The band originated in the period 1832-40 as a fife and drum ensemble attached to Chester’s Blue Coat School. Money left over from a fund established by the 'Ladies of Chester' to buy a present for Queen Victoria led to the ensemble becoming a British brass band. The money was donated to the Blue Coat School foundation, and so the Blue Coat School Brass Band came about. With a likely formation date of 1853, the band celebrated its 150th Birthday in 2003.
Prior to World War II the Chester Blue Coat Band would regularly walk the city walls as part of a religious event marking Palm Sunday. The perambulation of the walls was re-created in September 2003 as part of the events commemorating the 150th anniversary, and again in 2013.
Although no longer referred to as The Blue Coat Band, the link with the past is maintained through the Band’s distinctive blue uniform. The jacket also carries a badge of the famous Eastgate Clock, recognisable around the world as a symbol of Chester, a city with a fine cultural heritage which the Band has been proud to represent for over 150 years.
Apart from the period of World War I, when the instruments were loaned to the military for recruitment purposes, the Band has been active ever since, becoming independent of The Blue Coat School in Northgate Street, Chester in the mid-20th century when it acquired charitable status and its own band room in Bedward Row, close to the city centre.
The Band returned to the brass band contesting scene in the 1970s and made its first European tour in 1982 when it toured Switzerland under the musical direction of the late John Golland. In 2014 and 2016 the Band visited Amboise, in the Loire Valley, to compete in the French Open Brass Band Championships.
Today the Band proudly carries the City name and is totally self-supporting, income being derived from members’ subscriptions and fees or donations earned through performing engagements. A lottery grant in 1997 enabled the purchase of new instruments and the widening of public access to the band, brass band music and the formation of a thriving Training Band.
Main band rehearsals are held in the Bedward Row band room on Mondays and Wednesdays from 20:00 to 22:00 under the musical direction of Ewan Easton MBE, Principal Tuba with the Halle Orchestra and Tutor in Tuba at the Royal Northern College of Music.
In 2000 the City of Chester Training Band was formed and several former members now occupy principal seats within the main band. The mixed-ability Training Band comprises young people aged 7 to 70. Several times a year the main and training bands combine for joint rehearsals under Ewan Easton’s direction.
Early in 2017 the City of Chester Junior Band was started, aimed exclusively at children aged 7 to 11. These bands meet on Monday evenings during term time in St Luke’s Church, Huntington between 18:00 and 19:30.