You may be aware from the bands history page that it did a couple of lengthy tours of the world in the early part of the 20th Century and we have some excellent records of them.

For example here is a photograph of the 1909 to 1911 tour band:


Back Row: A.Bleakley, J Garlick, I Byers, W.Weedall, A.Pyatt, T Wolstencroft, T.Bowling, N.Snape, J.Hewitson, J.Birkett
Third Row: J.Hardman, N.Riley, J.Lowndes, E.Mather, S.Pyatt, W.Ryder, A.Laycock, W.Jackson, J.Adamson, A.Haigh
Second Row: E.Bleakley, S.Lord, E.Calverly, A.Owen, W.Bogle, J.R. Ethridge, C.Smith, E.P. Kerry, J.W. Smith, J.Fish
Front Row (reclined): G Fielding, L.Brightwell

On the second row is Alexander Owen who famously conducted Besses between 1887 and 1920. Sitting next to him is William Bogle who was in Besses for 40 years from 1887 until he died in 1927. He was a player, Secretary and Bandmaster. He was a shrewd businessman and was at the forefront of organising and running of the two mammoth world tours.

William Bogle


It is probably thanks to Mr William Bogle that we have such a huge number of press cuttings from this era; this one is the band in 1910, in South Africa photographed with a Zulu tribe:

South Africa in 1910 (with the Zulus)

The band records show that in the early part of the 20th century the band used to make a living touring the country playing in parks. This picture was taken in 1929 in Roath Park, Cardiff and, believe it or not, we still have the bells that are in the far right of the picture!

Roath Park, Cardiff. 1929

The musical director standing next to the bells is Fred Royle.

Fred Royle

And here is the band being conducted by Fred Royle in Stanley Park, Blackpool on September 1st 1929:


Our records show that there were approximately 6000 in the audience - if that was today at £7 a ticket - dream on!


August 13th 1932 - off to Canada and the National Exhibition. The band did a 10 week tour of North America . Here the band is on board the Motor Liner Brittannic leaving Liverpool. We have a very good record of this tour, one of many completed by the band, and hope to publish more of the records soon.

The picture below was taken outside Whitefield Town Hall after the band played at Besses Congregational Church in 1935. This concert was headline news in The Prestwich and Whitefield Guide (which is still published today) as the band hadn't played at Besses Congregational Church since the Grand Floral Bazarr in 1894! We know that the band included in its programme "Pride of race" by Kenneth Wright which was the test piece for the Crystal Palace Contest where they came 4th.


Front Row: E.Bleakley, J.Tatlock, H.Dickenson, W.Runnens, S.Pyatts, J.McQuilton, H.Whetstone, C.Watling
Second Row: A.Hart, S.Hardman, F.Wright, C.Entwistle, F.Cowburn, A.Jennings, N.Snape, G.Openshaw, W.Whiteside
Third Row: N.Gregson, S.Potts, C.Hart, H.Potts, W.Gladstone, W.Sutcliffe, H.Taylor
Back Row: H.Pyatt, H.Oakes, H.Norbury

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