Our colleagues at the University of Warwick’s Modern Records Centre have been busy. They have completed the digitisation of over 450 documents on the General Strike of May 1926, including TUC reports, bulletins issued by strike committees, and transcripts of BBC radio broadcasts.
A lot of the documents have particular local content, which you can access by finding pins on the interactive map associated with this resource. I had a play with it just now and managed to find the text of a speech about the coal industry by J F Vardy of Stanton Ironworks, delivered at the Welfare Institute at Pleasley on 25 Jul 1925.
The site also has some additional contextual material including a summary of key events before, during and after the strike.
This treasure, from collection D6326, is to be found in a sketch book kept by Maud Verney around one hundred years ago. It was chosen by Becky, one of the archivists.
The artist was the wife of Frederick Verney (1846-1913), Member of Parliament for Buckingham. The Verneys were benefactors of the area, and related to the family of Florence Nightingale. Becky says:
I chose this item because of the different perspective it gives to mining and collieries. The typical mental image of mining is bleak and grey, but this image, drawn from real life, emphasises that the colliery could be beautiful in its surroundings.
This register (D739/A/PI/5/1) records all the burials in the parish of St Michael, Pleasley, from April 1813 to January 1893.
Pleasley is one of the ancient parishes of Derbyshire, lying in the north-east of the county on the border with Nottinghamshire (Pleasley Hill is actually part of Nottinghamshire). It originally consisted of the townships of Pleasley, Shirebrook, and Stoney Houghton, which included the colliery villages of Upper Pleasley and New Houghton. The earliest surviving registers of baptisms, marriages and burials go back to 1553.
The register was nominated by Kate Henderson, a regular user of Derbyshire Record Office and a member of our Focus Group. Strictly speaking, the purpose of the register was to record the fact of a burial having taken place, and the name and age of the deceased – but Kate notes that this is not always all: “Occasionally a clerk will give fuller details of an unusual cause of death or of a great age achieved…
…One can appreciate the interest such a vicar had both in his parishioners but also his understanding of the interest in these people in future generations.”
Has 2012 been a Good Year? There are still 39 days of it left, of course, but whatever happens between now and January, I doubt the news reaching Derbyshire can be quite as depressing as during 1665 and 1666. I spotted these entries in the general register for Pleasley parish recently:
It’s an entry from early 1665, and it reads like this: “A blazeing starr hath here appeared continueing its flames for abouts eight weekes past eastward inclining to the north; it did rise in the east and sett in the west…” What I like about this is the little doodle that accompanies the entry. It looks like an inkblot in the left-hand margin, but it isn’t: it’s the minister’s attempt at an illustration of a comet.
In common with many of his contemporaries, the cleric looks back on the arrival of the comet as a portent, in two subsequent notes. The first is from late 1665:
“In this yeare after the blazeing starr is the warr at sea with the Hollander and the greate Plague at London and many other places in this nation. In London in this yeare there dyed of the Plague above ninety thousands”
The second is from September 1666:
“Now is that famouse cyty of London destroyed by the great judgement fire; the warr with the Hollande continueth still”
I say “the cleric”, because the identity of the commentator is unclear – to me, at least. If you happen to be using the register (still available on microfilm at Local Studies) and spot a name or signature, let us know using the comment box at the bottom of this post. The Clergy of the Church of England Database (www.theclergydatabase.org.uk – ridiculously useful if you need that sort of thing) tells us that a John Legat was rector at Pleasley from 1662 to 1665 and that John Lilliman was appointed rector in 1667. The handwriting doesn’t change, before or after the 1666 interregnum, so I suppose a curate must have been maintaining the register.