Cromford Tour Schedule announced

Cromford Tour Flyer_2Following our enjoyable Bakewell Tour, we will be going on a visit to the birthplace of the Industrial revolution! The acclaimed World Heritage Derwent valley corridor. We will be stopping off at the scenic Dovedale in the Peak District National Park.

Our trip to Old House Museum, Bakewell


Taking the route through the Church to get to the Old House Museum, Bakewell

The skies turned blue and the sun shone bright on our visit to Old House Museum, Bakewell. It is significant to our project as the building itself was owned and developed by Arkwright at one point, for quite some period in time. His workers lived in the House and prepared cotton, some of which may have been cotton from India!

DSC_0196292334_10200664219321262_1842236687_nThe visit itself did not throw up any new direct links with India, which would have been useful to us, but having said that we did go on the ‘Behind the scene Textiles Tour’ which gave us the opportunity to handle some of the textile collection not on display. A number of items were handmade cotton textiles, sewn into garments and embroidered. The cotton on these garments would have been on a journey from either the East or the West and then journeyed internally in the UK as it was turned from raw material to finished garment, seeing ships, warehouses, auction houses, factories and homes along the way!



DSC_0211“The collection was amazing, our group even tried different costumes” said Shweta Kamat, one of the organisers and group leaders on the tour.

Almost everyone on the tour was visiting the Old House Museum for the first time, many were visiting that part of Bakewell for the first time, having only stayed near the shops and centre on their previous visits! A steep uphill climb was not something most were inclined to do on a nice day out 🙂

DSC_0183We had a fantastic age range in our group of nearly 50, from 2 to 60 years! The two year old slept through a lot of the sunny day is my guess, the kids had the option of doing the rat trail at the museum.



294161_10200664213761123_1744113966_nSome of us spotted on display, the foot and tooth of an elephant shot in Bakewell! Yes, at Bakewell! I must hasten to add it was not a mammoth J It was an Indian elephant! You guessed, it was part of a circus, went ‘mad’ according to the information on the display board. From the photographs we could see it was in a state of ‘musth’, poor thing was shot dead for going mad.

DSC00101We simply did not have enough time to look through the whole collection






972366_10200664222561343_1121909340_nand enjoy the wonderful homemade cakes, buns and lots of sweet things, all in an hour or so!


We are going back there. It is not for nothing that the museum is yet again the Museum of the year!

945523_10200664208040980_1852132614_nWonderful hospitality, great guides and friendly people overall – A big thanks to the OHM team from the Hindu Samaj.

DSC_0238Bakewell was teeming with visitors this bank holiday weekend, we made slow progress through the crowds! The clear water of the river Wye was is ever a pull, makes on stop for a shot or two!

576775_10200664211761073_337367244_nLots of fish in the water, rainbow trout and all.




DSC00128Ice-cream and cricket completed the day for many of us!





988802_10200664246041930_1711821238_nWe were back on the coach at 5.30 sharp and left as planned – hitting very little traffic on the way, which was good. We still had a lot of the evening left once we got back – barbeques for some, I heard 🙂





Photo Credits: Sunil Arigela, Gandhali Bejkar, Chamu Kuppuswamy, Abhinay Kamat

Olympic Torch for the Environment!

green kumbh

Green Kumbh at Birmingham

Chamu Kuppuswamy introduced and talked about the activities of the ‘British Raj in the Peak District’ project at Birmingham (11-5-2013) and Leicester (19-05-2013) on the occasion of the Green Kumbh Yatra.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”National park hindu samaj- presentation-ck” target=”_blank”>National park hindu samaj- presentation-ck</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Chamundeeswari Kuppuswamy</a></strong> </div>


Ceremonial blessing of the Kumbh

Kumbh is a brass vessel, which is being taken around the world, passing through different countries, carrying the message of environmental protection – it has been dubbed as the Olympic Torch for the environment. It set out in October 2012, at Hyderabad, India marking the beginning of the 11th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Kumbh is an integral part of sacred rituals in Hindu culture, it has been adopted by the environmental Foundation GYAN to connect Hindu pilgrimage sites and more generally sacred sites to the environmental message of the 21st century.


Many Kumbhs for the ‘yatra’ (pilgrimage)

Cleverly, the organisation used Hindu culture and mythology to garner support for the conserving a biodiversity hotspot – Ram Sethu or Adam’s Bridge, which is a breakwater formation that separates the fierce waters of the Bay of Bengal from the calmer, more Biodiversity rich waters of the Gulf of Mannar. (See Birmingham and Leicester coverages below for more information on the Ram Sethu and other GYAN projects) GYAN believes that invoking Hindu messages sits naturally with environmental preservation and nurture of nature as these concepts are inbuilt in Hindu culture and the Sanathana Dharma. Hence its use of the Kumbh as a symbol of ‘ the “web of life” and the ecosystem that includes all animals, humans, plants, microscopic creatures and their habitats on the planet’. It is this message that the ‘Peak District for All – Vasudeiva Kutumbhakham’ Initiative found attractive and shared with GYAN. The discussions with the Green Kumbh Yatra organisers in the US and in the UK has reinforced that we are natural allies!


The Leicester Green Kumbh

The Ganesha Walk and the environmental focus of Edward Carpenter were presented to audiences in Birmingham and Leicester who are both keen on working with the Hindu Samaj and the Peak District National Park.

The Green Kumbh took to Manchester and London before it leaves the UK to the US. It has already travelled to Nepal, Kenya and Jerusalem before entering the UK. When it was first launched, the Kumbh was filled with pearls in Hyderabad! It finally arrives in South Korea in January for COP12.

The message from Dr. Braulio F. de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity makes clear the significance of the Green Kumbh initative. He says

“I want to acknowledge the significance of this event and thank the organizers GYAN (The Green Yatra Action Network) & Living Planet Foundation and particularly the founder Kusum Vyas, in Collaboration with DiversEarth, IUCN – Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, Vikasa Tarangini and WCPA Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas”.

“I am indeed proud to be your partner in this initiative. Your support of the work of the Convention and its goals of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits is crucial if we are to achieve the revised Strategic Plan and Its 20 Aichi Targets by 2020”.

“The 193 Parties to the CBD are “conscious of the intrinsic value of biological diversity and of the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values of biological diversity and its components.” Therefore, the interdependent relationship between biological and cultural diversity constitutes an integral part of the work of the Convention”.

“In the Convention on Biological Diversity, the international community acknowledged the close and traditional dependence of many indigenous and local communities on biological resources, the vital role that these resources play in their lives and livelihoods, and the important contribution that traditional knowledge can make to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity”.

“Today, the Green Yatra under the leadership of Kusum Vyas the event has made a significant contribution in practical discussions about how pilgrimages and pilgrim routes can be “greener” and sustainable”.

“In recent years, the international community has encouraged valuation of biodiversity which must include its spiritual and cultural values but it is clear that there is much more to do to ensure valuation of nature is adequately and holistically addressed”.

“The CBD has considerably advanced our preliminary work.  In distilling our work into outcomes, we are seeking and encouraging the active involvement of faith-based communities in our work”.

Birmingham coverage:

Leicester coverage:


 Details of Green Kumbh and Green Kumbh Yatra on and


 Green Kumbh Yatra: Kusum Vyas (USA): +713 876 5400;

UK Coordinator for Green Kumbh: Mr. Harish Mandalia, Leicester;

‘Peak District – Access for All : Vasudeiva Kutumbhakham’ contact : Dr. Chamu Kuppuswamy,

Carpenter Workshop programme announced

carpenter workshop prog

Helen Smith, Rony Robinson and Sally Goldsmith are our specialist speakers for the day, this will be followed by delicious vegetarian lunch from Dhanistha’s. A select group will proceed to Sheffield Archives for hands-on research. We apologise we are not able to open the afternoon more widely, this is because of constraints of space at the Archives. However we have a further Archive day marked out on the 6th of July if you would like to participate. The Sheffield Archives are open to all, just obtain a readers pass and you are in!

Museums Sheffield celebrates Carpenter’s life!

helen slippers archivistIt was a great Friday evening at the Millennium Gallery at Museums Sheffield on the 17th of May 2013. Our very own resource person Dr. Helen Smith had a stall at the evening of celebration. In the picture above, she is with an archivist from the Sheffield Archives. On display are artefacts from the Sheffield Archive, some of which we will see when we go there for our research on the 1st of June. People were checking out the pairs of sandals on display at the stand.

checking out sandalsThere was even a seperate information sheet on the sandals in Carpenter collection! The pair on display was quite elegant and well made!

sandals leaflet

At 6.30 pm, Steve Slack from Friends of Edward Carpenter (FOEC) gave a talk on the life of Edward Carpenter. He discussed his activism and his passions in life. DSC00084-001  It was an interesting and lively evening at the Museums, with lots of things happening. Shame the museum shop wasn’t open, I was looking to buy some notelets for our research workshop 😦


Meeting & Networking on all things digital!

DSC00049The Media Trust arranged for a day to exchange tips and to think about our digital record for the project, on the 15th of May 2013. It took place at the Site Gallery in Sheffield, a rather nice venue near the train station. I wasnt there for the whole workshop but there wasnt much to miss I gathered! The facilitator was going through some basics of digital record keeping. Some tips for film making, equipment etc were shared. I would have liked to get some new ideas on using Windows Live Movie maker, but as the facilitator didn’t use that software he didnt have much to say. However he suggested moving on to something more sophisticated like Adode Premiere Elements which I will take on board. What I might also discuss with our media team is to add an external microphone to our kit. Another interesting discovery for the day was a binaural microphone which can be very effective in sound recording, especially of things like oral history recordings.

All in all, it was nice to catch up with members of some other HLF projects!

participants at workshop

Facilitator and Participants at the workshop

Connecting India and the Peak District Through Cotton: the Research Process


Debjani Chatterjee sharing her cotton stories at the Workshop

Following on from Dr Chamu Kuppuswamy’s excellent post about historical records from Calver Mill, I wanted to write about the research processes involved in finding these records. I became involved with Hindu Samaj’s research project ‘British Raj in the Peak District: discovering, recovering and sharing colonial history’ as a research assistant in February 2013. When I first saw the advertisement for the post, I was immediately struck by the ambition and relevance of the project. Global history has become very popular in historical research over the last two decades. As a researcher interested in the history of empire and of working people and their everyday lives, I was keen to get involved with a global history project that was grounded in local experiences.

The scale of the project was huge in one sense. The Hindu Samaj and colleagues at the University of Sheffield had set out to trace links between the Peak District and India over a long period of time: both the geographical and time scales involved were broad. But the project was also specific, focussing in on particular communities and individuals. Working with Dr Esme Cleall of the Department of History at the University of Sheffield and Hindu Samaj, I have focussed specifically on the history of the cotton industry in the Peak District during the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. My aim was to trace historical connections between this local industry and India.

I began my research by reading more broadly about the history of cotton. Perhaps the most important thing I took away from this part of the research process was the idea that cotton has connected communities all over the world for hundreds of years. Cotton is a unique commodity. It has arguably played one of the most important roles in global history in connecting communities at a worldwide scale through trade, industry, the exchange of production techniques and styles of dress and decoration.

During the early period of my research I visited the Old House Museum in Bakewell where I met manager Anita and her team. The museum is a treasure trove of historical objects from the local area including wonderful exhibitions that explore the history of the home lives of cotton mill workers. The museum houses a wonderful collection of textiles and I am told they have a large collection of Indian textiles that would be well worth a look for future researchers. Though I didn’t uncover any historical documents at the Old House Museum that specifically linked the local cotton mill and its workers to India, I began to feel closer to the individual men, women and children who had worked in the local cotton industry in the past.

The main part of the research process focussed on trying to pin down these global connections at a local level. Historical research can be extremely time-consuming, particularly when archival work is involved. Due to time constraints, Dr Cleall, Hindu Samaj and I decided to focus on locating documentary sources that still exist in the Peak District that signify links between the region and India. Based on my preliminary research and the findings of other members of the project team, I decided to focus on conducting research at Derbyshire Records Office (Matlock) and at Cromford Mill.

Cromford Mill was opened by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1771 and was the first cotton-spinning mill to be powered by water. Arkwright and Cromford played significant roles in the inventions and innovations that drove the Industrial Revolution. I was met at the site by Michael Ledger, Acting Education Officer of the Arkwright Society. The Arkwright Society have spent decades restoring Cromford Mill to it’s original state. The work to restore the mill is on going but the site is still remarkable and well worth a visit.

Michael Ledger was very interested in my quest to find out if Cromford Mill sourced it’s raw cotton from India during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Michael began looking into this through his contacts within the Arkwright Society before my visit. During my visit I also met with tour guide Cliff Lea and former Arkwright Society CEO Bob Faithorn. Both were very interested in the project and asked lots of interesting questions about my research. Michael, Cliff and Bob provided a wealth of knowledge about the establishment of Cromford Mill, how the factories were run from the 1770s into the nineteenth century, and how cotton production at the mill came to an end.

Interestingly, Cliff Lea had already conducted some research into the sources of raw cotton used at Cromford. It seems that visitors to Cromford have been asking the same questions that our project sought to answer! Unfortunately Cliff had not identified any concrete links with India through this research. Many of Cromford Mill’s records have been destroyed by fire over the years; it is now very difficult to know where the raw cotton came from. Perhaps my visit to Derbyshire Records Office would finally uncover the documents I had been looking for…

The project team were optimistic that documents held at Derbyshire Records Office would provide some concrete links to India. University of Sheffield Community Heritage Project Officer Kimberley Marwood had been told that records for Calver Mill suggested links with India. At the records office I began looking through the card catalogue to identify these records and other potentially useful documents. After a long morning I finally found something! The source was a large, leather bound volume containing financial records from Calver Mill for the period 1868-1877. The records showed that during the late 1860s and 1870s Calver was sourcing its cotton from India!

Purchased via the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, Calver Mill used raw cotton from various parts of India. These sources shifted over time. Calver purchasing cotton from Western Madras, Surat and Broach alongside cotton from the southern United States, Canada and other destinations. Calver purchased different amounts from each location each year and we can see a fluctuation in prices from 4 to 9 ¼ d. per lb over time. These shifts are undoubtedly related to broader social and economic conditions in both the national and international context. For example, the American Civil War (1861-1865) had severely disrupted the global availability of American cotton during the 1860s. India was an important alternative source of cotton during this period. However we can see that Calver Mill continued to source its cotton from India for years following the Civil War. The precise dynamics involved in these processes need to be researched further but it is clear that India was succeeding to sell its cotton alongside competition from many places.

My research at Derbyshire Records Office also suggested an interesting link between Calver Mill, Quarry Bank Mill (Cheshire) and India. A document from Quarry Bank Mill suggests that from 1856 to 1862 Quarry Bank was commissioned by Calver Mill to produce yarns for sale. The document does not tell us for definite where Quarry Bank obtained its raw cotton. But an interesting reference is made to one hundred pounds lost in 1860 on the ‘Bombay Adventure’. Does this indicate that Quarry Bank was trying to source its cotton from India? As it stands this is unknown. However this is a further suggestion that Indian cotton was in demand throughout the British cotton industry during the 1850s and 1860s.

These findings were presented to the Hindu Samaj, colleagues at the University of Sheffield and members of the public at a workshop on Saturday 13th April. I presented copies of the documents to the group and we discussed the changing sources and prices of cotton purchased by Calver Mill over time. The workshop was a fantastic event that also featured interesting historical talks from Dr Cleall and Dr Daniel Grey (University of Oxford), a talk about Sir Richard Arkwright from Michael Ledger and a fascinating talk on industrial patents from Dr Kuppuswamy. For me, the highlight of the day was hearing personal stories about cotton from members of the group. These stories really helped to flesh out the documentary sources I had found by providing personal experiences of the cotton industry.

The historical links we were able to discover in only eight short weeks are certainly important in highlighting links between workers and communities across the British Empire. I hope that future researchers will be able to build on these foundations and carry on exploring links between the cotton regions of India and the Peak District. It is important for local, national and global history that we understand these connections in more detail.

Sacha Hepburn

Phd Student, University of Sheffield History Department