The Early Days
The Blackburn and Darwen Band can trace its roots to 1840, with the formation of the Darwen Temperance Band. This band was established on strict teetotal principles. In the event of breaking a pledge of abstinence a member had to pay a fine of 2s, 6d, for the first offence, for the second offence he would pay 5s and the third time he was expelled. How the band has changed over the years! It is believed that a couple of the founder members had to re-mortgage their own houses in order to buy their instruments.
At first the band had no rehearsal room and therefore they had to practise in various member's houses. Finally they were able to move to a bandroom in Foundry Street, Darwen.
Into the 1900's
In 1901 the band changed from the Darwen Temperance Band to Darwen Borough Prize Band. However, the exact reason is unknown. The band struggled to survive due to the effects of World War I. Local rivals Pickup Bank (formerly Hoddlesden Shepherds Brass band) gained the upper hand, partly due to backing from local firm Carus mills. Following World War II Hoddlesden also struggled to find players. In 1950 It was requested that both bands have a joint committee meeting to discuss the shortage of players. The conclusion was that both bands amalgamated to form the Darwen and Hoddlesden Silver band. In 1965 the Darwen British Legion offered the band the use of its premises for rehearsals. The band therefore became Darwen British Legion band.
Mike Cotter conducted in 1969 when the band went to the National Finals.
The greatest achievement as a Temperance band was in 1856, taking part in the National Finals at Crystal Palace.
Each of the band members had their railway fare paid by the Crystal Palace Company. These judges chose the best bands out of the sixty to play inside the Palace for the prizes, and Darwen Temperance were among the ones selected. Therefore not only the band but also Darwen as a whole was honoured. Each band had to choose its own pieces, and the Darwen Temperance Band played ‘Worthy is the Lamb,’ and ‘Amen’, from the ‘Messiah’. The Darweners were loudly applauded by the audience, but were sadly not successful in carrying off any prizes.
1970's to 1990's
In the early seventies the band changed its name to Darwen band, and under this name had its greatest success. In 1979 the band won the 4th Section National Finals in London and quickly progressed through the 3rd and 2nd sections to achieve Championship status in 1984. All this was under the musical direction of Gordon Clough who conducted the band from 1977 - 1985. Our finest result under Gordon was a magnificent 4th place in the Championship Section of the North West Area National Qualifying Contest.
Alec Evans, the resident conductor at Besses o'th Barn band at that time, then joined us and led us to our finest victory to date: 1987 Grand Shield Winners, beating Swinton under renowned conductor David King by 3 clear points!
In 1986 the band secured support from Blackburn council and was consequently renamed the Blackburn & Darwen Band. In 1991 under conductor John Anderson, the band won three contests on the trot and qualified for the National Finals in London (2nd section), finishing in 6th place.
In 1994 under the direction of Paul Dalton the band once again qualified for the National Finals, achieving 6th place.
More Recent History
Appointment of Musical Director, Nick Sheppard. The band need to finish in the top 6 at the Regional Championships in order to stay in the first section, and finish....6th!
After finishing 3rd at the Regional Championships, the band are promoted to the Championship Section – quite a turnaround from the previous year! Achievement of the best result on the contest stage for some time by finishing 2nd out of 26 bands at Pontins, playing Lorenzo . The band play at the Reebok Stadium for Amir Khan’s fight with Mario Kindelan
The band have the honour of playing for Her Majesty the Queen during a visit to Blackburn.
•The band’s website wins the ‘website of the month’ award from Brass Band Website TheMouthpiece.com.
•2nd Place at the North West Regional Championships means a place at the National Finals for the first time in 14 years.
•1st place at the inaugural Hebden Bridge March & Hymn Tune Contest.
• 5th place at the National Finals in Harrogate.
• B & D Quartet win the Scottish Open
• Butlins First Section Champions
• Another 2nd place at the North West Regional Championships
• Pontins First Section Champions
After a brief spell in the first section the band returned to the Championship section after being crowned Pontins and Butlins first section champions. In 2010 the band were also crowned Brass at the Guild Champions. The band travelled to Scotland for the Land of Burns entertainment contest and were awarded 3rd place. Also in 2010 the band were promoted to the Senior Cup after another being placed 3rd out of 20 bands. Early in 2014 the band were once again placed 3rd at the Brass at the Guild contest and after which came the the sad departure of Nick Sheppard after 10 years with the band. Huw Thomas conducted the band at the NW area where we were placed a very creditable 5th.