​​​Harry Crellin Best's Orch​estra (Blackburn)​

Harry Crellin Best was born in Blackburn in1882. His father Thomas Francis Best was a manager of a corn mill in the town. His mother Margaret had the surname Crellin and was born in Peel, Isle of Man. In 1910 Harry married Annie Elizabeth Crebbin and a year later lived at 40, New Park Street, Blackburn. He was described in the census as a 'professor of music-violinist'.

The orchestra quickly became an important 'establishment' band for the larger events particularly at the Town Hall in Blackburn. The following articles are all from the Blackburn Times.

Harry was only 25 when this report appeared on 16 February 1907 'The third of this season's series of dances in connection with the West End Cycling Club took place in Mr Taylor's Assembly Rooms on Monday evening. Mr H. C. Best's Orchestra supplied the dance music.

Also in the newspaper on the same date is an article about Harry. 'Three young Blackburn musicians – Messrs. H. Crellin Best, J. Dawson and H.W. Archibald, violinist, cornetist and pianist respectively have recently been adding to their laurels on the Isle of Man.'

On January 2 1909 'The Blackburn branch of the Women's Liberal Association held a social and dance at Blackburn Town Hall on Friday evening. Dancing took place between 8 pm and 2 am. Mr H. Crellin Best's Orchestra provided the music.' Also in 1909, on 23 January 'The Park Ward Conservative Association held a very successful social and dance in the Town Hall, Dancing was kept up from 8pm till 1am to the strains of Mr H. Crellin Best's Orchestra.'

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H. Crellin Best's Orchestra c.1911

On 26 January 1911 'The Blackburn League of Young Liberal's first annual social and dance was held in the Town Hall, Blackburn. Mr. H. Crellin Best's Band provided the music for dancing between 8 pm and 2 am.'

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Advertisement Blackburn Times, 6 January 1912

On 13 January 1912 'A fancy Dress Ball was given by the Mayor of Blackburn on Thursday evening. It was unfortunate that it should be held at the time of the cotton operatives' lockout of the mills.

Dancing was to the strains of Mr. Crellin Best's Band.' The dance programme was as follows: polka, lancers, valeta, valse, polka, lancers, barn dance, valse, polka, valeta and finishing again with the barn dance.'

An advertisement on 4 January 1913 informs us that 'There will be a 'Grand Liberal Ball on January 10th in Blackburn Town Assembly Rooms, Crellin Best's Celebrated Band will occupy the orchestra.'

The band resumed playing after the First World War and on 9 January 1921 'There were over 300 persons present at Blackburn Public Hall for the third annual ball held last night under the auspices of the National Association of Local Government Officers. Mr. H Crellin Best's Band provided the music for dancing.'

On 14 January 1922 'In Blackburn Public Hall on Saturday night, a ball was held in connection with Blackburn St John's Cricket Club. Mr H. Crellin Best's Orchestra provided the music for dancing.'

On 5 January 1924 'There is always a jolly air about any social event connected with the Technical College Student Union and last night's function in the Furness Hall was worthy of the usual quality of dance. Mr Crellin Best's Band provided the music for dancing.'

In the same year an advertisement in the Blackburn Times describes the band as a 'society' orchestra with details of the annual Moulders' Ball will take place on Saturday 23 February in Blackburn Town Hall. Mr Crellin Best's (Society) Orchestra will play for dancing between 7 and 11. Tickets: 1s. 6d.

On 20 December 1924 'A whist drive and dance was held by the East Lancashire Motor Cycling Club in the Popular Café on Thursday night when over 100 members and friends attended. Mr Crellin Best's Orchestra played for dancing.'

A brief article appeared in newspaper a week after his death on 16 December 1953. 'Widely known at East Lancashire musical festivals Mr Harry Crellin Best of Whinney Lane, Langho died on Wednesday aged 72.

A native of Blackburn, he came of musical stock. His father Mr T. Best was organist at Montague Street Baptist Church for more than 20 years. Mr Harry Crellin Best was a violinist of some repute. He was a music teacher in Blackburn and led two popular orchestras in the district.'

There are many other examples of local dance musicians in 'The Lancashire String Band' published by David Middlehurst.​

Article by David Middlehurst.​

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