The Markham Main Colliery St. John’s Ambulance Brigade formed a band in 1924, purchasing a set of second hand instruments with which to start. By 1929 a new set of Besson instruments was purchased and the first contest entered the result being 3rd prize.

1936 saw the installation of Mr Edwin Griffiths as Bandmaster and the start of a youth programme to build the band with local people.

During the war the band continued and by the end of the war 75% of the band had been taught by the Bandmaster. By 1947 the band was quite successful, winning 16 prizes in the second section and the ladies’ section of the band collected clothing coupons enabling a new set of uniforms to be purchased.

Another important factor at this time was that a weekly contribution of 1/2d was granted from the local Branch of the National Mineworkers Union, a kind of sponsorship in today’s terminology. This is one of the reasons to keep the name and Heritage of Markham Main Colliery Band alive and active.

The Bandmaster, Edwin Griffiths and his three sons as well as three generations of the Smith family and two members from the Heaton family made Markham very much a village band and it grew and became successful moving up to the Championship section.

The band had its own band room within the colliery grounds but required larger rehearsal premises as the numbers grew and the percussion section expanded. Rehearsals moved into the Ambulance Brigade Hall offering more room and better acoustics.

In the late 50s Haydn Griffiths took over as Bandmaster from his father and whilst still recruiting from local schools it was realised that importing players from further afield was necessary as the Championship section became more competitive. This also led to the introduction of professional conductors for the contest season. One of the most successful with Markham was Walter Hargreaves who was, at the time, Cornet professor with the Royal Marines in Deal.

This opened up a whole new way of looking at how Brass Bands sounded, Walter was from a Wind Band and therefore introduced a different perspective on traditional music. This new insight enabled Markham to win the first ever Brass Band contest on the radio, Challenging Brass in 1962, beating Crossley Carpets in the final at Huddersfield Town Hall.

There were many accolades over this period including playing at the National Finals in the Albert Hall. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to last as the resident Bandmaster left, setting up another band using all the youth from local schools. This in turn starved Markham of local talent for what has been over 50 years.

From the mid 60s the band has steadily dropped down the rankings to now being a non-competing band. Over this period a series of dedicated people have kept the band going through some very difficult times but it has persevered and is now in a growth stage of its life concentrating on producing music for both the players and audiences alike.

So, to the present time. Markham is a progressive, non-contesting band with a very busy concert season and with help from some friends we do put on an enjoyable programme that is audience led. As said earlier we intend to stay as Markham Main Colliery Band as a show of respect for the miners that have supported the band over many years and it is part of the village of Armthorpe’s heritage.

Join the Band

If you are reading this and are a brass player or know a brass player, why not come along and join us so that Markham Main Colliery Band can grow and keep the memories going as a tribute to all that have helped or played with us. Contact us →