Routes to Derbyshire for refugees in the event of an invasion (1916)

This morning we received an enquiry from the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham asking about any further records we might hold relating to a map in their collection entitled Map Showing Routes for Refugees from Eastern Counties in case of Invasion, which was produced in January 1916 when the threat of an invasion from hostile forces resulted in preparations being made for civilians to be evacuated from coastal areas in the East into the landlocked county of Derbyshire.

View the map and find out more about it in this blog post by Professor Matthew Smallman-Raynor.

In answer to the enquiry, unfortunately, I couldn’t say for certain whether we do hold any records that might provide further information.  However, we hope that further investigation by the team at the University, particularly using the County Council (see ref DCC) and County Constabulary records (see ref D3376) might provide some additional insight into the scheme that fortunately never needed to be put into action.

If you’re interested… we do have a number of records relating to First World War refugees from Belgium (search the catalogue for refugees).

“Why don’t you just digitise it all?”

If we had a £ for every time we have heard this question…

There are many reasons why archive services do not scan all historical documents and make them available electronically – one of the main reasons being the inherent instability of digital files. Most professionals would now dispute that we are really heading for a digital dark age but that doesn’t mean we can be laissez-faire about the preservation of digital content.

As technology changes so rapidly, preservation of digital data actually requires much more active management than most of our paper and parchment collections – the computer I’m typing this on doesn’t even have a CD/DVD drive let alone a floppy disk drive (although fortunately, we do have access to both of this within the office).

There are many examples of lost digital data, the loss of over 50 million songs from MySpace being the most recent – see If it’s online, it’s not permanent. Internet archives can disappear.

Here at Derbyshire Record Office we have been thinking about how we preserve digital content for many years, but this is still something very much in development. However, in the last few weeks we have made good progress and more digital archives are now being received. Watch this space for further developments.

 

Secondary and FE Learning Tours – Derwent Valley Mills

Are you a teacher, teaching assistant or group leader working with KS3, 4 and Post-16 students? Staff from the World Heritage Site invite you to take a learning tour with them on Friday 13th March 2019 – Free of charge, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council funded Great Place Scheme.

 

Visits and free entry to the following venues will be included:

  • Cromford Mills, Cromford
  • Birdswood, The Friends of Cromford Canal trip boat
  • Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills
  • Derbyshire Record Office
  • High Peak Junction Railway Workshops
  • Strutt’s North Mill, Belper

You’ll go away with plenty of ideas and opportunities to build knowledge about this great place into your teaching, learning, enrichment and engagement activities, whatever your focus.  There is a chance to meet other staff providing learning opportunities at sites along the valley to really discover the range on offer.

  • Find out what a World Heritage Site is and why the Derwent Valley Mills was inscribed by UNESCO
  • Discover the wide range of learning opportunities available for Key Stage 3, 4 and Post 16 students along this 15 mile site.
  • Travel by minibus with expert guides visiting a range of museums, sites and venues to explore their learning offer.
  • Discuss and shape what you need for your students – are you looking for work experience?  Specific projects?  Enrichment Days?  STEM subjects?
  • Take away some learning activities and trip opportunities that you can share with your students to bring the story of the Derwent Valley Mills to life.
  • Find out about the world’s first factories, a hot bed of entrepreneurship and enterprise and the rich history and heritage available to provide a wealth of opportunities that you can unlock for your students

How to book:

Places are limited.  To reserve you place email: environmentalstudies@derbyshire.gov.uk  or call Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service on 01629 533439.

Please provide your name, school or organisation, contact email and phone number and any specific needs and mobility issues you have so we can ensure you have a successful and enjoyable day.

For more information see Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Projects.

 

What do you have about dwarves in Norse Mythology or the future colonisation of space?

These are just two of the themes I have been looking into yesterday as part of a visit from students at the University of Derby doing a Creative Writing degree. This has now become an annual visit that challenges me every time to come up with items from the collections to inspire and inform the students, as part of an introduction to the opportunities for supporting their work that can be found amongst the archives.

Two of the students had been in touch in advance to advise what their interests were and what they were currently working on. There have been struggles in past years in identifying a selection of documents related to the students’ interests and current projects but when this year I received an email referring to “representations of Dwarfs in Norse myth and perhaps other representations of dwarfs or dwarf-like humans in folklore” and “space, future planet colonisations”. Fortunately, the latter also included a reference to “accounts of colonisation of British colony’s in the words of eye-witnesses”, which is much more what we might expect amongst our collections given the official roles undertaken by a number of Derbyshire gentry in the 18th-20th century (see in particular the Fitzherbert connection in the West Indies;- Gell family in South Africa;- Wilmot-Horton in Ireland and elsewhere).

After an ill-advised search in  the catalogue for ‘space’, which primarily turned up records relating to graveyard spaces, I tried terms such as planet, Mercury, Venus, Mars, solar, lunar, astronomy, etc. which was a little more successful. Knowing the relationships of Derbyshire personalities with The Lunar Society, and of John Flamsteed of Denby, some terms were less successful than I hoped. I also already knew that we had a couple of collections relating to the Rocketry department at Rolls Royce (see D4907 and D5290), so the selection also included a few drawings and lecture notes.  However, I was thrilled to find a reference to the Mars Colony Project of the 1960s amongst papers of the Derby Group of the British Interplanetary Society (ref: D317).  Fortunately, the student in question was also very pleased and fascinated with the selection, learning that whilst the US had plans to colonise the moon, the British (and European) aim was for the colonisation of Mars – obviously neither got very far!

Putting together a selection relating to dwarves and Norse mythology required a little more abstract thinking. Whilst Derbyshire is full of its own myths, legends and folklore, they don’t tend to contain many references to dwarves or Norse traditions. Based on my extremely limited knowledge of such fantasy fiction (primarily as a result of repeated viewings, though never readings, of the Lord of the Rings) the obvious Derbyshire connection was to mining (lead especially) and caving, and mountains. The resulting selection included;-

  • photographs of various Derbyshire lead mines and caves, notably Peak Cavern at Castleton which is particularly famous for Blue John (e.g. D4959, D1502, D869 and a large number from the local studies library, also available on Picture the Past)
  • an 18th century copy of civil war era lead mining customs and laws (D7676/Bagc/550)
  • a recipe for “spring mountain wine” (D307/H/28/1) – although the catalogue entry had read ?strong, which might have been more dwarf-like
  • several illustrations and caricatures by George Murgatroyd Woodward (1767-1809) of Stanton-by-Dale (ref: D5459).

The group were also fascinated by the people in the Victorian asylum admissions register and what their stories were (ref: D1658/1/5), a Great Seal of Charles I granting a pardon to Francis Leeke in 1639 after he purchased land without permission, (ref: D315/1) and an illustration of woman who grew four sets of horns (ref: D303/30/7). Other students spent time using the online catalogue to search for items relating to Irish immigration and seafaring, and made plans to come back during normal opening hours to pursue their own interests and research.

I look forward to hearing and reading what they come up with. It was good to hear from their lecturer that after last year’s visits one of the students who was interested in pirates on the high seas wrote a book partly inspired by records she consulted at DRO particularly relating to an individual who chased pirates across the seas – unfortunately I don’t have any details of the records she consulted, but we do hope to add a copy of the published book to our Local Authors collection in due course.

Dronfield 1917 (in 2017)

Last night, while others spending an evening at school may have been watching the typical (or less typical) Christmas nativity, I was privileged to attend Stonelow Junior School to see the year 6 give a dramatic presentation for Dronfield 2017: Stories from the First World War.

For the last 12 months, the pupils have been researching the history of their town and it’s people, including some of soldiers who fought in the war. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the brilliant Gertie and Paul Whitfield from Whitworks Adventures in Theatre, pupils visited different museums, businesses and organisations. In Feb 2017, I visited the school taking a selection of old Dronfield records, photographs and history books to help the pupils with their research.

Posters created by the pupils to show information found from Record Office sources

Informed and inspired by diaries, letters, newspapers, service records, church registers and many other sources, the pupils brought their local “ancestors” to life with poems, songs, a silent movie re-enactment, imagined postcards and letters and recollections from the past. Remembering facts and figures, stories and feelings, it was a fantastic way to present what they had learned – including a verse of Silent Night in the original German.

I couldn’t help but read the pupils project diaries and see what they thought of the Record Office visit…

“… it was a fascinating day I learnt a lot and hope she comes again” – Chloe

“When I was reading I noticed that the writing was squiggly in the log books” – Alexander

“My personal favourite is the church record book. It had in it all the names, birth and their jobs. I felt so privled [?privileged] and excited  to find out what jobs were in 1917. The writing kept going column after column and the writing was big and scary but some of it was so fancy”

You can soon see a copy of the book produced as part of the project in our Local Studies collection and in Dronfield Library.

Explore your local history… Long Eaton

How? Why? What? Where?

Discover how Derbyshire Record Office and Derbyshire Libraries can help during our series of events at Long Eaton Library in September and November

Tuesday 19th September, 9.30am-12noon –  Family History Online

Tuesday 10th October, 9.30am-12noon – Maps and Photographs

Monday 13th November 2.00pm to 4.30pm – History of Buildings

with original archives from Derbyshire Record Office

Tuesday 5th December 9.30am to 12pm – Old Newspapers 

All events are free, but please book your place at by calling Long Eaton Library on 01629 531470 or emailing longeaton.library@derbyshire.gov.uk

Web: Long Eaton Library

 

A history of the archives service for Derbyshire

Late last Spring I began what came to be a rather extensive piece of research into the development of the archives part of Derbyshire Record Office. After so much work I wanted to share what I had found, and on Monday we ran an event featuring a talk about the history of the archives service, an exhibition of our own archives (by which I mean the records we actually created rather than those we look after on behalf of the county) and a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the record office building. We couldn’t do the whole building as it is so big, and to be honest once you have seen one or two of our strong rooms, you have really seen the other 12 or 13 (yes, we do have 14 in total for archives and local studies).

I hope many of the people who read this blog are interested to hear how the record office has developed, and I do intend to write further posts in the future so please watch this space. For now here are a few photographs from the event

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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.