Trade and telephone directories

A guide to the published directories available for Derbyshire.

extract for Ashbourne from Kelly’s Directory of Derbyshire, 1925

Trade directories

In the 18th century, new publications appeared across the country containing details of trades and industry, as well as other useful information, for example about local government, individual towns and villages, local organisations and activities.

Left: extract for Ashbourne from Kelly’s Directory of Derbyshire, 1925

They were published less regularly in Derbyshire than in more urban areas. The earliest was published in the 1790s. The last directory giving whole county coverage was published by Kelly in 1941. Within this limited time-span they are a great source for family historians looking for individuals and local historians, charting the growth and development of communities.

Arranged alphabetically by place-name (beware, place like Little Eaton and Long Eaton can be found under “E”), the description includes:

  • public buildings and institutions (often including the dates when schools, railway stations and churches were built – especially useful if you live in an old school room or chapel, for example)
  • local industries and trades
  • major landowners
  • methods of communication, including post deliveries and transport

The description is usually followed by a list of commercial and domestic residents (although only a small proportion of domestic residents are included). The commercial lists also include information about the occupation of those listed and separate classified directory is also included, arranged alphabetically by trade, usually at the end. Almost all the directories include advertisements for individual businesses, and for Derby many also include a street directory. Where the directory only covers part of Derbyshire, the information may be slightly more detailed, for example directories specifically for Chesterfield.


The main collection of printed directories are available on the open access shelves in the Local Studies Library, a small number of duplicate directories are also available in the archive search room. After 1941, the main Derbyshire directories are available on microfiche only and we recommend booking a reader’s space to consult these items.

A good number of Derbyshire trade directories (or Derbyshire sections of directories covering a wider area) are available on microfiche in most larger libraries in the county. Additional printed directories for both Derbyshire and neighbouring counties may also be available. Download the document below for further information about the directories available on microfiche.

At least one directory from every English and Welsh county, including 18 covering Derbyshire between 1829 and 1912 are available to search and browse online free of charge from the University of Leicester Special Collections, many others from across the UK between 1766 and 1946 are available via and

Telephone directories

As the trade directories ceased to be published, telephone directories start to take their place as a means of tracing individuals and companies.

There is a comprehensive set of these on microfilm at the local studies library in the Derbyshire Record Office, for the whole country from 1880 to 1912. From 1920 to 1970 they cover Britain excluding London.

Good sets of printed local telephone directories (non-residential) from the 1970s onward are also in the Local Studies Library.

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