Aliens! Internees during the Second World War

Curious people that we are, we do like to receive enquiries that test our research skills. We recently received another interesting research enquiry, on the subject of internship during the Second World War.

The enquiry we had was regarding an employee of the John Smedley company based in Lea, near Cromford, originally from Vienna. We were asked whether we could add any information regarding her life, as a potential internee as an ‘enemy alien’ during the Second World War.

Via this enquiry we came across the National Archives Internees Records which can be viewed online and downloaded. Having looked through some of the images, they provide a fascinating and often sad insight into the backgrounds of many of who had escaped the Nazis and come to the UK to find work. Many were overqualified for the work they were doing and had often left other members of their families behind.

It’s also an interesting insight into the use of language during the prevailing political and social climate of the late 1930s and 1940s. Here are some examples of the information in these records, all of whom were exempted from internship:

internshipinterns

Internee 5Internne2Internee 3Internee 2

intern#

We would really like to hear of any memories or stories you have relating to this subject in Derbyshire.

New book from a genealogist hunting a criminal ancestor

We recently exchanged emails with someone who turns out to be the author of a new book, “Finding Thomas Dames”. It sounds likely to interest anyone who has come across villainy in their family tree (or has hopes/fears of doing so).  Find out more about the book on Lynne Morley’s blog.

Did you know we have a database drawn from calendars of prisoners tried at Derby?  Well, we do – you can access it on our website.  We also subscribe to the library edition of Ancestry, which gives access to the England and Wales Criminal Registers, which are invaluable for this sort of thing. Your local Derbyshire library has access to the same subscription, so if you would like to give it a try, do drop in on them, or on us.

We can search online and hard-copy resources on your behalf if you like, as part of our research/copying service. The service costs £12.50 per half hour of staff time, and we’d usually recommend an hour-long search unless you have a specific and limited enquiry of the sort we can get to grips with very quickly.  We do have to allow time for our staff to read the request and write up the results, and that does take time.

On the other hand, if you find a name on our own database of prisoners and just want a scanned copy of the calendar from which it’s drawn, that’s a quick-ish job which we could do in 15 minutes, at a cost of £6.25.  Here’s what a calendar of prisoners looks like close-up:

Calendar

You can apply for the service on our copying/research service page.

 

Bryan Donkin on the BBC (again)

Previous posts about Bryan Donkin have included links to television programmes that give him a mention. Now Richard Donkin has let us know of a recent episode of BBC2’s Inside The Factory, which includes a segment on the history of the tin can, and Donkin’s role as an innovator in this field.  If the BBC iPlayer is available in your country, you should be able to watch the programme at any time in the next couple of weeks at this address: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07nwlvg/inside-the-factory-series-2-3-baked-beans

Preserving Your Past at Chesterfield Museum on 11 August

If you’re in Chesterfield tomorrow (Thursday 11 August), why not pop in to Chesterfield Museum and find out how to look after your old family letters and photographs?  My Preserving your Past talk starts at 1.00pm and explains how our treasured possessions can get damaged and what you can do to ensure they’ll survive for future generations to enjoy.  Feel free to bring along letters, books and photographs if you would like some specific advice after the talk – I’ll be there till the museum closes at 4.00pm.

 

 

Laugh out loud

Derbyshire Record Office

Each month Derbyshire Libraries run a special promotion and for the month of August the theme is ‘Laugh out loud’.  The world news just lately has been a little grim to say the least and I’m sure we could all do with something to put a smile on our faces, so I thought I’d investigate our Local Studies collection to see what  Derbyshire comedy connections I could find.

There are many comedy actors with close links to the county.  Arthur Lowe, the pompous Captain Mainwaring in the classic comedy series Dad’s Army was born in the north of the county at Hayfield. Robert Lindsey, who I remember as ‘Wolfie’ in the 1970s comedy Citizen Smith was born and grew up in Ilkeston.Arthur LoweRobert Lindsay

James Bolam, best known for roles in ‘The Likely Lads’ and ‘Only When I Laugh’ was educated at Derby’s Bemrose School. He moved to Derby as a 13 year…

View original post 578 more words

Digging up information about Burial Locations

Some of the diverse subjects that have been researched in the Local Studies card catalogue this week include air wrecks, monetary equivalents, the surname ‘Lomas’ and Florence Nightingale.

Cards

Florence

 

In particular though, this week, burial locations have been a frequent feature of research requests, so we thought this subject was well past its expiration date (if you’ll forgive the pun) for a mention.

In many cultures, the idea of being able to visit the physical location of a place of rest is reassuring for friends and relatives. Here’s how to make a start on searching.

Burial Registers

Burial Registers (found in parish registers) record information relating to the date of burial and the person buried rather than the location of the grave. Unlike civil cemeteries, it is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.

Memorial Inscriptions

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church. These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions, and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later. The Memorial Inscriptions do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible.

They do also sometimes contain a very useful background to the cemetery or churchyard, and in particular these are a regular feature of the The Derbyshire Ancestral Research Group  transcripts. There may also be a graveyard plan.

Cemetery Records

Cemetery 5Cemetery 2

Cemetery Records can be tricky and a little time consuming to search as the indexes, although alphabetical, are not usually alphabetical after the initial letter.  For example, as shown above, under the ‘Hs’ you are very likely to find ‘Hewitt’ after ‘Hill.’ If the name you require is found in the Index, there will usually be a reference (normally a number and folio reference).  You then need to make a note of this in order to then search the Burial and/or Grave Register to find more details about the location. As with all records, the information provided varies from Cemetery to Cemetery.

Online Catalogue

Of course it is always worth searching our online catalogue for any information regarding graveyard plans or burials as you never know what you might unearth!

Bryan Donkin book launched

There was a great turn-out at Chesterfield for the launch of Maureen Greenland and Russ Day’s new book, “Bryan Donkin: The Very Civil Engineer, 1768-1855”. The town is rightly proud of the company that Donkin created, and the legacy of technological innovation that it leaves us.

There was a slide show, the screening of a film about Donkin’s Rose Engine (dating from 1820, now housed at the Science Musuem), and we had some of those extraordinary engineering drawings on display:

We were also lucky to hear from former Donkin managing director Terry Woodhouse, who told us about his first encounters with the DonkDonkin_launch_2in archive, which he was instrumental in preserving for future generations. Terry described just a few of the ideas that Bryan Donkin’s talents and perseverance were able to turn into a reality: a machine for making paper, the first cans for preserving food, more efficient nibs for pens, an anti-fraud device used in the manufacture of bank-notes. One can argue that Donkin has never been given full recognition for his achievements – that’s something that this book will undoubtedly address.

Palaeography course – last few places remaining!

Don’t miss out on attending our course on how to read old handwriting (the skill known as palaeography).  There are still a few places remaining, so simply click on the Events page of the blog and follow the link to the Palaeography course where you will find more information.

Make sure you check the Events pages regularly as there is always something so see and do at the record office.

Laugh out loud

Each month Derbyshire Libraries run a special promotion and for the month of August the theme is ‘Laugh out loud’.  The world news just lately has been a little grim to say the least and I’m sure we could all do with something to put a smile on our faces, so I thought I’d investigate our Local Studies collection to see what  Derbyshire comedy connections I could find.

There are many comedy actors with close links to the county.  Arthur Lowe, the pompous Captain Mainwaring in the classic comedy series Dad’s Army was born in the north of the county at Hayfield. Robert Lindsay, who I remember as ‘Wolfie’ in the 1970s comedy Citizen Smith was born and grew up in Ilkeston.Arthur LoweRobert Lindsay

James Bolam, best known for roles in ‘The Likely Lads’ and ‘Only When I Laugh’ was educated at Derby’s Bemrose School. He moved to Derby as a 13 year old, joining the 3rd year at the all-boys school.  He initially trained as an accountant in Derby – but he also joined the Derby Shakespeare Company, appearing at the Derby Playhouse with them.

As a child growing up in the 1970s another TV favourite was ‘The Goodies’.  Who can forget the three-seater bicycle and Kitten-Kong? Tim Brooke Taylor, one member of the famous threesome was born in Buxton and at one time was honorary Vice-President of Derby County Football Club.

Dirk Bogarde appeared in more than 60 films with a career that lasted over 50 years. His early film career included the Doctor series such as Doctor in the House and Doctor at Sea, which made him one of the most popular British film stars of the 1950s. Before this, during the second world war however, he enlisted in the army, and was sent for training in the interpretation of aerial photography at Smedley’s Hydro in Matlock, now County Hall. His training in 1943 helped him in his role in the D-Day landings where he worked with the Army Intelligence Photographic Unit.

Moving away from the silver screen and on to the printed word, children around the globe for generations have laughed at the tales by the wonderful Roald Dahl.  Roald Dahl.jpg

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda are just two of his creations, but who knew that Dahl, born in Wales to Norwegian parents was educated for a time at Repton School?

Another author whose writings have often reduced me to tears – is Chesterfield born Derek Longden.  I remember him reading his comic pieces on Radio Derby when I was a child – always hilarious.

His books on his life, starting with ‘Diana’s Story’ about the loss of his wife after years of her suffering with ME and followed by ‘Lost For Words’, about his mother had you one minute crying with laughter and the next with sorrow. So popular were they that they were adapted for television, with ‘Lost For Words’ winning a Bafta for actress Thora Hird.

Instead of words, cartoonist Bill Tidy is famous chiefly for his comic strips.  ‘The Cloggies’ appeared in Private Eye from 1967-1981,  a parody of the popular television series of the time The Forsyte Saga, but set in the industrial north instead of a genteel upper class society. Born in Cheshire, Bill now lives in Boylestone, near Ashbourne.

It’s not only people that have a comedy connection to Derbyshire – but places too.  Most of these memories seem to centre on my childhood, but bringing us more up to date we have Royston Vasey. The village in cult comedy The League of Gentlemen is actually Hadfield in Derbyshire.  The television series ran from 1999-2002 the brainchild of Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. It attracted a cult following and expanded into a full length film in 2005.

Other locations used in the series were Glossop and Hope Valley. If you knew the area you could spot:

  • Hilary Briss’s scary butcher’s shop (J.W. Mettrick & Son)
  • The old fishmonger’s became a veterinary surgery
  • The empty estate agent found new life as the Attachments dating agency
  • The little handicraft emporium was transformed into a joke shop one day and a video rental shop a week later

So here we have just a few of Derbyshire’s claim to comedy fame.  Your local library will have plenty on offer to put a smile on your face over the coming month, so why not pop in and have a look.

 

Weird and Wonderful Derbyshire

Hi, I’m Hannah and I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last two weeks at Derbyshire Record Office on work experience. I already had a brief understanding of what goes on at the Record Office as my mum is one of the librarians, but I had no idea exactly what goes on behind the the scenes. The staff really do do an amazing job organising their time so that the public’s experience is as comfortable, enjoyable and useful as possible.

Earlier on in the week I was asked to look at a Local Studies inquiry that led me to the book ‘Curiosities of Derbyshire and The Peak District’ by Frank Rodgers and it absolutely fascinated me, so much so that I decided to use it as inspiration for this blog post.

Many people, including myself, don’t seem to appreciate the fact that they live in Derbyshire. Just because we don’t live by the sea, in a major city or somewhere where the sun is constantly shining, we tend to wish we lived elsewhere. However these people often don’t know how many amazing things you can find about and around the county. For one thing, The Peak District was the first national park to be set up in the UK, in 1951. Derby’s Silk Mill was Britain’s first factory and is the oldest one still standing in the world. Also I remember a while ago, my English teacher who had come over from Canada told our class that when researching Derby, she had found that it is supposedly the most haunted city in the UK! The look of shock on everyone’s faces just goes to show how much we know about where we live.

It’s the little things, that we don’t see unless we’re really looking, that I find the most interesting. For example, the top of each of the three gateposts to Ashbourne Church are supported by skulls. They are thought to be the work of Robert Bakewell, one of Derby’s finest craftsmen and are apparently meant to remind those who enter of their inevitable mortality!

Something else ‘little’ that I came across while researching, was the bull ring in Snitterton. For centuries, the cruel sport of bull baiting was popular throughout England-in fact, it was encouraged is it supposedly made the meat more tender.

bullring

The Bull Ring at Snitterton, courtesy of Picture the Past

Bulls would be chained by the leg or neck and tormented by dogs, trained to pin it by the nose-the most tender part of a bull. The Snitterton Bull Ring was preserved by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 1906. An old villager has memories of his father telling him how in the evenings, men would come from Winster,  Wensley and other villages to try their bulldogs against the Snitterton Bull.

The final, and probably the most interesting place I found out about was St Ann’s Well in Buxton. The well is believed to have healing powers and was visited by Mary Queen of Scott’s who suffered badly from rheumatism. How amazing would it be to go there now and

st ann's well

St Ann’s Well, courtesy of Picture the Past

know you are standing in the same spot that an ancient monarch stood in hundreds of years before? Even now, the well carries the inscription; ‘Well of Living Waters’.

So, after reading this blog post I really hope you start looking at the world around you-you never know what amazing things you might find! Also, I hope that if you ever get the opportunity to go to Derbyshire Record Office you will take it, because it really has opened my eyes and it is so so worth it.