Moving up the sections with one band


Active Member
Has anyone here as a player or MD ever moved up the sections, from say 4th to 1st or even Champ Section with the same band?

If so:

How long did it take?
How many original players from the 4th section made it?
How was it financed/was it sustainable?
Was the sense of achievement greater than if you had joined an established band?
Were there any downsides?
Yes, Brunel Brass went from 4th section in 2007 to Championship Section in 2012. We are currently in the 1st Section. Along the way we were 4th in 4th section national Finals, we won the 3rd section National finals and the Second Section National Finals and 9th in the First Section Finals. The problem is working with young player that so many move away for higher education.


Active Member
This happened in the 80s at Amington Band, Tamworth.
Having secured the outstanding band trainer, Allan Morris, the band won consecutive Area titles 4th, 3rd, 2nd, across 85, 86, 87, to gain Championship status for 1988.
The band achieved this, with the majority of original players.
For those that felt uncomfortable with the increasing commitment/level of music, a 'B' band was formed - and flourished.
We worked hard on P.R, using media coverage as widely as possible.
Eventually we found a sponsor (Triman ltd), who suppled funding for new instruments, uniforms and general support on a wider level.
As a group of individuals, we all remain in regular contact and feel this period to be amongst the most successful of our careers.
The bonding and sense of pride has never diminished, many of the players still playing, or involved with, the band today.
The main downside was trying to maintain the high standards expected at Championship level, whilst many players were completing education/establishing careers/starting families.
We did achieve 7th place, our highest ever result, at Championship level.
The band is now successfully competing in the second section and building a committed, competitive band.
Maintaining the social aspects of the band is paramount, as well as working as one, to achieve a satisfactory experience for every individual.


Rothwell Temperance did this, going from competitors in the fourth section through to winning the Yorkshire Area Championship section. Competed at six national finals in a row, third section in 1994 to champ section in 1999.

Expensive, full colour self published book of the band history available here:



Well-Known Member
Mark, what year was that 7th? BBR is missing Amington's placings for the three, possibly four, years that they competed in the South Midlands championship section (1988-90, possibly 1991?). Let me know any missing info, and I'll add it.

Another rapid rise that comes to mind was that of Kelty & Blairadam in Scotland, with 4 successive promotions 1990-4. I think that is a unique feat since the advent of the 1st section, but I'm open to correction. It's easier to achieve that in Scotland, where the top two at the area each year are promoted - contrast with how hard Goodwick are currently having to work in Wales to get up through the sections - 2 years per section despite being section champions in 4 successive years and runners-up this year - Kelty only won 3 successive sections during their rise.

Something the already mentioned Brunel achieved that no one else yet mentioned achieved during their ascent was to win their area (West of England) at every lower section level on the way up - 4 wins in 5 years 2008-12.

At a slower rate of progress, Kidlington Silver, one of the two bands that merged to form my band, climbed from 4th to championship section between 1980 and 1990. That was done with broadly the same group of players - a maturing young band under hard-working band trainer Terry Brotherhood (who these days conducts Oxford Cherwell Brass, who have quite a few common players with the old KSB).

A commonality between all of these examples that have yet 'topped out' on their rise is that the championship section provided a nasty jolt, which for some proved fatal - both Kelty and Kidlington Silver (who were both 19th century foundations, so already long-lasting) had mergers waiting for them in the near future at that point (respectively, with Cowdenbeath to form the current Kingdom Brass, and with Oxford Concert Brass to form Kidlington Concert Brass).

It seems to me that while what it takes to win a 1st section contest is broadly similar to what it takes to win a 4th section contest, something qualitatively different is required to succeed in the championship section. With almost any dedicated group of players it is possible to do the following - on the more playable pieces found below the championship section, to put pretty much everything in the right place and in tune. This will reliably win contests against the opposition found at 1st section level and below. But that final promotion exposes players to much harder repertoire, and a playing differential between top and bottom of section that is only exceeded in the 4th section. No wonder that it is often a hurdle too far - and then a band that has become used to winning, or at least placing well, has a difficult period of reflection to undergo.

But it's certainly possible to make that jump, and a good example that comes to mind is that of Rothwell Temperance - the current band started off life as the B band of the original Rothwell Temperance band, and rose from 4th section in 1991 to championship section in 1999 - and placed 3rd in their first year up. Further, they haven't left the section since, and were Yorkshire champions in 2009. If Tim Sawyer is loitering around, he might like to comment, as he's been with them since 4th section days.

Various examples in a table (alphabetical by band name):
Band name
Area4th sectCh sectWhat happened subsequently
AldershotL&SC19651974Maintained status to present day
AmingtonSouth Midlands19851988Ch status for 3 or 4 years, then relegated. 4th sect again by 2004.
AshtonNW1997 (3rd sect entry to system)2000Status maintained to present day.
BrunelWest20082013Relegation after 1 year in Ch, too soon to tell longer term pattern
City of CardiffWales20042012Relegation 2014, too soon to tell longer term pattern
Desford BNorth Midlands19851992Status maintained for a number of years before later decline
GoodwickWales2006?Too soon to tell
Kelty & BlairadamScotland19901994Merger 1999 while in 1st sect
KidlingtonL&SC19801990Merger 1992 while in 1st sect
KinneilScotland19551960Status maintained to the present day, and three Ch titles in the 1960s.
LochgellyScotland19521957Ch success over many years until relegation in 1989 sparked a crisis.
LochgellyScotland20022011Status maintained.
MarpleNW19741989Ch success until crisis in ~2002.
Marston ValleyL&SC19531955Folded 1956.
RothwellYorkshire19911999Ch success, status maintained, later greater success.

This is a list of those that occurred to me - which is probably biased towards including those who succeeded in staying up rather than those subsequently disappeared off the radar. I've spent far too much time digging out examples now, I'd best leave it... But it's not hard to find examples by digging on BBR. Those that I've found are making me wonder if my hypothesis above about the championship promotion reliably being a difficult one is actually a good hypothesis... More data required...


Well-Known Member
And of course posting immediately produces in my mind another obvious example, and one that makes Kelty not unique in 4 successive promotions - Todmorden Old promoted 4 successive years in Yorkshire 1995-1999. But folded a couple of years later, despite a long history.


But it's certainly possible to make that jump, and a good example that comes to mind is that of Rothwell Temperance - the current band started off life as the B band of the original Rothwell Temperance band, and rose from 4th section in 1991 to championship section in 1999 - and placed 3rd in their first year up. Further, they haven't left the section since, and were Yorkshire champions in 2009. If Tim Sawyer is loitering around, he might like to comment, as he's been with them since 4th section days.

The rise through the sections was done with the same core of players, most of whom were related to each other.

We had a few successive years of 6th/7th/8ths at the Yorkshire Area top section, then managed to qualify through to the nationals at the Albert Hall for five years in a row.


Euphonium Lite

Active Member
There was also Sovereign Brass who went from 4th to top in successive years, winning the old South Midlands area top section in their 1st year. No First section at the time though, so a slightly shorter rise

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
Not to forget Swinton who came from nowhere under David King and exploded through the sections - before seemigly imploding and obtaining the (Extinct) label on BBR.....

I was at Salford Tech whilst they were on the rise and I do know they had a reasonably high turnover of players on the way up


a maturing young band under hard-working band trainer Terry Brotherhood (who these days conducts Oxford Cherwell Brass, who have quite a few common players with the old KSB).

And Stonesfield, and Chalgrove..........
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Active Member
How come you guys refer to the leaders of these bands that achieved rapid success as "band trainers" rather than as MDs? This is something I'm interested in and which I started a thread about the other day.


Well-Known Member
I used the phrase (as I suspect did Mark) to emphasise the particular strength in the role that the MD in questions have - in particular the ability to get the most out of their charges through sheer hard work.


Active Member
That's what I thought. I wonder did these guys have to focus on developing their band's technical skills, rather than just focusing on repertoire as would a regular MD?


Active Member
A few years ago, an ex band mate told me about Glossop old band in the 80,s rose very quickly from 4th to championship. Apparently (I don't know if this is true or not) they held the record for the most consecutive contest wins. Something like 12 or something they came 2nd or something to stop the wins and still qualified for the finals and walked off after the results were given as though they came last. Don't know how true it is but a cracking story if it was.


I should mention my friends at Lockwood Brass - we climbed through the sections from 4th to Championship 2003 - 2009 (re-formed last year after a break from contesting and got 2nd at the finals in section 2)

I can think of 2 others not yet mentioned - EYMS (originally City of Hull) and Beaumaris?

Sellers (Huddersfield Tecol) worth a mention but started in 3rd Section (same for Pennine Brass?) both now gone of course.



Well-Known Member
Re Glossop - always the kind of story to send me scurrying back to the database!

Here's Glossop Old's record at the areas as we have it (NB you'll need to have a BBR account to view this particular page due to the restriction by tag on area contests). I think this was 90s (under Jim Cant), not 80s. Seemingly, after a few years of not entering the areas (we previously have them in the 2nd section in 1989) they turned up with a bang in the 3rd section in 1994, becoming 1994 Midlands and National 3rd section champions, 1995 Midlands and National 2nd section champions, and 1996 Midlands 1st section champions (3rd at the Nationals that year).

Here's their overall contest record as we have it (NB anyone can view). Noting that the 1994 Holme Valley contest (for which we don't have a month) would have been in late spring (so would have been part of that sequence), and discounting the 1994 Northern Open, which they withdrew from, we have them winning 11 consecutively, a sequence broken by that 3rd place in the 1996 1st section final. They followed that sequence up with a sequence of 2nds, 4 in a row - funny how one's luck goes sometimes.

Of course, there is no guarantee that our database is yet complete on the subject; we may well be missing one or two that ought to be there. But if Stella's 12 is correct, then I can think of at least one instance of that run being exceeded, though we have to go back a long way for it - we have Besses winning 13 in a row under Alex Owen in 1898-9 - as well as the same band recording other runs between 1887 and then of 10, 8 (twice), 6, 5 (four times), and 4 (twice). Peering around the same era, I see that we have Dyke winning 16 in a row 1895-7, and, a little earlier, Bacup Old won 13 in a row 1869-71, soon before folding (as I understand things, their conductor died) - this part of a longer sequence 1867-71, where they won 28 out of 34 - the remaining 6 were 2nd places...

But this was in an era where the contest ecosystem was significantly different from today. It was common for all sorts of little fetes to run a brass band contest on the side, and the prize money offered from such events was often startlingly large relative to workers' wages. The big contesting bands such as Besses and Black Dyke would travel around cleaning up at such events. These days, bands compete in fewer events, and the pools of talent are more widely spread. You won't find the current Open champion turning up to compete at a village flower show now!


Supporting Member
Old Hall Brass did this in the 90s with Neil Parkinson at the helm. Neil was definitely what you would call a band trainer and motivator. They went from 4th to 1st over a period of about 6 years (I think). There was a solid core of players (mostly still there) and a good relationship between all the band members. It was unfortunate that both Neil and his wife became very ill and he had to retire. Those were definitely 'Golden Years' in my career.


Wantage have moved through all the sections to arrive this year as Area Winners Champ section. There are still people in the band who were playing back in the day....


Well-Known Member
Hi Phil, I did think of Wantage (funnily enough!), but they did it in two spurts - 4th to 2nd sections 1983-6 and 2nd to Championship 2003-2007.


I joined treherbert band in 1994 when they were in the 4th section and we got into the champ section in 2004. I think there were 5 band members that were still in the band that played in the 4th section.


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