The Seaton Snook
Zinc Workers Band
Recording taken from a shellac 78rpm record, pressed in 1928
It was common for factories in the North East - like coal mines - to have a workers band, and the Zinc Factory appears to have joined in this tradition.
We have not been able to find any photographs of the band, and the lack of much other brass band music coming from Seaton Snook does lead us to think this may have been a very small and short-lived endeavour (it is also clear from the recording that there are only four people playing - hardly a "band" by colliery band standards).
This recording made on Imperial Records (now defunct) was presumably written as tribute to the new houses for the workers built by the Zinc Corporation, known as the "Pity Me" cottages (possibly named after the village of the same name↗ also in County Durham). The record was, however, pressed in 1928, nearly two decades after the Pity Me cottages were built.
Curiously, the writing credit is assigned to John Franklyn. John "Jackie" Franklin was a local landowner, but as far as we can tell had absolutely no aspirations as a composer or musician. We are fairly certain, therefore, that this credit is erroneous, but this still leaves the question of why Franklin was credited, albeit with an incorrect spelling, as well as who actually wrote the piece.
It should be noted that the initial melody is almost identical to the main melody of The Crofter's Dream, written by Gaynor Leigh in 1910, and The Crofter, featured in Robson Booth's Tape Ballad of 1959. A comparison of the three variations can be found here. We theorise that the chorale was written by Leigh, but Franklyn paid for the recording session, and his name found its way onto the label either through a bureaucratic mix-up or through Franklyn wishing to be recognised for his contribution.
The B-Side is of little interest, featuring the Grangetown Singers of Grangetown, (then North Yorkshire, now Middlesbrough), rendering the children's song Old Roger Is Dead.