bruce Broughton)
Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Dr Stephen Cobb, Rob Wiffen OBE

1. Foden's 
2. Cory 
3. Tredegar
4. Black Dyke 
5. Ratby Co-operative 
6. Brighouse & Rastrick 
7. Camborne  
8. WFEL Fairey  
9. Flowers  
10. NASUWT Riverside 
11. GUS Band  
12. Friary 
13. Zone One Brass  
14. Whitburn  
15. Bon Accord 
16. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery  
17. Hepworth 
18. Llwydcoed  
19. City of Hull  

See the October issue of Cheshire Life for an interview with band manager Mark Wilkinson.