Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band ‘Play it Again’ - 114 years on

Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Newsletter April 2008

Masson Mills Band playing live music concert on stage

An invited audience of over one hundred guests enjoyed a wonderful evening of music at Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills on Wednesday 19 March 2008 to celebrate the launch of a new band under Masson Mills’ sponsorship. Also present at the event was the new President of Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band, Lord Hattersley.

It is believed that the partnership of a Mill with a brass band is a unique development in the 21st century. During the 1890’s and early 20th century Masson Mills had its own band, as was common at that time in mills and collieries throughout Britain, and so it is fitting that today’s Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band continues this tradition in its new home at Masson Mills.

A photograph of the 1894 band along with the original programme for their Promenade Concert on 23rd June 1894 at Smedley’s Hydro were discovered amongst the archives at Masson Mills; this inspired the new band to introduce their programme, with Musical Director Stephen Shimwell conducting a moving rendition of Jerusalem, followed by items performed by the original band at their concerts, along with several pieces from the new recording released on CD for the launch.

The Masson Mills Band historical concert sheet at Smedley's, Matlock, 1894

Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band began life as part of the South East Derbyshire Music Centre in1979. Since that time, the band has entertained audiences in the UK, Europe and the USA and has competed at the very highest level in the brass band leagues. The new organisation has decided to move away from the competitive arena and the main aim now is to concentrate on making music to a very high standard and raising money for local charities.

The forthcoming year sees the band at five high profile events, where it is hoped to raise in excess of £25,000 for these good causes. These aims are fully supported by the owner of Masson Mills, who says “I have been very keen to re-establish a band at the mill and am really delighted with this new partnership and its objectives”. David Hopkins, Band Manager, added “the Band are most grateful for his support with our new venture which, not only secures us a home for years to come, but also guarantees the continuation of the Band who can now concentrate on making music and raising money for good causes.”

For further information about Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band, contact Band Chairman Roger Astle on 07850 770319, or Band Manager David Hopkins on 0781 321 3535.

The new CD is available to purchase at Masson Mills Working Textile Museum Reception, tel. 01629 581001.