A tenor or ping-pong steel pan

Contributed by Reading Museum

A Steel pan from Reading’s first Carnival in 1978 © Reading Museum Service (Reading Borough Council)

Steel pan music came to UK in 1951 when a band from Trinidad and Tobago performed at the Festival of Britain.Steel bands developed during the Second World War in Trinidad in the Caribbean, when musicians adapted oil drums left behind by the US army. Trinidadians have always created music with whatever came to hand and the music's roots can be traced to Africa. Neighbourhood steel bands started to compete in musical competitions during Carnival.

Carnival and steel pan music came to Britain after the War with migrants, who settled in towns like Reading from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean. In Reading a large proportion of the migrants were from Barbados. People from St Vincent and Grenada formed the first Reading steel band called Hurricane Force in the 1960s.

This pan was skilfully hammered and tuned from an oil drum by Theo Stevens. Theo lived in Bath but regularly visited Reading to make and tune steel pans for Reading's steel bands. Herman Philbert decorated it for Reading's first Carnival in 1978.

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