|The Lochgelly Band, a coal miners' band in Scotland, 1890|
The growing popularity of brass instruments was aided by the endorsements of influential musicians such as the Distin family. This group of traveling musicians provided Adolph Sax with a ringing endorsement for his family of saxhorns. Prior to their 1844 encounter with Sax, the Distins made their reputation playing on slide trumpets, French Horns, keyed bugles and trombones. The Distins--John and his four sons--helped foster a new market for manufactured brass instruments and published music, primarily among the new and more affluent working class communities. In 1846 they became the British agent for Saxhorns--a short-term venture, as they began manufacturing their own instruments in 1850 after John's son Henry took over the family firm in 1849.
There is speculation as to why the brass band became popular so quickly, to the neglect of military bands or orchestras. Several reasons are possible. One is that valved instruments were suitable for mass production at a relatively cheap price--something not possible on woodwinds and keyed brasses that relied on the traditional craft skills. Also, a three-valved instrument tends to be somewhat more "user friendly" as opposed to the initial intimidation that a keyed instrument can evoke. Plus, the ease with which it fits into one's hands makes it initially easier to hold, as opposed to a violin or flute for example.