MELBOURNE HISTORICAL RESEARCH GROUP
OUR LATEST PUBLICATION
This new, well-illustrated book was launched at our exhibition on June 2 and 3 and is selling really well. The book covers the life and times in the building
now known as Melbourne Assembly Rooms, which closed its doors as Melbourne Secondary School 41 years ago. Former teachers and
pupils have contributed greatly to this publication, which we are certain will appeal to the many Melbourne and Ticknall people who
attended as well as students of architecture and the history of education in a wider geographical context.
The price is £20 per book, buyer collect. Postage and packing to destinations within the UK is an extra £4.20 1st class
or £3.70 2nd class, and at cost to other countries. For more details of how to order, please contact
Alternatively, you can purchase a copy from F M Heath & Co's Nursery at Woodhouses and at Heath's vegetable stall in Melbourne Car
Park (entrance opposite Melbourne Assembly Rooms on High Street) on Fridays and Saturdays 9.30am-1.30pm. Arrangements have also been
made to sell these books at Melbourne Library during their opening hours: Monday 2-5pm, Wednesday 2-5.30pm and Friday 9am-1pm and 2-7pm.
||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, which may be used
for educational work.
ANNUAL EVENTS IN WHICH WE USUALLY PARTICIPATE
- Our annual 2-day exhibition (held in 2018 on 2 & 3 June in Melbourne Assembly Rooms on the subject of
"Melbourne Misdemeanours, Murders, Mayhem and Malefactors". The new book "School's Out!" was launched at this event.)
- Melbourne Fete & Carnival (July).
- Heritage Open Days in September. In 2018 MHRG had a display in the Cemetery Chapels on Packhorse Road and Philip Heath conducted a walk.
- Melbourne Festival Art & Architecture Trail (15 & 16 September in 2018) - our 'Houses and History' and 'People of Note and
Notoriety' boards were displayed along the trail outside buildings.
- Our very well received exhibition: "Melbourne during the War Years 1914-1918" was held on 27 & 28 October 2018 as part of the
'Melbourne Remembers' event to commemmorate the end of World War 1. The display remained in the foyer until 31 October. We took a
look at life at home whilst the fighting was taking place and the lives of some of those who returned.
- Melbourne at Christmas Event when a suitable venue is available in the centre of Melbourne.
On 1st August 2015 we launched a new book by Adrian Earp and members of the Melbourne Historical Research
Group, entitled 'In Memoriam - Commemorating the Men of Melbourne who died in The Great War'. It was priced at £15, buyer
collect, but as all copies have been sold, we are considering reprinting the book.
For information on his extensive research, Adrian Earp can be contacted by email.
“A POIGNANT AND BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN PEOPLE” - Review by John Williams,
printed in the Village Voice October 2015.
OUR OWN RECENT ANNUAL 2-DAY EXHIBITIONS
- The well-attended 2018 exhibition was "Melbourne Misdemeanours, Murders, Mayhem and Malefactors". Many were surprised at the
sinister goings on that had occurred in this lovely area. The book "School's Out!" was successfully launched at this exhibition.
- In 2017 our group was asked by Melbourne Assembly Rooms for a display to mark the 40th anniversary of the closure of Melbourne
Secondary School on High Street. So much material was discovered that we decided to make this our subject for our 2-day annual
exhibition "School's Out". And what a success this turned out to be, attracting former pupils and teachers, who were delighted to be
Additionally, in 2017, for Heritage Open Days an exhibition "Melbourne Cemetery Chapels" was held
9 & 10 September in the North Chapel. Philip Heath also guided a walk from Melbourne Parish Church 9 September: "Churches, Chapels and Cemeteries"
- The 2016 exhibition was on the subject of "Staying Alive" - or not, as the case may be.
- Additionly, in 2016, we had a display at the opening of the new Sports Pavilion on Cockshut Lane 11 September on 'Sports' and a
Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme at the parish church.
- Our popular 2015 exhibition was on the subject of 'Melbourne People of Note and Notoriety' and a new book by Adrian Earp and
members of the Melbourne Historical Research Group was launched, entitled 'In Memoriam - Commemorating the Men of Melbourne who died
in The Great War'.
- The group's 2014 EXHIBITION was on the effects on
Melbourne and district of WORLD WAR 1 - the "GREAT WAR". It was held on 23 and 24 August.
Short talks by Adrian Earp on the research undertaken were well received.
Donations amounting to £225 for cake, kindly provided by Penny Heath, refreshments, and interest in the exhibition material, were
collected on this occasion for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
- The 2013 annual exhibition was held on 8 & 9 June.
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. It was sold at £23.50 (buyer collect) or
plus postage and packing to other destinations in the UK. All copies of this book have now been sold.
- Roy Dunnicliffe of the MHRG 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.
- Melbourne W I Scrapbook 1965 is available on CD at £5, plus postage and packing if
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- 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 for 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.