Player's Past

Player's Past Blog

Organising the Photographic Collection

Organising the Photographic Collection

For the past week I have been busy with going through the vast photographic collection we have on John Player.  So far just over 2100 photographs have been accessioned but there are still a few more to go and our volunteers have been working hard to get them catalogued. 

I have been busy sorting the photographs numerically and putting them into their categories; Factory work, Office work, Foreign work, Events, Sports, Portraits, Machinery, Vehicles and Buildings.  Then placing them in a relevant order and eventually they will be put into the store.  Most of the photographs are dated between 1940 and 1970.  Last week some more photographs of the John Player factories were given to us by the Wills factory in Bristol, these were taken in the 1980s.   

It is a big task because there are so many photographs of different images but everyone is helping each other out.  I have uploaded more photographs onto Flickr and they are a small selection of the images we have.  There are plenty more to see.


And Another Thank You

I would also like to say a big thank you to all the participants for being so helpful and giving us information that is needed for the project.  Everything we wanted to know concerning Player’s was covered.   

So much has been covered in these five sessions and I have been really glad to take part and to write up what has been discussed. Not just because it is important to document the history of working life in the company but also because I have genuinely enjoyed doing it.  

In the last session the participants discussed the amount of holidays they were entitled to in a year, this would depend on length of service.  They also discussed things like the difference between a worker and a staff member, their monthly  cigarette allowances and the way new developments in technology changed the working environment in the factories. 

It was so enjoyable and interesting that many of the participants wished the session could have continued for a little while longer!  The work does continue for the launch and there are some more photographs I can upload onto this website.  More photographs will be uploaded to Flickr.  All comments will be welcomed and appreciated!


Thank You

Had a great last session with our fabulous group, looking at archive photographs and learning more about the ins and outs of life at Players.  Afterwards we took half the group to our offsite store, to allow them  to explore more of the collection.  We managed to dig out some packaging from their time there and filmed the discussions which resulted.  They were naturals in front of the camera, much better at pretending it wasn’t there than the staff.

We’d like to give a big thank you to all the group for their time and contributions over the last month.  They have shared all sorts of tales with us, that have helped us imagine what it really was like behind the factory doors.  They have been a pleasure to work with and we hope to see them all again in the autumn for the preview, if we don’t run into them again beforehand.


Meet the Group

Photo of our Player’s Past participants with objects that they have brought with them from John Player.  Standing from left to right: David Kirk, holding a 1930s print of a John Player advert.  Michael Smith, holding two ashtrays.  David Fewkes,  holding his badge from the Player’s Bowls Club.  Bill Millichip, holding a map from the Doncella Map Series.  Malcolm Freeman, holding a booklet about the history of John Player with a wedgewood case of cigarettes celebrating 100 years of the company.  Graham Johnson, holding a poster with the slogan ‘Player’s Please’.  Sitting from left to right: Pat Swallow, holding an issue of the Player’s Post newspaper dated 1980.  Anne Jackson, holding a photograph of herself with the team from the Design Studio at Player’s.


John Player Advertising Posters

Graham Johnson was sent to train in Liverpool Ogdens factory in 1968.  After training he found these two posters about to be destroyed.  He took both of them.  Player’s threw a lot of items away but they also recycled a lot.   ‘St Julien’ is a rare brand now but, according to some of the group members, is still going.  ’Player’s Please’ is a very iconic slogan from John Player and there is a lot of advertising material in the archive for ‘Player’s Please’.


Doncella Cigar Map Series

Bill Millichip is holding a map of Suffolk that was a prize in a promotion by Doncella Cigars.  The writing in the floral design at the top towards the right of the drawing states ‘The Doncella Map Series’.  There were six maps in the collection.  Bill has maps of Yorkshire, Suffolk and Devonshire.  Customers had to collect a certain number of vouchers on Doncella Cigar packets before they could claim a map in the collection. 

 Doncella also gave away LPs of classical music with the Mona Lisa on the cover, the kind of music that was played on the Doncella adverts.  Throughout the 1950s, Doncella Cigars were also packaged with 3 or 4 cigarette cards and people bought them because they wanted to have the sets of cards.  The cards were discontinued in the 1960s and replaced by a type of scratch card offer.


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