Picturing the Past in Photos, Postcards and Illustrations

We’re often asked for images, illustrations and photographs for a variety of reasons: house or building history, planning and model making are just a few. So we thought it might be useful to list a few sources of useful information about how to access images, both online and in our collections.

Firstly, with a title including ‘Picturing the Past’ we couldn’t forget to mention the fantastic website Picture the Past which has thousands of searchable images from throughout the East Midlands.  If you are particularly taken with an image you come across, you can even have it made into a cushion cover, coaster, or mug, among other items!

The images range from the scenic

PtPbike

to the posed

Family

to the celebratory

celebration

We also have an A-Z Illustrations card index in our collection Local Studies collection which can be accessed in our Card Catalogue Room in the Local Studies Library. This contains references to photos, illustrations, postcards and other imagery. These often provide clues as to what a building may have looked like internally as well as externally, railways, mines and industry, and family and public events.

 

You can also find photographs and images in our Archives.  A search for ‘photograph’ under ‘description’ in our online catalogue revealed 633 results.

In addition, if you are looking for aerial photos, the incredibly useful website Britain from Above has some useful images from around Britain. This is one of Derby.  Let us know if you have any useful sources for illustrations, photos or other types of images!

Derby from the Air

Free talk: Preserving Your Past

Many of us have our own little (or even quite large) archive at home: letters, photographs, diaries and other treasures that remind us where we’ve come from and bring us close to loved ones who aren’t around anymore. If you’d like to find out how best to care for these unique family heirlooms, do come along to the Derby Family History Festival on Wednesday 8 June at Derby Central Library, where I will be delivering a talk at 12.30 entitled ‘Preserving Your Past’.  I’ll explain how paper and other records get damaged and what you can do to protect your archive, so you can pass it on safely to future generations.

The Record Office will be there all day with a stall as well and there are lots of other talks and activities going on, as you can see on the poster:

 

poster 3

 

poster 2

We hope to see you there!

 

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 17

A week to go until Christmas Eve. We will be closing at 1pm on Christmas Eve and reopening at 9.30 on Tuesday 29th December. It will be a three day week though, as we will also be closed on the Friday for New Year’s Day, reopening as normal on Saturday 2nd January at 9.30.

Until then, we have a few more advent doors for you…

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Photograph of the football team at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, c1960s (Ref: D3512/10/3)

image

Chapel-en-le-Frith High School was originally established as a boys school in 1830, with a girls school established in 1887. In 1934, the boys, girls and infants schools merged to become the Church of England Mixed School. From 1947, the school accommodated children of secondary school age only (primary school children being taught at what had been the Methodist Church). A new school was erected and opened in Long Lane in 1952 as Chapel-en-le-Frith County Secondary School, and is still there today as the High School.

Other records held in the school’s archive collection at the Record Office include log books 1935-1960, admission registers 1875-1947, governors’ minutes 1991-1993, and papers relating to courses taught between 1986 and 1988.

Smedley’s hydro, by Alex

In addition to researching my house, I also looked at documents relating to Smedley’s Hydro. What is now the County Hall in Matlock was once the hydro of John Smedley were people can come and relax with the water treatments, known as Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment. Here are a few photographs from an old brochure for the hydro, showing it was surprisingly lavish and elaborately decorated.

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Alex Jackson

The Harry Gill Collection

Increased interest and media coverage in finding out about your past have encouraged people to think about what they do with their personal photographs. This has resulted in some wonderful collections being made available to ‘Picture the Past’. Some are loaned, some are donated but they are all the result of people wanting to share what they enjoy with others. This is great news for visitors to the website (www.picturethepast.org.uk) as it means getting to see, and enjoy, photos that previously might never have survived and probably would have ended up in the bin at some point.

One of the collections recently donated includes photos by a prominent Matlock photographer by the name of Harry Gill. Harry was a freelance photographer whose work appeared regularly in the Matlock Mercury and Derbyshire Times newspapers.  He developed (sorry for the pun!) an interest in cameras and photography at a young age, which was encouraged by his marriage to Clara Sheehan, of Bristol.  She was herself a skilled photographer and his daughter Phyllis Higton, believes it was probably her influence which led him to take up photography as a career.  Harry was a well known character in the local area and Phyllis remembers well her father’s studio in Matlock Bath, which was opposite to the Pavilion fishpond, particularly as she was often roped in to make the children smile when they had their portraits taken!  He was obviously quite the entrepreneur, dashing across the road as soon as the charabancs arrived loaded with tourists, taking their photographs and having them developed and ready to take home at the end of the day.

The collection includes images taken between the 1930’s and 1960’s, depicting life in and around Matlock and the Peak District.  They include all manner of shots from carnival queens, royal visits and the Matlock Bath road widening. The collection has been very kindly deposited in the Local Studies Library, at the Derbyshire Record Office by Phyllis (pictured below).  Digitised versions of the images will eventually appear on the ‘Picture the Past’ website which can be viewed by going to www.picturethepast.org.uk and we will share some with you over the coming months here.

Harry Gill with footballer Jimmy Greaves, taken when the England team trained at Lea green in 1964.

Harry Gill with footballer Jimmy Greaves, taken when the England team trained at Lea Green in 1964.

Phyllis Higton points to a photo of her late father, the photographer Harry Gill, before handing over his photographic collection to Lisa Langley-Fogg from the Local Studies Library and Nick Tomlinson from ‘Picture the Past’.

Phyllis Higton points to a photo of her late father, the photographer Harry Gill, before handing over his photographic collection to Lisa Langley-Fogg from the Local Studies Library and Nick Tomlinson from ‘Picture the Past’.

Breaking News! Family histories jumbled in crash

Another of the events we have been running in support of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge asks children to use old photographs, birth and marriage certificates, and other family history clues to help put the families’ stories back together following a small crash in which everything gets jumbled. These are some of the photographs from Long Eaton and Eckington where the children have designed suitcases for the families to showcase the ancestral history.

The session uses reproductions of original documents held at Derbyshire Record Office, and we hope that the families who come along will be going home to make their own family history suitcase. Instructions for making a suitcase can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/mister-maker/makes/mister-maker-boxsuitcase/

If you do make your own family history suitcase, please send us pictures to Record.Office@derbyshire.gov.uk

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

Discovery Days Festival – Preserving Old Photographs and Documents

This Autumn the Record Office will be taking part in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site ‘Discovery Days’.

Our Conservation team will be running two drop in sessions during the festival:

Tuesday 30th Oct at Belper Library and Thursday 1st November at Wirksworth Library.

 All welcome – no need to book – just come along, 9.30am-1.00pm, and find out about how to care for your own precious documents and photographs at home, and how to recognise old photographic techniques. Bring along your own documents and photographs for individual advice.