Thursday, August 23, 2007

26.7.07: Betteshanger Brass Band

I am due at Betteshanger Band's rehearsal in Mill Hill and Nigel gives me a lift. Formerly known as Betteshanger Colliery Brass Band before Margaret Thatcher closed down Betteshanger colliery along with the entire mining industry in the late 80's, the band was part of a mining tradition, where participation in brass bands and choirs helped miners combat the lung disease which was a consequence of working amidst constant coal dust.

The Betteshanger band holds the south-east brass band championship. It encourages those with as little as six months' experience of playing a brass instrument to join. My visit to the band's rehearsal last night was to take photographs, my interest the historical association of music made by breath and breathing with occupation lung disease. I had hoped to talk to Ifor Thomas, an ex-miner and tuba player but he is at the town's carnival. Ifor's children, Sue and Ian, are also in the band.

In the right hand photograph is Phil, aka Shrek. Later, baritone player Alan, broadband service manager with British Telecom, who also runs the band's website ( emails me helpful instructions on how to delete the cookies which are slowing down my laptop at home.