A brief history

What's new

Training Band Musical Director



The City of Chester Training Band are looking for a new Musical Director to lead the band during rehearsals and public performance. This is the middle band within the City of Chester Band organisation, and is aimed at developing our beginner and intermediate players to feed into the main contesting band lead by Ewan Easton MBE. Ewan also leads the Junior Band for ages 7-11 to help feed into the Training Band. The players consist of all ages from 11 to 80+, and are an enthusiastic bunch that are keen to learn. The band enjoys a sensible amount of engagements throughout the year.

Band rehearsals are 6pm - 7:30pm on Mondays (Term time only) at St Luke's Church, Huntington, Chester, CH3 6BT

For further enquiries please contact Tony Blain, Coordinator, on 07904272611 or e-mail: [email protected] 

Training & Junior Bands Are Back!

Matthew McCleary


After 18 months off the City of Chester Training Band & City of Chester Junior Band both resumed to rehearsals back in July 2021. Within a few weeks of getting back up to speed with playing in an ensemble again, the Training Band have been able to perform at a number of engagements recently such as the Chester Marathon, Chester Half Marathon, Gresford Carol service, Saughall Carol service and Huntington Carol service. The Junior Band remain under the guidance of Ewan Easton MBE, and the numbers are steadily rising again post return. We have a wide variety of ages within the two groups. 7-11 in the Junior Band and 11-80 something with a full range in between in our Training Band. 

Both bands are keen to return to full numbers again and are looking forward to doing a wide range of concerts and engagements throughout the year.

If you are interested in learning an instrument this year or joining please contact Tony Blain, Coordinator, on 07904272611 or e-mail: [email protected]  Many of our players have returned to playing after a long break.


North West Area Brass Band Championships

Matthew McCleary


The City of Chester Band are preparing to compete at the North West Area Brass Band Championships held in Blackpool Winter Gardens on Sunday 27th February 2022. Sadly the 2021 instalment of the Championships had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the competition resumes as it was in 2020 with the band remaining top of the third section. City of Chester were unlucky to not gain promotion to the second section last time with a respectable 5th place, however another good performance this time around could secure promotion and a place at the National Finals in September.

* (Indicates that the band were in a different section that year, so a median average position awarded).

Brass success for Ryan

Tony Blain


One member of the Training Band has been very busy during lock down . Here is his story

During lockdown in April, I got fed up of practicing the same things, so my Dad saw something about the National Children's Brass Band of Great Britain on social media  and decoded to fill in the application form and sent it off, I had to choose a test piece from a list and a contrasting pidce of my choice, so I chose Trumpeters Lullaby from test piece and Air by Peter McCann for my own choice, also in audition would be sight reading and scales, I had to learn 12 scales by memory as I wouldn't know which ones they would choose for me to play, I practiced and practiced and when happy with pieces sent them off, had my audition on Sunday in late October and did sight reading and scales which they chose 5,waited 2 weeks for the result and so happy that I was successful, my hard work paid off in the summer.


Ryan Jones 

Age 11

Extended Break

Tony Blain


Well in these uncertain times the Training and Junior bands will be taking an extended break for the foreseeable future. But do not think that we are down and out we WILL return when this pandemic blows over so keep your eyes open for further details.  

Well earned retirement

Donna Jackson


Two of our long standing members have recently retired from playing with City of Chester

John Hallas and Malcolm  Kerry have given many years to the brass band movement and we at the City of Chester are very grateful to have had their loyal service for many years. The training band will miss John's contributions over the years and many playing in the band now will have had his contribution to their playing. We also thank Renee and Jean for their forebearance with the commitments to band. 


Here in their own words is a brief precis of their banding careers


John Hallas

I started playing in 1950 at the age of 11 and joined Clayton West Band (near Huddersfield) on Third Cornet.  My father George was principal cornet and shortly became musical director.  I moved up the ranks and achieved the front row in about 1958 playing second solo cornet and occasionally principal.  In the late 50s until the middle 60s I played cornet in a local traditional jazz band (all 6 of us from the same church choir) and trumpet in a 14-piece dance band.  In the middle 60s Clayton West and the nearby Emley bands combined and I continued playing second solo cornet (the band is now just named Emley).

In 1968, after audition, I played with Brighouse and Rastrick Band for 4-5 months variously on tutti and back row cornet.  I was offered a place on tutti cornet but had to decline because of changed family and work circumstances.  In 1969 we moved to Chester and I joined the City of Chester Band



Malcolm Kerry


I was born in Liverpool in 1937 and started playing at the age of 13, joining The Sailors Chapel Band.  In 1953, aged 16, I joined Liverpool City Silver Band.  After National Service, I returned to Liverpool joining the Edge Hill (BR) Band which competed at the highest level against Foden, Fairey and CWS (Manchester) at regional level, then against the likes of Black Dyke, Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe at  the national championships in the Royal Albert Hall and the British Open.  In 1975 changes within the Edge Hill Band led to my moving on, joining another Championship band, Skelmersdale, with whom I played until 2005 when I transferred to City of Chester.

I have played the BBb tuba throughout my playing career.  When commitments allow I still play with The Sailors Chapel Band.  In 2016 I received the North West Brass Band Association’s Diamond Diploma of Honour.


Peter Dalton

Donna Jackson



Today representatives of City of Chester Training band and main band joined a packed congregation for the funeral mass of Peter Dalton.

Peter had taught generations of brass players and we were very lucky that , for many years, he taught many of our training band.

Many of Chester's past and present players had been taught brass by Peter, and Kirsty Blain , who he introduced to brass 19 years ago, is continuing his legacy coaching the next generation of brass players.

Our deepest sympathy to his wife , Kate, and family.

The most fitting tribute to Peter was the verve with which the congregation sang the hymns , however as the congregation was composed of many members of the choirs Peter had led , as well as many other musicians it was , perhaps , not surprising.

Blackpool beckons

Donna Jackson


The band will be in Blackpool on Sunday 24th February to take part in the North West Regional Contest which decides the bands' ranking.


Sun or rain it's a grand day out and tickets can be bought on the day. We will be competing in the third section. 

Good luck to all involved. 




Success at Brass at the Guild

Donna Jackson


An early and earnest start to rehearsals paid off for the band , when on Sunday 27th February , under the musical direction of Matthew Birkett they came in third place in the third section at Brass at the Guild in Preston.

Almost as importantly they had a good day out meeting up with friends and rivals , followed by a pub lunch reward for getting up early on a Sunday. 

Our band master Matthew Birkett has now an enviable record in conducting Chester in competition, conducted twice and third place both times. 

No rest for the band though as they continue to prepare for the regionals in Blackpool in February.




End of year thanks

Donna Jackson


With one more rehearsal and two more jobs we would like to take time for thanking those who have made 2018 special

The junior , training and senior bands who have turned up rain , hail , snow and , occasionally, sun and not only made music but also a spirit of camaraderie through good and bad

The families and partners who have put up with the time commitments and have supported and acted as photographers , chauffeurs, roadies , practice reminders and supporters

The committee who have kept the show on the road and who have committed to ensuring a vibrant future for the band

All those involved in training and junior band , at a time when one of our student members returned home to play in his home bands last ever concert before disbanding , we are lucky to field a combined band of over 70 people , due to the hard work of all particularly those who conduct , run and tutor junior and training bands

Our MD Ewan. He inspires us to improve even when playing swing .

Those who provided us with fabulous playing opportunities. We performed 48 times this year with audiences ranging from a few weather resistant stalwarts to over 15,000. A particular mention must be made of tip top theatres production of Brassed Off. All of us thoroughly enjoyed participating in a special production and it was wonderful to have the cast join us for the real Whit Friday marches.

Finally thank you to our audiences. Music is nothing if it is not heard . Our audiences have made our music making worthwhile and , as a self supporting band, their financial contributions means we continue to play and teach the next generations the joys and traditions of brass band music.

Wishing all the peace and joy of the season.