Cockerton Saxhorn Band was formed in 1863 when James Hoggett, the music teacher who lived at Beethoven House in Northgate, Darlington, first brought a number of young Cockerton men together to form a band.
The Cockerton Saxhorn Band's first engagement took place on August 22nd 1864, in the grounds of Cockerton Hall, and the band members played largely on borrowed instruments.
In 1870, the band became Cockerton Prize Silver Band as it is known today and in 1880, moved into a new rehearsal room at Cockerton Cocoa Palace opened in Forcett Street, a working men's club without alcohol.
Properly rehearsed, the band began to gain a reputation beyond Cockerton - but still they needed decent instruments. In 1889, they teamed up with the Shildon Temperance Band and raised £100 with a three-day musical bazaar in the Skinnergate Mechanics Institute.
This enabled the band to buy new instruments and patch up others and in 1905, when the Rise Carr Rolling Mills Band disbanded, Cockerton bought its set of silver-plated Besson instruments for £250.
For a couple of years, Cockerton had it all - instruments and rehearsal room. But then the cocoa revolution went cold and the Cockerton palace, like all the others in town, closed. The band were out on the streets. For a while, they rented a room in the Dr Syntax Inn on the Green. Then they built a large wooden shed behind the Drovers Inn. But in 1912, the Dr Syntax Inn (it was named after a 19th Century fictional character who was the Andy Capp of his day) closed, and the bandsmen clubbed together to buy it for £350. On November 23, 1912, they reopened it as the Cockerton Band Musical Institute. But they only stayed here until 1921 when they bought Cockerton Garth, a large house in its own grounds near the Drovers Inn. They converted the Garth's coach house into a bandroom and joined the Club and Institute Union.
In 1928, they signed a contract with Darlington FC. On match days, the band collected in the Market Square and marched in uniform to Feethams playing their arrangement of "Henry the VIII, I am, I am". Each bandsman got a £5 match fee, plus free admission.
Throughout their history, Cockerton Prize Silver Band have enjoyed competing both locally and at a National level, playing a great venues such as Crystal Palace and the Royal Albert Hall in London. Notable periods of success have been under Musical Director Cecil ‘ciggy’ Shutt in the 1930 – 1950s, and a prolific period during the early 1980s which saw the band rise to the Championship Section under the direction of Graham Catherall. Further successful Musical Directors have included Chris Lawn in the 1990s, Anthony Taylor and George Nicklin in the 1990s and 2000s.
In March 2019 the band qualified under the direction of current Musical Director Andy Hunter to represent the North of England at the National Brass Band Finals of Great Britain. This will be the Band’s 23rd appearance at the Nation Finals.