1932 to 1946
After a gap of some 38 years, a correspondent writing under the pseudonym ‘Tyke’ wrote the following in Brass Band News of March 1932:Salts Silver, under the tuition of Mr H B Hawley, are making remarkable progress. This is a newly-formed band of 24 enthusiastic performers who mean business. Their practice-room is in the Royal Café, Saltaire, kindly provided rent-free by Messrs. Salts of Saltaire. Mr Hawley has gradually built up this combination to his own liking, and is taking them to their first contest at Pudsey on March 25 th. Mr Hawley is a local organist and composer, and will not be satisfied with his band until it sounds like his organ. A prize at Pudsey is their determination.
Sad to say, the opposition was too strong and the band failed to win a prize at Pudsey. However, the second phase was now under way. The band became a member of the Harrogate & District Brass Band Association, of which Mr Hawley was an official. It was at one of the Association’s contests, held in Saltaire in May 1934, that the new band achieved its first win. The band played in the first section, which had an entry of 12 bands, so this was quite an achievement for a two-year-old band.
The band was now regularly competing in local contests and even participated in the May contest at Belle Vue on occasion. It regularly changed its name, appearing not only as Salts Silver, but also as Saltaire Mills, Saltaire Subscription and Salts (Saltaire). In addition to the contests, the band participated in local functions – carnivals, park concerts and civic occasions. In 1936 it acquired a new set of uniforms for an appearance at the Belle Vue July contest and had made sufficient progress to be offered a broadcast engagement by the BBC in November. Frank Haigh, a noted Bradford cornet player was now playing principal cornet.
In 1937 Salts Band provided music for the visit to Shipley of the King and Queen and by now its conductor, ‘H B’, was proving to be something of a composer, with a number of published marches to his name. Several more prizes were picked up and in a period when Britain was facing acute economic problems, with many bands closing down, this new band did remarkably well.
As Salts (Saltaire) it ‘soldiered on’ through the difficult war years, regularly losing members to the armed forces. In the latter part of 1940 Mr Hawley engaged Noel Thorpe as professional conductor and his monthly visits took the band to a higher musical level. More contests were won and, through Mr Hawley’s business contacts, lucrative engagements came the band’s way. In 1945 Harry Grace, a successful Bradford brass band conductor succeeded Noel Thorpe.
However, H B Hawley’s enthusiasm for Salts was now waning. He had been the motivator and, frankly, its anonymous sponsor since its founding in 1932. Early in 1946 he decided to form a new junior band, which he hoped to build up in connection with the welfare of his business. He was, in fact, the managing director of Hammonds Sauce Company, based in Shipley, of which Saltaire was a part. Herbert Bowdin Hawley had founded the company in 1924. It had traded under a variety of names and had turned out a variety of products. In 1933 the name ‘ Hammonds ’ appeared and, through its Hammonds Chop Sauce, developed into the largest privately owned sauce company in Britain.
But back to the junior band. It started with 16 beginners and within about six months Mr Hawley was able to form a band of 22. For a short time the juniors and the older band existed side by side, but without Mr Hawley’s drive, interest at Salts waned and the band completed its last engagement in July 1946. Several of its members joined the new group, which also acquired the old band’s music library and some instruments.