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WATCH: Anne Princess Royal sounds the horn of Honley trombone maker Michael Rath

She flew in to meet the small 10 strong team, who have risen to success to become one of the leading brands in the world

The success of a trombone maker was sounded when top royal brass paid a visit.

Honley-based Michael Rath Brass Musical Instruments supplies musicians all over the world and was feeling over the moon when the Princess Royal accepted an invitation to come to its humble home on New Mill Road.

The company which was started by Mick Rath in 1996 and is now the only trombone maker in the UK, was handpicked from hundreds of UK businesses.

Curious crowds gathered along the Honley streets to watch the arrival of Princess Anne, who flew in by helicopter to nearby Holmfirth High School with the Vice Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Tim Hare, before arriving at the Honley works by car, flanked by police.

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She was greeted by the factory’s 10-strong workforce, who manage to create up to 450 trombones each year, before being given a guided tour to understand how the instruments are made.

Mick, who gives precise designs for his team of technicians to follow, said: “It’s just a brilliant honour.

“We get visitors from all over the world but we have never had royalty before.

“It is great to get this recognition because it highlights all the hard work that we have put in over the years to keep what is a very traditional Yorkshire tradition alive.

“We have lots of international customers and the ones from the USA, some of whom have flown over especially for the occasion, are particularly excited that she is coming.

“Our company has grown by 60% so we are very happy that we can celebrate this with her.

Mick was also joined by other local business people and several professional UK trombonists, such as jazz musician Dennis Rollins and former Black Dyke Band member, Brett Baker.

Lorne Campbell / Guzelian Rath trombone artists Dennis Rollins (left) and Brett Baker.
Rath trombone artists Dennis Rollins (left) and Brett Baker.

Mick and his team of technicians then illustrated to Princess Anne the time and effort involved in creating each instrument, which can take up to 70 hours to make.

Most of the technicians play brass instruments in local groups, such as senior worker, Tom Wellings, a member of Dobcross Silver Band.

He said: “It’s very satisfying that she came to look at our work and raise even more awareness of what we do.

“Our instruments start out as sheets of brass which we then work on as a team to create the finished item.”

As a token of thanks for her visit, in which she also unveiled a plaque in the company’s reception, she was given a small brass hunting horn, which was made by Mick especially for the occasion.


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