A RENOWNED and treasured Whitefield institution is to celebrate its very special birthday with a commemorative concert.

The world famous Besses o' th' Barn will host its 200th Anniversary Reunion Concert at Bury Parish Church from 7pm on October 27.

The concert will feature the 2018 Besses o' th' Barn Band, who will be joined by a Besses Reunion Band, consisting of dozens of former band members.

There will also be a display of historical photographs and memorabilia charting the band's extraordinary journey and rich heritage.

Barrie Chappell, from Besses o' th' Barn Band, said: " This anniversary concert should be a great evening.

"The programme will be quite light for people to enjoy the 200 years we have achieved. And of course this is the start of our third century, so we want to bring to the fore our great history and also show that we have got a bright future as well."

"We will have almost a double band, with 30 former band members invited to join us, so there's going to be a big band and big sound."

The period is also a busy one for the band as they forge ahead with restoration work on their invaluable and historic 19th century band room.

Home to the band since 1868, the band club and union in Moss Lane had fallen into a dilapidated condition, but thanks to the hard work of volunteers and band members is now on the way to returning to its former glory.

Mr Chappell said:"We have had a hell of a time with the band room, but we are back in there now. It's not finished but there is heating and lighting and no damp, so we are moving on.

"Hopefully it will be completed by next summer. Our plans are quite restrained because of money but people are coming and rolling their sleeves up and doing things.

"It is nice to be back in there and the music sounds a lot better."

Formed in 1818 from men returning from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the Besses o' th' Barn Band is the second oldest brass band in the world.

Little is known about the band's first decades, however they are first recorded as winning a competition to mark the coronation of King George IV on July 19, 1821, with a rendition of God Save The King.

Formally emerging as an all brass band in 1853, Besses became an increasingly professional and successful outfit meaning by 1892 they were the holders of every major open competition cup in Britain.

Throughout the early decades of the 20th century the band toured the length and breadth of Britain and performed for royalty, dignitaries and huge crowds; as well as travelling to France and across the Americas and the Pacific to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

They also continued on their winning ways championing innumerable competitions.

However at the outbreak of the Second World War 50 per cent of the band's members were killed in a matter of months.

The loss encouraged the band to form the Besses Boys Band in 1943 as a feeder to ensure a supply of talented musicians into the future.

In more recent decades the band has enjoyed more memorable highlights, with their sixth and seventh British Open wins in 1959 and 1982, and extensive concert performances and touring; including to Finland and Switzerland.

Tickets for the anniversary concert, priced £10 for adults and £8 for concessions, are available from Bury Parish Church or by calling 01612904721.