This film is part of Free

Where There's Brass

“If there’s music in yer, it has to come out”. But northern brass bands, as this film testifies, reveal so much more about working class life than its innate creativity.

Documentary 1969 45 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


Members of Scapegoat Hill Brass Band trudge up a steep road in West Yorkshire in the snow, and we glimpse a whole other world as workers learn to play instruments suited to their “rough hands”. As Michael Parkinson explains, although starting out as a plan by factory owners to keep the workers happy, northern brass bands have formed a whole culture around them which took on added significance in the late 1960s, just as the jobs that supported them were disappearing.

This is a Yorkshire Television documentary, written and presented by Michael Parkinson. Although many of the factories and pits that once supported the numerous brass bands of Yorkshire have closed, most of those featured in the film have survived, although unfortunately not Scapegoat Hill Band which folded around 1980. Yet there are still 600 registered brass bands, the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain is still going strong, and the adjudicator still has to keep his anonymity by sitting in the adjudicator's box for hours on end. And there have been advances, including more women members of brass bands, perhaps inspired by the character of Gloria in the 1996 film Brassed Off.