1946 to 1993

The changeover to Hammonds Sauce Works Band was now complete and the third phase of this remarkable band was now up and running.

The Hammonds Sauce Works Band, 1949

The Hammonds Sauce Works Band, 1949

Contesting was commenced in 1947 and from six contests entered, five prizes were won. In 1948 the band won Class ‘B’ in the Belle Vue May contest and a year later picked up 2nd prize in the 3rd section of the ‘Daily Herald’ Area Contest. Following an influx of new players, the band moved into the championship section. The fifties were years of consolidation here, not easy against the cream of Yorkshire’s bands.
There was a huge set-back when Mr Hawley died suddenly, on 22nd December 1953 . Fortunately for the band Horace Hawley, who succeeded his father as managing director of the company, was equally enthusiastic about the band. In fact, he was a member himself for a number of years, playing BB flat bass. A new conductor had been appointed during the summer of 1952. He was Gershom Collison, a former Black Dyke soprano player. The band continued to do well in local contests but the closest it came to a breakthrough at the top level was 3rd prize in the 1957 Area Contest.

In the 1960s Collison was nearing retirement, and from the beginning of 1966 Geoffrey Whitham became musical director of Hammonds Sauce Works Band. Geoffrey had a brass band pedigree second to none. He had had a distinguished career as the solo euphonium player with Black Dyke, for a number of years was eminently successful as conductor of its Junior Band and for the last three years had been resident conductor of Black Dyke Mills Band itself.

Hammonds Hawley Band, 1977

Hammonds Hawley Band, 1977

The appointment brought almost immediate success, with 4th prize at the 1967 Area contest and 3rd prize a year later. First prize and qualification for the Finals of the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall came in 1969. As if to underline these successes the band was also declared ‘BBC Band of the Year, 1968’. Between 1972 and 1980 Hammonds qualified for the Finals four times and though never quite reaching the top echelons of bands, they earned fourth place there in 1972. By now the band had also earned its place in the line-up of the British Open Championships at Belle Vue and appeared in the prize lists there on a number of occasions.

However, impressive as these results are, Hammonds under Geoffrey Whitham acquired an even finer reputation for its concert work – with slick arrangements and an ability to literally bring an audience to its feet, cheering. There were a number of prizes in the Granada Band of the Year Contest – an entertainment contest geared to appearing on TV; there were also several prizes at Brass in Concert, the contest originally sponsored by Rothman’s. These successes culminated in a Brass in Concert win in 1978.

Reflecting its successes on the concert platform, Hammonds toured Australia in 1976, performing in Adelaide , Melbourne , Sydney , Newcastle and Brisbane , to great acclaim. They were the first British brass band to tour Australia since the visit by Besses o’ th’ Barn back in 1910. Then, after the 1978 Rothman’s success, the band spent a week in Canada , appearing at the prestigious Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto . A decade or so later the band was on the move again, thanks to the link with the organisers of Brass in Concert. This time the band went to Vilnius , the capital of Lithuania . The people of this country, who were mostly very poor, gave a great welcome to the men from Yorkshire who brought much pleasure into their hum-drum lives.

Following a 4th prize at Belle Vue in 1981 the band struck a bad patch, aggravated by the death of its benefactor, Horace Hawley, and changes in the management structure of the company. Geoffrey Whitham remained as musical director until 1984 when he, along with several band members, resigned through differences with the new management.

The band in the late 70s

The band in the late 70s

Though several former Hammonds players formed the nucleus of a newly-formed band, Lewington Yamaha, the new directors of the Sauce Works decreed that their junior band, now called the Hawley Band in recognition of the managing director Horace Hawley, should become the Hammonds Sauce Works Band. It now functioned as such, albeit at a lower musical level. Happily it survived, under various conductors, and in 1988 Geoffrey Whitham returned. As if by magic he led the band to victory in the Grand Shield Contest at Belle Vue, which qualified the band for re-entry into the British Open Championships. In its first year back, the band took 2nd prize, narrowly missing what would have been a historic ‘double’ had it won both contests in the same year. This has never been done, even to this day.

Hammonds changed hands yet again in the early nineties and, partly due to its uncertain future, the band hit another lean spell, culminating in the termination of the sponsorship. Mercifully, along came Yorkshire Building Society with a new offer.

The band had been saved and was now about to enter the fourth phase in its colourful history, enjoying 11 years of generous sponsorship from the Building Society. This allowed it to indulge in unique and exciting projects, to give concerts and produce recordings in which musical considerations were not inhibited by financial ones, and to produce contest-winning performances that were the envy of the whole brass band movement. In return, it upheld the ideals of its sponsor and, blending tradition and innovation, gave them worldwide publicity such as few other organisations could possibly have done, through its artistic and musical excellence. However, all good things must come to an end and with the utmost regret, Yorkshire Building Society ended its association with the band in 2004. Nevertheless, the band is determined to move on, and with an eye on the past is now established as The YBS Band.