TUNEFUL: Barnard Castle Band preparing for a busy season of engagements starting with a fundraising gig at The Witham
TUNEFUL: Barnard Castle Band preparing for a busy season of engagements starting with a fundraising gig at The Witham

A HISTORIC brass band in the midst of a resurgence of popularity is lending its support to a community arts venue by performing a concert to raise funds.

Barnard Castle Band, which was formed more than 160 years ago, will be playing a variety of numbers, some of which are sure to have audience feet tapping at The Witham on Saturday, February 8 at 7.30pm. The 32-strong ensemble, which was reformed in 1974 after a seven-year break, has found its popularity growing with new members joining and more requests for concerts.

Conductor Andrew Nicholson said: “We are increasing the number of gigs we play as people are hearing more and more about the band. The more we are out there playing, the more people are wanting us to play.”

Mr Nicholson was tight-lipped about the playlist for the concert on February 8, but he promised there will be something for everyone’s tastes with some old favourites and some new additions including Hey Jude, Bear Necessities and the Pirates of the Caribbean.

“I’m trying to include all five solo pieces during the concert.

“One for cornet, tenor horn, euphonium base and hopefully trombone,” he added.

Over the years there have been several name changes for the group, which started as Barnard Castle Subscription Band because new instruments were purchased by public subscription. Over the years “subscription” was dropped in favour of “volunteer”, “silver” and “brass”. However, now it is simply Barnard Castle Band.

Band members have also opted for smart, black attire rather than the costly gold trimmed uniforms of days gone by.

However, one area that may have to be addressed is the band’s formation date, which has been called into question by secretary Bert Chidzey, who has been delving into historical archives.

He said: “On our logo it states 1860, but I’ve been doing some digging on the Teesdale Mercury Archives and I’ve found out that the band got together much earlier. Apparently Barnard Castle Subscription Band played when the foundation stone was laid for Whorlton Bridge in 1839.”

The band meets once a week for practice at Glaxo Sports and Social Club and has members ranging from 12 years to 70 but is always on the look out for more to join the fold.

The Witham’s marketing manager, Sarah Gent, said: “Barney Band are a friendly group of enthusiastic, talented musicians who are kindly donating their time to support the Investing in The Witham campaign.

“We can’t wait for the concert and the team at The Witham wish to thank every member of the band for giving their time and talents.

“We hope you’ll come along and enjoy a great night of live music by our wonderful local band.”

Tickets for the fundraising concert cost £10 for adults and £5 for children under 16. They are available to purchase at The Witham in Barnard Castle.