MELBOURNE HISTORICAL RESEARCH GROUP
"Where the dead come to life."
||The Group was formed in Spring 2000 to record and research the trades, institutions and social background of Melbourne, South Derbyshire, England.
Although Melbourne is a well-preserved and attractive village, with a magnificent Norman church, the social structure has changed dramatically. Old industries have faded and ways of life are quickly changing.
Each year, one particular aspect of Melbourne's history is investigated and a travelling
exhibition of the findings presented. Documents, photographs and artefacts are being used to
gradually create a permanent resource in the Library at the Leisure Centre, which may be used
for educational work.
EXHIBITIONS, EVENTS & A REQUEST
- The group's 2014 EXHIBITION will be on the effects on
Melbourne and district of WORLD WAR 1 - the "GREAT WAR". It will be held in Melbourne Assembly
Rooms, High Street, on 23 and 24 August. Admission is free, refreshments will be available and
short talks will be given on the research undertaken.
- World War 1 information, photographs and memorabilia regarding Melbourne and district are
being sought by this group. Do please contact us if you are able to help.
ANNUAL EVENTS IN WHICH WE USUALLY PARTICIPATE
- Melbourne Fete & Carnival in July (12th in 2014)
- Heritage Open Days in September
- Melbourne Festival Art & Architecture Trail in September (13 & 14th in 2014)
- Melbourne Late Night Shopping Event late November or early December.
OUR OWN RECENT ANNUAL 2-DAY EXHIBITIONS
- The 2013 annual exhibition was held on 8 & 9 June in the Main Hall and Lounge of
Melbourne Assembly Rooms (previously 'Bill Shone Leisure Centre'), High Street.
2012's very popular SHOPS AND SHOPPING IN MELBOURNE exhibition was expanded
to include TRADES AND PROFESSIONS, including: Blacksmiths, Surgeons, Wheelwrights,
Framework Knitters, Shoemakers, Nixon Knowles Timberyard, Quarries, Brickyards such as Woodhouses,
Moira Street, Kings Newton, The Common, Wilson Rise - Bartons, John Harpur-Crewe (THC) and IHC.
A taster of Adrian Earp's research collection of World War 1 material was on display, attracting much attention.
- The 2012 Annual Exhibition - SHOPS AND SHOPPING IN MELBOURNE
was exceptionally well received - see our Chairman's notes on the Exhibition.
- EDUCATION IN MELBOURNE was the subject of our Annual Exhibition in May 2011.
The 200th anniversary of the National Schools Society being in 2011, we took a look at
Eduction in Melbourne from its earliest mentions in the 16th century up to the closure of the
Secondary School in 1977. 'Modern day' nostalgia included the Cabbage & Custard Lady and Miss Mars Bar.
- "MELBOURNE FOR SALE" - was held in July, 2010. This
exhibition featured the 1811 sale by Earl Moira of Donington Hall and the sale of part of the
Melbourne Estate in 1919. Apart from these landmark sales, there were also particulars of smaller
sales from the 17th century onwards.
- A book by Philip Heath and the MHRG: "Condemned! A History of the Melbourne
Clearance Areas", containing approximately 61,000 words, pictures, maps in colour and interview quotations,
was launched over the weekend of 26 & 27 July 2008 and
is now available at £23.50 (buyer collect or delivery within Melbourne, Derbyshire, England) or
£27 including postage and packing to other destinations in the UK.
Please contact the Treasurer for details.
- Roy Dunnicliffe of the MHRG has arranged production of a CD
of 1882 Ordnance Survey 25-inch First Edition Maps of Melbourne in the County of Derbyshire.
The maps were drawn to a scale of 1 to 2500 or 25.344 inches to the mile. The CD is accessed
via Adobe Acrobat reader. The area covered includes: Ingleby, Stanton by Bridge, Weston upon
Trent, Kings Mills, Melbourne, Kings Newton, Wilson, Calke, Breedon on the Hill and part of
Ticknall. For more details of the CD, priced at £12 each plus post and packaging where
applicable, please contact the Treasurer or it is
available in Sharpe's Pottery Museum shop.
- Melbourne W I Scrapbook 1965 is available on CD at £5, plus postage and packing if
- For your information
An electronic version of
Heritage News is now available.
Please email the Web Manager if you have any comments
on this site, which was last updated 25 June 2014.
- The Bicentenary of Travel Pioneer, Thomas Cook: November 22nd, 2008 marked 200 years since
Travel Pioneer Thomas Cook was born in a humble cottage on Quick Close, Melbourne. His birthplace
was pulled down for a redevelopment scheme in 1967, but the handsome memorial cottages of
1890-91 built by Cook still survive on High Street. The Baptist Chapel still stands, where Cook
practised his preaching skills, and parts of Melbourne still look much as Cook would have known
Cook left Melbourne in 1828, but he always felt great affection for his native town and hoped
to retire there in 1874, when Melbourne Hall became available for rent. Cook's application for
the tenancy was refused, partly because of fears that he would turn the grounds into a vulgar
showplace, littered with discarded sandwich papers, broken bottles and empty fuzee boxes. Cook
instead spent his retirement in Leicester, where he named his house "Thorncroft" - a deliberate
play on the name Quick Close where he was born. He died in 1892.
To mark the bicentenary, the Melbourne Historical Research Group arranged two special
events on Cook's birthday:
- At 2pm, Chairman Philip Heath hosted a guided walk exploring Melbourne in the time of
Thomas Cook, beginning at Cook's birthplace memorial on Quick Close (grid ref: SK384253).
- At 7.30pm, Vice Chairman Richard Heath presented an illustrated talk on "The Life and Times
of Thomas Cook" in the Baptist Chapel, Chapel Street (grid ref: SK386255 ).
- Thomas Cook birthplace site - A bronze plaque on a granite
stone plinth for the site on Quick Close, Melbourne, Derbyshire, DE73 8GH was
unveiled by Kate Adie OBE on 08 September 2007. A small marquee housed a display about Thomas
Cook and the Melbourne that formed his character.
A self-guided trail "In the Footsteps of Thomas Cook", ended at the Mission
Hall on High Street (a few minutes away at DE73 8GJ), where there was a display of memorabilia.
Kate Adie also gave a talk on her life and times at Melbourne Parish Church.
The event was part of the Civic Trust's 2007 Heritage Open Days.
- Melbourne Festival 2007,8,9, 10, 11 - Each year, MHRG has organised
display boards for the September Art and Architecture trail weekends:
'Houses and History' in 2007 along with displays in the Tithe Barn and in 2008 & 9 in the Stone House basement where
Robert Bakewell worked in the forge; 'Pub and Pulpit' in 2008/9; "Posters and Particulars" were displayed
around Melbourne in 2010 eg 'For Sale', 'Wanted', 'The Empire Cinema'. The Old Graveyard in Castle Square
contained lots of information and explanations. On the 2011 trail, we presented a display in the board room of the Leisure Centre, which is not
normally open to the public, on Education in Melbourne.
- Films, made by the late Hugh F Andrews, spanning 40 years from the late 1930s
to the late 1970s, have been converted to DVD, with the aid of a grant from Awards for
All. Hundreds of people were able to view these over the weekend of 26 & 27 July 2008,
which also saw the successful launch of a new publication "Condemned! A History of the Melbourne Clearance
Areas" - see above. The films were also shown during the 2008
Melbourne Festival trail weekend, in the
Baptist Schoolrooms and, newly edited to one hour, on a 42" plasma screen at the Melbourne
Christmas Shopping Event 2008. In 2009 they were shown at the Annual Exhibition and Fete & Carnival.
- "A New Look at Melbourne Pool" - In 2006, the Research Group compiled a self-guided trail of
display boards lining the popular route around Melbourne Pool, explaining the history of this
important Georgian and Victorian designed landscape. The event was accompanied by efforts
(inconclusive, unfortunately) to locate the remains of a lost Georgian garden temple that once
stood in the fringe of woodland on the south side of the pool.
- "Tales from the Crypt" - In 2003, the Research Group presented an open weekend in the
Old Churchyard, Castle Street, for National Archaeology Days, preceded by the clearance of a
great deal of undergrowth, ivy and debris. A full catalogue of the memorial inscriptions was
on show, with a childrens' quiz, and the event was accompanied by geophysical surveys to find
the site of Melbourne's lost church of St. Michael, destroyed at the Reformation. The results
supported the idea that it stood inside the old churchyard, but excavation to test the
geophysics has not been undertaken as yet.
- "The Ice House" - In 2003, the Research Group excavated the main entrance to the Icehouse at
Melbourne Hall, which had long been filled in with rubble and soil. Once the steps had been
cleared, interpretative material was prepared, temporary lighting was set up, and the structure
was opened to an enthusiastic public for Heritage Open Days.
- "Frameworkknitting stages a comeback" - In 2001, the Group arranged for an 18th century
knitting frame to be installed and operated in a contemporary knitting workshop at Blanch Croft,
for the Heritage Open Days weekend. The machine was generously loaned by the Ruddington
Framework Knitters Museum near Nottingham.
- "Heritage Open Days" - The Ice House and the Knitting Frame projects, described
above, were just two of the activities organised by the Group for Heritage Open Days. Other
presentations co-ordinated or prepared by the Group, either for the Open Days event or the
Melbourne Festival (established in 2005) have
- The Melbourne Tithe Barn;
- Melbourne Parish Church;
- Melbourne Baptist Church;
- The Melbourne Athenaeum;
- Nonconformity in Melbourne, including
United Reformed Church and Melbourne Methodist Church;
- Melbourne Mill, including rescue and sticking together of several broken kiln
tiles stamped with the maker's name (W. Hopkin, Newton Soney" (sic) ) and made in 1834;
- The Thomas Cook Memorial Cottages;
- The basement forge of ironsmith, Robert Bakewell;
- Exhibitions presented for Melbourne Fete and Carnival, Melbourne "Late Night"
in December and the Group's own annual exhibition.
- Interviews of local residents.
- Building up of reference material in Melbourne Library.
- Publication of watercolours by Melbourne-born artist William Dexter (1817-1860), in the
form of greetings cards.
- Publication of Melbourne W I Scrapbook 1965. It is available on CD at £5, plus postage and
packing if appropriate.
- Occasional group visits to Record Offices, Local history collections, or out-of-door
activities from digging (eg at Repton Park prior to Heritage Open Days) to dowsing.