The Alan Turner Opera Company’s eye-catching archives

Last month, Derbyshire Record Office was delighted to accept the donation of five rather extraordinary albums of photographs and news-cuttings (D8089) assembled by Alan Turner (1902-1965).  Turner was Managing Director of the Ernest Turner group, which included the Spa Lane Mills in Derby.  However, the principal focus of the collection is not textile production, but theatrical productions.  Alan Turner’s eponymous Opera Society/Company put on numerous performances in London in the 1920s and 1930s, before relocating to Derby in later years.  Here is a sample of some of the fantastic photographs and ephemera in the first volume:

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It wasn’t just opera, though Continue reading

New book

kt scan

Popular local historian Keith Taylor has written a new book on Buxton. Following the success of his Buxton Remembered in World War One, this covers the period 1920-1950 and continues the story into World War Two with details of the servicemen on the war memorials and their families in Buxton, Burbage, Chelmorton, Earl Sterndale, Fairfield, Harpur Hill, Peak Dale, King Sterndale, Taddington and Wormhill.
If you or your family hail from the White Peak of Derbyshire, this could be the ideal Christmas present.
Illustrated with 760 archive photographs, and published by Country Books of Little Longstone. Available priced £12 from Buxton Library and Derbyshire Record Office, or your local bookshop/online.

Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian

Treasure 20: The Sheffield Clarion Rambers Guides

Here’s another treasure from the Local Studies collection at Derbyshire Record Office: some of the handbooks for walkers published by the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers. The driving force behind the group was George H B Ward (1876-1957), a Labour Party politician and activist. You can read more about him on the Kinder Trespass website.

The books were nominated as one of our 50 Treasures by Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian, who writes:
I love these guides because of their delightful miniature size, so easy to slip into the rambler’s pocket, and for G H B Ward’s exhortations: “None but sturdy and proven men-ramblers must attempt this walk. Beginners must stay away”.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ferodo and the Bullet-Proof vest

Bullet proof materials

Now then… Stop me if you have heard this one before (and if you have, it may be because you recall a flurry of press activity in the late 1990s), but did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle submitted a design for a bullet-proof vest to Field Marshal Haig during the First World War? Well, he did. And it was in connection with this that Conan Doyle ordered some bullet-proof materials from Ferodo, the very successful brake-lining manufacturing company based in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Conan_doyle

Philip Norman’s article about the sale of Conan Doyle’s personal archive in 2004 expresses the opinion that, if the device had been adopted, it “would doubtless have saved many lives”. (See http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/news/doyle.html – the website is that of the Sherlock Holmes Museum, based at 221b Baker Street.)

This post is topped by a photograph of the entry in question, from the Ferodo company archive, held here (D4562/8/5). The entry is neither very informative nor very beautiful, but it is certainly interesting. And hard to read! If anybody can offer an interpretation of what the record is really telling us, we could improve our catalogue description, which currently calls the volume simply “sample report summaries 1915-1926”.

Many thanks to Will, who is here on work experience, for locating the entry, and spotting the Philip Norman article.

Rain Stops Play?

Grounds of Smedley's Hydro, Matlock, c.1930 (D2618 Z/Z 1/3)

Grounds of Smedley’s Hydro, Matlock, c.1930 (D2618 Z/Z 1/3)

Now that Wimbledon is well under way, here’s a sprinkling of Derbyshire tennis-themed items from our collections for those hoping the covers keep off the courts of SW19.

Smedley's Hydro tennis courts, c.1930 (D2618 Z/Z 1/4)

Smedley’s Hydro tennis courts, c.1930 (D2618 Z/Z 1/4)

Hayfield Church Sunday School Tennis Club membership cards, 1930s (D2426 A/PI 35/3/2)

Hayfield Church Sunday School Tennis Club membership cards, 1930s (D2426 A/PI 35/3/2)

Wirksworth Grammar School girls' tennis team, 1926 (D271/10/6/10)

Wirksworth Grammar School girls’ tennis team, 1926 (D271/10/6/10)

(D5679/1)

(D5679/1)

Detail from Buxton tennis tournament supplement titled 'Ease + Elegance' (D5679/1)

Detail from Buxton tennis tournament supplement titled ‘Ease + Elegance’ (D5679/1)

Amongst many other tennis images on Picture the Past, I spotted this photo of the Goodall family of Ockbrook c.1896 (ref: DCER 001172).

The chap at top left is giving a classic (and early?) demonstration of the tennis racquet-as-guitar!

New accession of educational records

Two new accessions that might interest anyone into educational history: the minutes of the Marston Montgomery School Board from 1888 to 1903, and the Sudbury District Education Committee from 1918 to 1923. School Boards were abolished after legislative changes in 1902, and the County Council decided to disband the Sudbury committee in 1923, so each volume covers the terminal phase of the body’s history. They are public records but had found their way into private hands, as sometimes happens. Happily, the historically-minded person who came across them donated them to us, so they are back in the public domain. They are yet to be catalogued but will have references D7413 and D7414.