Proud to be at Pride

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I had a fabulous day at Chesterfield Pride on Sunday.  As well as enjoying a hefty serving of cheesy pop, not to mention a riot of rainbows and glitter, I had some great conversations with individuals from the LGBT+ community about their history.  It was a privilege to hear people’s stories, particularly those who had gone through some tough times in the past.  It was good to hear how things have changed and are still changing.

          “You’re trying to redress the balance….good on you”

At the record office we represent all aspects of Derbyshire life and all communities – the LGBT+ community is no different.  However, trying to identify material relating to LGBT+ history within our collection can be tricky.  Terminology has changed, we use the term ‘gay’ very differently to how it was used 100 years ago.  Sadly, much of what we know we have relating to LGBT+ history is negative – Calendar of Prisoners (you can see one in the slide show) and court records list convictions, for example, and often these are the references which are easiest to find.  But this does not tell the whole truth.

That’s why we are working with our friends at Derbyshire LGBT+ to encourage volunteers to delve into our collections to uncover those “Other Stories” which will undoubtedly be in our archive, but are at the moment a little harder to find.  We are also encouraging people to donate their own records so that our collections relating to LGBT+ history can grow and become more representative of this vibrant, strong and proud community.

Chesterfield Pride 2017

Chesterfield Pride returns to Queen’s Park this Sunday.  Last summer saw over 3000 people attend the one day free event and this year hopes are that the event will be even bigger.

There will be lots to see and do including live music (anyone remember 80s pop star Hazell Dean?), market stalls, fair ground and food and drink.

The record office will be there with our friends from Derbyshire LGBT+.  Come and see us in the tented area where we’ll have lots of information on the “Other Stories” project, the record office’s collections relating to the LGBT+ community and information how you can help grow our collection, ensuring the history of the LGBT+ community in Derbyshire is saved for future generations.

Come and say hi!

Reflection on the Car Boot Sale – an unedited stream of consciousness story by Maria

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The Amazing Pop Up Archives’ Storyteller Maria Whatton reflects on when we ‘popped up’ at the car boot sale on the Swadlincote/Measham border.

 

How beautiful the world is at 5 a.m. on a Sunday summer morning.

So quiet.

Warm.

Light.

The pit of my stomach churns at the early rise.

Porridge at 5.15 a.m. a gluey paste.

 

The Sat Nav keeps getting lost.

Unnamed Road it shouts.

Unnamed Road as it sends the car twisting down empty lanes

curling through green fields.

 

At 6.30 a.m. turning into the Car Boot

the world of the field is already as full as a city.

Stalls are crowded with colourful tat.

Buyers are purposeful, hungry, eager to buy bargains.

Sellers have spread yesterday’s usefulness on wallpaper tables

in the hope of turning it into today’s little wealth.

 

It’s 6.35 a.m. and the cars are bumper to bumper

snaking in, feeding their pitch cash to the man with the tin.

A colony of Car booters are on the march

mauling mugs, lego men and anti macassars.

 

Our purple and yellow stalls are up

thanks to the bravery of Paula, Wendy and Debi,

who slept in the field all night, sharing poo stories and attempting sleep.

We turn to each other with tired eyes and yawn:

“Are we not mad? Whose crazy idea was this anyway?”

Oh yes, we remember, it was ours.

 

Debi’s van is ready for me to sit and tell stories.

Dressed with tea cups and tea pots, silky cloths and simple stool.

I could kiss her. How thoughtful. It’s the perfect place to tell my tales: a sitting stage, with plastic chairs, a makeshift auditorium – open air.

 

It’s these details that turn the Pop Up Archive into a circus, a magic carpet, a cinema of creativity that brings the past to people out for the morning on a mission to spend a fiver or three.

We haul out the glass vitrines from the van, rolled scrolls of documents and mysterious death mask.

Karen has packed her snugly and with gentle care.

Unpacks her with a light touch, removing bubble wrap and tissue.

(Who was this young woman? Rich or poor? How did she die? Why was her face counterfeited in this way?).

 

A coffee run is immediate as we meet and check plans for the day.

7.30 a.m. and the temporary toilets are already daubed with car booters’ scat and frilled with emergency tissue. There’s nowhere to wash your hands.

 

I chat with Kristian and the lovely young girl with the long blonde hair

whose name I don’t catch because I’m also talking with her Dad and hearing about his map making days.

 

She helps me with the ghost story I have invented about Gresley Hall that houses details of historical facts.

We discuss the nature of the monastery. “Were they Cistercians?”

“Did they wear white?” I need to check.

It’s important for the story.

I sing a Latin hymn like a monk.

 

Soon there is a different music gently playing.

Julian squeezes notes into hamburger air and Debi joins him to dance through the lanes of tables stuffed with clutter. The Pied Pipers of Measham.

She’s wearing a dress clanking with bric a brac: an Aladdin’s lamp, pottery jugs, and leather slung drum.

They cause a delightful stir and are followed back to our pitch by two enchanted children.

Someone says she’s a nutter. They don’t like nutters and they wave her away.

But most people are tuned in to joy and are gladdened as she spins and twirls.

 

All morning Archivists and Artists collect folk’s stories and pin them to an ancient looking map.

The red thread laces together old needle factories, elasticated web emporiums, a Mothers’ anecdotes and hard won fields where grandchildren now play.

 

The death mask opens her eyes, while we are all so busy.

She steals a look at us and listens intently, smiling broadly to herself when no one is looking.

The Pop Up Archive” she whispers “thank you for giving me some fresh air away from my stuffy box. I remember going to market myself when I was alive, and you know what? People haven’t changed. Not a bit.”

Matt stands in front of our newly purchased gazebos wafting families our way

to hear a tale or write a tag or two.

He’s a calm and casual director of traffic in bright blue trousers and Fedora in case it’s sunny,

he’s never put off by a shake of the head.

Wendy and Paula disarm each new visitor and charm

stories from their tongues onto paper tags.

 

And all of a sudden 5 hours have past.

There’s a shift change.

Folk are beginning to drift away.

Patches of empty grass appear.

 

A Romanian family tell us their story.

A brother and sister say they like England and that people are nicer here than back home.

Their English is fluent. The little girl says she’d learnt most of it in 3 months.

They stay and listen to my traditional tales and say they’d like to tell them again in school on Monday.

 

They are the last. It’s time to pack up.

The hoards of bargain hunters are dispersing, replaced by thousands of small black flies that have turned our yellow gazebo into an inferno of dots.

“Gosh look at them!” I say to Matt.

“Yes, they are thunder flies and them landing like that, means there’ll be a storm in five hours time.”

“Is that true?” I ask.

“No” he replies “I just made it up.”

 

Heaving and hauling.

Rolling up of documents and maps and rugs.

The gazebos snap shut like

stiff umbrellas. It’s a team effort.

 

We just have time to listen to Matt’s poem

and join in the chorus.

I buy the chair he’s been sitting on for a tenner

even though I’ve got nowhere to put it at home.

It is a Car Boot after all.

You’ve got to buy something haven’t you?

I’ll sand it and polish it and make a cushion to hide the defects.

It will be my Pop Up throne.

 

The Next Pop Up event will be at the Gamesley Community Day on 2nd August – more details to follow.

 

 

Records and revelling at Ripley

At a loss to know what to do this weekend?  Why not join The Amazing Pop Up Archives team at the Ripley Music Festival on Saturday.

We’ll be ‘popping up’ with our wonderful yellow and purple tents  full of fascinating records relating to Ripley people and places.  Will you find your ancestors in the First World War Absent Voters list or in the survey of Butterley Company employees (did your ancestors live in a household without a bible? – yes, that was a question on the survey)?

From tales of the Pentrich Revolution and First World War there will be songs and happenings for all the family, so lots to see and take part in.  Make your mark on our map or add to our index cards – just one little snippet about you or your history is all it takes to become a permanent part of the record office collection.

We look forward to seeing you at Crossley Park  (DE5 3GT) from 1pm onwards this Saturday.

Finding the spark

Further reflections – Pop Up Evaluator Sara looks back over how we found answers to those who? what? and where? questions.

Finding the spark, choosing an ignition point, I guess that is one of the key points regarding inspiration. It is up to the Creative facilitators – our Agents of Wonder – to bring these extraordinary archives to life, however the team decides.

So, ideally four events, literally popping up at various places across the county, with a clear mission to draw people in, to engage people with and through the archive. Capturing a history, perhaps more accurately a set of histories of the county’s last 900 years, there really is something for everyone. The early documents may be a bit inaccessible, some are in Latin, and the handwriting is difficult to decipher but there is a real sense that if we can find the right venues, and develop the right strategies, it won’t be difficult to get people excited about the records. The archivist and researcher inspire us once again with their experienced-based interjections that confirm that sometimes the most interesting things are found in the gaps, in the questions that people bring.

The first event will be at Wirksworth Festival, a captive audience and another stunning venue, the vicarage lawn in the heart of this creative Market Town.

Our weekend event at Wirksworth Festival 2016 was a huge success.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Junction Arts story

One of my main preoccupations of 2016 was the Junction Arts archive collection – and a fine preoccupation it was too.  Now comes an opportunity to share some of that experience with you – in the form of a specially-commissioned film, The Junction Arts Story:

Derbyshire Record Office’s first encounter with Junction Arts was back in 2012 when they brought a group of young people to carry out some research as part of a farming heritage project called Combine. A couple of years later, Junction Arts let us know that they were applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community-based project relating to their archive material, to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.  We were only too happy to support the JA40 project application, especially as the proposal involved the transfer of the Junction Arts archive to us.

The application was successful. The unprocessed archive of four decades was passed into our care, and a team was assembled to set to work on appraising it and helping to catalogue it.  The team included present and former staff, trustees, academics, artists, and members of the public who had participated in Junction Arts projects over the years.  Also assisting were some pupils from Highfields School in Matlock who were taking part in a Prince’s Trust Excel course.

The project also commissioned original work from an artist in residence, composer Paul Lovatt Cooper, who visited us at the record office and spent an afternoon finding out more about the history of Junction Arts and looking through its archive material. His reflections on four decades of local artistic activity resulted in a piece of music called Valiants Arise, arranged for brass band with samba band.  Its first performance was at the Bolsover Lantern Parade in November 2016, very ably played by Whitwell Brass Band and Handmade Samba.

So how did the film come about? As part of the project, Junction Arts commissioned a film-maker, Chris Bevan, to produce a 20-minute documentary about the charity’s history, which saw its first public showing last December.  More recently, the film has been shown at the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam.

I have really enjoyed working with such a rich and varied archive collection. To quote from Junction Arts’s website: “The archive will be a great resource for the public and artists, and we have already had requests from artists to access the archive. The archive is unique in that this isn’t a body of work by one artist or one group. It is a myriad of artefacts and it represents the creative expression of hundreds and hundreds of local people. It tells the stories of people and communities that have experience so much change over the last 40 years through ‘art’ and this is incredibly rare”.

Most of the photographs and documents that illustrate the film come from the Junction Arts archive collection held here – if you would like find out more, you can always have a look at the catalogue of the collection.

We’re going on a bargain hunt (sort of)

Roll up bright and early and join us at Measham Carboot where the Amazing Pop Up Archives project will be making it’s next appearance.  Below is a taster of the activities which will be happening – all alongside our glorious gazebos full of original documents to see and wonder at:

Here is what we’ll be up to:

8.30am – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

9am – Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

9.30am  -The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

10.30am  – Keep a look out for ‘Lady Gatherer of the Car Boot Age’ hunting for treasures with Debi Hedderwick

11am -Talking Teapots and Hidden Stories with Matt Black and Debi Hedderwick

11.30 – The Storyteller in the Van -Mysteries, ghosts and strange happenings. Come and listen, come and tell! With Maria Whatton

12am – Poem of the day  “The Car Boot’s Guide to Beautiful Bargains” performed by Matt Black

Come along and say hello – we can guarantee that you will never have seen the like at a car boot sale!

Coming up this summer: Ashbourne Treasures

Ashbourne Library, St Oswald’s Church and the Ashbourne Heritage Centre are to host what promises to be an informative and inspiring exhibition during July, August and September of this year.  The exhibits in “Ashbourne Treasures” are all of vital importance to the history of the town, and they include the original charter of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, of which we are the proud custodians.  Go and see the treasures if you can.  While you are at it, you could book yourself a ticket for one of the associated events, running throughout the summer, such as Dan Cruickshank’s talk on Georgian Towns.  More information is available at www.ashbournetreasures.com.

Weather history and parish registers

We have some pleasantly summery weather in Derbyshire just now.  If it should get too warm and you wish to be transported to cooler climes, you could always try reading a new article by the University of Nottingham’s Lucy Veale and others, entitled “‘Instead of fetching flowers, the youths brought in flakes of snow’: exploring extreme weather history through English parish registers”.  It features a reproduction of a descriptive ‘Memorial to the great snow’ of 1615 which can be found inscribed in the Winster parish register.