Black Dyke Band

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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. It originated as multiple community bands founded by John Foster at his family's textile mill in Queensbury, West Yorkshire in the mid-19th century. The ensemble has become prominent in competitive band championships and through recordings for film and television.

The band is well-known for recording the soundtrack to the BBC gardening makeover series Ground Force in 1997, and appeared in the Christmas edition of Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies in 1999. In 1998, they played on the Academy Award-nominated song "That'll Do" from Babe: Pig in the City. They have featured on recordings and live appearances by acts including the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Tori Amos. 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 thirteen times, most recently in 2015.[3]


Black Dyke Mills

The band 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.[4] 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.[5] They were also voted BBC Band of the Year.[6]

They appeared in an episode of Victoria Wood's dinnerladies sitcom in 1999.[7]

European Championships[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, Netherlands Dr Nicholas Childs
2012 Rotterdam, Netherlands Dr Nicholas Childs
2015 Freiburg, Germany Prof 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 London Weekend 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.[8] 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.[9]


The band performing at the KKL Luzern World Band Festival in 2012

The principals of the band's current line up include:[10]

  • Soprano cornet: Connor Lennon
  • Principal cornet: Richard Marshall[11]
  • Flugelhorn: Zoe Hancock[12]
  • Solo horn: Siobhan Bates[13]
  • Solo baritone: Katrina Marzella[14]
  • Solo trombone: Brett Baker[15]
  • Bass trombone: Adam Reed
  • Solo euphonium: Daniel Thomas[16]
  • Solo E bass: Gavin Saynor
  • Solo B bass: Matthew Routley
  • Drums and Percussion: Logan Thompson

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]

Former members[edit]


  1. ^ "Report & Results: 2014 National Championships of Great Britain". 11 October 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Report & Results: 2014 British Open Championship". 7 September 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Report & Results: 2015 European Championship". 2 May 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Black Dyke Band – A Brief History". Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  5. ^ Hutchinson, Charles (15 March 2016). "Black Dyke Band to play Pocklington for first time, but hurry, tickets are selling fast for April 3 concert". York Press. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Classic LPs – the 1980s". 10 April 2008. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Black Dyke Band". Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Thingumybob". Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Acoustic Treatment for the Black Dyke Band". 23 September 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Band Members | Black Dyke Band". Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Marshall takes over at Dyke". Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Major changes at Black Dyke". 2 November 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Bates confirmed as new Black Dyke solo horn". 21 June 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Marzella heads to Black Dyke". 7 December 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Baker returns to Queensbury". 2 December 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Thomas takes Black Dyke euphonium role". 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  17. ^ Wainwright, Martin (3 July 2000). "A black day at Black Dyke as bandmaster quits". The
  18. ^ "PLC takes early retirement". 18 February 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Dr Nicholas Childs". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011.

External links[edit]