Brass Band News is a unique and unrivalled resource for the history of brass bands and brass banding activities across the UK between 1881 and 1958. It was a monthly journal published by Wright and Round, a company established in Erskine Street, Liverpool in 1875, by Henry Round and Thomas Wright, both themselves musicians and publishers of brass and military music. Each issue features reports on brass banding activities from all regions of the UK, with adverts, contest results and articles, charting the ebb and flow of the movement over time. The journal can be used to trace the histories of individual bands, performances, and items of brass bands music.

However, Brass Band News is not simply a journal about brass banding - it is useful resource for social, cultural, and political history more generally in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Brass bands emerged in the 1840s with the introduction of valved brass instruments such as the saxophone. In the second half of the 19th century brass bands became widespread, many organised and financed by local industries as a form of rational recreation for the working class.

The pages of Brass Band News provide a snapshot of these local industries such as collieries and factories, as well as the recreational spaces provided by many towns and cities such as public parks and performance venues. They feature illustrations of instruments and band uniforms, and photographic portraits of prominent bandsmen. The 'Accidental Notes' section of each issue reveals how brass banding intertwined with everyday life and pivotal moments in history. Issues of the journal published during the 1914-1918 War, for example, feature articles about the depleting membership of brass bands owing to the mass recruitment drive to the armed forces (No. 412, 16 January 1916, p.4).

Brass Band News was presented to the University of Salford by Roger Thompson, one of three directors (alongside Ken Sawyer and Brian Last) of Interactive Sciences, the company which took over Wright and Round in 1991. The company retained copies of Brass Band News, from the very first in October 1881 until almost the last, and most were bound in sets comprising several years’ editions. Sadly, there are a few gaps in the Collection, including editions from 1919-1922 and 1935.

Brass Band News forms part of the University of Salford's Roy Newsome Brass Band Archive (Ref: RNA). The digitisation of the journal was one of the ambitions of Dr Newsome, who wrote shortly before his death in 2009: “What I see as the most pressing need for the Archive concerns the almost unique set of copies of the journal Brass Band News. The ultimate aim for this work would be to have a complete set of copies digitised and available world-wide through website and internet.”

A cover of Brass Band News

Who might be interested?

Students and researchers of music and performance as well as social and cultural history; People interested in the history of Brass Bands.

Type of material