Three generations of West Cumbrian family keep brass bands booming

The sound of Egremont Town Band has been ringing out in West Cumbria since 1904. Today, its members include three generations of the same family.

Stuart Humphries is chair of the band. His father, Philip, and daughter, Phoebe, followed him into the group, sharing a similar passion for the music.

Stuart said: "It's just the joy of being able to perform and seeing the joy on people's faces as they're actually listening to the music. You get the different generations mixing together, which is really nice to see.

Stuart Humphries is Chair of Egremont Town Band Credit: ITV Border

"You're getting people aged eighty all the way down to aged seven or eight, all in one place. And that interaction between so many different age groups."

Eight-year-old Phoebe is among the band's newest members. Her sister also plays.

She said: "I first started playing in lockdown because I was sick of reading and doing my spellings and then my dad said 'maybe you could join our band' and I said 'yeah that would be really fun'. It is kind of difficult if you're a new one but if you've been in there a while it gets easier."

Egremont Town Band Credit: Egremont Town Band

The Humphries are helping keep a proud tradition going. In the 19th and 20th centuries brass bands were popular in industrial communities, especially in coal mining towns like Egremont.

Philip only started playing at the age of 60, but remembers the appeal of brass bands in decades past.

He said: "There was no television, no social media or anything and people needed something to do and it was a way of the community getting together.

Brass bands were popular in industrial communities in the 19th and 20th centuries Credit: British Pathé

"The idea of being in the band is hard to explain. It's a group of people with like minded thoughts going together and doing similar things."

That social aspect endures, with the band travelling to events across Cumbria. When it comes to the future of brass bands though, some fear the writing might be on the wall.

Stuart said: "The biggest concern I've got for brass banding, and a lot of brass bands have the same problem, is we have an ageing population of brass band players so we can't all go on unfortunately for ever and ever playing a brass instrument."

So, working alongside Brass Bands England, Egremont Town Band is putting on a Taste of Brass event at the end of January, to encourage people to follow in their footsteps.

From euphoniums to trombones, they say there's an instrument that'll let anybody hit the right note.

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