Glossop's Musical Past.

This article is based on the notes of Robert Hamnett, originally published as a series of articles in the Glossop Advertiser in October and November 1913.

The Glossop and Longdendale Valleys have long been known as the birthplace of musicians, both vocal and instrumental - probably the mountain air in a measure accounts for it.
Before the days of railways it was not unusual for local singers to be engaged to take part at York and Lincoln Cathedrals in the principal musical performances, and to stay, for several weeks at a time, it being a long journey by stage coach.

It was a big day, musically, when the organ at the Parish Church was opened on Sunday, the 21st of February, 1813, when sacred music from the oratorio of the “Messiah” was performed by local singers, assisted by other leading singers from neighbouring churches.
With the building of the Nonconformist chapels and schools came a greater demand for singers, and it was not long before various societies began to be formed for the encouragement of those musically inclined.

The Dinting Vale Glee Club was formed in 1848, and, gave some excellent concerts in the Town Hall, and led to the formation of the Hadfield Sacred Harmonic Society. In 1856 they were under the leadership of Mr. Joseph Robinson; the Society was re-established 30th August, 1886.

I do not know when the Glossop-dale Philharmonic Society was formed, but in the year 1858 they gave five concerts in the Town Hall, under the leadership of Mr Abel Atkin, a well-known professor of music, who died 23rd December, 1876, at the age of 48, much regretted in musical circles.

During the Cotton Famine in 1865 two musical festivals were held in the Market Hall - the conductor being Mr Joseph Robinson. There were over 400 performers from the amalgamated musical societies of the district, and the festivals proved a great success.

In 1872 the Glossop-Dale Philharmonic Society was re-established, Mr Charles Hall being the conductor and secretary; and being well supported by the late Ald James Sidebottom, the Society obtained its highest stage of success. A complimentary concert was given in the Wesleyan Chapel on the 28th June 1896, to Mr. Hall, and £40 realised. He died 26th December, 1899, aged 54.

The Tonic Sol-Fa Association was formed in 1875.

In the Parish Churchwardens' accounts we find that annually there was a payment made to the ringers and a dinner for them at one of the local pubs. Great rivalry existed amongst the ringers of the churches in the district, and many contests took place. We have a record of one. The late John Pye, gamekeeper, was a bell ringer for over 56 years, and kept an account of the first contest that took place in the new steeple, and, by the kindness of his son, I am able to give details:-
"Glossop, June 26th. 1856. - The Glossop Bell Ringers, wishful to inaugurate with due honours the new steeple erected by the munificence of his Grace the late Duke of Norfolk, with the additional bells, are purposing to have an open prize ringing at the Wakes to test the skill of all who may present themselves in competition for the prizes, and they respectfully solicit the pecuniary aid of the public in furtherance of their object."
Amongst the subscribers were the Churchwardens, £1; Thomas Higginbottom, £3; Charles Hadfield, £2; James Pickford, £3; one of the right sort, T.W., £1; a good English gentleman, £1; Lord E. F. Howard, £1; eight subscribers of 10s. each; and 120 others from 2s.; £36 3s.10d. was raised.
The contest took place on September 15th, and 16th, and resulted as follows:-
Faults. Time. Prize.
1. Liversedge 1043 1hr. 31Min £10
2. Dewsbury 1051 1hr. 41Min £6
3. Bradford 1223 1hr. 39Min £4
4. Earlesheaton 1290 1hr. 36Min £2
5. Birstall 1740 1hr. 33 min £1
* Elland 1740 1hr. 34 min £1
* For greatest distinction
St. John's, Manchester, Hyde, and Mottram also competed.

John Lawton, and Joseph Woodhouse were the steeple keepers, Samuel Knott and Henry James book-keepers in the censuring room, and George Robinson and William Sandham timekeepers. Thomas Sellers was solo manager of the censuring room.
On the 6th November, 1858, the ringers rang seven treble peals, consisting of 5,040 changes in 3 hours and 2 minutes. The names of the peals were as follows : 1st, Kent Treble Bob; . 2nd, Duke of York; 3rd, Merchants' Return; 4th, Oxford Delight; 5th, Violet; 6th, Oxford; 7th, New London. The band consisted of John Lawton, treble; George Robinson, second; William Dewsnap, third; Thos. Sellers, fourth; Samuel Knott, sixth; and John Pye, tenor.

The first annual hand-bell ringing contest at Belle Vue took place in 1855. and has been continued ever since. The Old Glossop and the Howard Brothers Hand-bell Ringers competed, but it was not until 1871 that a prize was won. Under the leadership of Mr. Charles Berresford the Old Glossop Band took the first prize, and also in 1872 and 1873, thus equalling the feat of the celebrated Shelley Band, who had won the first prizes in the three preceding years. This led to a contest between the two bands, which caused a considerable amount of excitement, and betting. Shelley won.
In 1873 Glossop's other band won the 4th prize.
In 1874 the Howard Brothers won the second prize.
In 1879 the Glossop Juniors took the 2nd prize, and in 1880 the first, coming in the second in the year following. In 1882 they were fourth.
The Howard Brothers were 5th in 1884.
Tintwistle came 3rd in 1889, and 5th in 1891.
Old Glossop Hand-bell Ringers took the 2nd prize at a contest in the Armoury, Huddersfield.
There were other successes, but I have no record of them. Perhaps some of the surviving members will furnish a list, of them.

On the 12th November, 1873, Mr. Charles Berresford was presented with a gold watch in slight recognition of his valuable services as conductor. They had a special engagement in London, and met with great success. During the Cotton Famine they left Glossop on a “busking" tour, and were away about three years, earning their livelihood in playing in those parts of the country not affected by the Panic.

That there have been Brass Bands in Glossop District for over 100 years may be accounted for by the fact that one of the greatest improvements ever made in brass instruments was made by a Glossop man, Mr. John Shaw, who died, December 1st, 1865, aged 65. Some years ago the late Mr. Henry C. Hardman published the following letter, which is very interesting :-
As a nephew of John Shaw, of Glossop, the inventor of the valve arrangement for wind instruments, mentioned in your article on the ‘Origin and promotion of Brass Band Contests’ in the monthly ‘Musical Opinion and Music Trade Review,’ I beg to correct particularly the absurd story about a brother of his being a sea Captain and bringing him a cornet from St. Petersburg on which he improved, etc., as his only brother, James, farmed the Hay Ridge Farm in the Woodlands in one of Derbyshire's most secluded and beautiful valleys, near the base of our highest mountain, Kinder Scout, which is more than 2,000 feet above the sea level, and I can say with confidence that neither he nor his brother John were ever outside the United Kingdom, so that the story is a complete myth. His youth was spent at the Hay Ridge Farm, except the time he was at Dronfield School, near Sheffield, where both he and his brother received quite a superior education to most of the farmers' sons of those days (I forgot to say that he was born in 1800). He and his brother had a natural turn for mechanics, and could turn out in a workmanlike manner any piece of mechanism. that they set their hands to, but John had always a strong love for music, and could play more or less on the cornet, flute, violin, 'cello, dulcimer, bassoon, and the old serpent. About this time, through some disagreement with his parents, he left home, and was away about a year, during which he visited Edinburgh, Dublin, and London, tramping about the country and existing by means of his flute and an instrument in imitation of the bag-pipes, made out of two stout straws, with a cut in each about an inch long, made with a sharp penknife, about half way through the straw, and taken up to the joint, thus forming the reed, one with five or six finger holes cut in forming the Chanter, and the other without holes, forming the drone, of course both being blown at the same time. It was whilst he was staying in Dublin at a cheap tavern, that an incident befell him that might have had serious consequences. A strolling piper came in with his Irish pipes, and when he had given a taste of his quality, my uncle said he could get better music out of two straws than that, and forthwith began to play on the straws; this so enraged the piper, further maddened by the sneers of the company, that he drew a clasp knife and attempted to stab him, but was restrained by those present from doing so, but he vowed vengeance to such an extent that J.S. thought it prudent to change his lodgings. Of course it must be remembered that all this journeying was before the advent of rail-ways and had to be done on foot with an occasional lift from a carrier's cart, as he had no money for coach fare. His visit to Dublin was made in a packet from Glasgow. When he arrived in London, according to the diary he kept, he had only sixpence halfpenny in his pocket. However, he contrived to make a living and little to spare, his chief source of income being the straw pipes, for which he readily obtained eighteen pence a pair, so that when he arrived home again he had about £10 in his pocket. He then settled down, and eventually took out his 1824 patents, following fifteen years after (1839) by another improvement in his valve. Later on he got patents for an airgun, and later still another for keyboard instruments, such as the piano, organ, and harmonium in which he had two distinct notes for each black key. For instance there was both a D flat and a C sharp from the same note, the difference being obtained by a knee lever which changed the black notes from sharps to flats and vice versa, there being, of course, nineteen notes in the octave. He was in the piano and general music business here at the time of his death (about 30 years ago), and having a very fine ear was in great request for his excellent tuning, which quality was inherited by his son, Edwin, who carried on the business up to his death, which took place about two years ago, but the business is still carried on under the name. John Shaw's daughter, Mrs Bottomley, is still alive, and has all the specifications, drawings, and particulars of his patents, his diary of his travels, etc., and among other interesting papers, which speak of a bye-gone time, which she would be pleased to show you if you would care for so doing, as she is shortly going to reside in the neighbourhood of London (I presume that you reside in London or its neighbourhood), and when she has settled there, if you feel any interest in the matter I will give you her address. All these papers are packed up ready for removal, except a few which I enclose, and which you will have the kindness to return after examination.
For more information about the Shaw family see Glossopdale & Longdendale in the 19th Century..
Henry Hardman was a chemist at Number 1 High Street West, Glossop's Noted Corner Shop.
Edwin Shaw and Mrs Hannah Bottomley were at one time in business next door to each other in numbers 9 and 11 High Street East (See An Early History of numbers 1 to 25 High Street East, Glossop).

When the old Glossop Volunteers were disbanded, after all fear of invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte had passed, the Volunteer Band was broken up, and after a time brass bands at Glossop and Mottram were formed out of its remains. As there were no local papers printed then, it is only occasionally we come across information to show that they existed.
On 12th November, 1859, we learn that the Tintwistle Temperance Band was in course of formation. On 21st April, 1860, the Waterside Original Brass and Bell Band opened their new music room at Mr. Chambers, Osborne Place, Hadfield. On 9 December, 1862, the Whitfield Brass Band gave a free concert in the Market Hall to the distressed cotton operatives; it was such a success that it was repeated on the 17th. On 6th May, 1862 of Whitfield Temperance Brass Band played at the Glossop Temperance Tract Society tea party.

A brass band contest took place in Glossop on 16 September, 1868, the prizes being: £30, £16, £12, £8, £5, and £4. The year following, on 22nd September, another Brass Band Contest and Balloon Ascent took place on the old Cricket Ground.

The Whitfield Original Brass Band initiated a series of yearly athletic contests, the second being held on 7 August, 1875. They afterwards became the Glossop Volunteer Band, and were able to build a Band Room of their own in Wood Street, the second annual tea party being held on 27 February, 1886.
At this period of the Band's history they went in training for Band Contests, and on 10 July 1886, they won the first prize at Belle Vue, £25 cash and instruments to the value of £37 16s. 0d. Nineteen bands competed.
On the 15th September, 1888 they promoted a Brass Band Contest at Padfield. 2500 people were present, the celebrated Kingston Mills Band winning the first prize.
The year following, on the 30th June, they held another contest, at which the Denton Original Brass Band took the first prize.
On the 13th September, 1890, they had athletic sports.
On 27 June, 1891, there was a Brass Band Contest and Cricket Match. Heavy showers of rain fell at intervals and spoiled the sport.
On 22 August, 1892, the Band went to the Isle of Man, where they had a week's engagement to play at the International Exhibition, Douglas, and, under the leadership of Mr C Hall, they gave entire satisfaction.
On the 17th of the following month they had another Brass Band Contest, the first prize being awarded to Shaw Band.
On the 18th January, 1893 they sustained a heavy loss, Mr. William Hollingworth, for 25 years a member of the Band, being killed, at the Glossop Railway Sidings. The funeral was a most impressive one, the Band attending and playing the "Dead March" en route to the graveside. The late Ald. James Sidebottom was one of their most generous supporters, so the members of the Band were photographed, and a copy presented to him on the 18th March, 1893.
On April 3rd, 1893, the Band won the 5th prize at Clough Hall Contest; 17 bands competed. On the 20th May following they won the 4th prize at Crawshawbooth Band Contest, and on the 16th June, the 6th prize at New Brighton Band Contest.
On the 30th June, 1894, the Band won the first prize at Lea Mills band contest, and on the 8th September following they won the 2nd prize, £20, at Blackpool, 17 bands competing. The year previous they had won the 4th prize at the same place.
At the Tenth Annual Brass Band Contest at Belle Vue on the 13th July, 1895, they obtained the 5th prize.
On the 12th September, 1896, they held Athletic Sports in connection with the Whitfield Well Dressing.
On the 4th June, 1898, they promoted a Brass Band Contest on the Glossop Cricket Ground, Birch Mills winning the first prize. On the 25th of the same month they won the third prize at Hollingworth.
On the 8th November, 1899, their conductor, Mr. Joseph Barber, died, aged 43.
It will be seen from this incomplete list of their successes that the Band can truly call themselves “Glossop Old Prize Band”.

There have been other bands. The Glossop Amateur Brass Band was formed in July, 1866, and existed for some years.
On the 5th November, 1870, a dinner was held at the Bridge Inn to celebrate the third anniversary of the Fife and Drum Band, which resolved itself into the Glossop Reed Band, under the leadership of Mr. William Hambleton. Their first public appearance was on the 10th June, 1871. Information regarding other bands would be welcome, as the bands have helped to enliven the streets, given their aid to charity, and pleasure to thousands.

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Last updated: 8 November 2022