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Whit Friday Band Contests in Ashton under Lyne

Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
Uppermill Band marches down to the Broadoak Hotel.

Whit Friday, the Friday following Whit Sunday, has traditionally been a holiday in the Pennine villages to the east of Ashton. In the Mossley and Saddleworth areas, schools and factories would be closed, while the pubs would be open for much of the day. The traditions are still very strong today. On the Friday morning the traditional Whit Walks take place and in the evening each village holds its own Brass Band Contest.

The brass band contests have spread to neighbouring areas, including Ashton. They now take place in over twenty locations throughout Saddleworth, Mossley, Stalybridge and other locations in Tameside and Oldham.

Bands from all over the country, and some from abroad, tour the area in coaches, visiting as many contests as they can. The bands include famous names like the Brighouse and Raistrick Band and school and youth bands.

In Ashton under Lyne, two contests are held - at the Broadoak Hotel and at Ashton United Football ground at Hurst Cross.

Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
The crowds at the contest fill the pub forecourt and the green opposite.

At each venue each band performs two pieces - a march performed on the move, where they may be awarded marks for deportment, and a set piece performed on a temporary band stand or in a ring.

The judges of these pieces is concealed in a caravan or nearby room, awarding marks without knowing the bands' identities. The results are announced at the end of the evening, which can be close to midnight.

Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
Williams Fairey Band performing outside Broadoak Hotel.
Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
Crowds outside the Broadoak Hotel as Shaw Band plays.
Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
The crowds on the green opposite the Broadoak Hotel.
Broadoak Whit Friday band contest
Blackpool Brass marches down to the Broadoak Hotel.
Hurst Cross Whit Friday band contest
At the Hurst Cross contest, held at Ashton United football ground, the bands perform a march along the side of the pitch, then play their set piece in front of the stand.
Hurst Cross Whit Friday band contest
Haslingden and Helmshore Band playing their set piece in front of the stand at Hurst Cross, with a backdrop of Hartshead Pike in the distance.

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