This is the drum of the old John Smedley silver band, which sits in the newly opened Smedley archives and is the focus on my favourite anecdote from the factory’s history.

Smedley was known around the region for its silver band – different to a brass band, at least in the early days, in that it could afford silver-plated instruments as well as lacquered, or brass.

In 1912, Smedley workers went out on strike in support of the nationwide coal miners strike – which began in Derbyshire, not far from the Smedley factory. The silver band played in support of the strikers, and as a result John Smedley (the son of the founder, and now the owner) took away its funding.

When John Smedley demanded the band’s drum back, the drummer threw it up into the rafters of the building, declaring “if he wants it he can bloody well get it himself”.

It remained there, in plain view, for over 100 years – until it was taken down at Easter this year to be included in the archives.

And here’s a bit of fun, a letter from 1958 (click to enlarge):

Photography: Luke Carby