A huge fire at Smithills School on the morning of Saturday December 31st has left a whole suite of classrooms in the upper school completely destroyed and many other rooms smoke and water damaged but the fire missed the Music Department and the Senior Brass Band library and rehearsal room in particular by a matter of yards. Up to fourteen fire engines attended the blaze at Smithills from the early hours of the morning through to the afternoon. The incident attracted TV crews to the school and radio coverage. The blaze was widely reported on news bulletins throughout the day, the pictures illustrating the extensive damage to the school, estimated to cost in the region of £500,000 to repair. To the immense relief of everyone at Smithills, no damage has been caused at all to any equipment belonging to all of the senior and junior bands and choirs. With the school closed for Christmas, most instruments were at pupil’s homes and the extensive range of top quality percussion equipment is always protected by the department’s recently installed electric shutter system. Smithills School will now be closed to pupils on Monday January 9th and year 7 pupils will gain an extra week of holiday. The Senior Brass Band will miss just one rehearsal, postponing its first practise of 2006 until Wednesday January 11th. All other band and choir rehearsals will begin on schedule from Tuesday January 10th.