Before t’internet there was brass bands

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band.
Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band.
1
Have your say

Kids today probably get bored of hearing about how in the old days there was none of this Xbox or internet and you went out on your bike or kicked a football around for some entertainment.

Fifty-three years ago home entertainment started and ended with a game of cards or listening to a play on the wireless and if you were lucky enough to have a TV there were only three channels and not much on.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band.
thoresby Colliery Band Pontins camp 1982

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. thoresby Colliery Band Pontins camp 1982

It was around this time that a bored 11 year-old Neil Emson, who was just been recognised for his fifty years of competing, started playing for his local brass band.

Since then the father-of-four has gone on to play for brass and colliery bands all over Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, including Thoresby, Grimethorpe and his current Shirebook.

During the last fifty years he has competed numerous times at the Royal Albert Hall in the national brass band competition and worked with some big names, including Pam Ayres, Jimmy Edwards and even astrologer Sir Patrick Moore.

Sixty-four year-old horn player Neil said: “Being in a brass band is like nothing else - it’s another way of life and like having another family.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Recording in EMI studios the weekend after Cliff Richard was there.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Recording in EMI studios the weekend after Cliff Richard was there.

“And we have had such a lot of success at Shirebrook - I’ve known most of the players since they were kids.

“Now their children and my children are getting involved.”

And for Neil brass banding is something he likens to an addiction.

“It’s the excitement of playing - whether that’s in a big competition or just rehearsing,” said Neil.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Thoresby band 1988

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Thoresby band 1988

“After playing at the Albert Hall I was high for a couple of days - it’s similar to the way a footballer feels after playing in front of a stadium.

“You just cannot beat live music and that’s what people don’t understand until they see us play - we do everything from marching music to Queen.”

But the veteran player, who has worked as a joiner, civil engineer and site manager, admits that the brass band scene has declined somewhat since his heyday.

He added: “When I started playing there were probably about 100,000 bands across the country but with all the collieries and firms that have closed there are probably only 20,000 now.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. 1982 Rockingham band Barnsley for national finals

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. 1982 Rockingham band Barnsley for national finals

“Shirebrook Colliery Band has been gone for some years and you just don’t get the numbers of young people getting involved from the local area.

“Now they’re all on Facebook and or watching TV.”

Shirebrook Brass Band has been in the wilderness in recent times after their conductor retired following a shoulder injury but Neil believes the group are on their way back to form.

He added: “We have re-built the band now and have a new conductor. It’s been hard-going but we’re getting there.

“We still practice at the miner’s welfare and do lots of concerts - especially around Christmas.”

For more information about Shirebrook Brass Band visit http://www.shirebrookmwuband.co.uk.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. 1974 national championships with the Spillers band

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. 1974 national championships with the Spillers band

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Old Brittania Band from Gansborough at 17 years old front row second left. His first band. 1969. this was taken two weeks before the Cleethorpes Pier burned down.

Shirebrook Unison Brass Band member Neil Emson gets an award for 50 years in brass banding. He has played for various bands since 1967 including Gainsborough and the famous Grimesthorpe band. Old Brittania Band from Gansborough at 17 years old front row second left. His first band. 1969. this was taken two weeks before the Cleethorpes Pier burned down.