Blackley Band was formed during the Second World War by the local Defence Volunteers, which later became the Home Guard. The Band, known as the Blackley Home Guard Comrades Association Band was funded partly by public subscription and partly by the armed forces. After the war the band became known as Blackley Silver Prize Band and rehearsed in local Church Halls and rooms over various public houses, including for some time the “Duke of Wellington” on Weardale Rd.
The Band has never strayed far from the part of Blackley known as Crab Village, finally opening a dedicated band room in 1966 which, due to rising maintenance costs we moved away from in 1998. We spent many years rehearsing in the Avecia headquarters on Delauneys Road, Blackley and are immensely grateful to the directors and staff for their hospitality. The Band, now known as Blackley Band, has a fine tradition of contesting, performing concerts and training young players drawn from the local community and further afield.
Blackley Band has always resisted the financial lure of big business sponsorship, and is justifiably proud of it’s self-supporting status and community base. Being an integral part of the Blackley community, the Band has well established links with a number of local Churches and other community groups and performs at concerts, fetes and processions throughout the year.
At the end of 1997, Blackley Band was fortunate enough to be awarded a grant by the National Lottery Arts Council which allowed the purchase of new instruments.
Over the years, Blackley Band has had numerous renowned Musical Directors, including Harry Cheshire, Frank Bryce, Bram Gay, Bert Howarth, Peter Leary and more recently Graham Smith. The band developed under Graham’s direction, achieving an invitation to the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000 and recording our first CD in 2001.
Graham Smith left Blackley Band towards the end of 2002 to pursue other challenges and the Musical Directorship was taken over by Alan Swain, who resigned in 2003 due to professional commitments. From 2003, Andrew Baker led Blackley Band from the middle, until March 2005. Adrian Smith, an ex-player, in the band for many years, was appointed musical director in April 2005 and he hopes to take the band to new heights and be successful at upcoming contests.
The band moved in to their new home on November 26th, 2005. A long relationship came to an end with Avecia due to their sale of Hexagon House and redevelopment of Hexagon Tower. Our new rehearsal room is in the Blackley Community Centre. We hope that we can stay as long at the community centre as we have done at Avecia.
For those that have not been keeping up to date with the goings on at the Blackley Band it will suprise you to learn that we haved moved out of the canteen at Avecia and in to the Blackley Community Centre on Victoria Avenue.
The move has been forced upon us due to the redevelopment of the Hexagon House at Avecia, and although every effort was made to find sufficient space within Hexagon Tower to house the band unfortunately all the possible places were let. So it became necessary to search for a new room big enough for our expanding band and also with sufficient storage space. The answer came almost immediately when the community centre was suggested, but we looked around and found no where better.
So after much preparation and more than a few extremely chilly rehearsals the band moved from Hexagon House to the Community Centre on Saturday the 26th of November. A number of band members showed up to lend a hand and the lorry arrived at 9.30am to be loaded for the short journey to Victoria Avenue.
So from now on if you are looking to come and have a fun filled evening with the Blackley Band we can be found on a Monday and Thursday between 20:00 and 22:00 at the Blackley Community Centre, next door to the library and British Legion and almost opposite St Claires Church.
Feel free to come and join us, be sure to check the engagements list and make sure we are there or if we are out entertaining the Manchester public.
Member: John Atkinson