‘Geological resources at the Derbyshire Record Office’ by Jack O’Brien

Jack, 16, from Chesterfield has spent the last two months on work placement with the Record Office, and stemming from his interest in geology has investigated the archive and local studies collection available and kindly produced this guide, for which we are very grateful.

White Watson

White Watson was by profession a sculptor, marble worker and mineral dealer, he lived most of his life in Bakewell, Derbyshire. He was born at Whiteley Hall, near Sheffield, on April 10th 1760. He was the son of Samuel Watson, and it was from him that he learned his trade. They were both stone-masons and sculptors engaged with the rebuilding of Chatsworth House in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 

There is no mention of any journey more than twenty-five miles  from Bakewell, and even visits to places as near as Sheffield and Leek were infrequent. Judging by surviving documents, he does not even seem to have visited his wife’s home in Leicestershire. 

The publications of White Watson’s  work are an inadequate picture of his true geological attainments, for example, only two of his detailed sections appeared as plates in his books. 

A section of strata of Derbyshire from East to West, by White WatsonWatson’s first work, ‘A Section of a Mountain in Derbyshire’, was apparently meant to be a generalised section of Derbyshire, not a specific locality. Within the section, he recorded three main beds of limestone with different basic properties and ‘mineral and fossil productions’ which were regularly seperated and penetrated by rake-veins and broken by faults. He followed the ideas of another geologist, Whitehurst who’s ideas were shown in the ‘Inquiry of 1785’. These were, observing the patterns in the strata and being able to forecast what would be found beneath the bed rocks of Derbyshire. 

Resources in local studies.

The local studies collection holds many geology related books and records, there are articles covering everything from Caving to coal fields, and limestone to moorlands. Many of the resources in local studies are very specific to the Peak District and Derbyshire. However, is is also a useful collection for research in to the geology of Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. 

There are many books regarding caving and the study of caves (speleology) in local studies. With the Peak District being so rich in caves; and many other geological landforms, in fact, there is bound to be quite a wide interest in the area. 

This book, for example, ‘British Caving’, covers all aspects of caving, including: both the science of caving and the practice of caving.

 British Caving - an introduction to speleology

  •  This shelf contains the local studies geological resources. 

 Book room 2

 More detailed searches.

This section of the card index shows all of the Geology related books, articles and publications held at the Derbyshire Record Office. The catalogue is extensive and gives access to geological maps, as well as the full works of White Watson. The card index also holds items relating to geomorphology and the landforms and drainage basins of Derbyshire. This would hold records of water table fluctuation as well as history of floods and flooding in Derbyshire and parts of Nottinghamshire. 

Card catalogue

Overall, the available resources at the Derbyshire Record Office would be more than adequate for amateur geologists, or anyone who is interested in finding out a little more about what’s under your feet!