AN historic Whitefield band is this year celebrating a very special birthday.

The renowned Besses Boys' Band is marking its milestone 75th anniversary.

Emerging as a feeder to the world famous Besses o' th' Barn Band, which is this year enjoying its own 200th birthday, the Boys Band has had a long and illustrious career, rising to be one of the nations best and the longest surviving youth brass band.

The band was conceived in the dark days of the Second World after the Besses o' th' Barn Band lost 50 per cent of its members in the conflict in a matter of months.

To help ensure that the parent band would have an continuing supply of talented musicians for the future, four young lads, Jim Cowburn, Rowland Curless, Harold Galloway and Stan Warburton decided to form a 'nursery class'.

The band quickly grew and would go onto to become a near unstoppable success in its own right.

Soon recognised as Besses Boys' Band, the outfit held its first performances in 1943 and 1944.

From there band went from strength to strength rising to competition standard, and winning the British Junior Championship at Belle Vue three years in a row from 1945.

Although the band were barred from entry in 1948 after their hat-trick, the band returned to the venue to claim two more victories before the contest was ended ­— winning five times in six years.

Besses Boys' also won fame on the concert stage and appeared in shows alongside Richard Murdoch, Tommy Handley, and Jack Train; with as well as making regular radio broadcasts and a TV appearance in 1958.

During the 1950s and 60s under the tutelage of the celebrated Willie Wood and Pat Edgar the band would record a 78 record and play a busy concert diary, including the first of their successful spring concerts in Radcliffe.

Into the 1970s at Mr Edgar made way for the longstanding Barrie Chappell, the band enjoyed a remarkable run of success, being placed in competitions over 100 times ­— including 60 first place awards and a record seven years as the North West Youth Champions of Great Britain.

A pivotal moment for the band came in 1985 as it rebounded from the loss of 15 players who were replaced by younger less experienced musicians to become one of the the most noteworthy youth bands in history.

The band clicked immediately going on to win and place highly in contest after contest, including another national title and Fourth Section Championship win in 1987.

Further highlights under Mr Chappell included two LP recordings and an appearance with Roy Castle on the BBC's Brass Beat Series.

The band also made a tour of Australia financed by the boys themselves through jumble sales, coffee mornings and personal contributions performing in Brisbane at the World Festival of Bands, which earned them compliments from the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In another historic moment, from 1989 women were allowed to join Besses Boys' for the first time ­— a decision spearheaded by band secretary Irene Grady, whose admission to the committee had been a vital first step.

In the 1990s the band had the honour of three royal performances, for the Queen at the opening of Bury Metrolink, for Princess Anne at the opening of Manchester G-Mes exhibition centre, and for Prince Edward at a dinner.

They also represented the North West at the reorganised National Youth Championship final in 1993.

More recently the band was declared the North West Region Fourth Section Champions in the 2000s and in an unprecedented move two Besses Old Boys, Chris Wormald and Colin Duxbury, were awarded the Mortimer Medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians for services to youth band music.