The band was formed in 1910 as the Craghead Colliery Band in the mining village of Craghead near Stanley in County Durham. The colliery formed a band to provide recreational activity and social outlet for the miners and to lead funeral processions following fatalities at the pit. After reforming following World War I the band decided to enter the contest arena, becoming North of England Champions by 1924. The onset of World War II saw many band members leave County Durham to serve their country, many of whom did not return, however in 1950 a former principal cornet player with the band called Eric Cunningham did return to the North East and took up the baton.

During an outstanding partnership lasting over 40 years Eric guided the band through great musical development, from 2nd section National Finals in the early 1950’s to Championship Section status in 1959, a position retained to this day. The band qualified to compete in the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in 1963 and have continued to qualify almost every year since, 36 times as Regional Champions.

Principal Players

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