Derbyshire Record Office re-opens: a report from Chaddesden Historical Group

We had our official re-opening on the 19th of March.  Here is a report on the occasion by one of our guests, Andrew Bailey, who is chairman of the Chaddesden Historical Group.  For more about the group, see

On Tuesday 19th March 2013 three members of The Chaddesden Historical Group had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremony of the recently completed Derbyshire Record Office.  This excellent facility now combines art storage space alongside the County Local Studies Library as well as a comprehensive Record Office.

The opening of this £4 million facility was performed by John Beckett, Professor of English Regional History at Nottingham University accompanied by Councillor Andrew Lewer, Leader of Derbyshire County Council which funded the project.

During the afternoon we were given the opportunity to see the much improved visitor facilities including a sandwich and coffee room and some of the more interesting treasures in the collection which included a map of Breaston dating from 1722 and a rather gruesome medical tome guaranteed to put you off the excellent buffet.

Opening Day

The most memorable contribution undoubtedly came from the Derbyshire Poet Laureate Matt Black who read his new poem entitled, ‘Somewhere in this building’ to a most appreciative audience.  Matt was kind enough to give me permission to reproduce this poem here which was inspired by a rather difficult to spot feature on the 1722 Breaston map, a ladder propped up against an apple tree.  

Somewhere in this building

on an old map, a ladder climbs quietly

into the arms of an apple-tree.

Once a man stood on that ladder. Where is he?

I want to know him, he comes from Then

but must still live Here, among these records,

frayed books and letters writ in gooSe quill.


Somewhere in this building you might find

his mother, rummaging through last month’s bills.

We’re all here, amongst the litter of our lives,

our marks, traces, footprints on these shelves,

like a new layer in a town of strata

where sea-lily feathers once washed the lagoon.


He is our data, our DNA, on yellow paper.

Somewhere in this building, he is real,

he walks the fields, you can find his children.

I can almost smell him, that hot afternoon,

four centuries back, on the Breaston breeze,

golden scent-of-earth in apple-sun.


Matt Black                                                                                           Matt Black © 2013

This poem encompasses everything that the DRO stands for and along with Rita and Mary I enjoyed a memorable afternoon that also gave us all the opportunity to say hello to some old friends.

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