While the decline of the coalmining industry in Mansfield and Ashfield is an ever increasing number of years ago, there is one aspect of those bygone days that still lives on - and is going from strength to strength.
Blidworth Welfare Band now competes in the ‘first section’ of the brass band league ladder and has recently qualified for the National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain.
A strong performance in the nationals in September could see the band promoted again and competing against an even better standard of band at a level it has not achieved for a very long time.
Publicity officer Sam Turner said: “It will be very high quality because it’s all the top first section bands from across the country.
“They are all pushing to get promoted again and we will have to play at a very high standard.
“It’s really exciting but we are nervous at the same time.”
Though now based at Blidworth, Blidworth Welfare Band has roots across the whole area.
The band was formed in the 19th century as the Stanton Hill Temperance Band, then becoming the Stanton Hill silver prize band.
Alliance with Teversal, Silver Hill and Sutton Collieries brought another new name, the Teversal Collieries Band, but with the demise of the mining industry, the band moved to Blidworth in 1980 and became known as the Blidworth Colliery Welfare Band.
Now, under the musical direction of Martin Heartfield, the band is ever improving - and can proudly blow it’s own trumpet about its successes.
“We have got a lot of good players in the band,” said Sam.
“There’s a nice friendly atmosphere and there’s some good teamwork going on.”
The band rehearses twice a week, with the ages of members varying from 12, right up to those who have retired.
With the national finals taking place in Cheltenham, they are not only practising hard, but are fundraising hard to make sure they can cover the cost of attending the competition.
Sam says they need around £4,000 to pay for travel, accommodation and new instruments and are ‘really positive’ about their chances at the championships.
“The band is moving onwards and upwards,” she said.
“The quality of the sound and playing is improving all the time.
“We just want to get better and keep pushing ourselves.”
Anyone wanting to hear Blidworth Welfare Band for themselves can do at its upcoming concert at Mansfield Palace Theatre.
It is teaming up with Mansfield and District Male Voice Choir to put on an afternoon of music on Sunday 2nd June. Tickets are £6 and available on Mansfield 633133 or at www.mansfield.gov.uk/palacetheatre.
More information about the band or how you can sponsor them ahead of the nationals, can be found at www.blidworthwelfareband.co.uk or by contacting the Band Secretary on 07948 394272.