Band History

The Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band has a long history, with a record noting its existence in 1821. It has been possible to find a number of articles relating to the history of the band, and whilst the language may be dated and the information now superceded, for example Jack Sedgwick on Euphonium has now been with the band for 61 years, the accounts are very interesting.

'An entry in the Lonsdale Magazine of 1821, recording the band's part in the celebrations at the Coronation of King George IV, confirms beyond question its claim to be the oldest organised recreational activity in the town. Unfortunately, since bandsmen are clearly men of action rather than words, there are few records of their activities other than on great national occassions. The next mention of the band was in the Lunesdale Parish Magazine for 1901, which stated that 'On Monday last there was a great gathering in the Market Square to hear Edward the VII proclaimed as king', adding, 'We experience on occasions like these the advantage of having an effective Kirkby Lonsdale band'.

In this century three successive generations of the Troughton family have been members, a record excelled only by four successive generations of the Dennison family. James Dennison was its conductor for nearly twenty years until about 1957. During his son William's early years he made the boy put in two hours' practice on the cornet followed by a similar time on the violin each day while his mates were out playing. William followed his father as conductor for 10 years until 1976. It is perhaps of interest that Jack Sedgwick, who has served the band for forty years, first got his taste for music when serving his apprenticeship with Dennisons of Market Street.

The band competed for many years in the annual contest at Hardraw Scar, a fine natural amphitheatre of limestone rock near Hawes with splendid acoustics particularly well suited to brass bands. It may be added that access to it is through a public house particularly well suited to the bandsmen. Our band first competed there in June 1924, coming second and third out of a filed of seven in the two tests which were set. However, these contests lost their popularity and ceased towards the end of the twenties, but, more happily, they were revived by Kirkby's band in 1976 and competitors come again from as far afield as Durham. Of more local importance perhaps is that in 1988 the Kirkby Lonsdale band initiated its own annual contest which takes place on a Sunday afternoon in June in the Market Square. Traffic is excluded and seats provided for members of the public who wish to listen. On a fine day there is no more pleasant occupation.

Today the band numbers some thirty players, of whom the hard core consists of Kirkby people, with considerable local support. A few years ago the composer Goff Richards wrote a new and rousing march, entitled 'Kirkby Lonsdale', which the band has recorded, playing with their customary dash and bravura'.

Pearson, A., Kyle, D., Phillips, A & Gresson, M. (1996) The Annals of Kirkby Lonsdale and Lunesdale Today. The Parthenon Publishing Group

'Sounding Brass at Kirkby Lonsdale'

'Kirkby Lonsdale is a little market town of mellow grey buildings and narrow "wynts" leading to secluded squares. In one of these, strange noises may be heard at nights; they come from "t'band Room". Kirkby Lonsdale has been proud of its band for 160 years, and for many years Mr. James Dennison gave his time and knowledge to the continuation of this record, passing on all he could of his wide musical experience to the rising generation.

 Mr. Dennison played wind instruments; trombone and euphonium were his favourites and the violin as long as he could remember. In his young days he played in a theatre in Rotherham, and competed at the Crystal Palace, London, and Belle Vue, Manchester, playing in such well-known bands as Lee Mount, Halifax, and Hardon Colliery. 

. . . Under Jim Dennison's conductorship the Kirkby Lonsdale band won prizes at the Hardraw natural amphitheatre and at Muker. The Silver Jubilee celebrations of the late King George V and Queen Mary in 1935, were soon followed by coronation festivities; out came the Kirkby Losdale band in full force. When war broke out many members of the band joined the services, but Mr. Dennison roped in all available boys over nine years of age, and as a result of nightly practice ranging through scales, exercises, hymns, to overtures and selections, the band was able to accompany the singing at the Sunday services held in the Institute instead of the church during the "black-out", as well as fulfilling engagements as far afield as Preston.

The band led the procession when peace was celebrated. Returning members took up their instruments, and the band, entirely self-supporting, played at garden parties and similar events at Abbots Brow, Dallam Tower, Underley Hall, Hornby Castle, Thurland Castle, The Summerlands Merchant Navy Rest Home and the annual visit to the Dent Fair! Small boys tapped on Mr Dennison's door asking: "Coming to practice?"

In 1953, plans for celebrating the coronation were formulated and at Kirkby Lonsdale the procession was again led by the Kirkby Lonsdale Silver Prize Band, as it had been called at Queen Victoria's coronation celebrations on June 28, 1838.

On January 30, 1954, Mr. Dennison led the band aboard the last train to ply between Clapham and Tebay, and they alighted on to the platform to play "Will ye no come back again?" and other selections at every station along the route.

Mr James Dennison died on March 26, 1959. He was 80 years of age and had taught for 24 years. He had taught three complete bands and was teaching his fourth at the time of his death. Mr. Dennison's eldest son, Mr. William Dennison of Kirkby Lonsdale, continues his father's work and trains and conducts Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band".

Cumbria (June 1969) 


Images of Kirkby Lonsdale Band - Past to Present

Diamond Jubilee Day 1897

Kirkby Lonsdale Market Square - Diamond Jubilee Day, 20 June 1897. The Band with its conductor William Taylforth.

(Source Dalziell, N & P. (1996) Britain in Old Photographs: Kirkby Lonsdale and District. Sutton Publishing).

Queen Victorias Diamond Jubilee 1

Kirkby Lonsdale Market Square - Diamond Jubilee Day, 20 June 1897

(Source Dalziell, N & P. (1996) Britain in Old Photographs: Kirkby Lonsdale and District. Sutton Publishing)

Death of King Edward VII 1910

Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band leading the memorial procession marking the death of King Edward VII on 6th May 1910

(Source: Hall, M. J. (2004) Old Kirkby Lonsdale and the Rainbow Parish. Stenlake Publishing Ltd.)


KL Town 1988


KL Town 1988 close up




Kirkby Lonsdale Band, 'Cup Winners' 1996

May 2000 cropped

Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band with Goff Richards, May 2000

References: Pearson, A., Kyle, D., Phillips, A & Gregson, M. (1996) The Annals of Kirkby Lonsdale and Lunesdale Today. The Parthenon Publishing Group)