AN exhibition detailing the 140-year history of one of the world’s oldest recording brass bands has been launched at Westhoughton Library.

Wingates Band was formed on April 6, 1873 — and now its long history is being celebrated in an exhibition at the library in Library Street, Westhoughton.

The new display is housed in a large glass cabinet in the library’s archives and local studies section, and a four-page booklet detailing the band’s history has been created by the band to complement the memorabilia in the library.

David Kaye, the band’s president and trustee, said: “While some items from the band’s large collection of memorabilia have featured in Westhoughton Library for many years, this newly extended display gives the band an enhanced profile in the town.

“With a tremendously eventful and colourful his tory spanning almost 140 years, this display can inevitably be no more than a microcosm of the band’s story but, arranged on a themed basis, many of the band’s most cherished historical items are featured.”

The exhibition includes an overview and highlights of the band’s history, including their proud feat of winning seven British Open Championship and four British National Championship titles, as well as the tragedy of the Pretoria Pit mining disaster in 1910, which claimed the lives of seven band members and a number of former Wingates bandsmen.

The band was created by members of a bible class at Wingates Independent Methodist Chapel, and it made its first recording in June, 1915, of A Military Church Parade and Third Dragoon Guards March.

It is believed only three other bands in the world have a recording history longer than Wingates Band.

Members bought secondhand brass instruments following the launch in 1873 and soon afterwards they began competing.

Their first accolade was half a sheep donated by a local butcher in Hindley in 1881 for coming second in a contest.

Since it was formed, Wingates Band has performed at concerts to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897, celebratory concerts at every coronation during the 20th century and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June.

To mark the Pretoria Pit disaster centenary in 2010, the band wore black armbands at memorial gatherings and recorded a CD, Perspectives of Pretoria.

The 28-piece band will be celebrate their 140th anniversary next year with a CD, a reunion dinner and a concert.

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