Bandsmen, Brass Band Uniforms and Nineteenth-Century Militarism: Southern Pennine Bandsmen and Stereotypes of Military Masculinity, c. 1840–1914

  • Stephen Etheridge
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


In spite of being a national movement, brass bands are accepted—almost without question—as being working class and Northern. This was partly because of the density of brass bands found in their cultural home; the Southern Pennines. This large number of brass bands concentrated in an industrial region allows Etheridge to explore two gendered themes that emerged in this period. They are, firstly, the military orthodoxy found in the training of bandsmen and, secondly, how a top-down driven desire for bandsmen to act as gentlemen was a difficult culture to enforce amongst working-class men. Etheridge then, through an examination of bandsmen’s uniforms, explores the military imagery of brass bands in the public space and how working-class men reacted to the restrictions imposed by this culture of gentlemanly educational expectations and the martial influences of uniforms. These explorations add to the understanding of a period when both men and women were taking part in pastimes that started to define working-class cultural identity after the mid-nineteenth century.


Gender Masculinity Working class Northernness Brass band Leisure Martial Uniforms 

Works Cited

  1. Benson, John. 1989. The Working Class in Britain, 1850–1939. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  2. Bourke, Joanna. 1994. Working-Class Cultures in Britain, Gender, Ethnicity and Class. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Carrington, Robert. 1981. The Centenary Chronicle of Rothwell Temperance Band, 1881–1981, a Tribute to Those Who Have Gone Before. Rothwell: n.p.Google Scholar
  4. Childs, Martin. 1992. Labour’s Apprentices: Working-Class Lads in Late Victorian and Edwardian England. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Clark, Anna. 1995. The Struggle for the Breeches, Gender and the Making of the British Working Class. London: Rivers Oram.Google Scholar
  6. Etheridge, Stephen. 2015. Music as a Lifelong Pursuit for Bandsmen in the Southern Pennines, ca.1840–1914: Reflections on Working-Class Masculinity. In Gender, Age and Musical Creativity, ed. Lisa Colton and Catherine Haworth, 83–100. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2017. Southern Pennine Brass Bands and the Creation of Northern Identity, c. 1840–1914: Musical Constructions of Space, Place and Region. Northern History 54 (2): 244–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Francis, Martin. 2002. The Domestication of the Male? Recent Research on Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century British Masculinity. The Historical Journal 45: 637–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harvey, Karen, and Alexander Shepard. 2005. What Have Historians Done with Masculinity? Reflections on Five Centuries of British History, Circa 1500–1950. Journal of British Studies 44: 274–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Herbert, Trevor. 2000a. God’s Perfect Minstrels: The Bands of the Salvation Army. In The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History, ed. Trevor Herbert, 187–216. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2000b. Nineteenth-Century Bands: The Making of a Movement. In The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History, ed. Herbert Trevor, 165–169. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2004. Selling Brass Instruments: The Commercial Imaging of Brass Instruments (1830–1930) and Its Cultural Messages. Music in Art: The International Journal for Music Iconography 28 (1–2): 213–226.Google Scholar
  13. Herbert, Trevor, and Helen Barlow. 2012. The British Military as a Musical Institution. In Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Music and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Britain, ed. Paul Rodmell, 247–266. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  14. Herbert, Trevor, and John Wallace. 2000. Aspects of Performance Practices: The Brass Band and its Influence on Other Brass Playing Styles. In The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History, ed. Trevor Herbert, 278–305. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hobsbawm, Eric J. 1968. Industry and Empire from 1750 to the Present Day. London: Penguin. This Edition Revised and Updated with Chris Wrigley. New York: New York Press, 1999. Page References Are to the 1999 Edition.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1999. The Making of the Working Class, 1870–1914. In Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz, ed. Eric J. Hobsbawm, 78–99. London: Abacus. First Published 1998 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.Google Scholar
  17. Jordan, Hariett. 1994. Public Parks, 1885–1914. Garden History 22 (1): 85–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Joyce, Patrick. 1980. Work, Society and Politics: The Culture of the Factory in Later Victorian England. Brighton: Methuen.Google Scholar
  19. Lomas, Michael J. 1990. Amateur Brass and Wind Bands in Southern England Between the Late Eighteenth Century and Circa 1900. PhD Dissertation, The Open University.Google Scholar
  20. Lord, Stephen. 2005. The History and Some Personal Recollections of the Whitworth Vale and Healy Band. Bacup: n.p.Google Scholar
  21. Mangan, J.A. 2000. Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public Schools: The Emergence and Consolidation of an Educational Ideology. Abingdon: Routledge. First Published 1981 by the Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  22. Mangan, J.A., and James Walvin, eds. 1987. Manliness and Morality, Middle-Class Masculinity in Britain and America, 1800–1940. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McKenzie, Callum, and J.A. Mangan. 2008. ‘Duty unto Death’ – The Sacrificial Warrior: English Middle Class Masculinity and Militarism in the Age of the New Imperialism. The International Journal of the History of Sport 25 (9): 1080–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McWilliam, Rohan. 1998. Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century England. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Michael, Roper, and John Tosh, eds. 1991. Manful Assertions, Masculinities in Britain Since 1800. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Newsome, Roy. 1999. The 19th Century Brass Band in Northern England: Musical and Social Factors in the Development of a Major Amateur Musical Medium. PhD Dissertation, University of Salford.Google Scholar
  27. Rose, Algernon S. 1895. Talks with Bandsmen: A Popular Handbook for Brass Instrumentalists. London: n.p.Google Scholar
  28. Russell, David. 1979. The Popular Music Societies of the Yorkshire Textile District, 1850–1914: A Study of the Relationships Between Music and Society. PhD Dissertation, University of York.Google Scholar
  29. Taylor, Arthur R. 1979. Brass Bands. St Albans/London: Granada Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Etheridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarIrwell Vale, LancashireUK

Personalised recommendations