Derwent Valley Mills celebrations in Belper

This Saturday, 11 March, the Derwent Valley Mills celebrates fifteen years of recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Between 11 am and 4 pm there will be all kinds of events at the Strutts Centre in Belper, including children’s activities, guided walks, talks, and stalls from forty heritage organisations.  We’ll be there with our stall, giving advice on how to use original records for your research and how to look after the old family photographs, letters and books we all have tucked away in a drawer or a box somewhere.


We hope to see you on Saturday!


Treasure 46: Register of child factory workers

This treasure comes from the Belper-based cotton spinning company W G and J Strutt Ltd and is a register of children dating from May 1853 to April 1860 (D6948/14/5).  Education was not made compulsory until 1880, so the use of children’s labour in the Strutt mills in Belper was very normal.

The register records the reference number of each child’s certificate of employment, the first day of employment or re-employment and when they worked in the morning or afternoon. A column notes when they change their group or leave – or come to the end of their thirteenth year and become classified as “young persons”.

More creativity at Belper Library as part of Discovery Days

As part of this year’s Discovery Days, children and parents came to Belper Library to re-create their family trees – find out about the last few days of events as part of the Discovery Days festival at

Enlightenment! Derbyshire collections across the pond

Our colleague Anna Rhodes, Assistant Collections Officer at Buxton Museum, is currently undertaking a 4 week research fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.   The fellowship was open to curators working in regional museums in the UK who work with British art collections, and as the successful candidate Anna has been looking at 18th and early 19th century topographical views of  Derbyshire, at amateur sketchbooks and travel journals.   This research will add context to the collections at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and provide a better insight into artists and tourists that visited the County during the Enlightenment period.

Keep up to date with Anna’s work via the Enlightenment! project blog.

Enlightenment! is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ initiative, and is a partnership between three museums: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Belper North Mill and Derby Museums and Art Gallery.

More delights from the Strutt Library

For obvious reasons, afficionados of our county’s history know a thing or two about mining.  This book, part of the Strutt Library, is by Georgius Agricola (1494-1555), the “father of mineralogy”, and goes into the subject in some considerable detail.  It is illustrated too, as you can see from these pictures:

[2018: Images of this book have been deleted to make room for future posts – however, the book is still available in the Strutt Library, and the text can be found online.]

The Strutt Library’s copy of “De Re Metallica” is not a first edition, however: it only dates back to 1657, when the text was published in Switzerland.

A Disney Production

Yesterday, we posted pictures of the Melland Library being readied for transport to an outstore.  Today is the turn of the Strutt Library, an extraordinary assemblage of books collected by the eponymous family of industrialists.  The library contains a great wealth of sources of interest for the study of Derbyshire history, and a great deal besides.  Take, for instance, this: John Disney’s 1729 description of the various legal codes dealing with unspeakable behaviour.