The history of Nelson Brass has been linked to that of the town and especially the textile industry. In the latter part of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, Nelson was a booming new town built on cotton and the band mirrored the boom, and it was regarded as one of the best brass bands in the country, winning many national titles. They were hit hard with the rapid decline of textiles and, because of this, after the Second World War players left the area for work and older players retired.
The band struggled through this period until the last 30 or so years, when they have returned to winning trophies. The band has a turbulent history, having twice been forced to fold, only to be resurrected a few years later. It has been running now since it was reformed for the second time in 1957. Their finest hour came in 1939, when they finished second in the British Open Championship.
OVER 150 YEARS OF SWEET MUSIC
Nelson Band, as it was known then, was formed in 1862 and practised in a room at the back of an old inn, which later became the Lord Nelson pub. After 11 years the band was boasting that it had 476 pounds and 19 shillings in prize money.
In 1894 they hit controversy, when the town council’s alderman called a halt to a concert in Victoria Park because they were playing music considered ‘too popular’. After disbanding for a short while the band reformed in 1898 as Nelson Old Band, and rehearsed at the Prince of Wales Inn.
In 1920, the band acquired Clifford House and became a social club as well as a brass band. The band folded for a second time in 1956 because of financial problems, but reformed a year later after a grant of £650 from the town council. Since then the band has stayed together, and reached a peak in 2001 when they represented the North West in the National Finals and played in Paris.