History of the Contest

Delph Contest’s official title is Delph Quickstep Contest, this rather quaint name refers to the march that is required to be played on the stand i.e. a quickstep march. It does tend to confuse people, especially at the bank and it is very irritating to be asked, rather flippantly, “Do you dance?” when depositing hard earned contests funds.

Although the first contests (Uppermill and Stalybridge) took place in 1884 it was not until after the war, with the return of men from the forces and the renewal of interest in brass playing, that a contest was started in Delph. The first one took place in 1946 and with the exception of 1956, a contest has been held every year since.

Our contest suffered immensely during the 1980’s through unfortunate media coverage, which advocated drinking all day and large numbers of ‘lager louts’ from out of the area were attracted to our village. Certainly, during the later part of the evening, Delph was not a very pleasant place to be and very far removed from the pleasant, family event we had previously enjoyed. However, we are pleased to say that this is no longer a problem and we are back to being able to enjoy a trouble free evening that can be enjoyed by all ages.

During the eighties, the old tradition of pea shooting during the procession of witness in the morning (not a tradition to be proud of, but nevertheless something that has gone on for as long as anyone can remember) developed into a major problem during the evening. Combined with all day drinkers lining the pavements and youths armed with pea-shooters aiming at bandsmen and their instruments, the contest, along with several others, developed a justifiably bad press.

Thanks to co-operation from all parties involved, the village is once again a safe and happy place to spend the evening and bands are no longer in danger of being ‘fired at’. Brought in to alleviate the problem of the lager louts; the mounted Police are no longer needed, thankfully and during the past few years everything has gone ahead peacefully with a small Police presence.

Our committee and local Police have worked extremely hard to correct these problems over the years and we hope that at last we have succeeded.

┬áIf a band arrives in the village and doesn’t want to wait; with the co-operation of our stewards and the help of the Police their coach will be marshalled through the village and they are then free to hurry off to the next contest venue.


Since the filming of “Brassed Off” at Delph in 1995, the contest seems to have become increasingly popular and queues of coaches get longer every year. A system is now in operation whereby one band waits at the end of Gartside Street where the contest ring is situated while a band is playing in the ring. This way almost twice as many bands can be turned round in the time is used to take for one. Obviously in the ideal conditions often enjoyed mid-evening, where one coach at a time is arriving, we revert to the old method of one band at a time and one lining up. Players and conductors were consulted before this system was adopted and it was on their recommendation that it went ahead. We can assure bands that we are doing everything possible to cut down their waiting time, which we know is extremely valuable to get in the required number of contests.

Everyone concerned with the contest is always looking at ways to improve, and the views of both players and spectators would be very welcome, please feel free to contact us.