Black Dyke Band

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For the defensive ditch in Wales, see Clawdd-du.
Picture sleeve for the Thingumybob single, Apple 4

Black Dyke Band, formerly John Foster & Son Black Dyke Mills Band, is one of the oldest and best-known brass bands in the world. The band has won many prizes and competitions over the years. In 2014, the band won the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain for a record 23rd time,[1] and the British Open Championship for another record 30th time.[2] They have also won the European Championships a record twelve times, most recently in 2012.


Black Dyke Mills

It was formerly the band of the Black Dyke Mills in Queensbury, West Yorkshire, England, a company owned by John Foster. Foster, a French horn player, joined with others in a small brass and reed band in Queensbury in 1816.[3] This band faltered, and another band formed - called the Queenshead Band - which consisted of 18 musicians around 1843. This second band also faltered, but in 1855, Foster and other musicians established the new mill band, and outfitted it with uniforms made from the mill's own cloth. Most of the musicians in the band also worked at the mill, and a close bond was fostered with the local community. The band has remained active since that time, and still rehearses in its original rooms.

Black Dyke was the first band to achieve the "Grand Slam" in 1985 by winning the Yorkshire regional, European, British Open and National Championship contests.[4] They were also voted BBC Band of the Year.[5]

European Champion[edit]

Year City Conductor
1978 London, England Major Peter Parkes
1979 London, England Major Peter Parkes
1982 London, England Major Peter Parkes
1983 Kerkrade, Netherlands Major Peter Parkes
1984 Edinburgh, Scotland Major Peter Parkes
1985 Copenhagen, Denmark Major Peter Parkes
1987 Nottingham, England Major Peter Parkes
1990 Falkirk, Scotland David King
1991 Rotterdam, Netherlands David King
1995 Luxembourg, Luxembourg James Watson
2005 Groningen, Pays-Bas Dr Nicholas Childs
2012 Rotterdam, Pays-bas Dr Nicholas Childs


Black Dyke Band has made over 350 recordings, including one of the first brass band recordings in 1904 and classical music. It has recorded with classical bass trombonist Douglas Yeo, and pop acts Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel and The Beautiful South. The band also worked with Gabriel on the highly acclaimed Millennium Show, featured in the Millennium Dome, as well as recording the music for the BBC programme Ground Force.

In September 1968, the band released a single on The BeatlesApple Records label. The A-side was an instrumental composed by Lennon–McCartney called "Thingumybob" (the theme to a Yorkshire Television sitcom of the same name starring Stanley Holloway). The flipside was a brass band instrumental version of another Lennon–McCartney song, "Yellow Submarine". The single was released under the name John Foster & Son Ltd Black Dyke Mills Band, produced by McCartney, and was one of the first four singles issued on the Apple label.[6] In 1979, the Black Dyke Mills Band worked again with McCartney on a track for the Wings album Back to the Egg.

In August 2009, the band undertook a tour of Australia with multi-instrumentalist James Morrison which culminated in a concert at the Sydney Opera House.[7]

Notable members[edit]

The principals of the band's current line up include:[8]

  • Soprano Cornet: Benjamin Richeton [9]
  • Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall [10]
  • Flugel Horn: Zoe Hancock [11]
  • Solo Horn: Jonathan Bates [12]
  • Solo Baritone: Katrina Marzella [13]
  • Solo Trombone: Chris Binns [14]
  • Bass Trombone: Adrian Hirst
  • Solo Euphonium: Gary Curtin [15]
  • Solo Eb Bass: Ben Dixon [16]
  • Solo Bb Bass: Matthew Routley

The band's current Principal Conductor and Director of Music is the Welsh euphonium virtuoso, Prof. Nicholas Childs. His predecessor was trumpet player James Watson.[17]

Paul Lovatt-Cooper was the band's Composer in Association and former principal percussionist. He retired from playing in early 2011 in order to concentrate on his teaching, conducting and composition.[18]

Black Dyke Band is the brass band in residence at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and Childs also conducts the RNCM Brass Band.[19]


  1. ^ Report & Results: 2014 National Championships of Great Britain
  2. ^ Report & Results: 2014 British Open Championship
  3. ^ Black Dyke Band - A Brief History
  4. ^ Black Dyke Grand Slam - 25 years on 12 July 2010
  5. ^ Classic LPs - the 1980s 10 April 2008
  6. ^ Thingumybob
  7. ^ Black Dyke Band with James Morrison 11 August 2009
  8. ^ Black Dyke Band member page
  9. ^ Dyke add new sop and tuba to Queensbury ranks
  10. ^ Marshall takes over at Dyke
  11. ^ Major changes at Black Dyke
  12. ^ Bates takes solo horn spot at Dyke
  13. ^ Marzella heads to Black Dyke
  14. ^ Dyke announce Binns appointment
  15. ^ More changes announced at Black Dyke
  16. ^ Dixon decides on Dyke tuba lead
  17. ^ A Black Day At Black Dyke As Bandmaster Quits 3 July 2000
  18. ^ PLC Takes Early Retirement 18 February 2011
  19. ^ Dr Nicholas Childs

External links[edit]