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The men from the Guards

Wednesday 2 June, 2021

Black Dyke Band has enjoyed an illustrious list of conductors, major musical figures who have done much to inspire the Queensbury band on the way to contesting success. At one time, the band frequently looked to the military for its musical director.

Band historian Tim Mutum looks at the relationship majors from the ranks of the military had with the demanding players of the famous Yorkshire band.


For much of the period from 1956, when Harry Mortimer ended his second stint with the Black Dyke Mills Band, until the end of the 1980s, the professional conductor was drawn from the ranks of the Guards. Even Jack Emmott, bandmaster from 1956 – 1963, had been principal euphonium with the Band of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

This military leaning may have had something to do with Peter Lambert, president of the band and a director of John Foster and Son Ltd, who had been in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, retiring with the rank of captain. The first in this line was Major George Willcocks, who started his military path on cornet in the Royal Fusiliers but in 1920, was selected for training at Kneller Hall. Via various appointments he ended up in 1938 as director of music of the Irish Guards Band, retiring from service in 1949.


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