The Perils of the Miners’ Pit Head Baths

Among our work, we have been creating a database from Derbyshire National Union of Mineworkers’ tribunal cases relating to illness and injury.  Among the many injuries, illnesses and diseases, were those caused by visits to and working in the pithead baths.

Before the construction of pithead baths at collieries, miners would travel to and from work in dirty, damp clothes. Pithead baths were first discussed by the Mineworkers Federation of Great Britain at its annual conference in 1910 but for many reasons, ranging from worry over illnesses to a proposed charge for using the baths, there was difficulty in persuading miners that pithead baths were needed.

The first baths in Derbyshire were opened at Grassmoor colliery in December 1929. By the late 1930s ten of the county’s collieries, including Markham colliery, had pithead baths. In the late 1940s the Ministry of Fuel and Power decided that every pithead bath should have an attached medical centre. By the beginning of 1947 pithead baths had been built at 366 collieries across the UK with provision for 450,000 men.

The main two groups of injuries and diseases that we have come across resulting from pithead bath use have been slipping and/or falling and skin diseases such as dermatitis and athlete’s foot.

There were strict rules about using the baths (picture courtesy of National Coal Mining Museum for England):Pithead Bath Rules - compressed

Each colliery might have their own set of rules, too.  This is from the Markham Collieries: ‘The Bather’s Handbook’ [1935-1939] (our ref D1920):
a476_7-the-bathers-handbook-markham-colliery-1935x1939

These next two photographs were taken at the National Coal Mining Museum for England near Wakefield, a highly recommended visit.
The pithead baths at this Colliery (no longer in use of course!) certainly put the accidents suffered by both the staff and bath attendants and the miners themselves into context.
lockers

The pithead bath locker rooms could be dangerous places if the miners were eager to get home after their shift!

 

No Money No Soap

A very clear message!

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‘Is there any post?’ -FitzHerbert project catch up

The FitzHerbert project has been quiet for some time so I wanted to write a catch up blog to update you on progress and share with you one of the highlights of the collection.

Firstly, I want to mention the title of the post: this is surely a familiar phrase in every British household. Especially with the increase in email usage there is always a keen sense of anticipation when you are expecting something to arrive in the post, especially a letter. When something arrives unexpectedly it is always exciting (except if it’s from the bank!). Continue reading

Dastardly Deeds, Danger and Drinking Dens in Draycott & Church Wilne!

Just in time for Halloween, our Local Studies Library has an intriguing set of booklets on display, describing some of the ‘darker’ history of  Draycott. These have been produced by the Draycott & Church Wilne History Group.

draycott-1

‘Rogues and Miscreants’ starts with an interesting summary of Crime and Punishment including the ‘The Bloody Code,’ the justice system and the types of punishments available to miscreants.

The range of cases make a fascinating read, as does the personal information about the perpetrators.  Among the gory cases are some other interesting types of crimes such as ‘keeping petroleum for sale on premises without a licence, ‘riding without reins’ and ‘removing cattle along the highway without a license.’

 

draycott-2

As with ‘Rogues and Miscreants,’ this booklet starts with a useful historical background – highlighting the press’s tendency to sensationalise the stories and details of unfortunate incidents (as with modern media!)

Some of it makes stomach churning reading, involving injuries and deaths caused by fires (including in a fireworks factory), drowning and traffic accidents. I wonder if there is a place in Derbyshire that is known as the ‘most accident-prone?’ Let us know!

draycott-3

 

Next is some slightly lighter reading, about the pubs of Draycott & Wilne (although there are some accounts of drink-related crimes  thrown in for good measure!). Again there is a really useful general background history ‘How did Pubs Come About?’ and a useful summary of existing sources of information specifically about Draycott’s Pubs.

On the last page, the Draycott & Church Wilne History Group say they are interested in hearing any memories about the pubs in the area – so whether it’s The Cleaver, The Traveller’s Rest or The Coach and Horses you have a story about, please get in touch with them!

Last, but not certainly not least, the History Group have also produced a fabulous Draycott Historical Trail Map.  It’s a really handy size to carry and has over 15 points of historical interest on a really clear map.  What a great excuse to go walking in the area, visit a couple of the public houses, pore over the stories of rogues, miscreants and accidents and toast your health, I’d say!

The History Group also have a Facebook page if you are interested in contacting them via social media.

 

Discovering Ilkeston

Yesterday morning I visited Ilkeston Library to deliver a new workshop  introducing people to the various sources available for researching the history a Derbyshire building. It was a quiet session, with only two in attendance – though one had travelled all the way from Aston on Trent which took me quite by surprise!

With the opportunity to handle examples of all the original sources we talked about, learning how to use the record office catalogue and discussing more specific aspects of the research each was undertaking (one doing a history of their own house, the other looking more generally at their street and surrounding area, including a former laundry and former chapel), it was a very interesting and enjoyable session all round.

So what did we look at? There are a number of key sources we would always recommend consulting whichever part of Derbyshire you are researching – not all of these sources exist for all parts, though these are the ones you are most likely to come across either at the record office, your local library or elsewhere. There is one very useful source not mentioned below, and this is the tithe map and award as there was never one created for Ilkeston                                                                                                                         title deeds … enclosure map and award … land values map and domesday book c1910 … photographs … electoral registers … sale catalogues … building plans … local publications … official town guides … rate books … local authority records … (click an image for more information)

We also looked at the census – available to access for free at your local Derbyshire library – and talked about newspapers available across the county.

Many of the sources we used during the session were picked somewhat at random purely as an example of what was available, but the stories we found we really quite fascinating – I can’t go into details now, though I do hope to be able to do so very soon.

If you want to find out more about doing a building history, we will soon be publishing a series of new research guides on our website, including three guides relating to building history. We will also be re-running this introduction to sources for building history in the coming months so keep an eye out for more information in the next Events brochure. In the meantime, do contact us for more advice if you want to get started now.

 

 

Advent Calendar – Day 7

And behind number 7 is…

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Hilary Marshall’s Palaeography for Family and Local Historians

Hilary Marshall's 'Palaeography for Family and Local Historians' - available in Local Studies

Click image to enlarge

Available on the shelves in the Computer Room, this is a great guide for beginners and intermediates trying to read old handwriting in different documents, all used for family and local history. From parish registers to title deeds, this guide includes handy alphabets showing the different shapes each letter might take, example documents with transcripts and explanations to help you practice.

Key players in the FitzHerbert Family

When you’re cataloguing a large family collection such as this, it’s fair to say there’s always a large number of people involved! The FitzHerbert family is no exception and throughout the listing process where I’ve been looking through all of the material in all the boxes (see my earlier posts), there is certainly a large amount of correspondence.

Some of this correspondence is business related, regarding the Tissington estate (also some of the other estates), Whilst some of the correspondence is private, between friends and family about a whole array of subjects.

This adds to the already catalogued material of this collection and fills what would otherwise be an incomplete gap. Take a look at the catalogue for collection D239 here.It also gives an insight into the lives and personalities of those who are writing the letters. Given that the material in these particular boxes dates rom the late eighteenth century to the 1960s, it is four of the FitzHerbert Baronets who are the main authors of the letters, the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Baronets: Sir William, Sir Richard, Sir Hugo Meynell and Sir William.

Including friends and workers on the Tissington Estate, they correspond with some interesting people, Edward Ford being one significant individual. A gentleman called Col. Weetman is a name frequently mentioned, he was an insurance agent for the FitzHerberts. Why not come and read the correspondence when its all sorted and properly catalogued?

In my next post I hope to tell you about some of the items I’ve discovered which are ‘treasures’…

Authors coming to Matlock to launch new books on Hardwick Hall and 16th-17th century Derby – and how you can get involved

The Derbyshire Record Society and the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust are holding their Annual General Meetings at the Imperial Rooms in Matlock on Saturday 11 July. The Record Society’s AGM will be at 10.30am (tea and coffee available from 9.30) and the VCH Trust’s AGM will be in the afternoon. In between the two, there will be a buffet lunch.

Immediately after the first meeting there will be a talk by the historian Richard Clark, to accompany the launch of his new monograph on the government of Derby in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. And straight after the second meeting, two senior curatorial staff from the National Trust will be talking about their new book on Hardwick Hall.

What’s great about this year’s event is that it is open to all-comers, whether or not you are a member of the Derbyshire Record Society or the VCH Trust. What’s more, local historians/societies are being invited to bring along material to display and publications to sell, which should turn the event into something of a small-scale local history fair. DRS Secretary and General Editor Philip Riden describes it as “a welcome opportunity for the local history community in Derbyshire to come together, listen to good visiting speakers, and find out what other individuals and groups are doing”.

If you have any questions about the event or would like to come along, please email the Record Society’s treasurer, Mary Wiltshire, at treasurer@derbyshirerecordsociety.org. This will help the Society to organise the catering effectively, and to make sure there is enough space to accommodate any displays.

If you are not a member of the DRS or VCH Trust, you are asked to bring £5 as a contribution towards the lunch. Or you could just as easily part with that same £5 to join the Record Society for a whole year! This seems excellent value, especially as membership entitles you to a substantial discount on Derbyshire Record Society’s publications. The Society has been going since 1977 and has an extraordinary track record of producing books that researchers find very, very useful.
The Imperial Rooms are on Imperial Road, Matlock DE4 3NL. It’s just off Bank Road at the foot of the hill, near Wilkinson’s. There is parking nearby and it’s a short walk from the railway and bus stations.

Guilty of High Treason – the Pentrich Revolution

Reading Sarah’s post about the Pentrich Revolution of a few days ago, made me think of the material we have in the Local Studies Library, here at the Record Office, on this important local event.  Over the years there have been many books and articles published, which you can come to the library to look at.  You can even request many titles to borrow from your local library – just put Pentrich Revolution into the online catalogue (follow the links from http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/libraries) for a list of available titles.

We also have more contemporary accounts.  For a more detailed look at the trial you can’t go far wrong than with the report of the whole proceedings, which I should warn you contains a no holds barred description of the executions of the men involved.  For the faint hearted, look away now!Bookpart

There is also a copy of a letter written by Jeremiah Brandreth, dubbed the Nottingham Captain, to his wife written from his gaol cell which is amazingly stoic considering the situation he was in.  Although his sentence hadn’t yet been passed, he had been found guilty so must have had a good idea of what was in store.  Letter

It is easy to concentrate on the main figures in this story but the letter makes you think of the families of those involved, and following along those lines we have a ‘Lamentation of the widows, families and orphans of the three unfortunate men’, which is a call to think of those who were left behind. If you would like to see these or any of the other items we have on the Pentrich Revolution then please come along to the Record Office, and ask for the Local Studies collection.Poem

My Melbourne: a century of my village

Last Wednesday I visited Melbourne Library and worked with some very knowledgeable local families to create pop-up theatre’s showing how the village had changed over the last hundred years or so. Here are the wonderful creations

I would especially like to thank Picture the Past who provided the photographs for the children to use during the event. The photographs we used and over 100,000 others for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire can be seen on their website at www.picturethepast.org.uk

More photos from this year’s Wingfield Manor Reading Challenge events

Since my last post, I have been to the libraries at Newbold, Creswell, Melbourne, Long Eaton, Dronfield and Eckington, and as at Glossop and New Mills at the beginning of the month, all th children have come up with some fantastic models of Wingfield Manor (some to fit this year’s Creepy House theme). Here are the photos from Newbold, Creswell and Dronfield where we made models of Wingfield Manor. Photos of family history suitcases and Melbourne pop-theatres to follow soon

Still to come this week and next – Chesterfield, Bolsover, Alfreton and Ilkeston. If you would like to come, please contact the relevant library (see http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/find_your_local_library/default.asp)