band logo

History of Ebor Brass

The formation of York's newest brass band was not planned! Basically, it came about in return for help given to its founder by some of his friends, who then needed a band to play in themselves, but for reasons of their own did not want to play in any of the established bands.

The founder of the Band was Brian Henderson, who was born in 1952. At the age of eleven, Brian decided he wanted to learn to play a brass instrument. He went to the York Railway Institute where he received lessons from the late Mr Fred Holmes. He progressed into the Junior Band and when Fred Holmes retired from the Band in l967, he had his first experience of teaching learners by default. Once his 'O' levels were over, he progressed into the RI Senior Band, but still continued teaching the learners, and over the years has taught literally hundreds of people of all ages to play brass instruments, many of which are still playing for various bands in the York area today.

In l979 he was asked by a friend in the RI Senior Band to take over conducting a band that was part of another organisation. It was agreed that some of his friends (who were experienced players) would assist him by playing alongside the existing band members. As a result, the Band improved rapidly and started making public appearances. After about six months, there was a change of policy which meant that only members of the organisation could be part of the band. Effectively, this meant that Brian's five friends had to leave. Although he was not a member of the organisation and could have stayed as Conductor he decided to remain loyal to his friends and also left. As a result, on 1st March l980 these six people decided they would try and form a band of their own. The Band was formed out of loyalty and friendship and this quality is still of great importance today.

The Band had no name, nowhere to rehearse, no music and very few instruments. After much discussion it was felt that the name should reflect the City in which it was based. 'York City Brass Band' was suggested, but it was felt that this would require the permission of the City Council, which may not have been forthcoming for a band that had just started and only had six members. It was decided to look back into York’s history. The Roman name for the city is Eboracum, this was abbreviated and “Ebor Brass” was born.

As only two of the five players had instruments of their own and the Band did not have any music stands or music, Brian took a gamble and used his own money to get the band off the ground. The Band had nowhere to rehearse, but in view of the fact that Brian was still a playing member of the York Railway Institute Band and teaching learners for that Band, they allowed 'Ebor Brass' to use their rehearsal room until they could find one of their own.

The band’s first independent “home” was above the old Co-Op on the corner of Hull Road and Melrosegate (now Freshways). The venue was initially rented from the Co-Op but a deal was struck with York Co-Op to sponsor the band and provide a rehearsal room, band jackets and music stand banners. The band was going to be known as Ebor Co-Op Brass. Unfortunately, due to a change in the structure of the Co-Op’s regional organisation and York Co-Op being absorbed into Yorkshire Co-Op, the plans were scrapped but not before they had agreed to pay for the banners and jackets that are still in use today.

When the co-op sold the Hull Road site, the band managed to hire a church hall in Dalton Terrace two nights a week, where they remained for the next two years, until they then moved to a room in Micklegate. With the assistance of Cyril Waite (a local Councillor and later, Lord Mayor of York), the Band became affiliated to the Youth Services, who provided them with rehearsal facilities at Oaklands School for a long time. After a spell of reheasing at Westfield School, the band has now settled at St Barnabas Church, Jubilee Terrace, Leeman Road, York YO26 4YZ. (Although the band is grateful to be able to hire the church facilities, we are not affiliated to the church and welcome players of all religions and races.)

In those early days, it was difficult not to become despondent, as when you only have a few members to start with, if any are missing from rehearsals due to other commitments, then it does not leave many players. As with anything new, there were always those who were quick to 'knock' the Band. However, others were very supportive, and enough cannot be said in gratitude for the encouragement and assistance given to the Band by the late Fred Bradbury, who was a leading figure and driving force in the brass band movement in the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association.

As more people joined the Band, instruments still had to be purchased from funds loaned to the Band by Brian. However, eventually the Band grew large enough to be able to give public performances, and the funds received were used to finance the Band.

In l982, Brian was transferred by his employers to Bristol, and then to Newcastle, Enfield and Croydon, before being transferred back to York in l990. While he was working away from York, he continued to manage the Band and he attended rehearsals and public performances at weekends, whenever he could. Derek Warley (one of the original members of the Band) took over as Conductor, and the Band continued to progress and successfully entered a local competition under his leadership. He was succeeded by John Atkin, who in turn was succeeded by Shaun Murphy.

Whilst Brian was working away, unfortunately there was no-one to teach the learners. This lead to a decline in the size of the Band and when he returned to York in l990, there were only six members left in the Band, and it was therefore necessary to once again set about rebuilding the Band.

The Present

We are now approaching full strength again but are still keen to recruit players of any age or ability who want to play a brass instrument. Experienced players are always welcome, but if you are a beginner who would like to benefit from our free lessons or have never played before and would like the challenge of starting a new hobby then all lessons are free and instruments are also loaned without charge. All that we ask is that you remain loyal to the Band and play with us once you have reached the required standard. We are pleased to say that the majority of players do.

Why not pop down on one of our Rehearsal nights and have a listen to the band and a chat with us? You can also find us on Facebook or at one of our concerts.

Monday 18.30-20.00

Wednesday 18:30-20:00

Friday 18:30-20:00 ((teaching and beginners only, depending on demand, please contact us)

St Barnabas Church, Jubilee Terrace, Leeman Road, York YO26 4YZ

(we are a non-denominational group and are not affiliated to the church but are very grateful to them for the hire of their facilities)

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player