The Band Hut

Early in January 2008, the members of Burbage Band gathered to rehearse in our brand new rehearsal facilty in Burbage village. This was a major land mark in the history of the band, as it marked the end of 10 years of fund raising and planning, and fulfilled an ambition held by the band for generations. It also meant the end of the old band room which was so historic, having been the bands home for over 100 years. Below you can read all about the story of how our new building was acheived.

A major milestone in the history of Burbage band took place as we rehearsed in the early hours of Sunday May 6th 2007 prior to our successful appearance in the Buxton contest. It was to be our last performance in the building which has been our home for so many years. A poignant moment indeed took place as the seated players reflected on the moment and the history of all those who had sat there before them representing Burbage band. We like to think our subsequent contest performance was a nice way to mark the end of an era, but the old girl wasn’t done there. Later in the day we loaned the room to Kippax band who won their section, and to Enderby band who came second in their section.

The Burbage Band has used its home on Nursery Lane for over 100 years. It has served us very well and we were very affectionately attached to it. However, because of the deteriorating condition and inadequate facilities, we realised we needed to replace it with a new purpose built facility and give the band a secure future.

The Old Band Hut

The old building was the original village hall, built by the church in the 1890s, and the band has used it continuously since around 1900, maintaining it at its own expense after 1956. It was a wooden framed building clad in corrugated sheets with no insulation or additional weatherproofing.

  • The room had no toilets or mains water connection, which made it unsuitable for modern usage, particularly as it was an educational building with a large number of young people using it.
  • The timber structure of the building was rotten in places, and we needed to ensure we had a home for the future and not a financial liability.
  • The room was extremely draughty and cold and was very expensive to heat. It provided only damp storage for our extensive sheet music library and expensive uniforms.
  • The band room had no disabled access and was entered over uneven ground, up a large step, round a sharp corner and through a narrow door.
  • The wooden structure of the building was both a fire and security risk and it was becoming very difficult to insure. The premium for 2006 for building cover alone was over £500 had to be met from self-raised funds and it could not be guaranteed that this cover would be provided in the future.

The chance of funding from the National Lottery presented an opportunity that the band felt we had a duty to take advantage of.

Many brass bands have received funding for new rehearsal rooms from the lottery, and we were very confident of success, given the extent of our community involvement and the free education we provide. Strong local support meant that, unlike many other bands, Burbage had not asked the National Lottery for a complete set of new instruments and it was felt that since instruments can be replaced individually if necessary, efforts were best directed at the building.

Our team set to work, led by the hard working Mervyn Apthorpe, and with much kindness and support, they raised in excess of our 10% “Partnership funding”. The first step was to prove ownership of the plot of land the current band room stands on. Unfortunately, like many buildings in Buxton and the surrounding area, the history of the land is a little complicated. The Duke of Devonshire originally donated the land to the village and, although the band maintained the building and were the sole users of the old village hall for almost half a century, they paid a peppercorn rent to the church for the use of the building, which meant that the band had to buy the building from the Church in order to obtain the land on which it stood.

Although a valuation was agreed, and the band raised the money the church required, for reasons we still don’t fully understand, it took four years for the sale to be completed! We should give thanks at this point to our solicitor, Peter Henson, who worked so tirelessly pulling out what remained of his hair! In February 2001 we eventually secured our future, somewhat, by becoming legal owners of the land.

We were then in a position to submit an application to the National Lottery, but it quickly became clear that the four year delay had created a serious problem. The National Lottery had changed their rules for funding buildings and would not fund a building that was owned by a single group, even if we do use it for the community and share with other groups.

The band had to make a decision. Were we to abandon the plan or to try to raise the money by other means?

It was clear that we still desperately needed to upgrade the room and so we decided to try everything else we could. New plans where drawn up to simplify the building and reduce cost, and we were delighted when planning permission was granted as this allowed us to really start fund raising in earnest.

During 2006 we were able to install the bands own separate mains electricity supply and meter, and cleared the partition wall between us and the church next door in order to allow for the wider size of the new band room. The committee decided to plough ahead and commence work. The band appointed local builder Chris Brightmore following hois estimate of £60,000 to erect the shell of the new building

Demolition of the old room took place in June 2007 after which the footings were dug and the foundation concrete laid. During the building period the band were grateful for the use of Burbage Scout hall to hold our rehearsal and teaching sessions.You can see how the building progressed in pictures by viewing the album in our gallery here.

During 2007 we still had some funds to raise as we need to fit the new building out with shelving, lighting, chairs, carpets and acoustic materials, as well as repairing the groundwork outside the building, with substantial costs such as boundary walls being built and tarmac surfaces being laid, so we still had much hard work to do, and as usual some favours to beg. By working closley with the builder and by doing lots of finishing jobs ourselves, we were able to bring the building in more or less on cost. A generous grant from the High Peak Borough Council from the Section 106 payments of the local Otterhole development gave us the finance to properly finish the building internally and externally. Wooden acoustical cladding, new stands, seats and picture frames made the building a place of beauty and function. A grand public open day was held early in 2008 atteneded by many hundreds of local people who wished us well and complimented us on what we had acheieved. This was the largest but most important fund raising drive the band had ever under taken, and whilst it ws obviously very daunting, we were determined to succeed, for the future of this band we care so much about.

Thank you so much to all involved for your help and support in this project, which for so long seemed an impossible dream.

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