A Free Press clipping dated April 1982 appears firstly exposing this brass bands long history when they marked a magnificent 125 years. And they still perform to this day. A more detailed past had actually been featured in a March 1906 edition of The British Bandsman. Although Huthwaite cannot be recognised as oldest surviving British band, they have uniquely set one unsurpassable record thanks to the Cooper family.
Surname Cooper is widely synonymous with the Huthwaite brass band. It follows an unbroken family line of musical directors and conductors, founded 1857 by William Cooper handing baton over into future generations. His successor Mr J B Cooper is infamously quoted for claiming he could produce a band of 16 players within a one mile radius of the band room - all from his own family. And the number of related Coopers just named among dated bandsmen leaves little doubt that this held factual basis. Previous experience may now even suggest an 1849 start up, although year 1857 is historically always quoted.
Changing titles not only reflected much later preference for silver coated instruments, also prize winning national acclaim before renaming our village. Brass instrumentalist William Cooper founded the initially named Hucknall Huthwaite Band comprising eight members. Obtaining rare sheet music proved a difficult enough task, fortunately aided by gaining a few copies from the Wombwells Menagerie Band. But during his later role as treasurer, Frederick Allsop explained greatest problem had been affording both uniforms and especially instruments. They were identified being one drum, one soprano, two cornets, one saxhorn, one bass trombone and two of those strange looking opheclides (finding French origins c1850 - 1910).
Securing their first public engagement for a Whit Monday walk resulted in two bands performing due to the organisers mistakenly double booking the event. Payment for both bands was ensured only through county court ruling. Undaunted by this troublesome start, the Hucknall Huthwaite Band became a regular feature musically marching among those extremely popular annual church parades. They'd soon attracted some influential supporters. This earlier looking photo is believed taken in the Orchards, later owned by Mr Coupe who became the bands patron and president. By 1860 however, Headquarters were established at the adjacent Peacock Hotel, giving dated background for 1900 inclusion of its likely publican Mr A Lowe.
The founding bandmaster is credited with good performance on the E Flat Bass, while capable of tutoring use across all the bands instruments. It would be interesting if family genealogy could confirm a little more about the life of this energetically spirited William Cooper, especially concerning conflicting reports of whether J B Cooper was his nephew or son. Either way, J B Cooper did receive a fuller bandsman training encouraged by his father. Of all the instruments he became notably recognised as a splendid solo euphonium player. So much so, the Sutton Old Harmonic Band also retained him for all competitions.
Passing Hucknall Huthwaite Band conductors baton from William onto relation J B Cooper is not given an exact date. But as new bandmaster assisted by secretary Mr J B Heath, both agreed they should lead the band into contesting. Referencing Brass Band Results discovered entries begin locally to give a commendable third place in 1886 at Tibshelf. A few contests later claimed their first win at Hucknall Torkard on 15th September 1888. It seems a likely enough reason for dating the above photo. However.
According to this 1896 concert billing featuring JB Cooper himself, that initial success must have been proudly used to promote future billings under more descriptive title of The Hucknall Huthwaite Prize Band. But the 1900 photograph marked true year for celebrating a far greater success, dating National Championships held 21st July at the former Crystal Palace, Sydenham. Winning Third Section fully justified earlier boast of Prize Band status recognised thereafter.
When the above photograph featured in the 1906 British Bandsman, the anonymous sender mentions the bands more recent run of successes. They attributed results to having sought a number of professional coaches, lastly being Mr Edwin Swift who helped secure their Crystal Palace victories. Nonetheless, during his reign of bandmaster, Mr J B Cooper proved a leading figure in pushing the band forward, while also widely considered to be a respected teacher plus adjudicator. By time of his 1911 death, he'd passed all those qualities onto hs son Charles Aaron Cooper, under a now modernly named Huthwaite Prize Band.
Representing third appointed band leader for the Huthwaite Prize Band, Charles Aaron Cooper always preferred to be called Chas throughout his entire 54 years service. His musical talents had been identified when joining the Free Church Choir aged eight. From alto to a rich tenor, his voice firstly gained concert admiration. Instrumentally choosing the cornet, he joined the Hucknall Huthwaite Band rising up to soloist for the Crystal Palace win. He held other musical interests fully earning national respect as an excellent musician, tutor, conductor and since 1920, a respected adjudicator until his death in 1965. Chas conducted this band into around two dozen widely held contests. Huthwaite regularly collected shields and trophies through a significant proportion of top three positions, topped by and giving likely reason for the above dated photograph, upon adding a 1925 win at the Oxfordshire & District Contest in the Section 1 Open.
Named bandsmen displayed below featured in the 1932 Free Press when announcing a forthcoming live radio broadcast. That 1½ hour concert given from the Birmingham studio was in fact fourth time Huthwaite Prize Band had been heard over the airways. Year before they performed twice from the Midland Regional broadcasting studio, after first playing into a microphone heard regionally through a Nottingham Station.
An entrepreneurial Billy Butlins presented one of the biggest band contest festivals. This succesful 1933 promotion for his Butlins holiday camp enticed the nations many colliery brass bands with silver cups and cash prizes. Attracting 77 entries also boosted appeal for the future Skegness seaside resort. Interestingly, Mr Chas A Cooper was among the officially named adjudicators when entry in Class A for Huthwaite Prize Band identifies conductor as his long dead father Mr J B Cooper. There's chance a relative bands man shared initials, otherwise it must be assumed given name was a mysterious pseudonym.
Following year they did secure a second place trophy in a Butlins March. Proud mention became given at their 1935 Huthwaite carnival annual fund raising event organised by Mr W Clark. His appeal on behalf the band highlights how they voluntarily often supported local causes by providing free concerts, as well as showing popularity for large crowds being entertained by their own carnival attractions. An open concert on the old Market Place started off the days events. Likewise appreciated here by a fully packed audience for the Whit Walk, before householders lined all the streets to further witness a musical parade involving other guest bands.The history doesn't stop here - Perhaps a new page for more to come!
Written 05 Nov 13 Revised 14 Nov 13 © by Gary Elliott