And the band played on ...

WHEN Harworth pit shut down in January last year, it wasn’t just a place of work that was lost.

For 90 years Harworth Brass Band musicians had rehearsed in their own room at the colliery, which was sold off along with the land.

Members held a private farewell concert, packed up their instruments and headed home.

And that might have been that if it hadn’t been for the town council coming to the rescue.

The band was offered the shared use of a room in the new Harworth and Bircotes Town Hall, heralding a new era in its history

Chairman John Healey, 63, who first started playing with Harworth Brass when he was 10, said: “We’re being given free use of the room, which is even being called the band room, and it’s fantastic.”

“We have storage space there too, I appreciate everything the town council has done for us.”

The band was formed in 1920 by a small group of miners who would meet socially at the end of a long day.

It has always been a bit of a family affair, with children and parents often playing alongside each other.

Mr Healey, of Thompson Avenue, joked that he joined the band after his manager threatened to put him on regular nights if he didn’t.

He plays the cornet and at one time was joined by both his son Matthew, also playing cornet, and daughter Laura, tenor horn.

He said: “My wife Glynis always took them to band practice so she ended up joining the band committee.”

“We play all kinds of music from films, musicals and marching tunes. I think people still enjoy listening to brass bands and we get asked to play at different venues.”

Another dad who introduced his children to the delights of brass band music is John Blundell, 67, of Scrooby Road, who joined when he was 10 and plays double bass.

His son Stephen also played double bass and daughter Elizabeth played the cornet.

Mr Blundell, who worked as plant manager at Harworth colliery, said: “The new band room is superb.”

“We used to take part in competitions but we don’t anymore but we put on regular concerts like at Harworth church and Retford town hall.”

Band members range in age from 13 to 90.

Secretary Kathryn Dodds said past accomplishments included performing with Jack Parnell in the Best of British Jazz.

She said: “The band achieved prizes in almost every contest they entered, and could be heard in the Coal Board National Finals from 1979 to 1981, becoming the third section champions in 1998.”

“This tradition continued when the Harworth Youth Band members walked away with the Dr Gardner Challenge Cup at the Don Valley Festival in Mexborough in 2008.”

She said the colliery band room had originally been part of a stable block housing the pit ponies.

New members are always welcome to join the band, which rehearses on Thursday nights from 7-9pm. Call Mrs Dodds on 01302 710652 for more information about joining or band engagements, or go to the website at

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