Tuesday, 29 December 2015
I am a member of the White Peak Writers group and recently some of us went on a visit to the museum. It was a very interesting visit and I was motivated to write the following. I tried to imagine what it would be like for someone born and bred in the country, who had worked on a farm, to suddenly move into Belper and start work at the Mill. What about that situation would they find strange and maybe disorientating. I hope you enjoy it. Errol Butcher. Time For Work. Before I came to work at the Mill in Belper I used to live with my extended family near the village of Windley. When I was fifteen I moved to Belper with my parents and three sisters as we did not have much money. We’d heard that Mr Strutt looked after his workers and treated them well. I started work at the Mill in June but it took me a while to get used to it. I was used to being in the country with only a few people about but in Belper there were so many people crowded together. The Mill was strange at first too, there was dust everywhere, it got in the eyes, blocked the nose, coated the back of my mouth and made my hair feel dirty. We couldn’t take time to drink much, though, ‘cos that would have stopped us working. Another bad thing at the start was we had to walk around barefoot and the floor was covered with oil and dust that got ground into the feet. Also, it smelt horrible, though you got used to it quite quick. There were also loads of rats about. The hardest thing I found to get used to was how to keep time. The shift started at 6am and if I wasn’t on time the gates would clang shut and I would have my wages docked. We then worked ‘til lunch and the afternoon session went on ‘til 7pm. I was used to long days on the farm so hard work wasn’t a problem but keeping time was. When I worked on the farm time was fluid. If the weather was bad I would wait and start work later. When I finished a particular task I could stop, have a drink or some food. I judged time by the Sun and the seasons. Time was imprecise; all that mattered was getting your jobs done. Not at the Mill, Being on time and working to time was very important. When I first started I was often late, particularly if it was raining as I would hang around waiting for it to stop before going to work. I often had my wages docked early on. It also took a while to get used to having lunch at the same time every day and finishing every day at 7pm. Also, I used to be able to mess around with my sisters on the farm but things were much more serious at the Mill. I often had to pay small fines, or forfeits, for doing things like, ’looking out of the window,’ or ‘riding on someone’s back,’ or ’neglecting my work to talk to someone’. I don’t think I was a very good worker to start with but as I got used to things, especially the new version of time, I became a better worker, seldom late, used to set times and being less frivolous.
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Thursday, 3 December 2015
Over the next few months we are hoping to share some of the stories of the wonderful people who volunteer here and keep the museum going. We are always looking for new recruits and if you are interested contact us at the Mill by phone or email, 01773 880474 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Patricia is one of the most recent volunteers to join the team and she has written this piece to set off this new topic for the blog. My name is Patricia Mayborne and I am a new volunteer at the museum at Belper North Mill. For the last 8 years I was running a property business while living in Portugal and prior to that I worked in Support for Learning at a secondary school on Orkney, in Scotland. I am also a qualified homoeopath. On my recent return to England I have become a lady of relative leisure with the time and good fortune to be able to indulge my interests, and l am enjoying exploring the many opportunities that are opening up to me. I moved to Belper in the summer of 2015, knowing very little about the area. I always like to find out about the history of the place I'm living in, and in the Derwent Valley the history leaps out at you at every turn. I started just by talking to people about the distinctive streets and buildings of the town and reading anything that came my way, then in October I heard about the Discovery Days and spent a wonderful Sunday participating in guided tours around the town and visiting as many sites as I could fit in. After that I was hooked and wanted to get involved in some way - so I did a quick internet search and was delighted to find that volunteers were needed at the museum at Belper North Mill. My email enquiry was responded to warmly and immediately, and a few days later I was down at the museum meeting Tom over a cup of tea as he explained how everything works, and we discussed what part I could play. My initial interest is in working on reception, building up to giving guided tours round the museum as I learn more about it, so it was agreed that I would come down for a number of sessions to shadow the regular volunteers as I learn the ropes. I am now included in the volunteers' monthly meetings and have several training and information sessions coming up. Everyone I have met has been remarkably friendly and welcoming, and I am learning so much about this fascinating part of the world and its historical and cultural significance. For me it is particularly the impact of working practices on people's daily lives and thinking that I find most interesting, and I hope I can contribute to ensuring that future generations value the role that industry here in the Derwent Valley has played in shaping the world.
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Thanks to Christine Smith for this piece on how the Mill worker bears became a very exclusive souvenir in our gift shop.
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Christmas is coming... the geese may not be getting fat, but the shops are full of gifts, the adverts are on the TV and thoughts turn to those special gifts. The gift shop at the Mill has some exclusive presents - from tea towels and mugs to the specially dressed millworker bears.
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Back in the day there were traditional holiday times. As the pumpkins are sold off cheap, Christmas decorations begin to fill the shops and Father Christmas scales Masson Mill it's interesting to think about holidays. Wakes Weeks were - and sometimes still are - a significant time in the calendar year. Originally connected to religious feast days they became associated with fairs and carnivals, a time to let your hair down and take a break from routine. In mill towns Wakes Weeks were also a time when the mills could be shut down for maintenance, the workforce laid off on an enforced holiday. The mill towns of Lancashire headed for Blackpool, filling the guest houses week after week as different towns took their breaks. Even school holidays were altered to fit in with the mills' working pattern. I know Belper has had a Wakes Day in recent years, and well dressings and sports days were all part of the festivities. I don't know of any Wakes Weeks in November, though of course we have just celebrated Halloween and the fair has been to Belper. In spite of the lack of a Wakes Week, I am about to go on holiday, so there will be no post from the North Mill next week. When I come back I am hoping to share some of the stories and experiences of our great team of volunteers. See you soon!
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Friday, 16 October 2015
Tracey Harris, fine art student at the University of Derby, worked with the mill to produce some wonderful interpretation material for the basement. Material is the right word! Photographs and words are printed onto Victorian nightdresses, bolster cases, pinafores and fabric to provide colour and interest.
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
This week we held an induction evening at Strutt's North Mill. Intended for our recent and new volunteers, all were welcome. As we come to the end of our summer opening hours, I realise I can look back over more than half the season. From November through to March the Mill is open at weekends only, though groups and schools are very welcome to book private tours during the week. Earlier this year we celebrated twenty years of Strutt's North Mill as a volunteer led visitor attraction and museum.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
Thursday, 24 September 2015
Strutts North Mill has been accepted onto East Midlands Museum Service's 'Stronger Museums' programme, supported by Arts Council England. Tom Wyke, Fund Raising and Volunteer Support Officer, and myself as manager have just spent two days in the beautiful surroundings of Launde Abbey in Leicestershire.
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
On September 15th we went on a coach trip organised by the North Mill's Volunteers' Association. The morning was grey and drizzly when we set off, but by the time we got to our destination the sun was shining. First stop was the Anderton Boat Lift in Northwich. Linking the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal, it's an amazing feat of engineering, with an interesting history as it adapted to electricity in the 20th century and oil hydraulics more recently. It's still used by canal boats. We went on a boat trip down to the river, and then took a short cruise as far as Northwich. There's a wealth of history there, as well as wildlife interest. Salt mines and the development of polythene, herons and otters, engineering and building techniques to cope with the subsidence caused by salt mines and sink holes.
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Stage 6 of the Aviva Tour of Britain, from Stoke on Trent to Nottingham, will be coming through Belper on Friday afternoon, 11th September. There are painted bikes by the roadsides all along the route, and I have noticed some special shop window displays too. There's going to be a special market on the Market Place in Belper. We will be here at the North Mill, watching the wheels go round. What a wonderful invention!
Thursday, 3 September 2015
Monday, 31 August 2015
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Thursday, 13 August 2015
Thursday, 6 August 2015
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
Some of us were glued to the television last weekend watching the Tour de France. It's very exciting to hear that the Tour of Britain will be coming through Belper on Friday September 11th, in the afternoon. They will come past the North Mill over the bridge. There are sprint stages through Belper too. They will be fast, but it won't be a case of 'blink and you miss them' ! The North Mill and the Triangle will be a good place to watch from. Hopefully the TV helicopters will be flying over the iconic East and North Mill buildings.I wonder if we will get a mention! Belper will be making the most of this chance to celebrate world class cycling in style. Save the date!
Thursday, 23 July 2015
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Thursday, 9 July 2015
Introducing Tom, fund raiser, volunteer supporter and handy with a mop and bucket!