Plaque's the way to do it as South Yorkshire top brass band hits the right note

The legendary Grimethorpe Colliery Band and the inspiration for the film '˜Brassed Off' has been honored with a blue plaque.

Monday, 19th June 2017, 3:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th June 2017, 2:53 pm

The accolade presented by BBC Radio Sheffield was a fitting tribute to the band which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor Jeff Ennis at the band’s rehearsal room at the Acorn Centre.

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Councillor Ennis, a band trustee, was involved in bringing members to the Acorn Center after their old rehearsal rooms closed due to the miners strikes.

In total 47 blue plaques were awarded to mark ‘BBC Music Day’ which honours those who have influenced the musical landscape across the country.

Members of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band were among other musical stars who also received blue plaque awards including: David Bowie, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Alfie Boe.

The band, which inspired the internationally-acclaimed film, Brassed Off, was formed in 1917, as a leisure activity for the workmen at the colliery.

It was initially financed by the colliery, a sister company, and a welfare fund set up by the miners themselves.

Writer and director of the film, Mark Herman was in attendance at the unveiling. He said: “I used to know this area well and to see it then in 1991 when it was all boarded up I couldn’t believe it.

“I knew all about the miners strikes but I hadn’t really considered the effects of the closures so that’s what got me moving and writing an idea.”

The 1996 film, starred Ewan McGregor, Pete Postlethwaite and Tara Fitzgerald. Grimethorpe Colliery Band provided the soundtrack music and the extras for the on-screen band.

Since the release of the film, they have toured extensively in Europe, Australia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The band has also become the first ever brass band to become an ensemble-in-residence at the Royal College of Music in London.

Chairman of the band Peter Haigh said about the day: “It was such a big honour and it was truly unexpected, it makes it all the more special that we were nominated by the local community.

“It really goes a long way that they chose us as we are a grass roots part of the community.”

He added: “It really is a life time achievement, when you see the blue plaques you think of huge stars who have usually passed away, so it means a lot that we have one.

“It’s our centenary so that makes it even more important to us.”

“It’s a big part of my life which I think of with great, great affection.”