What are your plans for Christmas this year?

How many times have you been asked this already this year?  Hands up if you are planning a trip away – where are you going?

How about skating and tobogganing on Mont Blanc – just 10 guineas

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Or perhaps a Mediterranean cruise to welcome the New Year – 25 guineas

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And if you’re still hunting for that last minute Christmas present, why not show someone how much they mean to you with a tour of Rome – from just £10 (oops, perhaps that should be £820)

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Don’t forget to read the small print…

If you’d rather stay at home, why not treat the children to a stylish new hat

Wherever you go and what you do, Derbyshire Record Office wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (that is for 2020 not 1899!)

Images courtesy of

A timely festive accession

We have just added to our collection papers of the Buxton & High Peak Royal Naval Association (collection ref: D8311).  They had originally been donated to our colleagues at Buxton Museum but are better placed with us here at the record office.

Among the photographs, news cuttings, correspondence and other papers which form part of the accession, is a rather lovely pamphlet on ‘Christmas Fare’ produced by the Middle East Land Force (MELF) Army Catering Corps.  It is dated 1947 and offers advice on how to “make certain that all ranks will enjoy good fare, this Christmas, and particularly that the very large number for whom this will be the first festive season spent away from home, will not be disappointed.”

The pamphlet features menus and recipes for such festive delights as Christmas pudding (offering two choices of recipe), chestnut stuffing and trifle, along with general advice on how Units could plan their Christmas arrangements, including table layouts and decorations.

We are not sure of who owned the pamphlet but ‘Cpl Harvey’ is written on the front cover. Presumably it is he who has made annotations throughout the pamphlet, often humorous.

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With this rather timely addition to our collections I’ll take the opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas with every best wish for 2020.

Repairing the Richardson letters

In our Franklin collection is an album containing about a hundred letters, mainly written by Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) to his good friend and fellow arctic explorer, Sir John Richardson (1787-1865). The letters had been stuck into the album with a shiny, translucent tape, which had also been used to carry out repairs. In order to ensure the long-term survival of these letters we decided to remove them from the album: many were loose already and at risk of falling out, and the tape was causing further damage to the paper.

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We carried out a few tests on the repair tape and found that the adhesive was water soluble. The inks used were stable in water, so we were able to wash the letters and remove all remnants of the tape this way. An additional benefit to having washed the letters is that it has flushed out all kinds of dirt and degradation that had become ingrained in the paper, and it has re-invigorated the paper fibres, making the letters feel stronger again.

All the letters have now been repaired with handmade conservation repair paper and wheat starch paste. Here are some examples of letters before, during and after the process:

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In case you were wondering, if in a few hundred years’ time one of our successors wants to remove these repairs in order to treat the letters with whatever amazing technique that may be available then, all they will need to do is wash them again and all our repairs will simply float off.

We have of course saved the original album as part of the collection – if you would like to see it and the letters, just pop in and ask for D8760/F/FJR/1/1/1-92. Or have a look on our catalogue for a description of their contents, as they are full of fascinating information about Franklin’s expeditions, his time in Tasmania, and his home life. But as we are in Matlock, my favourite snippet has to be this from 13 June 1823:

D8760 F FJR 1 1 5 Matlock

‘I went up today to Matlock, and was much delighted with the scenery. I think it equals in richness and the picturesque anything I have seen – though it is not so grand as some we have beheld in America. Mrs Richardson will be gratified to learn that its prettiest parts reminded me of different spots in Scotland.’ (D8760/F/FJR/1/1/5)

Looking out of my window as I type this, with the tops of the hills shrouded in mist, I can only agree!

 

Historic Derbyshire maps available online

With the new Derbyshire Heritage Mapping Portal you can now see how the Derwent Valley from Derby to Matlock has changed over the last 200 years.  Featuring selected maps from the collections at the record office, the portal enables free access to digital copies of the maps and an “overlay” feature so you can see the present and the past at the same time:

1811 estate map (ref: D769/B/11/3) of Kedleston Road, Derby laid over current Ordnance Survey map

Watch this video to discover what you can find on the portal:

 

Although there only a handful of maps are available at the moment (out of the thousands in the collections), we hope that we will be able to add many more to eventually cover the whole county – so something to look forward to for 2020 and beyond!

The biggest map in the collection is over 4.5 metres long and over 3 metres wide (ref: D1564/3)

The portal was made possible with funding from Heritage Fund and the Arts Council, with the tremendous effort and support of Derbyshire County Council’s GIS Officer, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Co-ordinator and several volunteers who helped to identify the maps for digitisation, and provide additional descriptive information for the online catalogue.

Thanks must also go to the creators and benefactors of the original maps, not only for their existence in the first place, but also for the detail and accuracy with which they surveyed the land and produced the maps – the success of the overlaid images is entirely credit to their incredible skills.

 

Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital Buxton 1915 – 1919

A hundred years ago this year, the building that now houses Buxton Museum was just winding up as a military hospital for Canadian First World War servicemen. Buxton Museum have just posted some fascinating new research about the museum’s hospital years.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The building that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is housed in has a varied past, beginning its existence as a spa hotel in the 1800s before becoming a museum in the 1920s. It also had a brief lesser-known role as a war hospital. Derbyshire Museums Manager Ros Westwood sheds light on this dim chapter of Peak Building’s history:

We are often asked about the role of this building in the First World War.

Peak Buildings

The museum was built in about 1875 as a hydropathic hotel, offering cold water treatments. By 1915 the Peak Hotel was (again) up for sale. The Canadian Red Cross Society secured a lease to establish the Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital, No 2, Buxton

The Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Buxton opened in May 1916, under the command of Lt. Col. H.D. Johnson C.A.M.C.  He would soon be relieved by Major F. Guest (later Lt. Col.) and in…

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Welcome to the Mining the Seams Project

The Mining the Seams project is a 2 year collaborative project with Warwickshire County Record Office and funded by the Wellcome Trust. Our small team aim to shed more light on the National Coal Board collection we have, with particular focus on the medical and compensation aspects. In the future, this particularly means helping to catalogue this collection in more detail so it is more accessible to those interested in this type of industrial history.

Having graduated from the University of Derby’s MA Public History and Heritage course last November, I’m so far enjoying my time delving into a period of history I don’t usually cover. Still, this isn’t my first time here at the Derbyshire Record Office as I have been involved on and off since my internship on the Pop-Up Archives Project in 2017. It’s so great to be getting more involved in the nitty gritty of how an archives works. As someone who lives in Alfreton and has done all my life, I can’t ignore the town’s mining heritage and that some of my relations have been miners. For me this project is a way to understand what their way of life once was, particularly my maternal grandfather who I never knew but had always heard stories about him coming home black from the coal. My uncle who is now recently retired also played a role in the local Miners Strikes.

So far there isn’t much to write about other than a brief introduction to the project’s aims and introducing myself as a project archives assistant, so apologies for the very brief post! However, there will be more posts on interesting items and themes that come along, which will be posted at the beginning of every month. I do hope you can follow the project’s progress and that some of you may become volunteers when we start looking for them at the beginning of next year.