Robert Coxon and Backworth Colliery Band

Backworth Colliery Band early 1900s in front of Queen Victoria statue, Tynemouth, with Robert Coxon arrowed

We were invited to play during brunch at Guyzance Hall in Northumberland as part of the 70th birthday celebrations of Robert Coxon. Robert’s family come from Backworth and he was very keen to have the band play as his great grandfather and grandfather, both also Robert Coxon, played with the band.

Robert had prepared a display for his family to see featuring a photo of the band from 1900 that included his great grandfather. It is entirely possible that he was a founder member of the band back in 1886!

It was a lovely event and wonderful to meet Robert and re-connect with the Coxon family. Our MD Colin invited Robert up to conduct the band for “Blaydon Races” (he did a vert good job keeping time at a good tempo).

Our first set was mostly backgound music as people ate and chatted, but our second set turned into a mini concert, as the brunch had been consumed and the guests all sat and listened intently!

We played a selection of pieces that have gone down well over the year including “Sweet Gingerbread Man”, “Buster Strikes Back”, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”, “Gresford”, “Two British Folk Songs”, “Fairytale”, “Clog Dance, “Lord of the Dance”, “Pink Panther”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Misty”, “Time to Say Goodbye”, “La Vie en Rose and Wonderful Life” “Reet Petite”. Plus of course “Happy Birthday”.

Brass Showcase concert

Our annual concert this year was a Showcase event featuring our senior band, training band and children, tutors and teachers from the North Tyneside Brass in Schools project.

The senior band opened the show with a 30 minute set. This was followed by some of the children and a teacher from Brass in Schools plus the children from our training band playing 3 short pieces “Join the Band”, “Rock Around the Clock” and “Jingle Bells”.

After the raffle, the training band started the second half, followed by the senior band and finally a combined band played “La Paloma” together.

It was great to hear so many children playing brass instruments, and a large training band of children and adults tackling a challenging and extensive programme. They all did fantastically well, and their leaders and tutors should be very proud!

St Johns Church in Killingworth kindly hosted the event, so a huge thanks to Rev David Gray and everyone at the Church for making us so welcome, and thanks to our own Nikita who has recently moved near the church and did an immense amount of work preparing and organising the event. Thanks also to Gillian for doing a great job leading the training band, to Natalie, Nicola and Gavin for their work with the Schools, and to Colin for leading the senior band with such energy, fun and direction as well as writing great arrangements and compering the whole event!

Another busy year

The band has had another busy year so far and it is set to be even busier in the run up to Christmas.

We led the Tyne and Wear May Day Parade again from the Newcastle Central Library up Northumberland Street past the crowds of Saturday shoppers, pausing by the Haymarket to play Gresford the miners hymn, then onto Exhibition Park to play the parade into the park before the speeches and music got underway.

The next morning we accompanied the hymns at the Workers Memorial Service at St Johns Church Killingworth, in the presence of the elected Mayor and local councillors and a packed congregation.

In June we led the Seghill Gala parade and played an outdoor concert on the field at Seghill Rugby Club. Actually the parade was led by a lovely pony with the band close behind! Then we were off to the Whit Friday contests in Tameside, staying overnight before returning via York where some of the band stopped off to board an open top bus and lead the York Pride march the next day!

July started with band members helping lead Backworth Park Primary School children on the long route to the Shiremoor Treat field. 2 children and 2 teachers from the Backworth Park Primary brass group joined us and played their own “Big Foot Stomp” to start and end the parade!

The next week saw the traditional Durham Miners Gala parades, starting at 7:30 in the morning through Eppleton and Hetton then on the coach into Durham City to join the huge crowds at the Gala itself. We arrived earlier than usual, about 8:30, and moved very quickly through the streets to play a beautiful, extended version of Gresford outside the County Hotel and onto the gala field by 9:40! After a day enjoying the other bands and banners, listening to the speeches or just enjoying a pint or two, we led the Eppleton Colliery banner back to the Market Square for a final rendition of Gresford.

August brought our annual trip to Dalston in Cumbria (see earlier report) and a bank holiday Monday visit to the bandstand at Beamish Museum.

In Sept we played a concert in the Hall at Belsay Hall and Gardens. This is usually an outdoor event but the inclement weather forced us inside, thankfully! And for the first time, we led the Washington Carnival into Albany Park, although again we didn’t actually lead the march as a convey of bikers went ahead of us – we gave them plenty of room to avoid the noise and fumes!

Our only event in October was our very own Oktoberfest at Backworth Social Club. We love playing this type of music, and it’s a shame we don’t get invited to play at other Oktoberfest events! We’re hoping Stonehaugh’s event will be back on next year!

At the start of November we took part in the Remembrance Service and Concert held annually at St Andrews Church, Gallowgate in Newcastle. Ben took on the job of playing the Last Post and Reveille this year putting his considerable bugle experience to very good effect. The next evening we made the long journey up the A1 north to Berwick to play a concert for the North Northumberland Scouts. We played this event last year, stepping in at short notice to fill a gap left by another band that had cancelled on them. They must have liked us enough to invite us back! The next Sunday we led the Remembrance Parade through Forest Hall to St Bartholomew’s churchyard where young Matthew did a great job playing the Last Post and Reveille, while 2 of our other cornet players were away doing the same job at other Remembrance events in the area.

Dalston Festival

We had another great night out at the Dalston Festival in August. Although it’s long trip for the band, it’s also one of the highlights of the year.

You can hear some of the numbers on our YouTube channel

Regional Contest 2017

The band once again has performed at The North of England Regional Brass Band contest held at the Durham Gala Theatre for the third year, over the weekend 11-12th March, and it was another very successful and enjoyable event.

An overall great performance, and we were very happy with the placing, finishing a credible 7th out of 9 bands in the 3rd Section, allowing us to remain in the 3rd Section for another year.

The test piece for our section was Darkwood by Daniel Price. You can hear a recording of the band playing the piece in rehearsal a few days before the contest, on Soundcloud: Click here


A very busy Christmas


As usual we were in demand during December in the run up to Christmas. Starting with a busk playing carols at Chevy Chase, Eldon Square on Sat Dec 3rd, then our own Christmas Concert on Dec 10th (see previous post) followed by a return to the Church of the Holy Nativity at Chapel House for a Christmas Concert on Sunday Dec 11th, with solos from Phil Coleman (Frosty the Snowman) and others.

It was a great night, but sadly the last appearance from our flugelhorn player Chantal Noppen who is leaving as her job and marriage mean she no longer has time to attend rehearsals.

More busks playing carols at ASDA, Benton on Thursday 15th Dec and again at Eldon Square on Sat Dec 17th.

The Friday night (16th) found us with the training band at Earsdon playing carols outside the Cannon pub, followed by carols at Backworth Village Hall later the same evening. There was a special appearance from 3 girls from the Backworth Park Primary School brass group who very bravely played some simplified versions of Away in a Manger and Carol of the Drum.

On Sunday (18th) we were playing at the Hope City Church carol service and Monday (19th) we were playing carols in Pennywell at a community event raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. It was great to be invited back after we missed both events last year!

Finally on Tuesday (19th) we made our annual trip to Allendale for Carols in the Square.

Happy Christmas and all the best for 2017!


Geoff Grice celebrates 50 years in the band

Congratulations to Geoff Grice who has been a member of Backworth Colliery Band for over 50 years. Geoff joined the RAF as a teenager and after many years service including as a bandsman, left to become a teacher in Wallsend. When someone from the band came to the school in 1965 to recruit players, Geoff signed up!

Geoff loves jazz music and has played both trumpet and cornet to a very high standard. Geoff and his wife Cath were guests of honour at our Christmas concert at Backworth Club on Saturday Dec 10th.

We wish them all the very best in his retirement, although a return to the band is not ruled out!

Training Band Concert

Congratulations to our training members who put on an excellent show at Backworth Club on Nov 25th. It was especially impressive that the band managed to put on a full programme of music that included solos from Alison (“Ben”), Amy on trombone (“I don’t know how to love him”), Matthew on cornet (“Unchained melody”) and Hannah on baritone (“A whole new world”).

As Hannah posted on our Facebook page:
“Fantastic concert tonight. Well done everyone and thank you to all of the senior band who came to help out.
We raised over £40 for the band which is fantastic.
A massive well done to all our soloists and Catherine Mackenzie for all her amazing work keeping us together!
The next training band will be a week on Friday (9th Dec 6:30pm at Backworth Club). Come along if you have been inspired!”


October wouldn’t be October without a good old Oktoberfest! Backworth Club was transported to Bavaria for the night on Oct 8th when the band put on a very enjoyable concert of German and other great music, such as Radetsky March, Applepie Polka, Ein Prosit, Happy Wanderer, Tritsch Tratsch polka (made famous by James Last no less!), Edelweiss, etc. Ok, “Hey Baby” isn’t exactly traditional German music but apparently it’s one of the most popular songs in Munich beer halls at this time of year, and went down very well in Backworth as well!

Unfortunately the Stonehaugh Oktoberfest was cancelled this year, but we hope they are able to host another one next year, because the last 2 have been amazing raucous events and we were looking forward to it!

In total contrast, we finished October playing at the Remembrance Service and Concert at St Andrews Church in Newcastle. Always a great pleasure as well as a sombre occasion as we remember all those who have lost their lives or suffered as a result of conflicts around the world. After the Service of Remembrance the mood lifted as we celebrated their memory and our lives today with music and song. The girls of Newcastle High School and the Gosforth Community Choir also entertained the audience, and together we performed the traditional Evening Hymn and Sunset to close the event. A special mention to the organiser and MC Sydney Graham who’s wife very sadly passed away just days before the event. Our condolences to Sydney and all his family.

Footnote: just before October, we closed the bandstand in Northumberland Park, North Shields at the end of September, hopefully not for ever just for the summer season of music in the park!

Berwick Scouts and Belsay Hall

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We made the long trip to Berwick on Friday 16th Sept to play at North Northumberland Scout’s fund raising concert, and received a very warm welcome as the original band booked had pulled out and we stepped in at short notice.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Benny’s solo of Georgia on My Mind. Benny is a very talented young musician with a bright future ahead of him.

Benny repeated his performance at Belsay Hall 2 days later on Sunday 18th Sept. In fact he played it twice, as his mother came to hear him play but got caught in traffic and missed it. No problem, flexible as ever, we simply asked Benny to play it again in the second set!

Other solo performances were given by Adrian on Euphonium with the Blaydon Races and Gavin on Bass Trombone with Wandering Star.

You can see many of the performances from Berwick on our You Tube channel.