1940s Weekend: How brass bands served the war effort

Brighouse Home Guard Band
Brighouse Home Guard Band

In the early 1940s Tom Hunter was the licensee of the Prince of Wales public house in Bethel Street and it was he who decided to get a few players together to form another band in the town, writes Chris Helme.

This band was not intended to be a rival for Brighouse and Rastrick, or Clifton and Lightcliffe, but more of a band that would serve the war effort by raising money.

Tom Hunter recruited players from both B&R and C&L and others from Elland Silver. It took a bit of time to knock this scratch band together before he thought they were good enough to perform for an audience.

After this photograph was taken in the cricket ground, the band paraded through the town centre playing a well-known march “Punchinello”. Once completing at least one circuit round the town centre they ended up in Thornton Square, arriving to a tumultuous welcome.

Regular band rehearsals were held in the Prince of Wales and they were soon in demand in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. The band helped to raise both the spirits and much needed funds and performed in Bacup, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Cleckheaton, to name but a few concert venues.

One of the band’s first concerts was held in June 1941 at the old Savoy Cinema (now the Civic Hall). The band was sharing the stage with a number of supporting artists but the audience had really come to see the band and were not disappointed.

The band opened with a rousing march, then onto an overture Keler Bela’s “Lustpiel”. With principal trombone player Joe Holmes playing Harold Moss’s “The Firefly” as his solo and Sgts Frank Wilby and George Murray playing the cornet duet “Sandy and Jock”, the concert was a huge success.

As the months gradually slipped by, many of the band members had drifted back to their own bands or had joined up.

Although somewhat depleted, the Brighouse Home Guard Band did manage to keep going until the end of the war.

Members include, back row from left: Joe Holme, Jack Williams, Bernard Helliwell.

Second row from back: Albert Jagger, Jim Whitworth, Percy Cheshire, Charlie Badrock, Frank Longbottom, Tom Bradley, Alf Crouch, unknown.

Middle row: Frank Tinker, Arthur Nicholson, Stanley Wright, Wilf France, Alf Varley, Arthur Naylor, Arthur Boothroyd, Irvine Longbottom, Eddie Williams, Walt Beevers, Edgar Billington and Norman Newsome.

Front row: Harold Hodgson, Fred Roberts, two Home Guard officers, bandmaster Tom Hunter, three Home Guard officers, Bill Shackleton, Frank Wilby and George Murray.