The CWS (Manchester) Band

Hello this is Frank Renton with news of my latest edition of Frankly Speaking at Frank Renton on Brass.

The CWS (Manchester) Band, despite going out of business as it were in 1985, is still thought of with great affection by legions of brass band listeners all over the world.

In reality it had a short but hugely exciting existence, as it was only in 1946 that the Cooperative Wholesale Society decided that it would take over the band that existed at its tobacco factory and both fund it and provide jobs for all the players at the Company headquarters. In the years immediately after World War 2 this was a bold move.

It achieved its reputation as ‘the entertainers of the band world’ between 1954 and 1970 when the conductor was Alex Mortimer, Derek Garside was his principal cornetist, (simply one of the finest cornet players ever and a brilliant soloist), and there were players like Gordon Higginbottom, Brian Evans and Philip Goodwin dotted around the band.

Once Alex retired in 1970 it was never the same again, and although several conductors, including me, tried to revitalise the band, we all failed and in 1985 the Company stopped the sponsorship and the use of its name. 

If ever the life of a band reflected the social and industrial changes in the life of the United Kingdom it was the CWS (Manchester) Band, both in its beginning and ultimate demise. But it was certainly wonderful whilst it lasted.

Join me as I talk about the life of this great band.

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