Originating in the early 1850's the band was formed from money left over from a fund established by the 'Ladies of Chester', to buy a present for Queen Victoria. The money was donated to the Blue Coat School Foundation, and so the Blue Coat Band came about. With a likely formation date of 1853, the band celebrated its 150th Birthday in 2003.
Today the band proudly carries the City name and is totally self-supporting as a registered charity, with its own band room in Bedward Row. In 1997, the band was successful in obtaining a Lottery Grant that enabled the purchase of new instruments and the widening of public access to the band, brass band music and the formation of a thriving Training Band. Currently, rehearsals are held in the band room on Monday and Wednesday nights from 19:45 to 21:45. Experienced players are always welcome to come and join us for a 'blow'.
March 2013 saw the band post its most successful placing in the North West Brass Band Championships by winning the 4th section. This was a fantastic achievement by the band, due mainly to the excellent reading of the music by our MD, Phil Mottershead. Following the contest Phil 'hung up his baton' to spend more time with Jane, his wife at their holiday home in Cumbria.
As a result of Phil's retirement Malcolm Peach was appointed as the Band's new Musical Director. As a Music Teacher by profession, Malcolm bought a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the band, introducing much new music. Under Malcolms guidance the Band gained second prize in the third section of the NW Regional Championships on 9 March 2014. As a result of this performance the Band was promoted to the Second Section with effect from January 2015. It also qualified the Band to play in the Third Section National Championships in Cheltenham on 21 September 2014.
During the summer of 2014 Malcolm advised the Band that he would be unable to lead the Band in The Nationals due to work commitments which would lead to him moving away from Cheshire. While only with City of Chester Band for a relatively short while, everyone connected with the Band is grateful to Malcolm for his developmental work. His efforts were rewarded when he led the Band to win the Third Division of the French Open Brass Band Championships held in Amboise, in the beautiful Loire Valley, on 7 June 2014.
After a brief hiatus Phil Mottershead picked up the baton once more to lead the Band to a creditable result at Cheltenham. He stayed on to also direct the Band playing in a series of winter and spring concerts, culminating in the regional qualifying contest at Blackpool on 1 March 2015, the first time for twenty years that the Band had performed in the Second Section. The rapid rise from third to second section proved unwise and the Band struggled with the technical demands of the music played in the higher section.
Philip was succeeded in April 2015 by Joshua Hughes, 22. Under Josh’s direction the Band competed in the second section of the NW Brass Band Championships in Rochdale on 25 October 2015 and gained third place performing “Purcell Variations” by Kenneth Downie. A change in Josh’s personal commitments, re-locating to Chorley, Lancashire in November, led to a search for a replacement resulting, in January 2016, in the Band linking up with Ewan Easton MBE. Ewan Easton is Principal Tuba with the Halle Orchestra and Tutor in Tuba at the Royal Northern College of Music. The Band's performance in the 2016 Regional Qualifying Championships led to relegation. However, there was some success in the 2016 French Open Brass Band Championships, with the Band returning to Amboise and gaining second prize in the Third Section.
From January 2017 the Band will be competing in the Third Section of the National Championships. Under Ewan's guidance the Band is re-building with greater emphasis on the basics of brass ensemble playing and the Musical Director is taking a long view at the Band's development.
Although no longer known as The Blue Coat Band, the link with the past is maintained through their distinctive blue uniform. The jacket also carries the famous Eastgate Clock, recognisable around the world as a symbol of Chester. A heritage the band is proud to represent, over 160 years after they first made music in Chester!
Band members come from all walks of life, and the age range runs from 8 to 80! Not all have played since childhood; several current senior band players only took up brass playing as adults. Critical to the success of any band is the support from non-playing members and parents. The band is a real family with a regular series of social events.
A brass band comprises 25 players, plus percussionists. When you watch the band play, see if you can spot the following instruments: Soprano Cornet, Repiano Cornet, Solo Cornets, 2nd and 3rd Cornets, Flugel Horn, Tenor Horns, Baritones, Euphoniums, Trombones, Basses!