Yorkshire Imperial Band appeals for new home after 17-fold rent increase on current base

A Yorkshire brass band which once counted among the nation’s finest is desperately seeking a community to call its own in the hope it can keep the music playing.

The Yorkshire Imperial Band, affectionately known as The Imps, has found itself looking for a new home as the ‘peppercorn’ lease on its band room near Wakefield draws to a close.

As the historical working band finds itself without a base, and without an industry, it has issued an appeal for it to be adopted by a community with a space to offer that it can call home.

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“We can look after a building, make it useful, and be an asset,” said chairman Chris Newbery. “Make us a part of your community. That’s it really, as simple as it is. We need some support right now, in finding somewhere. We’re not destitute, we are proud, and we’re not asking for anything for free.

The Yorkshire Imperial Band is looking for a new home

“But unless we have music playing, it dies. There is an atmosphere and a greatness to it, brass bands do matter to people. It’s really important.”

The Imps was formed in the 1930s originally as the Yorkshire Copper Works Band in Stourton, near Leeds, and were renamed after the Yorkshire Imperial Metals company came into existence in the 1950s.

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This was an era when workers were at times hired for their musical prowess rather than their skills in industry, said Mr Newbery, when colliery bands existed and there were parades and a tangible sense of pride.

In the years since The Imps grew to acclaim with its veteran band, holding the prestigious British National and Open titles as well as the Granada Band of the Year title many times.

For the past 11 years it has been based in a band room in Gawthorpe, West Yorkshire, held in trust with token subs, but as this agreement ends – with a 17-fold rent increase – they cannot afford to stay.

“We’ve just been very fortunate until now,” said Mr Newbery. “It wasn’t fancy but it was a building that met our needs, it worked. We’ve built a home in Gawthorpe, played at parades.

“At the moment we are at a hiatus, we need a building. We’d love to stay in the Gawthorpe area but we’ve looked and looked, now we need to look around further. The problem is, when you have a brass band, it comes with a lot of stuff.”

The band’s veterans meet on a Tuesday morning for a social gathering and music, so ideally a new base would have a space for them. There is also the band’s substantial livery.

“The veterans are an important part of our history, from a golden age back in the 1990s,” said Mr Newbery. "There was a time when it was one of the most significant bands in the country.

“As a movement, brass bands are struggling. And what that means is music. It’s really important for communities to have access to music and musical performance.” he added.

“There’s a lot of people that still care about the band, a lot of people that enjoy listening,” he said. “The community is there, though perhaps smaller. There is something about brass bands, the rhythm and the march, that is very emotive.

“We can’t be losing another one.”