In the footsteps of Len

Alistair, from our Modern Records team, has been cataloguing a collection maps and plans about which we know remarkably little: only reference numbers for each document and the shelf on which it sits. Since resuming work on the premises, Alistair has described one-third of the 360-ish rolls. I’ll let him pick up the story from here:

An interesting task recently landed on my desk, the cataloguing of hundreds of old maps, charts and plans.

These maps/charts/plans are known as “Len’s List”. We are not sure who Len was but he’s understood to be a former employee of the County Council and probably worked at the Record Office.

The plans arrive from storage on to my desk. I need to carefully unwrap the plans, many are delicate and some need repairs by our conservator. I examine the maps (they are mostly maps) noting salient information including the title, scale of the map, size of the map and what it shows as well as noting any damage there may be. Often several maps come out of 1 parcel there can be as many as 30 or 40 but 5 or 6 would be more usual and some parcels have only the one map.

Most of the maps relate to Derbyshire and surrounding areas, others may cover the whole country and parts of Europe. A number of the parcels contain plans of buildings such as hospitals, police stations and other public buildings. Others show the development of railways, reservoirs and infrastructure.

One of the plans shows the Newdigate Arms public house in West Hallam which I recently visited. The plan still generally reflects the layout of the building today:

Newdigate Arms, West Hallam

Why we have a plan of this public house is something of a mystery. [Perhaps it somehow became separated from the building approval plans in the Shardlow Rural District Council collection?]

Another plan shows an enlarged drawing of a World War 2 hand grenade:

A Second World War-era diagram of a hand grenade

Again why we hold this is a mystery although it is stored with some maps showing former Army Command areas:

Map of essential traffic routes

Could these items have become separated from our civil defence records?

The task is not complete as many more maps/plans/charts need to be catalogued.

This may keep me busy for some time.

One thought on “In the footsteps of Len

  1. During the 70s and 80s there was an emphasis on civil defence planning and as part of that initiative a nationwide radio network was created to be used exclusively for that purpose. The system, now decommissioned, was supplied by Pye Telecom of Cambridge and was known as project MOULD. For 6 months between 1981 and 1982 I worked as an installation engineer on this project. The backbone network covered the whole country and there were two hilltop stations installed in Derbyshire. Local Authority Emergency Control Centres were also connected and although I don’t know whether any equipment was installed at County Hall in Matlock, I installed aerials at County Halls in Nottingham and Cambridge.

    It occurred to me that this archive containing maps of county-wide sensitive infrastructure might have been created to support this scheme and may have been used during exercises. I note that there are Peacetime Disaster Plans dated 1975/77/81 in D4710 which may offer further information.

    There is a brief mention of the MOULD system at the bottom of this Pye history page: and a more lengthy technical description of the system here: (scroll down to Civilian Access To MOULD).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.