Grimethorpe Colliery Band left brassed off by music festival snub

When it opened its doors in 1904, St Luke the Evangelist in Grimethorpe declared itself as "a church built by miners for the miners". An appearance by the South Yorkshire village's renowned colliery band at the church's annual music festival would then have been an obvious way to celebrate a shared heritage.

But no such invitation has been received by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band to perform at the crumbling church, which lies within sight of the now defunct coal mine whose closure in 1993 led to the village being named one of the poorest in Europe. To make matters worse, a rival band with a long history of competing with the Grimethorpe ensemble for music prizes has been recruited instead.

Such is the level of discord in Grimethorpe at the top billing of Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Brass Band for Friday's centrepiece concert that managers of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band were forced to insist they were not showing "non-allegiance" to their home community. It was the triumph of the Grimethorpe band and its mining musicians in a national competition days after the announcement of the colliery's closure that inspired the 1996 Bafta-winning film, Brassed Off.

Since the worldwide fame that followed the success of the film, which told the story of a colliery band as they struggled to find a living during the demise of the coal industry, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band has led a renaissance in Britain's brass-band culture. There are around 600 brass bands with nearly 20,000 players around the country, leading to intense competition to gain a place among the nation's best ensembles.

But efforts to raise £1.5m to renovate Grimethorpe's red-brick church, which had become so dilapidated that it was marked for demolition in 2001, threatened to dampen the colliery band's celebrations after they retained their title at the English National Brass Band Championships this weekend. Organisers admitted yesterday there had been "much muttering" in the village about the Grimethorpe band's absence from the festival and the arrival of their Carlton rivals. The Rev Peter Needham, who has led the fundraising campaign to save the church and convert it into a village hall since his arrival six years ago, said the Carlton band were a cheaper alternative to their "professional" colleagues in Grimethorpe.

"Obviously we were very disappointed that the Grimethorpe band couldn't come and play. One of the former members of the band asked me how I dared to invite the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band to Grimethorpe and told me that nobody in the village would come and hear them.

"But when I asked my congregation they told me they would be interested in hearing the band and encouraged me to go on with the idea, he said."

After raising more than £350,000 for essential repairs with events including a barefoot walk from Grimethorpe to York, hopes had been high that the future of the church was about to be secured. But a failure to secure a lottery grant put the programme in doubt and the music festival was designed to revive the campaign's fortunes.

Managers of Grimethorpe Colliery Band, which was founded in 1917 as a leisure activity for colliery workers and will now represent England in the brass band European championships in Belgium next year, said they had been unaware of the festival and could not play this week because they have been booked to perform in Essex.

Terry Webster, the band's manager, said: "To the best of my knowledge we have had no invitation. The leader of the Frickley band contacted me last week after they were booked to ask me why we weren't playing. He thought it was strange.

"We played at the opening of the medical centre a few weeks ago and we are happy to support the village. But when you don't get asked you take other bookings, and as a result we are playing in Southend this weekend."

The wrangle comes as leaders of brass bands are calling for increased recognition from arts funding bodies for their home-grown brand of musical excellence. While the Arts Council has given £155m to opera and £70m to ballet in the past five years, the equivalent figure for brass bands is £140,000.

Many brass bands have diversified their sources of income, securing recording contracts and corporate sponsorship as well as opening the doors of this once men-only domain to female members. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band is sponsored by Powerfuel, a Yorkshire coal-fired power station owner, and last year became the first ensemble-in-residence at the Royal College of Music in London.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition