Brass Band Evolution


Brass bands - how did it all start?

For centuries, music has been an important part of British life. From the traditional folk songs of the 1700s to today’s chart-toppers, music is a key part of our culture and way of life. And while there are many different styles of music that are popular in Britain, few can compete with the popularity of brass bands.

Whether you live in a small town or big city, there’s a high probability you will have come across a brass band performing at some point in your life. With their bright red uniforms, energetic performances and catchy tunes, it’s no wonder that brass bands are still so popular today!

However: where did they come from? What was the history behind these amazing groups? Let’s take a look at the history of Brass Bands in Britain.

What is a Brass Band?

A brass band is a musical ensemble that uses horns and/or trumpets as its main instruments. They are often used as marching bands at sporting events, as well as in other celebratory occasions and they usually include a percussion section, a cornet section and a trombone section. The cornet section often consists of cornets, baritone cornets and alto horns. The trombone section usually consists of tenor trombones and bass trombones, while the percussion instruments often include snare drums, bass drums, cymbals and a drum kit.

In Britain, the term ‘brass band’ usually refers to a type of ensemble that is usually associated, by many, with the 19th century and the Victorian era.

Introduction: The Unique Needs of Brass Bands

When you're part of a brass band, you know the lifestyle isn't just about performing. It involves travelling to gigs, rehearsals, and sometimes, transporting instruments and equipment. This is where getting short period car insurance becomes relevant. This type of insurance is especially helpful for brass bands, particularly when travelling to performances or tours that might only last a few days or weeks. The beauty of it is that you can compare and buy policies online, saving time and possibly money by finding the most competitive deals that suit your specific requirements.

Why Do Brass Bands Need Specialised Insurance?

Transporting expensive instruments from one location to another isn't like carrying regular luggage. These are valuable, sometimes irreplaceable, items that need special attention. It's not just about potential accidents on the road; it's about the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're protected from financial loss, should anything go wrong.

The Flexibility of Short Term Policies

One of the key benefits of short term car insurance is its flexibility. Brass bands often have varying schedules, with busy periods followed by quiet times. Unlike standard insurance, which covers a full year, short term car insurance can match your active periods, ensuring you're not paying for insurance you don't need.

Understanding What's Included in Your Policy

When comparing quotes online, it's essential to understand exactly what each policy offers. Most basic plans should include liability for injuries to others (including passengers), damage to property, and liability while towing a trailer or caravan. Additionally, look for policies offering:

  • Theft protection, especially when instruments are stored in the vehicle.
  • Accidental damage cover, ensuring instruments and equipment are covered in transit.
  • Windscreen repair, which can be particularly handy on those longer journeys.

The exact nature of the cover will vary between policies, so it’s important to check these details when you receive your online quotes.

Getting Additional Drivers on Board

With bands often sharing driving duties whilst on the road, a policy that allows you to add extra drivers temporarily is beneficial. This shared responsibility means that everyone can get some rest, especially during those longer tours. Many insurers provide the option of adding an additional driver for a short period, and this can usually be arranged at the time of buying your insurance.

Transporting Equipment: The Extra Layer of Complexity

Brass instruments and the related sound equipment are not only expensive but also quite sensitive to handling. This means they require an additional layer of protection. When getting your insurance, it would be wise to ensure that any policy under consideration covers the actual value of the instruments and equipment being transported.

Furthermore, because accidents happen, it's advisable to consider a policy that covers accidental damage or loss of instruments, both within the car and during transport from the car to the performance venue. This ensures that the band's investment in their instruments is well protected.

How Temporary Car Insurance Works with Your Existing Policy

One common concern is how buying short term car insurance affects any existing annual policy on the vehicle. The good news is, it doesn't! Temporary insurance operates independently of any other insurance cover you might have. This means the vehicle can be insured by the owner, and another person can insure themselves to drive the same car, without affecting the no-claims bonus of the original policy.

Comparing Quotes Online: The Convenient Way Forward

Thanks to the digital age, brass bands can simplify the process of finding and buying short term car insurance. There's no need to spend hours on the phone or visiting brokers in person. Instead, you can compare quotes online, finding a policy that fits your needs at the most competitive price.

By comparing policies side by side, you can assess the benefits, costs, and terms without any pressure. The key is to take your time reading through the policy details, ensuring there are no surprises about what is and isn't covered.

Concluding Thoughts

The life of a brass band on the road is exciting, but it comes with its responsibilities. Making sure that everyone, including your precious instruments and equipment, gets from point A to point B safely is one of them. Short term car insurance can provide the cover you need, precisely when you need it, without forcing you into long-term commitments. So, the next time your band is gearing up for a tour, consider the practicality and peace of mind that comes from having suitable insurance cover in place.

What Were The Roots of Brass Bands in Britain?

There are many different styles of music that have been popular in Britain throughout the years, from folk music to rock and roll, and even, now, electronic dance music. However, few can compete with the popularity of brass bands. This musical form has been a key part of British life for centuries, and while the music has evolved, it has remained popular to this day.

The history of brass bands in Britain dates back to the late 1700s, when brass instruments were first used in orchestras. By the 1840s, they had evolved into the form we know today, with the first marching band being created as early as 1850.

The first brass band may have been formed in Yorkshire in 1819, followed by a few more in the industrial areas of Britain during the mid-1800s. They came into their own during the Industrial Revolution, when they were used to create a sense of community during a time of great change and uncertainty. They quickly gained popularity and spread across the country, with the first competitions being held in the 1860s.

By the late 1800s, brass bands were incredibly popular, with thousands of people across Britain joining bands each year. At this time, brass bands were seen as a cultural symbol of the working class, many of whom played a musical instrument.

The Edwardian Era: 1900–1910

The Edwardian Era saw the popularity of brass bands at their peak. The decade began with the coronation of King Edward VII, and ended with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. During this time, brass bands were a key part of British culture and were found in almost every town and city across the country. The most popular time for brass bands was around Christmas, when they would perform carols to celebrate the festive season.

As we move through the Edwardian era, we see a period of great change for the brass band movement. In 1902, the National Brass Band Championships were first held in London, attracting a huge crowd. This event marked the start of a period of high growth in popularity and membership, increasingly amongst the working-class. And as membership grew, so did the demand for instruments. This led to a huge increase in the number of brass band instrument manufacturers. As more people saw the benefits of brass band membership, the movement continued to grow.

The 1920s and 1930s: Jazz Bands and Depression

As we move into the 1920s and 1930s, we see the start of a period of great change for the brass band movement. With the onset of the First World War, many bands were forced to put their musical activities on hold. But, after the war, many of these bands were able to resume playing. As the years went by, the popularity of brass bands continued to grow. And, with growing popularity came greater demand. By the 1930s, the number of brass bands in Britain had increased to over 10,000. But, just as the brass band movement seemed to be at its peak, the Edwardian era came to an end.

As time went on, the popularity of brass bands in Britain started to decline. This is thought to be due to the popularity of jazz music, which was a more modern form of music. Jazz music became so popular during this time period that it is often referred to as the “swinging twenties.” Many brass bands switched to playing jazz music instead of traditional brass band music in order to remain relevant. However, even though many brass bands switched to playing jazz, the public’s love for brass bands never faded away completely.

With the start of the Second World War in 1939, brass band members were forced to put their musical activities on hold once again. This time, many bands never resumed playing.

1940-1990: World War, Recovery, and Rebirth

During World War II, many brass bands were put on hold, or sometimes even disbanded. Many musicians joined the armed forces, while others were involved in the war effort. Some bands even went to war with the British Army, performing to boost the morale of soldiers.

After the war, many bands attempted to rebuild their careers, but it wasn’t long until Britain was hit by another crisis. The economic downturn of the 1970s led to mass unemployment, with millions of people once again being forced to live in reduced circumstances. This once again saw the decline of brass bands in Britain, with many bands once again being forced to disband. Those that managed to survive had to find new ways to make money. Some bands began to play at folk festivals, while others started to play music for the elderly and disabled.

At this point, there were only a few bands left, but they went on to regain the popularity that they had before the war. Many new brass bands were formed during this time period and they became extremely popular once again. Some of the most famous bands of the time included the Black Dyke Mills Band, the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, the Foden's Motor Works Band, and many others.


After centuries of being a core part of British culture, it’s clear that brass bands will continue to be loved by the public for many years to come. These musical groups have evolved over time, but the core concept – a combination of brass instruments and percussion – has remained the same throughout the years. While many brass bands have come and gone over the years, there are still many that remain incredibly popular today.

Like many aspects of British culture, brass bands are often associated with traditional and nostalgic notions. They are a reminder of a bygone era. And, with their bright red uniforms and energetic performances, it’s no wonder that brass bands are still so popular today!