Ferryhill Town Band was formed by the miners of the Mainsforth Colliery in 1909 and named the Mainsforth Colliery Brass Band. In the early years the miners contributed 1/2d per week to support the band. Part of their contribution also went towards supporting the cricket team, bowls team and many more activities that were associated with the colliery at that time. The importance of the colliery and its mineworkers in the community can never be underestimated, without their support so many organisations and activities would never have existed. Although the band has changed names in its one hundred year history, its roots in the Ferryhill community have never changed.
Mainsforth Colliery Brass Band 1909-1970
Mainsforth and Tursdale Workshop Brass Band 1970-1979
Durham Colliery Mechanics Brass Band 1979-1994
Ferryhill Town Brass Band 1994- Present
In the bands infancy, the band known then as the Mainsforth Colliery Brass Band, were considered by many as the pride of the area in the early 1900’s, attracting many players from surrounding areas. The bands first conductor was Mr William (Bill) Smith but it was a Mr William Lerigo who conducted the band through the 1920’s to the late 1940’s. Throughout the 20’s and 30’s the band were involved in many community activities and press cuttings report the band in attendance at Remembrance Day parades, Durham Miners Gala and many social events in and around Ferryhill. The band practiced twice a week in the Eldon Arms pub and then later the Surtees Arms. In the late 40’s and early 50’s the band still continued to thrive with the support of the miners welfare scheme C.I.S.W.O, set up in 1952. The bands association with Mainsforth Colliery ended with the closure of the mine in 1968. The band were then supported by the Tursdale Workshops while retaining the Mainsforth name and continued to be based in Ferryhill. In 1979 the band was adopted by the Durham Colliery Mechanics Association, continuing its mine working links.
The 80’s decade saw the band playing under Mr Barry Holden. During this period they rose through the sections of the National Brass Band Area Championships culminating in promotion to the championship section in 1988. The band contested for two years in the championship section, then reluctantly had to step down to the second section.
The 90’s decade saw the collapse of the mining industry in the UK and the demise of the National Coal Board and with no support the bands future looked bleak. Ferryhill Town Council came to the bands assistance in 1994. Ferryhill Town Council has generously supported the band and this abled it to maintain its links with the community. In 1996 the band was successful in a bid to the National Lottery which enabled us to purchase a new set of instruments.
In the year 2000, under the baton of Mr Steve Robson, the band won the 4th section Northern Region Championship. As Northern Area Champions they represented Ferryhill at the Royal Albert Hall in the National Finals. The following year the band went on to win the 3rd section Northern Region Championship and once more represented the region nationally. In 2010, under the direction of Sue Norris, the band won at the North of England Regional Championships and competed at Harrogate in the National Finals.
In recent years, the brass band movement and Ferryhill lost two dedicated players, Mr Joe Chaplin and Mr Kenneth Wilson who both sadly passed away.
In 2007 we also lost a fantastic percussionist and musician, Robert Luke. Having begun playing the drums at an early age, Robert first started to showcase his talents with Spennymoor Junior and Youth bands aged just 7. He joined Ferryhill Town Band aged 11 and enjoyed success at many of the contests we performed at. He performed on our first CD, “Pastime with Good Company” and went to a number of National Finals with us – including a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000. In 2002, Robert left the Brass Band scene to concentrate on his studies and went on to learn other musical instruments.
Their contribution to the band will never be forgotten.
Throughout the bands existence there has been quite a nucleus of local players from Ferryhill and surrounding areas. Membership crosses the generations and includes a good mix of ages currently ranging from 10 to 60 years of age.