Fred Mortimer was born in Hebden Bridge on St Cecilia’s Day, November 22, 1880. His three sons, Rex, Alex, and Harry all received their first musical training from him. Harry Mortimer received his first cornet from Hebden Bridge Brass Band as the pre-war committee book reads: “Master H. Mortimer is to be provided with a comet on which to learn.”.
Fred had started his musical career as a cornet player in Hebden Bridge, working his way along the front row seats and eventually becoming a ‘playing’ conductor. This involved playing with the right hand and beating time with the left. During his tenure as bandmaster, Hebden Bridge Band enjoyed unrivaled contest success, including winning the British Open Contest in 1911 under the baton of William Halliwell. The band returned to Hebden Bridge to find the streets filled with crowds of well wishers wanting to share this great occasion with their band.
Honours and plaudits surrounded the family long after they had left the Calder Valley. Harry went on to become the most famous cornet and trumpet player of his generation, as well as a well-respected conductor, receiving an OBE and a CBE in the Queens Honours list for his contribution to music. His father, Fred, was granted the freedom of his native town on Sunday 12th March 1944.