STAPE SILVER BAND: THE STORY
How We Got Here
Stape Silver Band was established in 1884 in Newtondale, when William Pierson & John Hugill along with some enthusiastic friends travelled to Leeds to purchase instruments. The local farming community, which is close to the edge of the North York Moors took the band to it's heart with most families being represented among the membership. Thomas Pierson, the founder's son, played Soprano Cornet for 70 years, starting at a very early age. William Watson & John Nicolls also had very impressive records serving the band for many many years. The 3 families still had descendants playing well into the 1980's.
Behind the Music
Practices were held in various locations around the village of Stape, including the old chapel & in a house situated almost opposite, as well as in the Village Hall. In 1962 the band moved to the town of Pickering from where it operates from today. On first moving they rehearsed in a small room in W.J. Robinson's Egg Packing Station. It was cold & draughty for many years until in 1979 it was made more comfortable.
In 1989 the band completed its own purpose built bandroom, situated in Outgang Lane, Pickering, which was funded 50% by the band & the remainder given by Ryedale District Council. Elizabeth Shields the Ryedale District Council Chairman opened the building in 1990 after a short concert by the band during which grateful thanks were expressed to Mr. W.J.Robinson for his generosity in providing a rent-free home for almost 30 years. Now with a permanent home it was possible to store more instruments & equipment & look to the future.
Keeping Up With the Times
For many years the only uniform worn was a flat cap, but the photograph below with the band in uniform was taken in 1935. Around 1960 a new uniform was decided upon & everyone was equipped with a black double-breasted jacket with blue collar & cuffs & black trousers (& skirts) with blue stripes, both with yellow piping. There was also a black peaked military-style cap with a blue band & piping, & a black bow tie, worn along with a white shirt. After renewing the uniforms in the same style with a more modern material some years later, it was decided in 1980 to have a completely different look. The black trousers remained, without the stripes, but the jacket was blue in colour. Worn without the old-fashioned style hat, a dark blue velvet bow tie finished off the uniform. In 1997 another refit saw almost a return to the 1960's uniform. This time the jackets were 'lion-tamer' style with light blue collars & cuffs with gold piping on the back as well. Navy blue was the colour choice for the jacket & trousers with matching navy bow. In 2006 for its appearance at the National Finals in Dundee, a navy 'walking-out' jacket was worn with a light blue tie. As the cost of one playing uniform now exceeds the cost of 20 uniforms in the 60's in 2014 the band chose to buy some light blue shirts worn open neck style & a waterproof fleece for those wet & cold days, keeping the playing jackets for special occasions.
The band entered local contests in the early 1900's & won many prizes calling itself Stape Silver Prize Band. During this time a number of band contests were run in a variety of village and town locations. The first Bank Holiday Band Contest to be held in Malton was on the 10th August 1905 at which Stape performed. There was great rivalry between the bands of Farndale, Kirkbymoorside, Pickering & Stape at the 1st Douthwaite Dale Brass Band Association contest in 1935 where the band were the first recipients of a trophy which became known as Jingling Johnny. The competition no longer exists and the trophy now resides in the Castle Museum at York. The origins of this contest can be found in T.L.Cooper's Brass Bands Of Yorkshire (Dalesman Books 1974).Throughout the war years all contesting ceased.
The band re-entered the contest arena in 1982 winning 1st place for the Hymn at the Yorkshire & Humberside Brass Band Association contest at Tadcaster. Also that year the YHBBA organised the 1st Easingwold march contest at which the band was placed 3rd on the stand.This contest became a regular 'night out' for the band, often featuring in the prizes both on stage & in deportment. There was finally a win in the deportment section in 2009. In 1984 & 85 the band entered Radio York's on-air entertainment contest for local brass bands. It also entered the Durham League contest for a number of years but without a great deal of success. In 1990 the band entered the YHBBA Entertainment Contest at Malton. It continued to attend this contest every year until its demise after the 2009 contest winning Section B each year over the last 4 years. During 1992 the band entered the North of England regional qualifying contest, and the following year won the contest thereby earning a place at the National Finals, held then at the Wembley Conference Centre in London. It continued to make progress and after a series of good results in the 4th section was promoted to section 3 in 1998. Unfortunately it proved to be difficult to maintain the standard required & demotion followed for 2000. Then in 2003 promotion again after well-earned 2nd place, earning a trip to the National Finals held in Dundee. In 2006 another 2nd place resulted in another finals trip, this time to Harrogate. 2010 saw the band back in the 4th section (but not for long), winning the section & having another trip to Harrogate for the finals & being promoted again for 2010 into the 3rd section. The band crossed the border into Derbyshire in 2008 entering the Bolsover entertainment contest winning section 3. The last outing to the area contest in 2012 in section 3 the band had a smaller compliment of players than normal, but still managed a good result coming 6th out of 9 bands. For more history of the band's contest results look here.
Initially all brass band instruments were in what was termed High Pitch, but in 1971 those belonging to the band were converted' to Low Pitch, bringing it into line with orchestras & other ensembles.
Since the beginning the band has taken an active role in the local community, entertaining at many events throughout the year. Agricultural shows, garden fetes were the norm, from the start & through to the 1980's. The band was regularly booked to play at Saltersgate & Newgate open-air services during the 1970's & 80's & played while the congregation had supper at Stape & Newton Chapel Anniversaries for many years. Whitby Bandstand was visited twice a year for 2 performances on a Sunday afternoon & evening. Many visitors to agricultural shows including, Ryedale, Hinderwell, Danby, Thornton le Dale, Rosedale, Burniston, Egton & Castleton were serenaded by the band. Aislaby - near Whitby - & Castleton Flower Shows along with Egton Gooseberry Show became regular engagements. With time off during the week being difficult for players in the 1990's the band concentrated on weekend engagements like Peasholm Park in Scarborough, Burnby Hall Pocklington, Sewerby Park Bridlington & Filey Bandstands. 2012 saw the bands first joint concert with Pickering Musical Society & it has since gone on to promote its own evening concerts in the Memorial Hall.
There was great rivalry between local bands at Christmas in the early years with each one striving to get to Pickering market place to play before the others. Until the early 80's the band would walk through both the east & west sides of Stape visiting outlying farms playing carols. Often at that time after a few nights in Pickering before Christmas & Thornton le Dale on Boxing Day, play would continue in the villages right through to New Years Eve.
The band were very busy throughout the summer seasons of the 1960's at local agricultural shows & garden fetes, but found themselves with very little to do during winter. It was suggested that the band perform a concert for charity in Pickering. Yorkshire Cancer was decided upon & Herbert Breckon (BBb Bass) organised the first concert in Potter Hill Methodist chapel in December 1967. This became an annual event. Herbert continued to organise the concerts, finding comperes, various vocal soloists & choirs from the local area, & also to send the proceeds to Yorkshire Cancer HQ in Harrogate, until he retired from playing in the early 1980's. There was a change of venue to the congregational Chapel towards the late 1970's, where one concert was cancelled due to snow, but it was held a few days later, between Christmas & New Year. The band took on the organisation of further concerts, holding them in Pickering Memorial Hall until around 2000. Since then the concerts have been held in St Peter & St Pauls' Church.
Fund raising was often a domino drive & dance at Stape Village Hall & Christmas or Easter raffles. A sponsored walk from the old bandroom through Middleton, Aisalby, Wrelton & Cropton finishing in Newton was tried for a number of years from 1980. To create extra revenue a weekly Tote was introduced, & since moving into the new building there have been fortnightly domino drives.
BY ROYAL COMMAND
The band was invited to Whitby in 1973 to play at the opening of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway line to Pickering. The ceremony was carried out by the Duchess of Kent. Footage can be viewed here.There is also a band photograph here.In 1978 the band was again invited to Whitby when Prince Charles visited during the celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of explorer Captain James Cook.
In 1981 a successful application was made to the Charity Commission for the band to become registered as a charity.
Around 1979 there were a small number of players who disagreed with the majority decision to improve the bandroom facilities. Following the Charity Commission application in 1981 & the decision to enter the Yorkshire & Humberside B.B.A. contest in 1982 these players 'retired' or resigned from the band. During the Centenary Year there was a 'campaign' against the band in the local press by local individuals. Eventually this small group set up another 'band' in Stape, taking the deliberately confusing name of Stape Original Band. From 2011 due to a shortage of players they ceased to be.
1984 - CENTENARY YEAR
The band gave a celebration concert in the Kirk Theatre during Centenary Year. All efforts were being made to find & fund the purchase of a building or a piece of land on which to build a new headquarters. A Grand Draw was one event organised, with a flight over the Humber Bridge (donated by a local businessman) as the main prize.
2000: A NEW MILLENIUM
To celebrate the turn of the 21st Century the band organised a massed band concert in Pickering Castle. Joining forces were Kirkbymoorside, Swinton & District, Malton White Star, Bilsdale, Hunmanby & Norton Youth. Steve Sykes the famous former Grimethorpe Bass soloist performed solos & conducted items during the concert.
There was a free open air massed band concert in Pickering Market Place to celebrate the 125th birthday. Kirkbymoorside & Swinton bands joined the band to entertain to a large crowd. To begin the evening, bands marched individually from the Memorial Hall. (Footage on youtube). In September there was a re-union party held in the Pickering Recreation Club. Many former members joined the current players for a celebration.
In 1996 the band boarded the Hull to Rotterdam ferry for a weeks tour to Holland, staying in Valkenburg where one concert was given. There were also performances in Luxemberg, Antwerp, a theme park, & on a boat trip on the River Rhine from Koblenz. 2003 saw the band embark on its second European tour this time staying in Belgium playing in the crowded squares of Ghent, & Bruges with another visit to Antwerp.
In 1994 the band was asked by Yorkshire Television to appear in an episode of Heartbeat, a Police drama series filmed in Goathland. The day involved recording typical 60's brass band repertoire as background to a village fete, though it did manage to feature on screen for a short while. More recently in 2008 the band was asked to take part in another story line from Heartbeat. The story was of two rival bands in a local competition where one band poisoned the other band prior to the contest day. The filming took place over 2 days, firstly in the village hall in Goathland and the second day in the studios at Farsley, Leeds.
Two tape recordings have been made. The first 'The Young In Heart' (recorded in the bandroom) in 1989 & the second 'Brass Tracks' (recorded in St Joseph's Catholic Church) in 1996.