Besses o’ th’ Barn Band is one of the oldest and most famous brass bands in the world.

We have been around since 1818 and have been wowing audiences all over the UK ever since – and a hundred years ago, the band undertook two world tours! A remarkable achievement.

We currently rehearse twice weekly at our band room on Moss Lane in Whitefield.

Please explore our site to find out more about our history, what Besses can do for you, what you can do for Besses, our upcoming concerts and events, image galleries etc.

Thanks for your continued support.

Download this Historic Book on Besses’ Origin
and Achievements in the 19th Century  written by
Joseph Hampson in 1892 in PDF format

Download Origin, History and Achievements of the
Besses o' th' Barn Band

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Besses o’th’ Barn Band history timeline

1818 First record of a band as Clegg’s Reed Band

1821 First competition win under Mr Thomas Leigh playing God Save the King

1837 Second competition win under Mr Thomas Leigh playing Hail! Smiling Morn

1853 Further to the developments of the piston valve over the previous three decades, Besses dispense with woodwind instruments and become an “all brass” band

1875 Besses nearly collapsed, due to an internal disagreement and are saved by four members – Robert Jackson, Edwin Bleakley, Jonathon Bell and Abel Ogden

1879 Besses purchase instruments and uniforms via musical director Mr John Gladney, from a folding Yorkshire band, courtesy of donations from friends and admirers

1883 Besses gain new members due to the break up of the local Congregational School Band

1884 Alexander Owen becomes the musical director of Besses

1887 Besses move into new premises at Moss Lane, Whitefeld

1892 First British Open Contest win at Belle Vue under Alexander Owen playing Zaar und Zimmermann

1893 Publication of Besses History 1818 – 1892 by Joseph Hampson including origin, history and achievements, contests attended and prizes won, with a glossary of bandmasters, conductors and members

1894 Besses win every major prize available in Great Britain

1903 Besses win the Crystal Palace 1000 Guineas Trophy (forerunner of the Nationals) by playing an arrangement of Die Meistersinger

1904 Besses play for the King and Queen at Windsor and due to popular demand, undertake a full-time concert tour of Great Britain becoming professional musicians

1905 By Royal Command, Besses accompany the King and Queen travelling to France for the Entente Cordiale celebrations and thereby become the Royal Besses o’th’ Barn Band

1906 -1907 Besses undertake their first world tour – America, Canada, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia under Alexander Owen with John Henry Iles as the tour organiser

1909 – 1911 Besses undertake their second world tour, taking in the same countries as before, but including South Africa

1920 Alexander Owen dies, but Besses win again (3rd time) at Belle Vue with new MD Willie Wood

1931 Besses win for the 4th time at Belle Vue with bandmaster Harry Barlow

1932 Besses tour of Canada

1937 Besses win for the 5th time at Belle Vue with Willie Wood

1943 Besses Boy’s Band formed to maintain numbers while Besses Band members went to war and to provide future players as a continuous stream to Besses o’th’ Barn Band

1945 Besses tour Europe with ENSA

1959 Besses win for the 6th time at Belle Vue with Willie Wood

1960 New musical director appointed – Frank Bryce who is a graduate of Besses Boy’s and the Royal Military School at Kneller Hall

1969 Besses tour of Cornwall

1972 Besses tour of Holland

1972 Besses appoint professional conductor Ifor James working alongside Frank Bryce

1978 New musical director appointed Roy Newsome, with assistant David Loukes and afterwards Alec Evans

1979 Besses tour of Holland and Germany

1981 Besses tour of Switzerland

1982 Besses win the British Open Championship for the 7th time at its new venue, the Free Trade Hall in Manchester

1983 Besses tour Finland

1986 Besses tour Finland again with Ifor James and Major Peter Parkes

1987 New musical director appointed Nigel M Taylor

1988 New musical director appointed Sandy Blair

1990 New musical director appointed Paul Hindmarsh

  • further updates to be continued