End of era for Smedley’s

Smedley's music shop, pictured in around 1940.
Smedley's music shop, pictured in around 1940.

ONE of Doncaster’s longest running businesses which has been at the heart of the town’s music scene for eight decades is shutting up shop.

E Smedley and Sons, which specialises in musical instruments and sheet music, has been trading in Printing Office Street since 1929.

John and Sue Smedley are retiring from the family business which is closing after trading musical instruments and sheet music in the town since 1929.  Picture: Marie Caley D3334MC

John and Sue Smedley are retiring from the family business which is closing after trading musical instruments and sheet music in the town since 1929. Picture: Marie Caley D3334MC

Owner John - the grandson of founders Elsie and William Smedley - and his wife Sue are bidding farewell to customers in early April.

“There was no better job than this when the shop was in its hey day. We knew everyone and we’ve started so many people off with their first instrument,” he said.

“We did sell someone in Def Leppard his first guitar. We’ve always been a starter shop. Our customers are mostly families and we’ve sold to several generations.”

In its early days, the store mainly traded second-hand pianos, but shortages in World War Two forced it to diversify and it turned to selling toys. Peace time brought with it the beginnings of the guitar-playing era.

Mr Smedley, who turns 68 tomorrow, said: “Everyone was playing the guitar in the 60s. Every pub in town had a guitar band playing a few times a week. I started playing when I was 16 and I think there were three other members of guitar bands on my street.

“I once played the Co-Op Ballroom the week after The Beatles, though the reception to our band wasn’t quite as positive!”

After Mr Smedley’s grandfather moved to Scarborough, the shop was taken over by his parents, Elsie and Ezra.

“It was a combination of circumstances really that led me to taking over. My grandfather fell ill and my father had to look after him,” said Mr Smedley.

“I spent several years working as a chemist but I’ve been running the shop for about 40 years. My two sons also spent time working here for their Saturday jobs.

“I’m proud to have carried on the family business but I think it has now run its natural course. We’re really proud to have been part of the Doncaster music scene and I think a lot of people will remember us.”

Musically speaking, Mr Smedley still harks back to the 60s as the golden era, saying that he doesn’t have much time for bands where no-one plays an instrument.

The couple, of Wheatley Hills, are looking forward to a “peaceful retirement” and hope to spend time with their three children and three grand-daughters.

Mrs Smedley, 65, added: “We’d both like to thank all our customers for their regular custom and support over the years.”