The Project

Picture shows Black Dyke Mills Band in 1865



The Mid-Victorian era in Great Britain was a time of immense industrial and social change in a country that ruled over a quarter of the globe. It was also an era that also embraced great reform - from the start of the co-operative and trades union movements to an emerging education system and municipal government, the introduction of an organised police force and the rapid expansion of an integrated rail network.

However, economic disparities increased, strict Victorian attitudes to definitions of social status and moral improvement became ingrained into society, and Britain was engaged in conflicts across its vast Empire.

Into this maelstrom came a cultural phenomenon - with the invention of cheaply manufactured valve musical instruments, first by the Belgian Adolf Sax and then by others.

Within a generation, and through a combination of the introduction of the first forms of Hire Purchase schemes, a huge expansion of rail transport and a Victorian desire to promote a form of moral rectitude in the working class communities of highly industrialised areas of the country, brass bands took root.

The most famous of these was to become Black Dyke – whose history from its formation in 1855 to date mirrors that of the people, the town and the society that spawned it.

This website, made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund, attempts to display, celebrate and encourage further study of this rich history, reflecting on the people and events which have played a part in its fame and success from its earliest times to the present date.

The Black Dyke Band Heritage Project was the brainchild of Professor Nicholas Childs, Black Dyke Band’s Director of Music.

Through a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, this innovative project celebrates, interprets and explores a truly unique musical history – one that is resplendent in terms of artistic and competitive success, but also imbued with a sense of tradition, respect and historical relevance.

Rare artefacts and memorabilia, music, trophies and personal accounts have now been curated and displayed at Black Dyke’s famous bandroom in the village of Queensbury in West Yorkshire in a dedicated 'Heritage Centre' – one that occupies a space that has been used by the band almost from its formation.

Visitors are not only encouraged to explore this exciting website, but also to visit the Heritage Centre and experience the artefacts found within these pages at first hand.

The collection comprises:

• Competition artefacts and trophies

• Memento’s from foreign tours

• Personal memorabilia given by individual players

• Instruments

• Photographs, magazines, programmes

• Diaries, minute books

• Recordings

• Lost voices - personal testimonies of players of the past