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Our History

Rockingham Band is one of the oldest bands in South Yorkshire. It was founded in 1850, as a village band around Birdwell, near Barnsley. After playing at the opening of Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery in 1853, the band was invited to take on the pits’ name.

Early certificates show them to have won prizes at Crystal Palace as early as 1907, but at this time they had changed their name to the Rockingham Colliery Band. It was however, as Wharncliffe Silkstone that the band achieved its fame during the nineteen twenties and thirties.

The Second World War took its toll of members but in 1945 the band again started on its way under a young conductor named Edmund Hoole. From the lowly third section it fought its way into the Championship section and in 1954 claimed twelve prizes in as many months. In 1968 Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery was closed down and workers were transferred to the adjoining colliery of Rockingham. From this date the band once again took on its current name.

However, tragedy was to strike! The bands’ principal cornet player, William Hopkinson was killed in a pit accident and in 1971 came the sad loss of Edmund Hoole. Thanks to a few devoted members, wives and friends, the band carried on without its long serving members.

In 1974, Derek Ashmore was appointed Musical Director and through his ability and enthusiasm, the spirit of the old band was returned. New faces filled the chairs and new challenges where made and met!

Over the 42 years that followed, the band saw a further 28 Musical Directors! Many successes at all levels have been realised, especially under Graham O’Connor who still stands as the bands most successful conductor.

Today the band is much like it was in 1974. They have faced their share of challenges over the last six months and have met all of them. In October 2015, Adam Whittle took the reins as the bands 30th conductor and it’s youngest in its 166 year history.

Membership numbers had dwindled to a mere 8 and Rockingham’s future looked very uncertain. With the assistance and support of the remaining members, Adam began to rebuild the once mighty band. In March 2016, the band claimed 2nd place at the Yorkshire Regional Championships alongside the Best Percussion Award and the prize for Youngest Competing Player. This secured their qualification to the National Finals in September and promotion to the Third section from 2017. The band is back on form and with 32 active members, will continue to fight their way back to the top!

Rockingham ARCHIVE

Rockingham Band has a vast history which covers over 170 years of mining, steel and music making. From its original days as Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery Band and the Rockingham Osbourne Steel Band, to today as the Rockingham Band, The archives show masses of history to be pondered and admired. 


Here we have collected some of that history for you to enjoy just as we have done.


We believe that to fully understand where you are going, you must first understand where you have been!

Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery Disaster 


11 Killed & 4 Injured

Walter Bailey (19), George Bailey (52), John Fearnley (23), William Fisher (32), Harold Gardiner (40), Henry Littlewood (27), Joeseph Siddal (18), Fredrick Walker (20), Oscar Wood (24), John Wordsworth (24), John Fisher (40)

Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 1850

(Our founding year)

Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 1850

(Our founding year)

Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 1948

The trombone section accompanied by a member of the cornet section.

from left to right:

Unknown (cornet), Unknown (Trom), Colin Stewart (Trom), Unknown (Trom)

Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 

Senior Trophy Champions


Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 

Grand Shield Champions


Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 

Grand Shield Champions


Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery 

Post 1970

Kieth Taylor (front, 2nd from right) and Stuart Neeve (young boy sat on the front row) still play with the band today!

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