The Dalkeith Burgh and Monktonhall Colliery Brass Bands merged in 1989 following the demise of and cessation of financial support from the coal industry. The newly formed Band was named The Dalkeith and Monktonhall Colliery Band. Both bands 'pooled' their equipment, instruments, music library and players under one roof. As the Dalkeith Band had no suitable premises, everything was moved to the Monktonhall band room in Prestonpans, where the Monktonhall Band and it's predecessor the Prestonlinks Colliery Band had been centred since 1918.
Nowadays the band name is generally shortened to D&M and D&M are still based in Prestonpans. The Band took tenancy of the Red School top flat in Kirk Street as headquarters and band room in September 2021.
Part of the equipment stock that came from Dalkeith in 1989 was an old wooden bodied rope tensioned bass drum. The drum was ornately decorated, and hand painted to include The Dalkeith Burgh Band name and the date of 1925. The drum had both skins burst and the paintwork was faded. There was no room for an almost wrecked old drum at Prestonpans, so the Band Treasurer at the time, Tommy Campbell, stored (hid) the drum underneath the altar at the Dalkeith St Mary's Episcopal church where he was church beadle.
Sadly Tommy passed away in 2011 and the church management, on finding the drum, were keen to get it to its proper home so the drum found its way onto a shelf in the toilet in the Prestonpans premises where it lay undisturbed until the Band was moving to the Red School in 2021.
During the move, the Band's tuba player Henry Philip suggested that the drum might be restored because of it's striking artwork and historical significance to the modern Band. One of the options available was the BBC's show 'The Repair Shop' where old and treasured items are repaired and restored. In early 2022 Heather and Jim Henderson, Secretary and Chair respectively of the Band, contacted Ricochet - the company that produces The Repair Shop for the BBC.
After an initial exchange of information and a short home-made video, Ricochet responded by saying that they would indeed be very interested in doing work on the instrument and they asked the Band to do some research into the history of the drum.
Local historian Alan McLaren was contacted as he had already some extensive information and old photographs of the original Dalkeith Band – and the drum itself. It was difficult to date the drum but the 1925 date had some significance - in that year the Dalkeith Band gained some financial stability and it would appear that a new set of brass instruments was purchased, and it could well be that the drum was bought, or an earlier drum was repainted, to mark that event. There was some evidence that the drum might be older that the painted date of 1925 although that was inconclusive.
While this was happening, Ricochet were preparing to get the drum couriered to their base at 'The Barn' - a 16 th century building at the Weald and Downland Museum of Rural Life in West Sussex. Heather and Jim were invited to travel to The Barn to present the drum and Ricochet asked if one other Band member might attend. Sally Chute, The Band's first baritone player, volunteered.
The three travelled to Sussex on Valentine's Day 14th February 2022 to present the drum for repair. The drum was received by Dominic (Dom) Chinea, and Pete Woods, who is a professional instrument restorer.
During the summer of 2022 the drum went through stabilisation and repair. Dom and Pete made the instrument repairs: woodwork and paintwork restoration, new skins and tension ropes and a protective gloss lacquer. Suzie Fletcher, the Repair Shop's leather expert, refurbished the tensioner and the carry strap.
Moving into August 2022 and Ricochet started to contact band so that 'the reveal' could be filmed. They wanted several additional Band members to travel to play with the refurbished drum. This took a fait bit of negotiation and organisation between The Band and Ricochet - financial arrangements, travel and accommodation, players getting off work and the copyright surrounding the played material were all often substantial issues - but eventually a reveal date of 25th August for filming was settled.
Stuart Manderson (cornet), Bradley Doran (cornet), Morven Findlay (Tenor Horn), Michael Findlay (Eb Bass) and Henry Philip (Bb Bass, and the instigator of it all) plus Sandeep Khutan (bass drum) joined Sally Chute (Baritone), Jim Henderson (trombone) and Heather Henderson as Band Secretary all travelled the day before - on probably the hottest day of the year - by rail from Edinburgh to London and thereafter to Chichester in Sussex for the reveal.
The UK had been 'suffering' the driest summer for decades in 2022. Hose pipe bans had been introduced in the southern English counties just as we travelled. The heat in central London and in the Tube were almost unbearable. Overnight as we rested in our hotel in Emsworth, the weather started to turn…On the morning of filming the rain was torrential after a very long dry period. Many areas of southern England had suffered intense thunderstorms overnight. Emsworth was no exception and some of the local roads were flooded. We got to The Barn unscathed however and filmed the reveal. The drum is sparkling and away beyond expectations. It is a beautiful thing visually and musically.
The Band played (in the rain) RB Hall's march 'Death or Glory' - an arrangement made by our MD Jim Chamberlain. The drum was handed over and played for the first time in probably 50 years. The rain stopped and the clouds cleared - as we left The Barn and headed for home. The drum was couriered a few days later and revealed to the Band on 1 st September.
Now the Band has a beautifully restored reminder of our history and heritage. Not only that, but we have a tremendous antique instrument that can be played on the march or in concert. We intend to show and use it as much as we can before it becomes a permanent display in the band rooms.