Recording centenary for Wingates

Sounds of a Century - Wingates Band has reached a milestone in recording history. David Thornton, a former Principal Euphonium of the band, brings the background

1915. A year that saw the birth of Sir Stanley Matthews and Frank Sinatra, and the death of W.G. Grace; also a time of great darkness as World War I raged around the globe; George V was on the throne and Herbert Asquith was the British Prime Minister. Hard days for British citizens as the War and its consequences seemed to have no end in sight.

It is somewhat surprising, therefore, to nd that during April of 1915, technicians and equipment from the London-based Regal Records
(UK subsidiary of the famous Columbia Records) entered the Wingates rehearsal room to record the band for the rst time. Wingates was one of relatively few bands to remain fully intact during the conflict; virtually all the musicians were employed in the local coalmines and hence, at least initially, were exempt from call-up as coalmining was designated as a ‘reserved occupation’. It is also surprising because, only five years before this, the Westhoughton community suffered the terrible events of the Pretoria Pit disaster, which killed 344 men and proved
to be the third worst tragedy in the history of British coalmining. Nine members of the band were killed, and the nature of the event shook the band and the entire community to its roots. The band survived, however, and regathered. Its success at that time, including a famous ‘double- double’ in 1906/07 under William Rimmer, had caused its public profile to sky-rocket and it was certainly considered to be ‘big box office’ material. Although, Black Dyke and Besses bands had been recording since 1903 and 1904 respectively, it is somewhat surprising that it took another eight years after the famous quadruple wins for Wingates to enter the realms of recorded music.

Eight discs were recorded during the first session in 1915, the official first of which (according to the catalogue number) included...

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