Archi’ve Explored at Derbyshire Record Office!

Explore flyerIn November Derbyshire Record Office will be taking part in the very first Explore Your Archive week.  The campaign, led by The National Archives and The Archives and Records Association, is designed to raise awareness of archives and their value to society.

From 16th to 23rd November we will be hosting a series of exciting events and activities which will inspire people to explore the archives held at the Record Office.

Join us for our week of Regency themed events, be amazed at what you can uncover and be inspired to find out more…….

Exhibition – Turnpikes, Tolls & Terror?:  travelling through Regency Derbyshire.  An exhibition showcasing original 18th and 19th century records telling tales of turnpikes and highwaymen.

29th October – 4th December

Foyer, Derbyshire Record Office

Writers’ workshop: Writing in the Regency: join author Ann Featherstone in this workshop for budding historic novelists

Saturday 16th November 9.30am-12.30pm

£5, booking required

Story Box event – Love, War and Ladies’ Maids: take part in our archive tombola!  Go behind the scenes to collect your mystery document from our stores and help us uncover the hidden stories in our collections inspired by the novels Pride and Prejudice and Sharpe

Friday 22nd November 2pm-4.30pm

FREE, booking required

Family poetry workshop: create your own illustrated poems in the style of the romantic poets

Saturday 23rd November 10am-12pm

FREE, drop in event

To book a place at one of our events call us on 01629 538347 or email

We look forward to seeing you!

“My experience”, by Emily from Highfields School

You may remember that back in July, the Record Office hosted Will for a two week work placement. We also were pleased to welcome Emily for two weeks from the end of June. Here she tells us about her experience

For my work experience, I knew that I wanted to go to somewhere that focuses on history. I had previously done 1 week in January at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent but, I prefer more recent history, particularly anything from the beginning of the 19th century onwards until now, this is why I decided to go to the Derbyshire Record Office for a fortnight.

During my two weeks I have undertaken work from both the Archives and the Local Studies sides of the Record Office. In the first week, I learnt how the public aspects of Local Studies works, shadowing both the Floor Walking and the Enquiry Desk, and also the public aspects of the archives, shadowing the Issue Desk and also looking at searches and helping with enquiries. I learnt how Lien and Clare preserve and clean documents in conservation and I was also shown how digitisation works. I was introduced to the cataloguing system for the archives but then I was set the task of preparing activities for the Reading Challenge that took place in the summer.

In my second week I was adding hanging strips to maps, adding information about documents onto CALM (the cataloguing system) and adding copies of documents onto CDs. I also was looking at documents that haven’t yet been catalogued, to see what kind of information they contained, and researched what Chapel-en-le-Frith was like in the 1900s, for an introduction to history for the new year sevens at the secondary school (in Chapel-en-le-Frith), in September.

During the course of my placement, I was also shown what some jobs entail as a profession, for example Librarianship, Records Management and Archives, this was extremely helpful, as I was shown exactly what each job is, and the daily requirements of these jobs.

I have really enjoyed my placement at the Derbyshire Record Office; this is because I was shown a vast range of all the jobs there, and as there are so many aspects and jobs, I was never short of something to do. I particularly enjoyed helping with the enquiries that came through, as it was really interesting to look through the documents, even if you don’t find exactly what you are looking for. I also really enjoyed helping to clean some of the documents that had recently come in because you can see how much of a difference it makes, and it was really interesting to see how documents are washed and repaired. These are just a couple of my highlights of the fortnight, and I enjoyed almost all of the work that I was given.

Overall it was a great experience and has given me a lot to think about, as I barely knew about half of the jobs that take place here.

Before and After photographs of one the documents Emily cleaned during her day with Conservation 

Bryan Donkin on the BBC

You may remember (how could you forget?) our blogpost about Bryan Donkin back in June:

It was just a link to a BBC web article about Bryan Donkin’s invention of the tin can, but I did also point out that Donkin’s experimental work on this is recorded in his series of diaries (D5029/1), held here.  Well, here’s another link in the same vein:

It takes you to the section of last night’s Inside Out programme which dealt with Donkin and the tin can.  You won’t have seen it unless you live in the Cumbria/North East region, but recent technological advances mean you can see it without so much as fiddling with an aerial.

On This Day: ‘Mad Leap From A Buxton Train’

From the Derby Mercury, 14th October 1896:

By the 5.30 slow train on Saturday, Buxton to Manchester, was a passenger named Ralph Belfield, who lives at Dove Holes, but belongs to Burbage.  His intention was to alight at Dove Holes, but it is supposed he fell asleep, and did not wake up until just past the station.  On finding he had gone beyond the the station, he appears to have opened the carriage door, and jumped out.  He fell head first into the six foot, and there lay until he was found.  He was fearfully out and smashed about the face, and his condition was indeed sorry.  As soon as assistance could be procured, he was conveyed to the Devonshire Hospital at Buxton, but, from some cause or other, was refused admission.  Dr. Haslewood’s services were requisitioned, and he attended to the man’s injuries, after which he was taken to his brother’s at Burbage.  He was suffering from concussion of the brain, but his condition was not, in the doctor’s opinion, really dangerous.   

We hold the Derby Mercury on microfilm  – just ring to book a microfilm reader.

Life Story Writing Workshop with Chrissie Hall

Chrissie HallHave you ever thought about writing your life story?

Then come along to our Life Story Writing Workshop with author Chrissie Hall.

Monday 21 October 2013

10am – 4pm

Derbyshire Record Office

We’ll help you plan, write, and organise a unique record of your life and times.  Inspiring you to dig deep, capturing memories and writing about your life; the people and the places, the ordinary and the extraordinary – the things that happened which made you who you are.

Suitable for everyone and no previous experience of writing is required. 

Tea and coffee will be available but please bring a packed lunch.  Alternatively there are sandwich shops nearby but please note the Record Office is on a steep slope.

Tickets: £10 please book in advance at Derbyshire Record Office on 01629 538347


D2375 Harpur Crewe archive list now online

Scaddows plan, 1829

Scaddows plan, 1829

As you may know, we are beavering away at the job of getting all of the lists that describe our archive holdings into our online catalogue, so that people can find out about our collections from home. We still haven’t finished – but we have dealt with the most notable omission from the database, viz. the Harpur Crewe collection, D2375. The work, involving re-typing and re-formatting scanned copies of the paper list, has been done by volunteers for the National Trust, based at Calke Abbey. (I was left with the easy bit, which involved wrestling with spreadsheets and a database for a day or two.) We are immensely grateful to them for their perseverence and hard work.

To mark the occasion, here is a plan dating from 1829, showing a place in Ticknall called Scaddows. It’s now a fruit farm with its own website, Notice how the spelling has changed? We deal with this by using the original spelling in our descriptions, but the modern spelling in square brackets so that you can still search for it online. But if you aren’t sure how something is spelled, you can always use an asterisk as a wildcard. For instance, if you were searching for this map, you would start by going to and clicking “our records”, then “catalogue”; you would put D2375* in the RefNo field, and Scad* in Anytext. After you hit Search, the database would pick out anything in collection D2375 that contained those four letters at the start of a word. Give it a try if you like. And if you, like those kind people at Calke, are handy with word-processing software and like the idea of helping to make Derbyshire’s history that bit more accessible, do consider joining the FindersKeepers project. It’s all about volunteering from home, which means you can do it in your own time. Have a look at if you are thinking of signing up.