A popular band is celebrating 125 years of hitting the right note with the community – surviving two world wars and countless changes along the way.
Today the Loxley Silver Band can be found belting out a whole spectrum of musical genres during its rehearsals at Stanwood Methodist Church in Stannington, Sheffield... but this has not always been the case.
Way back in 1889 when the band was first established it was called the Loxley Wesleyan Methodist Church Band and would play traditional music during practice at Loxley Methodist Church.
For many years the band could be seen and heard throughout the local community and especially at the annual Whitsuntide march down to Hillsborough. The ‘Whit March’ came to an end but the band continued, bearing different names throughout the years, including Loxley Wesleyan Brass Band, Loxley Methodist Silver Band and Loxley Silver Prize Band, up until the present day Loxley Silver Band.
Impressively the musical group has gone from strength-to-strength and managed to maintain playing since 1889 without a break, even during the First and Second World Wars.
“The commitment of the band’s members has been sensational,” said Lee Dunkley, musical director of Loxley Silver Band.
“All have always found time to fit in personal practice and to come together as a band, which has to be applauded.
“Our longest serving member, Derrick Garner, joined the band aged 13 and played for an impressive 74 years, only recently stopping due to his health. We believe he is the longest serving band member in the country.”
Lee joined the band two years ago and has since helped to steer the musicians in a new direction, taking them out of the ‘brass band box’.
“When I arrived the band had been playing the same songs for many years so I introduced new genres that would appeal to all ages and have tried to bring new blood into the group,” he said.
“We now have members aged 12 to 85 who play everything from traditional music to The Beatles and modern day bands like Coldplay.
“As well as playing our usual concerts and at events, such as birthdays and garden parties, we’re involved in some exciting new projects which are unusual for brass bands.”
One of the most notable projects for Loxley band is a collaboration with high-energy folk/rock band Love Street.
The brass band play arrangements on the rockers’ latest single Susanna, which is a dedication to fallen war heroes.
It was inspired after Love Street’s lead singer, Julian Clarke, who is originally from Sheffield, paid an emotional visit to the Sheffield Pals memorial on The Somme and decided to pay homage to those who lost their lives.
The digital download of Susanna was released ahead of Remembrance Day and will be officially released in December.
“Being involved with something like this is totally new ground for us and takes us out of the box people think brass bands live in,” said Lee. “We have become a much more dynamic and forward-thinking band.
“In December we will perform at the launch of the single at the Eden Project in Cornwall and we’ll also be heading to London in the new year to help promote the single, which is very exciting. There are several other interesting projects in the pipeline. I’m currently in talks with some American film composers, although it’s early days.”
But as well as success, the band has endured some difficulties over the decades.
The most recent blow to the musicians came when a decision was made to sell Loxley Methodist Church – the band’s rehearsal home for 122 years.
Stuart Young, acting secretary of Loxley Silver Band, said: “We have had our share of ups and downs over the years but losing our home was most disconcerting.
“Thankfully the church did manage to find us alternative rehearsal accommodation at the neighbouring Stanwood Methodist Church which is actually better for us – every cloud has a silver lining, as they say.”
Happy in its new surroundings, Loxley Silver Band has become a registered 4th Section band and hopes to climb further through the ranks, following contests governed by the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association.
Its members celebrated their 125th anniversary with a sell-out concert at Low Bradfield’s village hall and are set to release their first CD, titled ‘Impressions’, to mark the incredible milestone.
“The joy and smiles that the band bring to people’s faces is amazing,” added Lee. “I hope it will continue for the next 125 years.”
New members are welcome to join the Loxley Silver Band. There is a senior and a training band which rehearse on Monday and Thursday evenings from 7.45pm to 9.30pm at Stanwood Methodist Church.