FindersKeepers Bulletins 1 and 2

Hello everyone and Merry Christmas. Nothing festive about this post, I am afraid – it’s just a composite of the first two items in a series I am calling FindersKeepers Bulletin. I have been putting them in the leaflet boxes next to the searchroom catalogue binders, but they need to be online too.

Those disappearing paper lists: mea culpa
Until recently, when we referred to “the catalogue”, we meant the paper lists in the maroon binders. Copies of some of those lists were online at Now, we regard the online version as “the catalogue”, and the paper lists as the copies. This sounds like a delicate change in emphasis, but there has been a significant consequence: the withdrawal of most paper lists.
We had hoped that, by the time the refurbished record office re-opened in spring 2013, this transition would be complete, or at least very nearly so. The reality has been rather different. The following jobs remain in progress:

• The installation of CalmView, a newer catalogue browser, which should make the lists easier to read online. (From Bulletin 2: Current predictions are that this system will be up and running by mid-January.)
• The checking of the aforementioned maroon binders against the catalogue database. When this process is complete some of the lists – notably those covering Anglican parishes – will be making their way back in to the search room. (From Bulletin 2: This has been done.)
• The addition of 1,500 more lists to the catalogue database, through the FindersKeepers project. (From Bulletin 2: more than 200 lists have been added to the catalogue in December, thanks to the work of volunteers during the preceding months.)
• The insertion of index references to the top-level catalogue entries, which should make it easier to find the right collection to begin your research. (This process will begin once the new browser has been set up)

Derbyshire Record Office has been going through a period of transition over this last couple of years. One of the challenges this has brought is the necessity of making changes to the system of finding aids while that system remains in daily use. I would liken it to trying to repair a car while the engine is still running. While focussing on two of the principal tasks – getting all our catalogue information online, and reforming the catalogue so that the results are intelligible – I fear I have neglected a third, equally important one: communicating the changes to our users. For this, I apologise.

We remain committed to the goal of making the online catalogue comprehensive and are sorry it is taking so long to finish the job. I am confident that the changes will result in a better service. In the longer term, for instance, you will be able to order documents online in advance of your next visit, and view images of many documents through the browser.

Coming soon: a new catalogue browser
By cataloguing new accessions electronically, we also cut out one of the most time-consuming elements of the process: formatting, printing and maintaining the paper lists. This should give us more time to devote to listing incoming accessions, and doing something about our backlog.

The browser has been with us for almost a decade without any significant changes, and there are problems with it that make a replacement desirable. The three most obvious are:
• The “overview” provided by the browser aligns the documents’ titles and reference numbers in such a way that it is often hard to tell which reference applies to which document
• When you look at the overview, you see only the reference, title and date – missing out any crucial information that might be hiding in the “Description” field
• The “Description” field can be viewed if you click to see the full entry for a specific document – but the administrative and custodial history of the collection is omitted even then

The new version of the catalogue should redress all of these problems. In the meantime, though, what can you do if you have tried and failed to get to grips with the online catalogue in its present format?
If you are using the catalogue at home, you could ask for a copy of a list as an email attachment. (The new browser will allow us to attach lists to the catalogue itself, so that we can cut this phase out – but until then we will be happy to oblige.)

If you are right here in our searchroom, you can put in a request for the reinstatement of the paper catalogue. A member of staff will look with you at the version as it appears on screen and determine whether that is necessary. In cases where the list is especially long, complex, or eccentrically structured, we will say Yes. If we say No, but you still find it too hard to use the version on screen, we will normally be able to supply a paper copy just for you.

‘Geological resources at the Derbyshire Record Office’ by Jack O’Brien

Jack, 16, from Chesterfield has spent the last two months on work placement with the Record Office, and stemming from his interest in geology has investigated the archive and local studies collection available and kindly produced this guide, for which we are very grateful.

White Watson

White Watson was by profession a sculptor, marble worker and mineral dealer, he lived most of his life in Bakewell, Derbyshire. He was born at Whiteley Hall, near Sheffield, on April 10th 1760. He was the son of Samuel Watson, and it was from him that he learned his trade. They were both stone-masons and sculptors engaged with the rebuilding of Chatsworth House in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 

There is no mention of any journey more than twenty-five miles  from Bakewell, and even visits to places as near as Sheffield and Leek were infrequent. Judging by surviving documents, he does not even seem to have visited his wife’s home in Leicestershire. 

The publications of White Watson’s  work are an inadequate picture of his true geological attainments, for example, only two of his detailed sections appeared as plates in his books. 

A section of strata of Derbyshire from East to West, by White WatsonWatson’s first work, ‘A Section of a Mountain in Derbyshire’, was apparently meant to be a generalised section of Derbyshire, not a specific locality. Within the section, he recorded three main beds of limestone with different basic properties and ‘mineral and fossil productions’ which were regularly seperated and penetrated by rake-veins and broken by faults. He followed the ideas of another geologist, Whitehurst who’s ideas were shown in the ‘Inquiry of 1785’. These were, observing the patterns in the strata and being able to forecast what would be found beneath the bed rocks of Derbyshire. 

Resources in local studies.

The local studies collection holds many geology related books and records, there are articles covering everything from Caving to coal fields, and limestone to moorlands. Many of the resources in local studies are very specific to the Peak District and Derbyshire. However, is is also a useful collection for research in to the geology of Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. 

There are many books regarding caving and the study of caves (speleology) in local studies. With the Peak District being so rich in caves; and many other geological landforms, in fact, there is bound to be quite a wide interest in the area. 

This book, for example, ‘British Caving’, covers all aspects of caving, including: both the science of caving and the practice of caving.

 British Caving - an introduction to speleology

  •  This shelf contains the local studies geological resources. 

 Book room 2

 More detailed searches.

This section of the card index shows all of the Geology related books, articles and publications held at the Derbyshire Record Office. The catalogue is extensive and gives access to geological maps, as well as the full works of White Watson. The card index also holds items relating to geomorphology and the landforms and drainage basins of Derbyshire. This would hold records of water table fluctuation as well as history of floods and flooding in Derbyshire and parts of Nottinghamshire. 

Card catalogue

Overall, the available resources at the Derbyshire Record Office would be more than adequate for amateur geologists, or anyone who is interested in finding out a little more about what’s under your feet!

On This Day: ‘Man Killed In A Lead Mine’; ‘A Candidate For Transportation’

From the Derby Mercury, 16th December 1857:

Man Killed In A Lead Mine

On Friday last, a poor man named Thos. Thorpe, went from his cottage at Bonsall, to Mr. Greaves’, Cliff-house, Matlock, to beg a handful of mint, and not returning on that night or the next, his wife and family became seriously alarmed for his safety.  On Sunday morning some neighbours went in search, and ascertained that Thorpe had left Cliff-house with a quantity of mint, about six in the evening of Friday.  They then tracked his course homewards by leaves and sprigs of mint, to a mine shaft on Masson, then recently run in, but there the traces of the mint ceased.  On removing the rubbish in the hole the poor fellow was discovered about six feet from the surface, of course quite dead, and the body was removed to a farmhouse near to await a coroner’s inquest.

A Candidate For Transportation

Police Office, Derby  George Marshall, a youth of 14, was charged as follows:- Police-constable Davis stated: Prisoner came to me this morning and said, “Mr. Davis, I shall find you a job to-day.”  I replied, “What shall you do?”  He said, “I shall commit a robbery.”  I endeavoured to persuade him to go home, but he would not, and said, “I shall go to the first watchmaker’s shop I can, break a window, steal a watch and run my chance, as I mean to have seven years.”  I knew that prisoner had been twice convicted at the sessions, and also that he had been twice summarily committed, and therefore I thought it best to lock him up.  Prisoner, in reply to questions from the Mayor, said that he would rather be transported than live in Derby; that he had a comfortable home and neither his father nor his mother-in-law behaved ill to him, but he did not like to stay at home.  The Mayor doubted whether sending prisoner to gaol again would be productive of any good, as it was evident he had a propensity for stealing and leading an idle life; but on the mother-in-law saying they had done all they could for him, and that if he did not return home (and he said he would not) something worse was sure to happen to him, the Bench committed him, as a rogue and vagabond, for three months with hard labour.

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

On this Day: ‘The Week’s Sports’

From the Alfreton and Belper Journal, 2nd December 1892:

The Week’s Sports

The football shown on Saturday by the different clubs was surprising and goes to show that football (like cricket) is a game upon which you cannot place much confidence as to the results, as the different matches lately played tend to show…

…Last Saturday Alfreton leapt out of the bucket and put another win to their credit, and this came when the least expected.  No one could have thought the Town would score two more points than their opponents last week who saw the teams previous to the commencement.  There were four of the Alphas team playing with the first, and whether it is owing to these four being included in the team that they gained their victory or no I cannot say.  Certain it is they had something to do with the result.  It was a pity the day was so unfavourable as the club are not having the best of gates, and it seems rather hard that they should receive so little support when they are proving themselves conquerors.  Many of the supporters thought there would be no match, as did also some of the first team players, in fact some were in bed while the play was on, and did not know anything of the affair until some considerable time after the match was over.  However, the Alphas were at hand and proved themselves equal to the task by their tactics and dash.  The Basford team were a tricky lot of fellows and played a fast game, but their defence is far from good, and it is chiefly owing to this defect that they were defeated on Saturday…

…Clay Cross journeyed to South Normanton and beat the home team by 4 goals to 2.  I have been in the company of the visitors lines man (Mr. Whitworth), and he tells me the language of the spectators was most disgusting I think the spectators ought to control their tongues a little…

…I am pleased to state that Chesterfield and Clay Cross have dispelled all the bitterness of rivalry that has existed between them , and Clay Cross are due at Chesterfield on Christmas Tuesday to face the “Crooked Spireites” in a friendly .  May the best team win.  Chesterfield have guaranteed Clay Cross £4 for the match.

Riddings received a severe beating at Ilkeston on Saturday.  Owing to the wet morning only nine of the team turned up, Wimbush and Brown being absent.  Starting with nine men, their misfortunes did not end there, Street straining his thigh after five minutes play and being of no further use to his side.  Partridge, the Riddings centre half-back, played a champion game, and was the best man on the field.  Burton also played a very good game.  Next Saturday Riddings visit Clay Cross, and have re-organised the team.  We shall see by the result whether it will be a success or not…

Lost again!  Belper Town three, Langley Mill four.  The best excuse to give for a losing team is they met better players.  I doubt it in this case.  Four to three leaves very little margin.  The ground at Langley Mill was in a terrible plight, pools of water and mud being plentiful.  Still I have a little excuse for Belper.  They had not the full team.  When the half-backs are absent it is like taking away the prop and down comes the whole structure.  Horrobin had promised up to Friday night to resume his place in the team.  Derby Junction got at him and he was tempted to Rotherham.  Jack Lynam could not go, and Green is on the sick list.  These three men would have won the match for Belper.  When the return is played I think there will be less croaking at Langley Mill than was the case last Saturday…

…I am reminded by a friend of a grand prize drawing Belper Town has arranged for Christmas on behalf of the funds of the club.  There are fifty prizes ranging from £3 3s. to two dozen of bitter beer.  Every little helps.  Who can tell what a stray ticket may do.  It is always the unexpected that happens.


We hold the Alfreton and Belper Journal on microfilm  – just ring to book a microfilm reader.