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 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 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




Potter and Co Collection: No Longer a Miscellaneous Box

In my previous post I was battling with my miscellaneous box, and was required to tackle it when it came to my attention that the collection needed restructuring.

5 hours and 94 items later, the box has been sorted through and catalogued onto CALM ready to be arranged into categories (series and subseries) during my next visit to the DRO.

With the items now identified, the box is no longer a miscellaneous box, although not entirely linked with the Dinting Vale Print Works collection that it was deposited with. However, due to the items’ connection with Glossop and Manchester, the items can be kept within the collection in a separate series.

Many of the papers belonged to Mr Hurst, who the library belonged to, meaning that many items may have just been swept up from his desk, such as newspapers, which makes my job even more difficult.

Box 13 items

Box 13 items

Now I am ready to put all the items into subseries, such as papers relating to the day-to-day Dinting Vale and printed books. Once organised, I can focus on numbering all the items and placing them in boxes and recording the new location.

That’s me for another week.

Progress and Travelling thoughts

Its now mid-June and we’ve already had two Bank Holidays in the last month. The weather is getting warmer (hopefully!) and the days are getting longer. Can you guess where I’m going with this? Yes, the holiday season will soon be upon us and for many of us that means we will be dusting off a very important document which enables us to travel abroad – the passport.

In 1846, Sir William FitzHerbert, 4th Baronet of Tissington, travelled briefly abroad and the images below are of his passport which was issued to him for doing so. You can see what it looks like as well as the fold out page that is the offical document. It is notable that it is more ‘low-tech’ than the passports we have today! You can read more about the history of passports on Wikipedia. Some brief notes mention that he went to Hamburg, now a city in Germany, but which was then a fully independent state.

I’m making steady progress with the catalogue. Now everything in each box has been listed I have entered all the information into an excel spreadsheet, which should be completed shortly. I am doing this in accordance with ISAD(G), the international standard for cataloguing archive collections which ensures consistency. The next step is to go through the data again and give each item a reference number, before expanding on some of the descriptions.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in the next post.



Treasure 25: The John Wheatcroft Plan of the Hubberdale Possessions, 1840

This treasure has been suggested by one of our regulars, researcher Steve Thompson.  He is the author of the text which follows.

D3266/92 is a very fine lead mining plan indeed, entitled “Plan of the Pipes and Rakes in the Hubberdale Title Within the Townships of Taddington & Flagg in the Queens Field and Hundred of High Peak by John Wheatcroft in June 1840”.  This very large plan, a little over eight feet by six feet, is drawn on a scale of 1 inch to 50 yards (1:1800), and demonstrates a very high standard of draughtsmanship. Continue reading

Potter and Co Collection: Dealing with “Miscellaneous” material

One of the worse phrases that can be used in an archive catalogue is the word “miscellaneous” since this does not explain the documents that are being held. In the Potter and Co collection I had, for the time being, filled a boxed with “miscellaneous” material to be dealt with at a later time. It allowed me to continue with the rest of the collection, but I could not hide from the difficult job I had in front of me.

Whilst numbering and reboxing the collection, see previous blog below, it came to my attention that many of the series needed restructuring and better grouping was required to help users find similar documents within the collection. Therefore, my “miscellaneous” box needed to come out of the strongrooms to be sorted out, and to be allocates to the series that I had created.

I found this a challenging job to do because there are about 100 items in this box, which may or may not be relevant to the Potter and Co, Dinting Vale, Glossop collection. But onwards and upwards; most of the box has been looked through and once everything had been noted down, I will start to allocate these documents, along with the other documents to the restructured series.

Miscellaneous box

Miscellaneous box

Potter and Co Collection

My name is Elissa Rowe and I am currently doing a masters in Archives and Records Management at the University of Dundee, and I have been volunteering at the Derbyshire Record Office for 3 years.

I have been working on the Potter & Co collection from the beginning when it came out of the strongrooms after 40 years of being deposited. As an archivist in training this has been a great opportunity for me to practice the skills that I have been reading about, therefore I thank the amazing archivists at the DRO .

Calico Printing Library of Alderman J G Hurst of Glossop, including records of Edmund Potter & Company Ltd, calico printers, Dinting Vale, Glossop. This collection includes printed books, pattern books, photographs of works and workmen, reference books and other papers.

What I have done so far

I went through the 21 boxes with about 200 items and listed every item onto CALM (which was particularly difficult when some of the books are in French, German and Russian (thank goodness for Google!)) Once this was completed, the items were arranged into series meaning that items are grouped together with similar documents such as printed books.

I now have the fun job of numbering each item and reboxing the items ready for users. I will continue to write about my experiences on this project as a trainee archivist.

I hope you enjoy using this collection as much as I enjoy working preparing it for use.

21 boxes, 200 items

21 boxes, 200 items

Charlesworth Cow Club

Charlesworth is a rural village in Derbyshire. Whilst not wishing to offend anyone who lives in this obviously great village, I had never heard of it. That is until I discovered the Charlesworth Cow Club (hence the reason the village is “obviously great”; I mean come on… it’s a Cow Club!)

Joking aside Cow Clubs were not that uncommon in the 19th century. They provided a specific form of insurance for cow farmers. Members paid in a certain amount of money to the society and were recompensed if one of their cows died or was “incurable”. In the case of Charlesworth members paid in two shillings per cow and received eight pounds in return when after a cow died or was deemed “incurable” (i.e. dried up or was terminally ill). After the farmers had been recompensed for their animal, the cow belonged to the society who state in their rules that that they would then “make the most of her” (I can feel the shudders of vegan and vegetarians).

The existence of this society and others similar (such as Clothes Clubs) prove that 100% new ideas truly are hard to come by. When I came across this form of micro insurance the micro credit unions established by Muhammad Yunus immediately came to mind (Yunus has helped set up credit unions who, to this date, haven given small loans to seven million of the world’s poor).

Societies such as these are truly “bottom up” ventures; there help people help themselves and are ultimately helping the wider community. Certainly the Twenty Third Rule of the Charlesworth Cow Club is a testimony to this; they are aiming to pursue “Order and Goodwill” amongst themselves as well as “peace, success and order.”

D370/1/1, Derbyshire Record Office

Rules of the Charlesworth Cow Club, 1879 (D370/1/1)

Researched and written by Charlotte Gregory, Work Placement Student, Jan-Mar 2015

Derbyshire During the civil war and the involvement of Sir John Gell

The civil war of 1642 – 1653 was as close to a social revolution as Britain ever came. It granted us the gift of a Parliamentary Government and moderated Monarchy that we still enjoy today. Indeed, the brief Republic of Oliver Cromwell was revolutionary, happening years before the famous French and Russian revolutions. For many historians, what happened in Britain is far more interesting, more a case of evolution of a tired and tested system of government; than a total revolution of leadership. This is clear, as following the restoration of Charles II in May 1660, early modern Britain, constitutionally at least, remains recognisable to British politicians today. Continue reading