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Eaton's Farnworth Brass Band

Extract from a history in progress by Matthew Walker

The brass band movement originated in the early part of the nineteenth century and was traditionally strong in the North of England, resulting in the formation of thousands of brass bands.

Barnes' Band

Barnes' Band accompanying St Gregory's at Moses Gate, Whit Friday 1896

Reed bands or military bands had been in existence in the Farnworth area since the early 1800's. During the 1840's the celebrated Shapcott family Brass Band came to Farnworth to give a series of three concerts at Queen Street School. Employees of Barnes' Mill who attended were so impressed that they implored Simeon Dyson, the manager, to approach Thomas Barnes with a view to starting their own band. He agreed and in 1848 the band was formed. Instruments were purchased, and membership was restricted to employees of the firm. Practises were conducted twice weekly at night in the 'Breakfast' room at the mill.

In 1896 they still carried the name Barnes' Band but by 1910 this had changed to Farnworth Old (Barnes) Band. Whether the ties were still there or nostalgia left the Barnes name in brackets, we may never know.

Wright Hurst, born in Kearsley in 1904, the son of a coal miner, became Bandmaster in 1932, and remained the conductor of the band until 1976, 44 years. This is a record in the Brass Band world, which will never be beaten.

Chris Barrett was one of the many people who started being taught by Wright at an early age, his first contest being at the age of nine. Chris had many weeks of rehearsals and thought he was ready. As the band lined up Wright came to him and said "put this in your mouthpiece, it'll help you to play." Being a good student and trusting his conductor's advice he placed the tissue well into the mouthpiece, and never played a note on stage.

In 1940 the band became the West Lancashire Home Guard Band for the duration of the war.

The band have had several rehearsal rooms, and from 1965-1984, used the old Farnworth mortuary in Wellington Road. When they first moved in the old marble slabs were still there.

In 1990 Farnworth Old Band and Eaton's Band merged to form Eaton's Farnworth Brass Band and in 2003 Walkden Band merged.

Eaton's Farnworth Brass Band is the oldest in the Bolton district and in the top five oldest brass bands in the country.