All good things….

I can’t really believe it but we are just two days away from our final event for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project!  Our project has been a few years in the making and now it seems rather strange that once Wednesday is over we won’t have any more exciting (and often a bit bizarre!) events to plan. Officially the project runs until the end of November, but that time will be spent writing case studies should other intrepid Pop Up projects wish to follow in our wake, designing an exhibition and prepping the project archive for cataloguing.

If you are up Gamesley way on Wednesday afternoon we will be ‘popping up’ at the annual Meet the Neighbours Day which takes place at Winster Mews.  In this event we will be focusing on the meaning of home and community.  We’ll have a range of records from our collections to spark conversation and lots for the kids to get involved in.  So come and see what the Story of the Silver Spoons, the song ‘Dirty Old Town’, a poem about green beans, a ‘domesday’ book, a cooking pot and an empty suitcase all have in common. The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project – bizarre to the last!

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Developing an archive service for Derbyshire

In April 1962, Miss Joan Sinar was appointed as the first County Archivist for Derbyshire. In the 55 years since this landmark was reached, whilst much has changed at the Record Office the basic principle of preserving Derbyshire’s archival heritage and providing access to it has remained constant. However, 1962 may not have been the true beginning of Derbyshire’s archive service.

On Monday 14 August, join us to find out more about the history of the Record Office and record keeping in Derbyshire. There will also be a display of original archives illustrating the development of the Derbyshire’s archival heritage, and a unique opportunity for a behind the scenes tour.

Monday 14th August 2017

10am-1pm

Cost: £10 (including light refreshments)

Booking essential. Please register via the link to the right, or call 01629 538347

An intriguing photograph

Sorting through a records of the Record Office earlier this week, I came across a small bundle of copy photographs of images elsewhere in the archive collections. The images were rather eclectic in their subject matter, featuring photographs from World War One, family and industrial photographs, and I browsed through them again whilst waiting for a staff meeting to begin on Monday morning. There was one in particular that was a little more obscure, it puzzled us for a little while  and then tickled us when we realised what it was. Take a look for yourself and see what you make of it…

A wooden panel with the title ‘Cemetery’ above … what we didn’t know. When we looked a little closer we saw three words that told us everything we needed to know and amused us in the process. These words were ‘Ferodo’ and ‘brake lining’ – it is a cemetery of the brake linings manufactured by Chapel-en-le-Frith based Ferodo.

(Apologies for the poor images – they are a photographs of a photograph of a photograph!)

We already knew the company and their staff had a good sense of humour and imagination from other items we hold in their archive collection, including our Treasure #26 Ferodo’s imaginative advertising.

This particular photograph comes from an album featuring images from the the company’s factory, Rye Flatt House at Combs in the small collection of papers of Herbert Frood, the firm’s founder, (ref: D5700). The main archive for the company is held under reference D4562, with a wide range of records relating to production, staff and promotional materials. My favourite item from the collection is not actually an archive, but an artefact…

Mounted display of original brake lining used by `Babs’  who broke the land speed record in 1927 and was buried later that year following an accident that resulted in the death of the driver, John Parrry-Thomas.

Proud to be at Pride

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I had a fabulous day at Chesterfield Pride on Sunday.  As well as enjoying a hefty serving of cheesy pop, not to mention a riot of rainbows and glitter, I had some great conversations with individuals from the LGBT+ community about their history.  It was a privilege to hear people’s stories, particularly those who had gone through some tough times in the past.  It was good to hear how things have changed and are still changing.

          “You’re trying to redress the balance….good on you”

At the record office we represent all aspects of Derbyshire life and all communities – the LGBT+ community is no different.  However, trying to identify material relating to LGBT+ history within our collection can be tricky.  Terminology has changed, we use the term ‘gay’ very differently to how it was used 100 years ago.  Sadly, much of what we know we have relating to LGBT+ history is negative – Calendar of Prisoners (you can see one in the slide show) and court records list convictions, for example, and often these are the references which are easiest to find.  But this does not tell the whole truth.

That’s why we are working with our friends at Derbyshire LGBT+ to encourage volunteers to delve into our collections to uncover those “Other Stories” which will undoubtedly be in our archive, but are at the moment a little harder to find.  We are also encouraging people to donate their own records so that our collections relating to LGBT+ history can grow and become more representative of this vibrant, strong and proud community.

Miss Elizabeth Appleton – an independent Regency woman

Those of you who followed William Porden’s travels in France in 1816 will remember Miss Elizabeth Appleton, who was so very seasick on the channel crossing. This intrepid young woman, befriended by the Pordens, was journeying to the Continent alone, and appeared to be a seasoned traveller. The friendship continued after their return to Britain, and Mr Porden continues to mention Miss Appleton in his diaries, for example on 29 August 1820:

At Mr Flaxman’s in the Evening.  [Present were] Mr Owen Pugh, Miss Appleton, Mr J Denman, Mr and Miss Flaxman, Maria Denman and selves.

I suspect this Mr Flaxman is John Flaxman RA and Owen Pugh, who Mr Porden describes as a Welsh Antiquary, would be Dr William Owen Pughe.

So who was Miss Appleton?   As to what she looked like, we have Mr Porden’s description of her in an entry of 13 Sept 1820 as ‘a tall, genteel figure, nearly 6 feet high’.  She is clearly well educated and wealthy enough to travel abroad for pleasure.  She is of independent means and also socialises with eminent people of the day.  Well, with the wonders of the internet it’s proved possible to identify exactly who she was – here’s how and what I found.

I started with a search for her name in the British Newspaper Archive on www.findmypast.co.uk, which brought up a few Elizabeth Appletons.  Bearing in mind what I already knew about her education and social status, this notice in the Morning Post on 28 January 1822 seemed likely to be the right Miss Appleton:

I also found this marriage notice on 4 February 1826:


This led me to the marriage in Southampton on 21 July 1825 of John Lachlan McLachlan and Elizabeth Appleton.  Note the fact that the newspaper got John McLachlan’s name slightly wrong, a good reminder that the facts in newspaper articles should always be checked.   In fact, her married surname continued to make it difficult to find her online. I eventually found she had her own Wikipedia entry under ‘Elizabeth Lachlan’ which then led me to an entry about her in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, under Elizabeth Appleton (married name Lachlan).  I should have just checked there in the first place!

From all this information I learned that when William and Eleanor Porden first met Elizabeth Appleton she was 25 or 26 years old and had apparently spent three years on the continent a few years before, following an argument with her mother.  She had been a governess to aristocratic families and was making her name as an educationist, having just published her first book Private Education; or a practical plan for the studies of young ladies. The school that she subsequently opened in Upper Portland Place was so successful that by 1825 she was reputedly earning £4000 per year, an immense sum, equivalent to roughly £300,000 in today’s money. She was even reputed to have been asked to be governess to Princess Victoria (more on this in a future blog post).

It’s easy to see why Miss Appleton and the Pordens would have become friends. William Porden valued female education and his daughter Eleanor, who had recently published her first work of poetry, is considered a proto-feminist.  Miss Appleton’s story as a successful, independent, professional woman came to a sad end, however.  Her money became entangled with her uncle’s and when he went bankrupt, her money was lost at the same time.  Eventually, her husband fled to France to escape his debts and she died in London of cholera in 1849.

Despite the sad ending, Elizabeth Appleton proves that in the Regency era, a single genteel women could have a well-paid job and move in intellectual circles.  Although Elizabeth Appleton is not from Derbyshire, she is the kind of woman being celebrated in projects happening around the country for the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote in 1918.  Derby-based Vox Feminarum’s Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Deeds not Words: towards Liberation’ project is researching 100+ years of women’s sociology-political activism in Derbyshire.  Take a look at their website at http://www.deedsnotwordstowardsliberation.com for more about the often untold stories of Derbyshire women.

Chesterfield Pride 2017

Chesterfield Pride returns to Queen’s Park this Sunday.  Last summer saw over 3000 people attend the one day free event and this year hopes are that the event will be even bigger.

There will be lots to see and do including live music (anyone remember 80s pop star Hazell Dean?), market stalls, fair ground and food and drink.

The record office will be there with our friends from Derbyshire LGBT+.  Come and see us in the tented area where we’ll have lots of information on the “Other Stories” project, the record office’s collections relating to the LGBT+ community and information how you can help grow our collection, ensuring the history of the LGBT+ community in Derbyshire is saved for future generations.

Come and say hi!

Reflection on the Car Boot Sale – an unedited stream of consciousness story by Maria

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The Amazing Pop Up Archives’ Storyteller Maria Whatton reflects on when we ‘popped up’ at the car boot sale on the Swadlincote/Measham border.

 

How beautiful the world is at 5 a.m. on a Sunday summer morning.

So quiet.

Warm.

Light.

The pit of my stomach churns at the early rise.

Porridge at 5.15 a.m. a gluey paste.

 

The Sat Nav keeps getting lost.

Unnamed Road it shouts.

Unnamed Road as it sends the car twisting down empty lanes

curling through green fields.

 

At 6.30 a.m. turning into the Car Boot

the world of the field is already as full as a city.

Stalls are crowded with colourful tat.

Buyers are purposeful, hungry, eager to buy bargains.

Sellers have spread yesterday’s usefulness on wallpaper tables

in the hope of turning it into today’s little wealth.

 

It’s 6.35 a.m. and the cars are bumper to bumper

snaking in, feeding their pitch cash to the man with the tin.

A colony of Car booters are on the march

mauling mugs, lego men and anti macassars.

 

Our purple and yellow stalls are up

thanks to the bravery of Paula, Wendy and Debi,

who slept in the field all night, sharing poo stories and attempting sleep.

We turn to each other with tired eyes and yawn:

“Are we not mad? Whose crazy idea was this anyway?”

Oh yes, we remember, it was ours.

 

Debi’s van is ready for me to sit and tell stories.

Dressed with tea cups and tea pots, silky cloths and simple stool.

I could kiss her. How thoughtful. It’s the perfect place to tell my tales: a sitting stage, with plastic chairs, a makeshift auditorium – open air.

 

It’s these details that turn the Pop Up Archive into a circus, a magic carpet, a cinema of creativity that brings the past to people out for the morning on a mission to spend a fiver or three.

We haul out the glass vitrines from the van, rolled scrolls of documents and mysterious death mask.

Karen has packed her snugly and with gentle care.

Unpacks her with a light touch, removing bubble wrap and tissue.

(Who was this young woman? Rich or poor? How did she die? Why was her face counterfeited in this way?).

 

A coffee run is immediate as we meet and check plans for the day.

7.30 a.m. and the temporary toilets are already daubed with car booters’ scat and frilled with emergency tissue. There’s nowhere to wash your hands.

 

I chat with Kristian and the lovely young girl with the long blonde hair

whose name I don’t catch because I’m also talking with her Dad and hearing about his map making days.

 

She helps me with the ghost story I have invented about Gresley Hall that houses details of historical facts.

We discuss the nature of the monastery. “Were they Cistercians?”

“Did they wear white?” I need to check.

It’s important for the story.

I sing a Latin hymn like a monk.

 

Soon there is a different music gently playing.

Julian squeezes notes into hamburger air and Debi joins him to dance through the lanes of tables stuffed with clutter. The Pied Pipers of Measham.

She’s wearing a dress clanking with bric a brac: an Aladdin’s lamp, pottery jugs, and leather slung drum.

They cause a delightful stir and are followed back to our pitch by two enchanted children.

Someone says she’s a nutter. They don’t like nutters and they wave her away.

But most people are tuned in to joy and are gladdened as she spins and twirls.

 

All morning Archivists and Artists collect folk’s stories and pin them to an ancient looking map.

The red thread laces together old needle factories, elasticated web emporiums, a Mothers’ anecdotes and hard won fields where grandchildren now play.

 

The death mask opens her eyes, while we are all so busy.

She steals a look at us and listens intently, smiling broadly to herself when no one is looking.

The Pop Up Archive” she whispers “thank you for giving me some fresh air away from my stuffy box. I remember going to market myself when I was alive, and you know what? People haven’t changed. Not a bit.”

Matt stands in front of our newly purchased gazebos wafting families our way

to hear a tale or write a tag or two.

He’s a calm and casual director of traffic in bright blue trousers and Fedora in case it’s sunny,

he’s never put off by a shake of the head.

Wendy and Paula disarm each new visitor and charm

stories from their tongues onto paper tags.

 

And all of a sudden 5 hours have past.

There’s a shift change.

Folk are beginning to drift away.

Patches of empty grass appear.

 

A Romanian family tell us their story.

A brother and sister say they like England and that people are nicer here than back home.

Their English is fluent. The little girl says she’d learnt most of it in 3 months.

They stay and listen to my traditional tales and say they’d like to tell them again in school on Monday.

 

They are the last. It’s time to pack up.

The hoards of bargain hunters are dispersing, replaced by thousands of small black flies that have turned our yellow gazebo into an inferno of dots.

“Gosh look at them!” I say to Matt.

“Yes, they are thunder flies and them landing like that, means there’ll be a storm in five hours time.”

“Is that true?” I ask.

“No” he replies “I just made it up.”

 

Heaving and hauling.

Rolling up of documents and maps and rugs.

The gazebos snap shut like

stiff umbrellas. It’s a team effort.

 

We just have time to listen to Matt’s poem

and join in the chorus.

I buy the chair he’s been sitting on for a tenner

even though I’ve got nowhere to put it at home.

It is a Car Boot after all.

You’ve got to buy something haven’t you?

I’ll sand it and polish it and make a cushion to hide the defects.

It will be my Pop Up throne.

 

The Next Pop Up event will be at the Gamesley Community Day on 2nd August – more details to follow.

 

 

Records and revelling at Ripley

At a loss to know what to do this weekend?  Why not join The Amazing Pop Up Archives team at the Ripley Music Festival on Saturday.

We’ll be ‘popping up’ with our wonderful yellow and purple tents  full of fascinating records relating to Ripley people and places.  Will you find your ancestors in the First World War Absent Voters list or in the survey of Butterley Company employees (did your ancestors live in a household without a bible? – yes, that was a question on the survey)?

From tales of the Pentrich Revolution and First World War there will be songs and happenings for all the family, so lots to see and take part in.  Make your mark on our map or add to our index cards – just one little snippet about you or your history is all it takes to become a permanent part of the record office collection.

We look forward to seeing you at Crossley Park  (DE5 3GT) from 1pm onwards this Saturday.

Finding the spark

Further reflections – Pop Up Evaluator Sara looks back over how we found answers to those who? what? and where? questions.

Finding the spark, choosing an ignition point, I guess that is one of the key points regarding inspiration. It is up to the Creative facilitators – our Agents of Wonder – to bring these extraordinary archives to life, however the team decides.

So, ideally four events, literally popping up at various places across the county, with a clear mission to draw people in, to engage people with and through the archive. Capturing a history, perhaps more accurately a set of histories of the county’s last 900 years, there really is something for everyone. The early documents may be a bit inaccessible, some are in Latin, and the handwriting is difficult to decipher but there is a real sense that if we can find the right venues, and develop the right strategies, it won’t be difficult to get people excited about the records. The archivist and researcher inspire us once again with their experienced-based interjections that confirm that sometimes the most interesting things are found in the gaps, in the questions that people bring.

The first event will be at Wirksworth Festival, a captive audience and another stunning venue, the vicarage lawn in the heart of this creative Market Town.

Our weekend event at Wirksworth Festival 2016 was a huge success.