It has been Yorkshire’s anthem since Victorian times, but now a brass band leader is launching a campaign to stop Ilkla Moor Baht ’At dying out.

Gordon Eddison, a school music teacher and musical director of Otley Brass Band, says fewer young people than ever know about the famous tune, which has been part and parcel of life in the county for generations.

He fears the legendary folk song will be forgotten and is heading plans for a county-wide campaign in 2012 to safeguard its future.

“I’m more Yorkshire than a piece of parkin, so this has really got to me,” he said.

“If we don’t do something about it, the only way young people are going to get to know On Ilkla Moor Baht ’At is through a novelty tea towel.

“Over recent years I’ve got used to seeing blank faces when I ask youngsters to play On Ilkla Moor Baht ’At. Five years ago it might have been a quarter of the children I teach who had a vague idea about the song. But in the last couple of years it’s got even worse.

“I’ve made a point, when I come across young people, of checking how many know it. I’d say that only about ten per cent of children have a clue when I ask them about the song and that’s very worrying.”

Mr Eddison, who teaches brass instruments at schools in the Wharfe Valley and across Leeds, says the song is perfect for helping beginners to master moving from one note to another.

But he says a lack of knowledge of the song is not just limited to children.

“If most people in their twenties don’t know the song either, then slowly but surely On Ilkla Moor Baht ’At will die out,” Mr Eddison said.

“When I ask audiences to see if their children and grandchildren know the song, the adults say ‘of course our children know it’, but when they test the theory they tend to find a different story. This is our song. We’ve got to tackle this situation at home and in schools.

“Unless everyone in the county takes some responsibility for passing it onto the next generation, then On Ilkla Moor Baht ’At is going to be relegated to history.”

For the campaign, Mr Eddison, 55, plans to teach the song to youngsters throughout the county – starting with a concert at the King’s Hall, in Ilkley, on Saturday, which will feature a newly-commissioned arrangement of On Ilkla Moor Baht ’At sung by children from schools in the town and Otley, Scout troops and junior members of Wharfe Brass.

Tickets for the Otley Band Baht ’At concert are available on 01943 602319 or via the website

Tickets are priced at £7 for adults and £2 for children.