On This Day: ‘Velocipedes’

From the Buxton Advertiser, 28 August 1869:


On Thursday night about 9pm there was a disturbance in Spring Gardens, caused by the velocipede riders.  T. Widdowson, blacksmith, met and upset a velocipede, whereupon the whole of the brigade came down upon him, threatening vengeance.  Widdowson was obliged to obtain the assistance of neighbours and police to protect him from his excited assailants.  It appears strange to us that the authorities do not attempt to abate this velocipede mania.  After dark the streets are not safe, the velocipedes interfering with the comfort and safety of everybody.

The County Local Studies Library holds the Buxton Advertiser from 1855-1879 – just ring to book a microfilm reader.

On This Day: ‘Hathersage New Road’

From the Derby Mercury, 9th August 1820:


The Hathersage new branch of turnpike road was opened on Thursday, by the Wellington coach running that line in the early part of the day, on which were placed some of the trustees of the road, the surveyor, the undertakers, and as many workmen as could sit upon the roof thereof.  On arriving at Hathersage, the passengers were met by hundreds of the inhabitants, and the venerable Major Shuttleworth, with his usual liberality, supplied the company with ale, spirits, punch, &c. while the coach pulled up in the front of his mansion, the bells of the church ringing, and the populace rejoicing at being accommodated with a better and easier line of road, which they had so long wished for.  On arriving at the George Inn, the workmen had a treat given them, and spent the remainder of the day in making merry, having finished their labours.  

The County Local Studies Library holds the Derby Mercury – just ring to book a microfilm reader.  If you have a Derbyshire library card you can also view 19th century issues of the newspaper here.

Even more fantastic family trees and crests

At our latest History of You session, held at Ilkeston Library on Tuesday, we were really really impressed with the creative designs and accurate depictions of family history

Florence and the Pumpkins

From a craft session to a creative writing session, we grabbed some lunch at Chesterfield Library and humbly awaited the arrival of our next group who were coming to write stories using old local photographs from Picture the Past as inspiration. Here are some of the fantastic results;-

Some photos from the afternoon…

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“Mary”: Victoria chose a picture of a very young Mary Milner in her pram in Dronfield (DCNE000743) and wrote a slightly sad story telling us about Mary’s first few years;-

“I never will like elephants”: Olivia’s story (with illustrations) was inspired  by an 1899 photograph of elephants parading down Chatsworth Road in Chesterfield (DCCC001392);-

Keep an eye out for more stories from this event as the young people finish their stories at home and send them in. In the meantime, here is the story written by our Conservator’s daughter, Rebecca, “Was it real?” inspired by the very white and snowy St John’s churchyard in Buxton (DCBM000010)

We’re looking forward to even more stories and poems from our session at Duffield Library on Wednesday 22 August and at Alfreton Library on Tuesday 28 August (both events are free but booking is essential; please contact the library concerned to book a place).

A wonderful morning at Bolsover followed by an inspiring afternoon in Chesterfield

Yesterday, Clare and I travelled to Bolsover and Chesterfield to hold two children’s events as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. We spent a very enjoyable morning at Bolsover Library hosting the very popular “History of You” craft session, with children and families creating and designing their own family trees and coats of arms;-

Our next History of You craft sessions are at Swadlincote and Ilkeston libraries on 7 August;-

Ilkeston Library, Tuesday 7 August, 2.30-3.30pm
Staveley Library, Thursday 16 August, 10.30-11.30am
Dronfield Library, Thursday 16 August, 2.30-3.30pm
Borrowash Library, Wednesday 22 August, 2.30-3.30pm
Matlock Library, Tuesday 28 August, 2.30-3.30pm

Events are free but booking is essential; please contact the library concerned to book a place. Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge

Martial arts, 1713-style

Sick of “topical” references to sport and the Olympics yet?  No?  I’m so pleased.  Because Derbyshire Record Office have today received a rather unusual manuscript.  It appears to be notes taken by a student of the art of wrestling (a constant feature of the Olympics, ancient and modern) from Sir Thomas Parkyns’ seminal work, “The Inn-Play or the Cornish Hugg”.  It includes detailed descriptions of such holds as “the inlock”, “the flying mare”, and “the gripes”.  And what might that be?  Let’s see:

The Gripes is nothing but laying your right hand amongst his small ribs and putting your left hand to your right hand to augment your strength in griping and when you gripe get your hand on the outside of his arm, that you may lift the better.

Never delay the gripes but get them as soon as you can and hold him strait and your head close to his breast, that he doth not give you his elbow and stand low with your knees bent and loose and it will prevent buttock, back lock, in lock, trip.

“Buttock”, by the way, is another of the wrestling manoeuvres described in the text.  I hope you are not sniggering.

Sir Thomas also had advice for boxers, suggesting that “if you have long hair, soap it; ye best holds are the pinion, both of your arms at his shoulders and your head in his face”.  Hardly Queensberry rules, is it?  But then the Marquess of Queensberry (to be specific, the 9th Marquess) wasn’t born until 1844.

A transcript of the original text is available elsewhere on WordPress:


You may spot that our recent acquisition has “ye” and “doth” in place of “the” and “does”, making it seem, in a way, older than the original.  The handwriting suggests the early eighteenth century, and there are a few relics of an older style than that.  Beyond that, there is only one no clue to identify the note-taker.  His signature:

Richard Samuell, perhaps?  It looks just as faint on the text itself.

The Derbyshire connection is that the text was among those collected by the late historian of Great Longstone, Michael Stuart.  It has been very kindly donated to us by his executors.

For original material relating to Sir Thomas Parkyn, you would need to cross the county boundary and head to the University of Nottingham, which holds a substantial quantity of archival material in its Special Collections department: http://mss-cat.nottingham.ac.uk/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=show.tcl&dsqSearch=((AltRefNo==’Pa’))

The University of Nottingham is also host to a church history project which mentions Sir Thomas Parkyns’ prominence in the world of wrestling.  Follow this link and you can see the life-size effigy of him at his parish church (Bunny St Mary), “with hands aggressively pointing forward, ready to start a wrestling bout”.


The volume will be packaged and put away in our strongrooms – but if you would like to view it, we can make a digital copy available for you to view on our searchroom computer.  Just contact us, quoting reference D7571.

On This Day: ‘Cloud-Burst at Rowsley – Remarkable Floods’

From the Ashbourne Telegraph, 2nd August 1912, Derbyshire weather not unlike early July 2012:


On Saturday there was a cloudburst at the Haddon Hall tunnel, about a mile and a half from Bakewell on the Midland line.  Debris from the hills above the railway was quickly washed down and a large part of an embankment slipped, and the earth completely blocked the line from Manchester to Derby.

Water streamed into the Haddon tunnel until it was about two feet deep, and traffic was completely dislocated, and for over half an hour several expresses were held up in the vicinity.

It was found that some damage had been done to the railway, and it was necessary for the trains to proceed with caution.  A party of Bakewell golfers, who were proceeding to Matlock to play a match found that their train was unable to proceed, and they walked home again.  Expresses between Manchester and London were diverted via the Dore and Chinley line, but the local traffic was stopped on both sides of the Haddon tunnel.

The whole of the sidings were flooded – that is 36 miles of rails.

Mr. A. Hawes, Clerk to the Bakewell Guardians, said the roadway by Haddon Hall was under water as well as Rowsley.  He added: “I think the worst of the fall was beyond FillifordBridge, where the water was so high on the roads that it forced holes through the boundary walls one could crawl through.  The amount of damage done must be enormous.”

On the moors above Sydnope, over the 1,000 feet level, Mr. Edwards a dog fancier, resides with his family.  His experience was alarming.  Lightning first struck his house in the roof, ran along the gutters, and down the spouts to earth.  A second flash struck the chimney, and ran down into the house, where it swept the fire out, and burnt the hearth rug.  Mr. Edwards says the house was full of strong smelling sulphur and smoke for some minutes, and he took his wife and child out of the house for safety.

Lightning also struck a house in Vineyard Terrace, belonging to the Stancliffe Estates Co., and there it went through the roof and two ceilings, and finally visited the front room, smashing the fire-grate.  At Hackney three trees – an oak, a pear, and an apple – in a row were struck.  Cows are also reported to have been killed in the fields.

Much damage was also done to the well-known cottage which stands close to the Haddon Hall, and the flood from the hills was so great that the occupants only just managed to get out of the building in time.  All round this historic spot the meadows were under water.  

The County Local Studies Library holds the Ashbourne Telegraph, 1903-1957 – just ring to book a microfilm reader.

Restoration Home – The Elms at North Wingfield

Historian, Restoration Homes, BBC/Endemol

During visit to the Record Office in February 2012

After featuring Derbyshire archives in the first series of Restoration Home last year, the team from Endemol returned to the record office earlier this year to film original records for tonight’s episode exploring the history of The Elms in North Wingfield. The show’s two historians Kate Williams (pictured) and Kieran Long examined including a tithe map and apportionment for the area, a parish register showing the baptism of a former owner, and their will.

The Elms episode will air tonight on BBC 2 at 7pm, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01llg8c for more information.