Auction success brings missing medal home

Brighouse and Rastrick Band winners of the 1929 contest at Belle Vue
Brighouse and Rastrick Band winners of the 1929 contest at Belle Vue

A rare silver medal won in the 1920s is back where it belongs with Brighouse and Rastrick Band after going missing for several decades.

The whereabouts of the medal, won by the band at the ‘July contest’ in Belle Vue, Manchester in 1929, had been a mystery.

Br and R's Italian patrons.

Br and R's Italian patrons.

The medal has a particular significance for the band, which only days before the contest, had voted to change its name from Brighouse and Rastrick Temperance Band, because its award marked the start of B & R’s long rise to success.

Now the medal is back with B & R after Julie Beaumont, wife of the band president, Paul, successfully bought it on auction site eBay.

Paul said: “The medal was missing from the band’s collection of historical artefacts and no-one knew of its whereabouts - that was until February when Lyndon Stacey, an avid B & R supporter and one of our patrons who lives in Italy, spotted it on eBay.

“Much research then started and the validity of the medal was established - this was indeed the missing 1929 winners’ medal from the Belle Vue July contest.”

The historic medal won in 1929

The historic medal won in 1929

The band made repeated email requests for the medal to be withdrawn from the site, without success, and eventually Julie took matters in her own hands and made her final bid with seven seconds to go.

B & R’s first ‘big break’ came in 1929 when, conducted by the legendary Fred Berry, they not only came first in the July contest but went on to win the Belle Vue competition later that year, beating all the big bands of the era. As a result B & R was invited by the BBC to perform on the radio.

The band, conducted by William Halliwell, went on to win the September contest at Belle Vue for three years running in 1932, 1933 and 1934, taking the Sunday Chronicle Cup - still part of the band’s archive collection - outright.

The present day B & R will compete in the British Open Competition - the modern equivalent of the Belle Vue contest - at Birmingham Symphony Hall in September.

The 1929 winner’s medal and the Sunday Chronicle Cup will be on display with other historical artefacts at the band’s open day at its West Ridings headquarters in Finkil Street, Brighouse, on Saturday, April 27 from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

Further details on the open day are available from Graham Ward on 01484 712355.