Research project on the history of British Colliery Bands

Marion Henry

New Member
I am a doctoral student in history at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. My research focuses on the organisation of musical activities in selected British coalfields between 1945 and 1984 (Scotland, the Midlands and the North-East of England). As part of this research I’m conducting a series of interviews with brass band players who used to work in a coalmine and were active during the period of interest (it can be a couple of years at some point between 1945 and 1984).

Participating would entail meeting up in person for an interview at some point over the next 12 months. The interview would be audio recorded, then transcribed and archived for posterity at the Scottish Oral History Centre (SOHC) at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where it would be accessible to other researchers and members of the public if you consent (there are also options to have it be available for researchers but not the public, or to be fully anonymized, depending on your preferences). I will do my best to ensure that it is an enjoyable experience for you. If you are interested in taking part in this study or know anyone who might be, please send me a message. I can send you more information on what the study entails, along with consent forms for you to review.

I am also looking from former colliery bands archives (phorographs, account books, minutes books etc.) if you know where I could find such documents.

Thank you in advance



Good afternoon
I read your post with interest. There is a book called 'The Major and his band' written by Keith Hollinshead. It is a wonderful piece of social/industrial history including copies of many letters from the Managing Director of the Bickershaw Colliery to the MD of the band which this organisation sponsored. It is a really interesting read and takes the reader through the pain of contest defeats through to national success and then finally to the withdrawal of sponsorship and the very sorry consequences of this process.

It would also be worth speaking to Keith directly and I am sure he would love to oblige. He is a super person and I see him each year at the British Open though I don't have his telephone number. But I am certain that if you contact Martin and Karyn Mortimer via the British Open Brass Band website, they would be glad to put you in contact with Keith. Keith is a fountain of knowledge and he has access to a much research material which you would find useful. He will also be able to put you in touch with other useful people.

I wish you all the best in your doctorate and please let me know how you get on.

Marion Henry

New Member
Good morning,

Thank you very much for this lead, this is very helpful. I will contact Martin and Karyn Mortimer to get in touch with Keith Hollinshead. I will let you know how it goes.

Best wishes,


Staff member
The Internet Bandsman's Everything Within has a wealth of information on bands, and useful links to individuals and organisations. I suggest the reference section is a good place to start, and I'm sure if there is anything specific you want assistance with Gavin would be glad to help:

Marion Henry

New Member
Hello Peter, Thank you very much, I didn't know this website. I also enclosed an advert prepared to find participants for the interview if anyone wants to circulate it.


  • Project on the History of Music in the Coalfields.pdf
    205.5 KB · Views: 113


New Member
Hi Marion,

I will help if I can, I worked for the NCB from 1967 to 1979 at Solsgirth Mine and played with Cowdenbeath Public Brass Band during this period. Cowdenbeath was not a colliery band in name but was supported by the penny given scheme from the staff at NCB Central Workshop in Cowdenbeath and by the miners at Solsgirth mine.

At the moment Steven Craig on Facebook pages “Cowdenbeath Past and Present” and “Old Fife” is researching Fife bands and may be able to help.

Cheers Danny


New Member
Hi Marion
I played for Betteshanger Colliery Band in Kent from 1970 to 1985 before moving north. Most of this time I was at school, but my father also played in the band and worked for British Coal throughout this period. I worked for British Coal from 1978 to 1987.
I assume this is out of your geographical scope, but if you feel my contribution could be helpful, just let me know.


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