To a different beat

Another busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Lufton, near Yeovil, including a very helpful work experience student from a local school; photo afternoon and other visits and donations of objects and documents.

One of our more challenging recent donations was what is believed to be a bass drum from South Petherton Brass Band. This is an intriguing and sizable object.

Interestingly, the drum initially appeared heavier than it actually was; mainly because the central drum stands around 600mm (2feet) high and well over 3ft (900mm) in diameter. However, the drum came in three parts with the main centre; skins and surrounding bands. As the main drum was hollow, it turned out to be light and portable, but it did present significant factors in terms of storage and more immediately, conservation.

The drum itself is highly decorated, most of which can be still seen and dates we believe to at least the early years of the 20th Century. Therefore, with an object over 100 years old and made of wood, there will be certain points to address. This was the case, with evidence of wood worm and previous storage in a covered environment, but subject to damp with inevitable fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity.

Following professional conservation advice, we wrapped the drum in acid free tissue and Tyvec. This was where the circular nature of the object came in useful as we were able to roll the drum up in the protective material. We did each in turn and tied with conservation ties (rather than masking tape). The fundamental piece of advice was after wrapping. to place the drum, skins and braces together in our outer area and let them acclimatise to a new, drier environment. Drying too quickly, could cause splitting. After a few weeks of slowly drying, we aim to clean the wood with a soft brush and adjustable suction vacuum.

This was certainly an interesting assignment, as we were learning as we were going along, but also following advice to help preserve a significant part of South Somerset social history – which with the acclimatisation, is getting used to a different beat.

Next time on the CHAC Blog! “Mystery Bank Tray found during Store Audit” “Exciting donation of Aplin and Barrett St Ivel documents and photographs” All stories for next time.

The highly decorative nature of the South Petherton Brass Band Drum is still evident.

South P Drum (2)    South P Drum


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