Denton Original Prize Band

Denton Original Prize Band
The origins of a brass band in Denton can be traced back as far as 1818 when the Denton and Haughton Band was formed and subsequently this became known as the Denton and Haughton Old Band. Little is known about this band except that Joseph Howard and Robert Thorneley founded it at a cost of £210 for instruments and music.

Denton Original Band was founded in, or shortly before, 1859 as Baxendale's Band. Thomas Baxendale (or Baxendell, later the founder of Alpha Mill) was a generous member of the United Free Methodist Church and also the founder and patron of this brass band. It soon became successful, winning brass band competitions across the North West. It attained increasingly high standards of performance under its conductor, Whittam Smith. The first headquarters of the band were at the small works of Thomas Baxendale at the top of Taylor Lane but later it moved to a room at the back of the Bowling Green Inn on Manchester Road and then to its own Band Institute on Ashton Road.

The high point of the band came in 1900 when it took part in a contest for brass bands from all over Britain and the Colonies. The contest was held at Crystal Palace in London and when news arrived in the hometown that Denton Original Band had won there was much celebrating. The band had won £75 and the 1,000 Guineas Challenge Trophy of the Crystal Palace Band Contest. The trophy was kept in Denton Town Hall but £1,000 had to be pledged by Denton councillors as security. Following this event the band changed its name to the Denton Original Prize Band.

Crystal Palace, London. Denton Original Band, 1900.

The 1,000 Guineas Challenge Trophy is mounted above the drum.
Denton Original Band outside Denton Town Hall, 1900. The bandstand, Victoria Park, early 20th century.

On the 27 October 1903 the band was reorganised to put it under public control. The precise meaning of this reorganisation is now uncertain but it is likely that from this date the band was no longer receiving support from Denton hat manufacturers. On the 7 June 1906 Mr Albert Parke, a Denton hat manufacturer, presented the band with a ceremonial mace, the head consisting of a silver plated bowler hat surmounted by a pivoted cartouche.

The obverse of the cartouche is inscribed:

Denton Original
Prize Band
Established 1859
Re Organised
Under Public Control
Oct 27

The reverse of the cartouche is inscribed:

Mr. Albert Parke
June 7

Ceremonial mace, drum, and uniform from Denton Original Prize Band, 16 September 2007.
The whereabouts of the mace is now unknown.

Following the achievement of 1900, the band was rated as one of the best in Britain and it was in great demand. Its reputation as one of the leading bands in the Manchester area was maintained until the late 20th century.

Over the years, there was a Denton 'A' Band and a junior Denton 'B' Band but the 'A' Band became briefly known as the 'Oldham Battery Band' before changing again to the 'Denton Original Band', the word 'Prize' being dropped. It was briefly known as the Oldham Battery Band because this company had become its sponsors. The new venue of the band was the Oldham Batteries Sports & Social Club on Hyde Road but due to the industrial recession in the 1980s their sponsorship was withdrawn and the two bands were moved into the foyer at the Edward Street entrance of Oldham Batteries. This proved to be an unsatisfactory situation, so the 'A' Band moved into the building of the Co-op Bank on Amelia Street and the 'B' Band moved to Egerton Park School.

Notwithstanding this, disaster struck in 1993 when vandals caused a fire in the band room on Amelia Street and in so doing brought about the band's demise. Fortunately, the junior Denton 'B' Band was associated with the Original Prize Band and after this incident its name was changed to Crown Point Brass and it moved to Denton West End Working Men's Club on Grosvenor Street. This band made a sterling effort to keep going until March 1999 when Denton Brass was formed with premises at the Silver Springs Hotel on Ashton Road. This band is is successfully performing to the present day, their premises now being at Denton Library on Peel Street. The current Denton Brass can, therefore, trace its lineage through Crown Point Brass, Denton 'B' Band, Denton Original Prize Band and Denton Original Band to Baxendale's Band of 1859.