A week of work experience at Derbyshire Record Office

This post comes from Richard and Cara, who have been at Derbyshire Record Office all week on a work experience placement.  We are all agreed they have done really, really well.

Work experience this week has been fantastic. We’ve done multiple activities such as conservation; Picture the Past and the NUM Project work. We’ve learnt a lot here, and have also gained some experience of being in an amazing work environment such as the Derbyshire Record Office. Everyone here is extremely friendly; you can’t really see a bad side to anyone.

On the first day we both had a tour of the building lead by Paul Beattie. He walked us down into the huge archives, apparently with over five miles of shelve space. It was really interesting to see a deed of a grammar school from Queen Elizabeth I and also the earliest cook book with the recipe for a Bakewell tart. After lunch, we joined in with the NUM project work. This is a two year project where Paul, Emma and Hilary list over ten thousand miners from the county. They look into their births, deaths and any injuries they had during their work. This was really fun, as we got to go down into the archives and fetch some boxes for Paul Carlyle, the Project Manager.

The next day, we were both split up. Cara went to local studies, and Richard went to the search room. Cara looked at her family history and found that one of her ancestors was Scottish. She also learnt how to use the card catalogue. Richard, in the search room, went onto the computers and had a look at the online catalogue for all the documents in the archives. He ordered out two documents, one being a map of the area around where he lives, the other of some sales documents of his road. He found it quite interesting, as he saw that his house dates back to the mid-1700s. After lunch, we went to the computer room in Local Studies and met with Mark, who was looking after the enquiries. We answered some enquiries by using the card catalogue, which was interesting.

On Wednesday, we both swapped around. Cara went to the search room and Richard went to local studies. Cara had to look through all the reference numbers of previous documents because one had been misplaced. After that she answered some enquiries about schools in Derbyshire. Richard sorted out some order cards from previous documents, similar to what Cara was doing. He then looked on Ancestry.com and searched for his great great Grandad.   After lunch, we had a brief explanation of digitisation from Matthew. He explained how to scan a document, which is what he does in digitisation. After that we met with Nick, who explained ‘Picture the Past’. This is where he digitises historic pictures. He gave us the task to find locations of undescribed photos without a location.

On the Thursday, we had a short staff meeting with everyone at the record office. They just talked about the budgets and other important stuff we didn’t understand. We then wandered off towards Conservation where we met with Lien and Clare, who had given us the task to clean some documents from the 17th century. We both enjoyed that task. We had lunch around 12pm, and then went back to Lien and Clare and did some preservation work with ‘spider paper’ and a heat press. This was both very interesting and also fun. We repaired some mock documents which were classed as ‘ok’. Surprisingly, that was quite the compliment for what we had achieved. We tried to make some pouches for wax seals that were attached to a document. Cara did pretty well, Richard failed. (He hadn’t sewn for a long time!)

So after we left Lien and Clare, we met Paul at the search room and he given us the task to list different types of documents

Today (Friday), we did more of the project work until lunch, and managed to list 118 documents on the excel spreadsheet. We decided to go for lunch, and then went to Local Studies and met with Mark again. This is where we returned some books from the library and then sorted out cards from the card catalogue. Both of us then decided to write a blog, which is where we are now.  Later on we’re going to meet up with Paul and have a ‘review and evaluation’ of the whole week.   😀

This week has been both amazing and fun. All the staff members here are extremely friendly and they always bring in food. We would like to thank everyone for this great experience at the Derbyshire Record Office!

The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

Poet and Pop Up Team Agent of Wonder Matt Black shares his thoughts on our latest event which saw us Pop Up at a car boot sale in the Swadlincote/Measham area.

Matt Black reads his poem

The idea of the Pop Up Archives going to a car boot sale seemed so natural – as a car boot sale is itself a Record Office, a treasure – house of archives, a field full of objects each with their own unique and very personal histories. It was this idea that inspired me to think about writing this poem.

The Car-Boot’s Guide to a Beautiful Bargain

 

Cos it’s beautiful and true, in the car-boot near you

There are useful things that you can find, and other things will blow your mind

We go slowly, aisle by aisle, some of the DVDs make us smile

The Sound of Music, Take That, Top Gun, Fighting Fit Fighting Fat

there’s a thermal t-shirt such as you never knew existed

there’s a fish poacher you get home and wish that you’d resisted

smurfs and kermits and wrestling figures, Barbie dolls and dinosaurs

a teapot that was yesterday in my house, and tomorrow is in yours

everything here once was new in shops,

fashions through the decades, 1970’s glitter frocks

the pink junior rock guitar we bought Chelsea when she was four

2 tins of red paint Jane bought, that John refused to paint on the kitchen door

This old thirties walnut clock

Tick tock tick tocked for Nan and Grandad for forty years

Put into our Ford Mondeo’s boot last night, we couldn’t help some tears

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

It’s either come here or go to Church, and it takes care of Sunday morning

Knock off shampoo, knock off plugs, it’s kind of habit-forming

It’s pre-loved, recycled kitchen bedroom bathroom garden,

We’re British, we don’t haggle, we negotiate and get a bargain

Under a sunny cloudy scudding very Midlands sky

His rusty hammers, her pink wigs, their younger days flashing by,

All our children’s treasures, now they ‘ve grown and flown the nest

You’ve got to clear the garage, love, it looks a bloody mess

Biscuit tins full of Dinky cars you bought when you were 11

The Readers Digest Drivers Atlas of the British Isles 1967

Xmas presents for the kids, The Adventures of Binkle and Flip,

We could have taken a car-load down the local tip

But we chose to take a wiser, and a different route

Cos we like the eternal and the beautiful Car Boot

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing –

Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain

And it only cost 50p.

 

Teapots, teapots, wellie boots, the aisles are paved with good intentions

An exercise bike bought for a New Year’s resolution

Kept 6 months, given to Dave, kept in the shed and then he

Put the bike on E-Bay, and he didn’t even tell me

There’s mountain ranges of Jacqueline Wilson, heaps of Enid Blyton,

Uncle Bob’s Harrington Jacket wot he wore to watch the Who in Brighton,

Old Xmas presents, lego, 45s, floordrobes of taste and fashion,

Oo a chocolate fondue set for nights of naughty chocolate passion

There’s stuff to buy you didn’t know you wanted but suddenly you need

1 incomplete set of Top Trump cards, 1 Flymo lead

 

Because everything has mystery, and everything has history

And down this aisle there’s golf clubs, and down that aisle there’s crockery

And whispered lives are whispering across the cups of tea

By a van with a generator, plastic tables, and there are we

Comparing – Wot that’s beautiful

Wot that’s a bargain                             And it only cost 50p.

 

One of the amazing things about taking part in the Pop-Up sessions is being allowed to hear stories, and to be let into the special worlds and talents of people that we talk to. At the Car Boot I ended up sitting down and having a cup of tea with Mick, who runs the site. He  told me great stories, his talents as a magician, as a businessman, and then he told me that he also wrote poems. They just come, he said. He told me this poem by heart standing next to the tea and burger van where his son Matthew was serving tea and snacks. He said it took him about 15  minutes to write, which I was amazed by. Listening to him tell me this poem was a magical, unexpected and moving moment –

He wrote this poem for his son, Matthew.

 

Matthew’s poem

How I feel so tired

Sitting at my desk

My eyes are getting heavy

And I really need some rest

 

But there is work to do

And so little time

If only the days of my youth

Could once again be mine

 

Time was no problem

It just went on and on

How I spent my happy hours

In my search for fun

 

If only I could have known

That time would go so fast

And very soon these happy days

Would be lost within my past

 

But my life is like the seasons

And my winter days are short

And like a ship caught in a storm

I look for any port

 

A final place to rest my  bones

And live with my dream

Once again to run through the grass

Or paddle in a stream

 

To stand upon that distant hill

Without a single care

And feel the fingers of the wind

So gentle in my hair

 

But time and tide they both march on

No one can change the rule

I must forget the joys of youth

Today I’m starting school.

By Mick McCreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird and Wonderful Derbyshire

Hi, I’m Hannah and I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last two weeks at Derbyshire Record Office on work experience. I already had a brief understanding of what goes on at the Record Office as my mum is one of the librarians, but I had no idea exactly what goes on behind the the scenes. The staff really do do an amazing job organising their time so that the public’s experience is as comfortable, enjoyable and useful as possible.

Earlier on in the week I was asked to look at a Local Studies inquiry that led me to the book ‘Curiosities of Derbyshire and The Peak District’ by Frank Rodgers and it absolutely fascinated me, so much so that I decided to use it as inspiration for this blog post.

Many people, including myself, don’t seem to appreciate the fact that they live in Derbyshire. Just because we don’t live by the sea, in a major city or somewhere where the sun is constantly shining, we tend to wish we lived elsewhere. However these people often don’t know how many amazing things you can find about and around the county. For one thing, The Peak District was the first national park to be set up in the UK, in 1951. Derby’s Silk Mill was Britain’s first factory and is the oldest one still standing in the world. Also I remember a while ago, my English teacher who had come over from Canada told our class that when researching Derby, she had found that it is supposedly the most haunted city in the UK! The look of shock on everyone’s faces just goes to show how much we know about where we live.

It’s the little things, that we don’t see unless we’re really looking, that I find the most interesting. For example, the top of each of the three gateposts to Ashbourne Church are supported by skulls. They are thought to be the work of Robert Bakewell, one of Derby’s finest craftsmen and are apparently meant to remind those who enter of their inevitable mortality!

Something else ‘little’ that I came across while researching, was the bull ring in Snitterton. For centuries, the cruel sport of bull baiting was popular throughout England-in fact, it was encouraged is it supposedly made the meat more tender.

bullring

The Bull Ring at Snitterton, courtesy of Picture the Past

Bulls would be chained by the leg or neck and tormented by dogs, trained to pin it by the nose-the most tender part of a bull. The Snitterton Bull Ring was preserved by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 1906. An old villager has memories of his father telling him how in the evenings, men would come from Winster,  Wensley and other villages to try their bulldogs against the Snitterton Bull.

The final, and probably the most interesting place I found out about was St Ann’s Well in Buxton. The well is believed to have healing powers and was visited by Mary Queen of Scott’s who suffered badly from rheumatism. How amazing would it be to go there now and

st ann's well

St Ann’s Well, courtesy of Picture the Past

know you are standing in the same spot that an ancient monarch stood in hundreds of years before? Even now, the well carries the inscription; ‘Well of Living Waters’.

So, after reading this blog post I really hope you start looking at the world around you-you never know what amazing things you might find! Also, I hope that if you ever get the opportunity to go to Derbyshire Record Office you will take it, because it really has opened my eyes and it is so so worth it.

Adverts for medicines

This post is from Abi, who has been here all this week on a work experience placement.  Thanks Abi!

As part of my history GCSE course is studying Medicine Through Time, on my work experience it was interesting to have a look through old newspapers to see the type of treatments that were used in the past couple of hundred years. It was amazing to see how the types of treatments people used varied over this period of time; A supposed cure for blindness was definitely an interesting one to find.

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Bills, bills, bills…

Roger is one of a number of cataloguing volunteers who have been putting a great deal of work into collection D769, deriving from the practice of Taylor Simpson & Mosley, Solicitors, of Derby.  The collection includes a large number of maps which have been listed and available for many years, and an ever larger number of boxes which have never seen the light of day, because they have never been listed.  The volunteers have been going through some of these boxes in a bid to change all that.  Roger writes:

Amongst the documents in one box is a remarkable collection of invoices which record the debts owed by one Robert Curzon at the time of his accidental death in 1873. Robert Curzon and his wife Charlotte lived at Alvaston, although Robert Curzon’s duties as a captain in the Sussex Militia required him to spend time at the regimental barracks in Chichester.

Contemporary newspapers record that toward the end of September 1873, Robert and Charlotte Curzon went to a shooting party in Leicestershire. On their return journey the horse pulling their trap grew restive as they passed through the village of Diseworth. The trap overturned. Robert and Charlotte Curzon were thrown out, sustaining head injuries. Charlotte Curzon recovered but Robert Curzon died two days later, aged 32.

Some 250 invoices submitted after his death give a vivid indication of the breadth of Robert Curzon’s expenditure and the extent of credit he enjoyed during the months, and in many cases the years, before his death. Alongside the invoices are documents showing that Robert Curzon’s estate was not sufficient to meet the debts and his brothers took responsibility, in the process taking a bank loan of £3,000.

The retailers and suppliers represented include fishmongers, bakers, grocers, butchers, fruiterers, ale, wine and spirit merchants; florists and nurserymen; surgeons, dentists, chemists and hairdressers; drapers, glass, china and furniture merchants; tailors, dressmakers, hat makers, boot and shoe makers; jewellers, optical suppliers, watch and clockmakers; tobacconists; coach builders, cab hirers and livery stables; veterinary surgeons, blacksmiths, saddlers, harness makers, fishing tackle makers and gun and ammunition merchants; music suppliers, photographers and a portrait painter; taxidermists; hoteliers; newsagents, a theatre ticket agent, a library, booksellers and stationers; umbrella and cane makers; a timber merchant, plumbers, builders and ironmongers. There is even an invoice from Alvaston toll gate listing outstanding turnpike tolls. A handful of items give details of payments to servants and employees.

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Although many suppliers are from Derby there are many from London, and some from Chichester. Further afield are a jeweller and a taxidermist in Inverness; an antique dealer and livery stables in York; wine merchants in Leeds, Cologne and Bordeaux; and a portrait painter from Richmond, Surrey. A few items are in the form of note books, holding a chronological running record of goods supplied. The collection offers a colourful variety of printed billheads with decorative texts and illustrations. A few twenty-first century household names appear amongst the suppliers: W H Smith, newsagents, and Benson & Hedges, tobacconists, are immediately recognisable.

The invoices might provide a number of research opportunities. Many show abundant detail, such that it would be possible to construct a chronology of the daily life and travels of Robert Curzon over a period of at least twelve months. The detail might be of interest to students of domestic economy and those interested in the range amount and cost of foodstuffs available to a specific household in the 1870s. There are detailed invoices from chemists showing the supply of everyday household remedies; from nurserymen with specific information about plants and seeds supplied, and from tailors and dressmakers.

Volunteering at Derbyshire Record Office, Summer 2015

A lowly university student, panic-stricken and preceding her third and final year of studying Archaeology and Ancient Civilizations, it suddenly dawned on me… I need to decide what I want to do with my life!

DSCF0696

The summer was fast approaching and I knew it would be the best (and last) real opportunity I would have to fully commit myself to work experience before having to decide which career path I would like to follow. I’ve always thought of working in the heritage sector, as history and learning are my passion and also the basis of my degree. In addition, I’m also extremely interested in local history, as I’ve grown up with parents who encouraged and fuelled this interest. Therefore, when searching through the options available, I came across Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock. I’ve always been interested in archives but, to be completely honest, was not too sure what it really meant to be an ‘archivist’. However, I was curious and intrigued to find out.

I got in touch with the Record Office and was put forward to Paul Beattie. We communicated via email and phone and he helped me to plan my volunteering around university and my part-time job. The Record Office were extremely flexible and helpful when it came to actually planning the time in which I could volunteer, basically leaving it to my discretion, which was tremendously accommodating for somebody like myself with such a busy schedule.

While volunteering, I was able to experience all areas available at the Record Office, including; the archives, local studies and conservation. I worked with various members of staff, all who were incredibly friendly, helpful and skilled at their jobs. I was able to experience: box-listing, cataloguing using archival software CALM, using microfilms, heat-set repair techniques on documents and many more equally exciting and new tasks. I received talks by different departments on; record keeping, conservation, archival projects, microfilm, special archives and more. I was also even lucky enough to view a few of the wonders of the archive – my personal favourite being Beatrix Potter’s grandad’s fabric books, which are breathtakingly beautiful and well preserved. While I was there, I was given the opportunity to delve into every area available and spend time where I enjoyed the most – this, in particular, really made my time spent at the Record Office, worthwhile and irreplaceable, as it accommodated my interests but also allowed me to explore other areas I had not considered before.

My time spent volunteering at Derbyshire Record Office has been both memorable and invaluable. I was welcomed warmly by all staff, given interesting and exciting tasks to complete that were accustomed to my own interests, and I was made to feel instantly ‘at home’. The people I met were highly skilled professionals who are accomplished at their jobs and more than willing to teach volunteers valuable skills that they can take away from the experience. They were also kind enough to answer my persistent questions about career opportunities and pathways and even gave me information and sources to look further into. I am immensely grateful to everybody at DRO for offering me their time and wisdom this summer. I know that my time spent volunteering has definitely helped bring clarity to my mind over the path to reaching my desired career. Thank you so much.

Kerry Edwards

Richard Arkwright and his family

On my work placement at the record office I had an opportunity to research a topic of personal interest. At school, I briefly studied Richard Arkwright in history, so I was keen to learn more about him and in particular his family. I searched the catalogue and found a notebook and some of his family’s estate papers. The notebook dates from 1800-1801; an accompanying piece of paper states that it was written by Sir Richard Arkwright’s grandson(Richard Arkwright III)  and it is believed that he wrote it whilst he was at university in Cambridge. He talks about the history of England from 55BC to 1423. A few years ago in school we studied the Battle of Hastings so I was curious to learn what he wrote! Unfortunately, the notebook was very difficult to read (see picture). Although, I managed to read a section on William the Conqueror:  “After this complete victory, William soon clarified him-self on the English throne; indeed the two earls Edward and Stigard Archbishop of Canterbury endeavoured to set up Edgar Aethling in preference”.

 

His family’s estate papers included a map of Willersley Farm (which Sir Richard Arkwright owned); he purchased the farm from Thomas Hallet Hodges of Wirksworth in 1782. Also, the file includes some bills from Willersley and a record of the furniture. There was also a document which described Arkwright’s (II) property and some of his belongings after his death on 23 April 1843. In conclusion, looking at some of the items that belonged to Sir Richard Arkwright and his son has given me further insight in to his life. The notebook was very interesting and showed what his grandson did when he was younger and perhaps showcases his passion for history. There are some other things that I would have liked to find out if I had more time, such as finding out more information about the court case (about land between Peter Nightingale and Arkwright) which was briefly  mentioned in the estate papers.

 

Ella Cooling

Smedley’s hydro, by Alex

In addition to researching my house, I also looked at documents relating to Smedley’s Hydro. What is now the County Hall in Matlock was once the hydro of John Smedley were people can come and relax with the water treatments, known as Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment. Here are a few photographs from an old brochure for the hydro, showing it was surprisingly lavish and elaborately decorated.

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Alex Jackson

Finding my house on a Matlock tithe map

Tithe map of Matlock, showing my house

Tithe map of Matlock, showing my house

As a student on work experience at the county record office I always wanted to find my house on a map to see if it was there or not. Therefore I decided to look for it on an 1848 tithe map. After a short while I concluded that this was my house (see map on left). The reason why I knew that my house would be on a map like this was because the previous home owners told us that the house dated back as early as the seventeenth century.

Tithe map2

The map was really exciting because it was evidence that the house was there at that time and it backed up what the previous home owners said. After that I found my house on the tithe award showing the plot number (394) and the home owners who owned it. In 1848 George Keeling was the occupant of the house with a court, privy, road and garden! 167 years from then the house is still occupied (and standing!).

Alex Jackson

A week in the life of a work experience student…

As a student with an interest in history (hoping to go on to studying this at university), I chose the archives as the ideal work placement for my year 12 work experience. With this in mind I applied to the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock and have been spending a week here observing the work that is done.

On Monday morning I began my week of work experience at 9 o’clock starting with a tour of the record office itself (including archives and local studies). I was surprised by the amount of resources available especially in terms of the number of documents kept at the record office; with almost five miles of shelving to boast of throughout one can only imagine the amount of information available. Then there are the documents themselves. It was amazing to see the original and unique documents kept at the record office as well as how well they have been preserved. My first afternoon was spent in conservation, something I was eager to see; as well as being made aware of the different dangers posed to the documents kept at the record office (including temperature, humidity, insect damage, wear and possible fire damage) and how these risks are managed (for example through carefully monitoring the environment), I was also shown the different methods of repairing documents that have been damaged. I was even able to try a preservation technique for myself in the form of cleaning some documents.

On my second day I helped in a year five school session, in order to complete a project on local history they wished to use the facilities at the record office. The areas of interest included John Smedley, the hydros of Matlock, and begin to look at how leisure has changed from the industrial revolution. In order to fulfil this a session had been planned in which the children would look at documents relating to John Smedley, use documents to create their own exhibition on hydros, and create a timeline of leisure activities which had been sourced from the information available from the archives. There were two groups of students; those who weren’t at the record office were taken into Matlock in order to see how the town has changed from past photos to the present day. I found it enjoyable to work with the children and see how enthusiastic most were about the activities that had been planned for them. They seemed pleased to be able to use primary sources to find out more about figures they had studied (such as John Smedley).

Wednesday morning was spent in local studies which houses books relating to Derbyshire and also has computers where people can begin to research their family history. I was given a tour of the facilities offered then using Ancestry.co.uk was able to look at different types of census data (for example how the census changed between 1911 and 1841). Then, using the available facilities, I was given an example enquiry and had to find information about the given person – this included looking at their family through different censuses and finding baptism records to place approximate dates of birth. Although I did attempt some family history the fact that my surname is so common made it difficult. After lunch the project work began and my first task was re-cataloguing documents relating to Derbyshire sent from Sheffield Archives, this was a rather broad collection (ranging from a deed from 1386 to accounts). Admittedly some of the text was difficult to read (especially the older documents), however it became much easier over time to provide a description and locate a date. The information will soon be input into the online catalogue. The documents also needed to be numbered so that they worked with the system employed at the record office. Part of what I enjoyed most about the placement was the fact that I was able to get so close to the original documents therefore the project work was some of my favourite that I completed over the week.

Another part of the record office I experienced on my placement was the search room, this was on Thursday morning. After a tour and introduction to the services offered (including how specific documents could be found), I was able to order recipe books so that the second project could begin. This involved typing up the contents of recipe books which would then be available on the online catalogue. Whilst some of the recipes were familiar to me (including Bakewell pudding and gingerbread), others were not for example the extraordinary variety of wine. As these had been hand written it was often difficult to decipher exactly what the recipe was of, especially due to the fact that multiple authors were sometimes involved, although eventually the meaning could be found resulting in a lovely sense of accomplishment. The afternoon was then spent with ‘Picture the Past’, a project involving Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby City and Nottingham City aiming to digitise original photographs of the areas. These could be from libraries sent by the local authority or donated by the public and, as a result, there are photos of most areas on the website. Work here included checking links on the website and discussing how the services offered by ‘Picture the Past’ could be used in schools. To see the work done by the ‘Picture the Past’ project please see http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/. From searching the area in which I live I was able to see images of the railway and factories that had been present. It was fascinating to see how much the local area has changed even if there was some sense of familiarity in the landscape.

On my final day at the record office I continued with the work sent from Sheffield Archives (as several boxes were to be catalogued). Handling the documents myself made me aware of the huge amount of information held by the record office not only including legal documents but also personal letters and pedigree charts.

My week spent at the record office has been a truly interesting one, I have been fascinated by the documents I have seen and also the amount of resources that the record office and local studies offers to the public. As a result of my interest in history it has been remarkable to view and touch the documents that have evident historical importance.

Anna Burton