The Luton band was founded in 1883 by six members of the Ashton Road Mission Band, due to the restrictions on the mission band not being allowed to take part in competitions. They won the World Championship, Crystal Palace, 1923 and many lesser prizes at Belle Vue and elsewhere. Well-known broadcasters. Taken from Daily Herald National Brass band Champions Festival Contest programme 1948.

By the beginning of the 20th century the band had built up quite a reputation . In 1908 the Luton Band were the first Brass Band to compete abroad, at the Brussels Exhibition; they were the first Brass Band to broadcast 'live' on radio (from Alexandra Palace) and the first Brass Band to play in a Film, ‘Up for the Cup’ in 1929. 

By 1910, the band's professional conductor was William Halliwell. Not only did he conduct Luton, Mr Halliwell conducted many bands in the north of England, including Wingates Temperance and Foden's Motor Works - quite a feat, especially as this was before fast cars and motorways! Anyway, it was upon his recommendation that Fred Mortimer, from Hebden Bridge was appointed Bandmaster at Luton. So in 1911, the entire Mortimer family settled in Talbot Road, and Fred obtained employment in the Hat industry. Having just paid for, what we would now call, 're-location' expenses  the Band were having difficulties in finding money to pay the Bandmaster. Fred must have feared the worst, having uprooted his young family. Luckily, the patronage of Lady Zia Wernher of Luton Hoo was obtained and Fred was paid £2 a week to conduct the band. Fred's son, Harry Mortimer (with brothers Alex and Rex) began playing in the Junior Band, but quickly moved into the senior band, ultimately becoming Principal Cornet. Harry's biography says that Fred formed the Junior Band, but the review booklet shows there was a Junior Band at Luton in 1907. However, the Junior Band paid handsome dividends in the years to come. 

 In 1912, the Band took part in the International Music Contest held in Paris, and Fred’s son the great Harry Mortimer began playing with the band in 1913. Thankfully, all band members, who had fought in the First World War, returned safely to Luton in 1918. The National Brass Band Championships held at Crystal Palace (begun in 1900), which had been suspended during the conflict, were finally reinstated in 1920. 

 In 1923 the band became National Champions of Great Britain, winning  the '1000 Guinea Trophy' and beat some of the best bands in the land. To date we are the only southern band to achieve this honour.  However, Ted Carter's celebrations were unusual as is quite common and for the sake of musical sound and balance, Fred Mortimer had asked Ted to switch to the Flugelhorn for the competition and vowed that should Luton win he would throw 'this damn coffee-pot' under the first train he saw. Quite amazingly...he did precisely that....

The Mortimer’s were tempted to move north in 1924/1925, and join the emerging Foden’s Motor Works Band, ...and enjoy even greater success !! Harry Mortimer was destined to become one of THE greatest celebrities the brass band movement has ever known, and in later years he also became associated with the famous Luton Girls Choir. 

When the Mortimer's left Luton, Ted Carter , Ernie Davis (a product of the Junior Band) and, of course, Albert Coupe became the band's leaders. 

In the 1960's the venerable BBC ran a radio contest called 'Challenging Brass' - and Gilbert Vinter (who, at that time, was working as a composer and conductor for the 'Beeb') composed the title tune. The format was simple: each band performed a short programme which was the broadcast on the radio and judged by a suitably qualified panel. I guess that 'Best of Brass' was the (1970's) TV equivalent. In 1965 Luton lost in the semi-final of 'Challenging to Camborne Town. After the final the 4 semi-finalists (Rushden, Camborne, Hanwell and Luton) performed a 'massed band' concert and Derek Garside was the guest soloist.

In 1972 (22nd April 1972 - to be exact) the Luton Band won the Championship section of the W.D. & H.O. Wills Brass Band Championships, St. Austell were 2nd and Desford Colliery Welfare were 3rd. The picture on the left is the trophy. These Championships ended in 1973 and the band were allowed to keep the trophy.

Sadly, 1972 also saw the death of our BBb bass player Fred Hargreaves. In his will Fred left around £10.000 - a princely sum! Of which he left, approximately, £500 to his family, the rest was placed  in  a Trust Fund for the Band and, thankfully, this has provided us with a small income when times are hard.

 In 1978 Eric Capron, playing Soprano Cornet was proclaimed Solo Champion of Great Britain. There is more about Eric on  the 'Famous Faces page'. During the 1960's & 70's the Band was served by Derek Stillwell, first as a player and then as Chairman, he was joined in the Band by his son Nick. Derek started playing with the Kent's Works Band in Luton before joining us in the mid-60's. He retired to Kent (the county !) in the 1980's and we sadly learned of his death in 1995. First Section Banding is quite seriously devoid of 'cups & shields' as extra prizes, so the Luton Band were proud to initiate the 'Derek Stillwell (Luton Band) Memorial Trophy'. This is presented annually to the most outstanding Cornet player in the First Section at the London & Southern Counties Regional Contest.  It was first presented, in 1996, by Derek's widow, Daphne to Richard Graves. Derek worked hard for the Band, and we felt that this is a suitable tribute.

During the 1970's and 80's the Band continued to make radio broadcasts, either 'Listen to the Band' on Radio 2 or 'Bandstand' on Radio 3 and feature on local television. We have also made a number of recordings and filmed a promotional video for London's Trocadero, which was shown in MGM cinemas. 

The last win on the 'Contest' stage was at the 1997 Aylesbury Contest. We won the 'Open' section playing Trittico by James Curnow, Conducted by Phillip Littlemore.