Thank You Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club!

A big thank you to Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club who have given us a £70.00 donation for our Junction Arts photographs project.  The charity Junction Arts celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year and deposited its archive here at the Record Office so future generations would be able to marvel at the wonderful work they do.  Although all the paperwork is undoubtedly fascinating, the nearly three thousand photographs and two thousand negatives are what makes this collection so special: seeing the smiles, the joy, the happiness of children, adults and the elderly, as communities come together to create art.

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To make sure these wonderful people will continue to make everyone smile for centuries to come, we need to package the photographs in archival quality polyester sleeves so they’re save to handle and can’t get damaged by rubbing against each other or sticking together, as some are already doing.  The total cost for packaging all the photographs and negatives is £853.82 – rather too big an amount for us to conjure up, which is why we’re fundraising:

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So next time you’re in Matlock, do have a look at our donations box and display in reception – every pound saves five images.  And if you’re feeling especially generous, of course we accept donations over the phone as well: just call us on 01629 538 347 and be sure to leave your name if you’d like your own personal thank you on our display.

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It’s our anniversary!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  It’s hard to believe that it’s five years ago today that the Record Office and the Local Studies Library joined together in a newly extended and refurbished building.  We were hurriedly tidying away the workmen’s tools as the doors opened and the first customers came in!

It feels like barely five minutes ago, but a lot has happened since February 2013.  Over 88,000 people have come to use the Record Office and we’ve produced 46,575 original documents for our customers.  We’ve also reached over 8700 people outside the Record Office doing events and activities for all ages – and let’s not forget all the emails, letters and calls we’ve received – nearly 17,500.

But numbers don’t tell the real story, so what have we been doing in the last five years?  Here are a few highlights:

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If you really want to get a sense of what we’ve been up to over the last five years, then browsing through this blog tells the story… from cataloguing, digitising and preserving our collections to going out and about engaging people with Derbyshire’s amazing past.

So what do the next five years hold?

Well, in part the future is digital, so we’re working on plans to continue improving digital access to our collections – this is a long process, but in five years’ time (and hopefully sooner!) we should have a radically different website and much more digital content.

In the meantime, we’re finishing off the Amazing Pop Up Archives project, which has seen us ‘popping up’ with our collections around the county.  We are also winding up our NUM cataloguing project and will be blogging more about that in the future.

There are plenty more projects in the pipeline, too – we usually have at least one funding bid on the go for cataloguing, conservation and/or outreach activities, although we can’t say anything on our blog about them until we know whether we’ve been successful.

One new project that started last summer involves a group of volunteers improving our descriptions of maps of the Derwent Valley.  They should be finishing that job soon, after which we will be digitising the maps so they can go online as part of the Derwent Valley Mills ‘Vital Valley’ project.  We’ll be looking to involve more volunteers over the next few years in other projects, building on the group of wonderful people who already support us, so if you’d like to be involved, get in touch.

We’ve had a busy and exciting five years in our lovely building.  Thanks to all our staff, volunteers and customers for being part of the last five years –  here’s to the years to come and all the opportunities they bring!

 

Cricket in Derbyshire – have you got a story to tell?

Lien and I visited the County Cricket Ground in Derby on Friday the 19th, to meet heritage enthusiasts from a range of cricket clubs across the county.  We were there to offer some practical advice to clubs that look after their own archives, covering the best ways of managing and caring for old records.  If your heritage group would appreciate a training session on archive management or conservation (very reasonable rates), do get in touch and we will do our best to help.

The photograph above was taken during a moment of gravely studious concentration.  For balance, the picture on the right is rather more animated, being Thomas Rowlandson’s 1811 depiction of what is reckoned to be the first recorded women’s county cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire (the subject of one of Helen’s posts back in 2013).  This match must have been the subject of many a treasured tale, and we are fortunate to have Rowlandson’s illustration to remember it by.  Memories of other events and experiences, by contrast, slip by without being documented in this way – how much heritage is lost when the stories stop being told?  David Griffin of the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation, organiser of Friday’s event, told us a little of the Foundation’s current oral history project, which is all about capturing those memories for future generations.  I bet they would like to hear from you if you have a tale or two to tell about the game and your own experience of it.  For more on the project, see the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation website.

 

Exhibition – The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

Sadly we have completed our year of gallivanting around the county taking our archive collections out into the community and collecting people’s stories along the way. To celebrate the culmination of our project a special exhibition is now on in the reception area of the record office which tells the tale of a fascinating, exciting and rewarding year.

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“There are people out there with stories that will never be heard and this project was a way to tell them, a chance to be a part of something bigger in the long run.”  Emily, Pop Up volunteer

This exhibition takes us on a journey which started in Wirksworth, popped over to Ripley, down to Swadlincote, and ended in Gamesley. It features the contributions of the local people we met when we visited their neighbourhood along with songs, poems and musings created as part of the project – all inspired by Derbyshire’s archives and it’s people.

We can’t possibly fit everything we did into one exhibition so in the next few weeks we will upload a film of the project, with performances of all the songs and poems and footage from each event to the blog so keep an eye out for that.

The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project exhibition runs until the 16th March 2018.  Normal record office opening times apply.

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Collecting stories

That was what this was about. There are people out there with stories that will never be heard and this project was a way to tell them, a chance to be a part of something bigger in the long run.Emily for blog

There was uncertainty when this project began, a sense of unknowing, what we would do? Where it would take us? Who would be involved? We kept going. There were three of us to begin with, the three musketeers if you will, students of Highfields School, yet it gradually decreased to one, me. Three had gone down to Derbyshire Record Office, were introduced to the project, some of the people involved, it was interesting.

Wirksworth was the first event, a chapter covering two days. Placed on the vicarage lawn, tents housing a storyteller, dramatizing a mother’s opinion of her lady’s maid daughter’s letters from France, on how she hated the country, the food and the people. Another housed documents linking to the church and the town and the intrepid people who were faced with the task of deciphering the swirling handwriting. The sun shined over the people that day, but the wind bit the people within.

That day was the door to a wider space, one that would allow us to expand what we were trying to achieve, a collection of stories.

The second chapter was a car boot. One place where there was a greater sense of unknowing. There was a Lady of the Car Boot, collecting bits and bobs, nicks and knacks. There was cake and objects that people could find fascinating. One story told was that of the man who asked “what was being sold?” and in return was “records” to end with “have you got any Elvis”… what a day!

Next chapter was Ripley Music Festival. People of different backgrounds, professions and ages converged together to witness local music. Some visited our bright yellow tent near the playground opposite the stage, a tent that you could see from the end of the street. Filled with documents, maps, performers and archivists that wanted to hear your stories about the man that lived in the butchers at the end of the street from where you lived or that strange women that collected tins of sweets or even about how your cat escaped. It was fascinating. Everyone had a story to tell, most heart-warming of all was a man who had found a relative, one that he knew of but had never seen documentation of and a child who kept coming back for more with the promise of taking our accordion player on Britain’s Got Talent with her!

That day gave us the push that was needed to go into new places.

The final chapter was that of Gamesley. A place that was so closely intermingled yet so far apart. A divide between the new and the old, an estate so close that you could sneeze on one side to be offered a tissue at the other. There was a bucking bronco, barbecue, animals fluffy and feathered gathered together with this bright yellow tent placed in the centre. Stories collected there were intriguing, a man who remembered as a child playing on the tips, collecting circuit boards and taking them home to later in life becoming an electrician in New Zealand. Another of a man who as a boy played in an old hospital for diseases and turned to his mother when realisation kicked in to question “why?!” This was the last of the Amazing Pop Up Archives adventures, but one that rounded everything together. The efforts of the Musician, Storyteller, Poet, Student, Archivist, Photographers and Lecturer joined together to complete a story within its own right.

To end this story, there is the beginning of a new one. One that has become bigger than it was, one that would involve more people, collecting more tales and objects to have a place in history. Wirksworth was the beginning and Gamesley was an end.

But was it really?

We collected stories.

We gained knowledge.

We learned something new.

It’s the beginning of something more….

 

Emily Atkin,

Volunteer, the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

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Travels with William Porden: French hotels in 1816

My love of snooping through, and blogging from, other people’s diaries has been on hold for a while whilst I’ve had to concentrate on other things. Recently, however, I had an opportunity to look more closely at collection D3311 (from which I blogged William Porden’s diaries earlier this year) and was delighted to discover a ‘new’ William Porden diary. I had been looking at the diaries of Eleanor Anne Porden, William’s daughter, who had also been writing a travel diary of their joint trip to France in 1816 – what a  marvellous opportunity to see the same experiences through two different eyes!

Even more marvellously, it turned out that the person who originally catalogued the diaries had been fooled by the fact that the books looked the same from the outside into thinking that they were all by the same person. When I opened one (D3311/14/3) and saw this:

It was perfectly clear that this was the diary of William Porden the architect, and not his daughter.

As ever, I also found some little snippets about their travels that charmed me. Here’s an account from Mr Porden’s diary for 13 October 1816, when they arrived at Cambray:

At our Inn “The Grande Canarde” we were much straitened for Bed Room and obliged to submit to inconveniences that in England would not be borne.  Miss Appleton and Eleanor slept in one bed and I was obliged to inhabit a small closet within it, with a Glass door, without any curtain, or any Accommodations for the toilet of a Gentleman.  This obliged me to rise early to give way to the Ladies, so undressed & unshaven I sallied forth and enjoyed a Walk on the Ramparts in a delightful morning…

On my return to the Inn I found the Ladies had not made the best use of the time I had allowed them, and we were all three obliged to finish our dressing together in a ludicrous manner which reminded me of Hogarth’s print of the Strolling Players dressing in a Barn.  I was shaving, the Ladies doing I know not what.  Though scenes like this are not unusual in France, it seemed to amuse the House, for during our operations two or 3 different servants came in with “Did you ring sir?”

If you want to know what they looked like, here’s William Hogarth’s Strolling Players rehearsing in a Barn (c) Victoria and Albert Museum:

Note that when William Porden refers to his ‘toilet’ he means washing, shaving and dressing – for a description of a French hotel toilet as we would understand the term, see this description.

Eleanor wrote in her diary (D3311/14/2) on 10 October of an experience when they arrived at an inn that clearly wasn’t used to having guests:

It was dark when we reached Montdidier and established ourselves in the two rooms at the Grenadier Francois … there were three domestiques or rather three sisters of the Maitresse who all made errands into the room and crowded round us, and gaped, and stared, as if we had been the most extraordinary monsters in the world.  They said they had very few passengers by that road and still fewer who slept there, and talked much of an English lady and four children who had been there about six months before, and whom of course we were expected to know.

… after chatting and writing a bit, when we wanted our warming pan, not a soul was stirring.  Our rooms had indeed a superfluity of chairs of all descriptions and sizes, but neither pillow, blanket, water nor napkin [towel]

It transpired that the fire was also out in their room. However, the intrepid Miss Appleton was nothing daunted:

Up started Miss Appleton, and Papa as a faithful Squire, followed. Downstairs she flew and after chasing the Cats that were stretched upon the hearth, and stirring the embers, found some that had life.

Their clattering around to find warming pans finally woke the mistress who came in her chemise [nightwear] and provided them with everything they needed…

She even pulled the pillow from under her master’s head to accommodate us, for there was but one more in the house…. I have seldom slept more comfortably.

Having spent a couple of months in each other’s company in intimate situations like this, the friendship between Miss Appleton and the Pordens is shown to the full in this ‘certificate of good behaviour’ within Eleanor’s last diary (D3311/14/4), just before the Pordens returned to England:

It reads:

Certificate of good behaviour, drawn up by Papa to be signed by Miss Appleton – previous to her departure for Paris –

Lille to wit –

To all whom it may concern –

We the undersigned do hereby certify that during a journey of Five Hundred miles in which we have been subject to various vicissitudes and divers inconveniences Monsieur Porden our Companion and Protector has conducted himself with becoming discretion, and that when we were all obliged to sleep in the same chamber, as oftentimes befell, he never peeped behind the Curtain at improper seasons; never pretended to turn his back while he was watching from the looking glass before him; never presumed to tye the Garters of any lady unless he was requested so to do; and farther, that the Kisses with which he dispelled the slumbers of the morning were soft as the breath of Favonius and pure as paternal love – Given under our hands this 26th day of October in the year of our Lord – 1816 –

Elizabeth Appleton

Signed at W Porden’s particular request but with a mental reservation as to some of the clauses of this certificate against which I shall hereafter formally protest.

Eleanor Anne Porden

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.

Adopt A Piece of History discount extended

We’re extending the 50% off discount for our Adopt A Piece of History scheme to Thursday 14 December, so there are still two weeks left to choose that perfect gift. Our Treasures include our oldest document from 1115, a delicious Bakewell Pudding recipe from 1837, an artist’s tool roll, the Eyam Parish Register, a medieval dance notebook (as seen on the example certificate below), a railway plan and many, many more.  And each one of our other records is available for adoption via the Unique and Become a Part of History options – have a look on our catalogue and search for a place, person, date, parish, school or any subject you can think of to see what gems we hold!

Christmas delivery deadlines:

  • Thursday 14 December for Unique Certificates and Become a Part of History
  • Thursday 21 December for one of the Treasures

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Matthew Goodden of Abergavenny: toll gate entrepreneur, forger of railway tickets

We have published a few previous posts about Roger’s work as a cataloguing volunteer.  In the following post, Roger tells us about another recent discovery in the records of the Thornsett Turnpike Trust:

A document in this collection which made me curious was an invoice from Matthew Goodden of Abergavenny for water and gas supplied to a Thornsett toll house: why might someone living in Abergavenny have a commercial interest in a toll gate situated in New Mills? In turnpike days entrepreneurs made a business out of toll collection. Local turnpike trusts would let out toll collection to the highest bidder: the lessee, having paid a fee, expected that the money they collected in tolls would amount to substantially more than the fee. Matthew Goodden was one such lessee.

From census records and a baptism register it is clear that Matthew Goodden was born in Yeovil, son of a toll collector. As a youth he collected tolls at Smallway gate, Castle Cary, close to the Galhampton gate operated by his father. The subsequent development of Matthew Goodden’s enterprise, not only with toll roads but also with toll bridges, can be traced through historic newspapers.  His name, sometimes under alternative spellings of Godden or Gooden, appears in local newspapers particularly through his appearances before local magistrates: characteristically as accused or accuser in disputes with travellers. One interpretation might be that he was a man who gave offence and took offence easily. An alternative is that disagreements about the toll payable were inevitable given the ambiguities in toll schemes. Disputes might easily arise given different tolls, for example, for a chaise in private use and a cart carrying goods. How should a journey be charged if a cart passed through a gate only to return loaded with goods a few minutes later? No toll was to be charged for someone riding to church: but did that concession apply to someone claiming to be travelling to a distant church when their local parish church was accessible without passing through the toll gate?

As a young man Matthew Goodden appears to have had interests in the south west of England. The parish register entry for his marriage in 1846, the subsequent baptisms of three children and the census of 1851 show that within a few years he lived in toll houses at Heavitree, near Exeter; West Lydford, Somerset; Nubbis Ash near Cam, Gloucestershire and Downside, Shepton Mallett. An announcement of Matthew Goodden’s temporary insolvency in the London Gazette in 1856 lists further toll houses in Gloucestershire where he had worked: Hawbridge at Deerhurst; Mythe and Ashchurch near Tewkesbury. By 1861 he was at Dowdeswell near Cheltenham: his first wife Hannah Mundy was buried there in 1862. Later Ann Williams, a young woman from Dowdeswell, became Matthew Godden’s “wife”.

With his brother Robert, Matthew Goodden acquired interests beyond the south western counties. In 1853 they faced magistrates in Dorset about a dispute at a toll gate at the Passage Bridge, Portland and magistrates in Wiltshire about a dispute payment at the Devizes Green turnpike. In the 1860s Matthew Goodden’s name appears in connection with toll roads in Hornsey and South Newington in London and Shavers End on the road from Dudley to Wolverhampton. Perhaps the brothers over-reached themselves: in 1866 they were formally ejected from a contract in relation to a turnpike road near Huddersfield. It is around this time that Matthew Goodden is described as living at the Old Brewery toll gate in Dudley; here at some point a new partner, Harriet Hill, joined Matthew Goodden‘s household. She had been the wife of a fellow toll collector the Dudley area. By 1874 Matthew Goodden had become lessee of tolls for a road in Abergavenny and the census taken in 1881 shows him and Ann living at the toll house on Brecon Road Abergavenny: later they lived at nearby Gilwern. Toward the end of the nineteenth century the practice of providing for road construction and maintenance through tolls was discontinued. But some bridges remained subject to tolls and Matthew Gooden was able to continue as a toll collector at the Glangwryney (or Llangrwyney) bridge over the River Usk in the parish of Llangenny between Crickhowell and Abergavenny. The Llangenny parish registers are available on line and record that Matthew Goodden died at Glangwryney in 1903. He was succeeded as toll collector by his brother Robert, who not only moved into the toll cottage but also married Harriet Hill just ten weeks after Matthew Goodden’s death.

Clearly Matthew Goodden’s interests in turnpikes at various locations across England and Wales involved him in substantial travel. It is ironic that a man who made his living from road users made much use of the railways. While travelling on their trains he was not above taking the railway companies for a ride. At Gloucester Assizes in 1859 he appeared with his brothers having boasted about travelling by train without a ticket. In 1868 he was convicted of a similar offence by magistrates at Dudley. Then on a Friday evening in December 1870 at Derby Midland station Matthew Godden’s ticket for a journey from Rotherham to Smethwick was inspected by a railway employee Levi Till. He was immediately suspicious: Smethwick was not a Midland Railway Company station and that company did not issue such a ticket. The subsequent events were widely reported in local newspapers across the country. Matthew Goodden was taken into police custody: a number of tickets were found in his pockets as well as letters, numbers, a printing frame and ink. He was also holding about £190 in cash, said to be toll receipts. In his bedroom at the Old Brewery toll house were found about one thousand forged railway tickets, with names of a variety of stations, together with rolls of paper, printing materials and ink. Some genuine tickets were also found, bearing alterations to dates and destinations. At Derby Assizes the prosecution failed to persuade the court that a charge of forgery was appropriate: Matthew Goodden pleaded guilty to misusing tickets and was imprisoned for two years. The sentence was served in Nottingham prison. He was caught again in July 1890, travelling by train from Abergavenny to Hereford. At Hereford Assizes he was this time convicted of forgery and sentenced to twelve months in prison. He served the sentence in Hereford prison.