Shropshire Star

Festive fun as band completes 130 magical musical years

Jackfield Brass Band is tuning up to round off its landmark 130th anniversary year with a busy festive programme.

A Christmas and New Year postcard from 1906-1907, featuring the band outside the old Jackfield Rectory.

The award-winning band has been making music since it was formed in Jackfield as a drum and fife band in 1893 but converted to all-brass in 1895, and has been part of life and some key events in the Ironbridge Gorge ever since.

One of the oldest surviving pictures of the band, from 1903.

Its musicians have 10 engagements in the run-up to Christmas, including a small group of players joining the festivities to play carols as part of the entertainment at the Ironbridge Christmas lights switch-on on November 25.

Other highlights include the band's Christmas concert, titled "A Christmas Fantasy," at the recently refurbished Anstice Memorial Hall in Madeley on December 3, and a special concert which sees the band and the Holy Trinity Church at Coalbrookdale presenting a showing of the timeless classic The Snowman on December 10.

A feature of the band is a number of players who have given decades of service, and this year's anniversary has coincided with 40 years chalked up by Pete Woodley and Darrin Smith.

Veteran Paul France of Madeley, the longest-serving musician who joined the band as a youngster in 1956, has picked out some key dates and events in the band's long history.

Music down the generations... Paul France of Madeley, the longest serving musician with Jackfield Brass Band, with granddaughters Lily and Eleanor, who play with Wellington Band.

"The band purchased Jack Harrison's Bake House in 1954 for £80 plus a further £8 9s. 9d. to install electricity.

"This was used as a rehearsal room until we rented the old Sunday School Room in Coalford (Coalford is a part of Jackfield) from Telford Development Corporation in 1985.

"We purchased the building from TDC in 1989 for £2000.

Band members play at a Jackfield street party to celebrate VE Day in 1945.

"In 1991 the band purchased the Wesleyan Chapel for £5 from TDC. The building was completely refurbished, with a lot of the work being done by members, and the first rehearsal was held in April 1999 and the official opening was in August 1999.

"In 1990 a young Thomas Hitz from Mellingen in Switzerland took up a secondment with Swiss company ABB based in Telford. He joined Jackfield band and in 1992 we went to Mellingen as guests of the Mellingen Band staying with band members.

"They visited us for our centenary celebrations.The exchange visits have carried on ever since. They were here in 2018 and we were due over there in 2020 – but Covid put a stop to that.

"In 2003 we did a week's run of the stage version of Brassed Off at the Birmingham Rep and reprised the role at The Grand Theatre In Wolverhampton."

Jackfield Band playing at a Last Night of the Proms event in Wellington in 2019.

For many years the band had a sponsorship deal with local coach company Elcock Reisen – which sadly ceased trading earlier this year – whose name was incorporated in the band's title.

Paul said: "The sponsorship with Elcock Reisen finished in 2016 after about 28 years. Like most bands we are always looking for a sponsorship deal which is beneficial to both partners."

A Christmas and New Year postcard from 1906-1907, featuring the band outside the old Jackfield Rectory.

Over the years the band has won various trophies and competitions, including becoming the Midlands area First Section champions in 2015/16 and achieving a creditable sixth place in the First Section national finals in 2021.

Further details about the band are available at

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