Re-opening of the Bandstand in Victoria Park June 21 2007

Photos kindly donated to the society by Peter Whitehead.

To the citizens of Denton, our bandstand is a very important structure and well deserves it status of a Grade II listed building.Over the years, it has been the means of providing a great deal of pleasure to many local people. Although its appearance and condition have varied between many successive bouts of renovation, it has always remained in regular service and in recent years, has contributed to the park's entry in the 'Britain in Bloom'competition.

Since, howevesthe veryfunction of the bandstand is to create a venue for the bands, its storycan-not be told without mention of the many bands which have played on it so7r the years.Although it was not built until the early 1900s, the need for a bandstand existed long before then.

Denton's very first band was formed in 1818 and began playing in public for various celebra-tions.The townspeople, and especially the hatter Joseph Howard, had subscribed generously to the appeal for funds. They were able to buy a set of instruments, music paper and instruction books for a grand total of 5210.The big drum was duly painted with the title 'Naughton & Denton Band'. Haughton, however, was at that time, a separate town and the Dentonians, who outnumbered the Haughtonians, objected to this and no the name was eventually changed to 'Denton & Haughton Band'. It was very popular and played for many years. Up until 1869, it led the Saint Lawrence's Sunday School Scholars'Walk at Whitsuntide.

But since 1859 it had a rival.This was the Baxendale's Band, named after their small factory at the top of Taylor Lane. As they went from strength to strength, they had to move their headquarters; first to the Bowling Green Inn and then to their own Band Institute on Ashton Road.They needed a new name and so they called themselves the Denton Original Band.Thisdistinguished it from the Denton & Haughton Band and indicated that it was the original 'all Denton bane As its popularity grew, it eventually eclipsed its old HAI. Its greatest achievement came in 1900 when it won £75 and the 'One Thousand Guinea Chaenge Cup' at Crystal Palace, having competed against entrants from all over Great Britain and the continent. There was much rejoicing in Denton at the time and this was the first band to play on our new bandstand in about 1908. The band had many assignments and a new custom started in 1900. Whenever a member left the band to go and fight for his country, he was given a great'send-offi He was marched from his home to Denton Station by the entire band and a procession of well-wishers. The band played patriotic marches and hundreds of people turned out to watch.

In the early 1900s, the hafting industries presented the band with a beautifully crafted mace which was proudly carried by the drum major when marching. The top of the mace was adorned with a model of a bowler hat to symbolize what Denton was famous for. Over the years, the mace led many processions but, alas, the mace is now lost.

By 1919, when they celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, they were meeting in a dining room at the Market Place but moved later to the King's Head and then in 1973 to Denton Cricket Club on Egerton Street. In 1979, following a fire in their bandroom, the band folded but from this, came the Crown Point Band and the Oldham Batteries Band. The latter name was derived from their venue which was Oldham Batteries'Sports and Social Club but,as some members came from the former band, it soon regained its title of the Denton Original Band. In the 19905, it again reformed and adopted the title of Denton Brass.This is still with us today and they practise in their room at the Silver Springs Hotel Ashton Road.

In addition to the local bands, many others from all parts of the UK have played on our bandstand over theyears, and still do.They cover alrypes,such as military bands and especially colliery bands. BeforeWorldWar II, brass band concerts tookplace there every Sunday aftemoon and evening during the summer months. Listening was free but there was a collection box there if anyone wanted to give anything. But people had to pay the park attendant if they sat down on the folding seats provided. Since there were no transistor radios or televisions in those days, these bands were popular with old and young alike as they provided virtually the only music most people ever heard. Every town was proud of its bandstand and almost every park had one.ln the 1920s,when my parents were in their teens,they regularly used to listen to the bands and dance to them. Thanks to Tameside Council, our popular bandstand has once again been restored to its former glory.The restoration work, which included repainting, re-roofing and new steps,was completed in spring 2007.Hopefully bands will continue to play there regularly throughout each summer.

Frank Brown.

Denton Local History Society