Lead Mining Guided Walk on a dry, beautiful Sunday afternoon 28th April

The group meet outside The Barley Mow

The group meet outside The Barley Mow pub Bonsall

What a good turnout for the guided walk on Sunday! About 20 local residents turned up to try out the first of the guided walks to promote the local history trails around Bonsall. After a quick pint in the Barley Mow http://www.barleymowbonsall.co.uk we were ready to face the hills and dales…….

Walking past the site of the Calamine Mine near Puddle Hill

Walking past the site of the Calamine Mine near Puddle Hill just up hill from the Barley Mow

 One of the many capped lead mine shafts on Bonsall Moor

One of the many capped lead mine shafts on Bonsall Moor – using railway sleepers from the disused railway line nearby, closed as a result of the Beeching Act. D.H. Lawrence wrote about the lead mining landscape in his short story ‘The Virgin and the Gypsy’.

Peering down the shaft - this one is about 80ft deep with a corner at the bottom

Peering down the shaft – this one is about 80ft deep with a corner at the bottom

Mike reads a poem written for the (mostly) illiterate lead miners to help them remember the lead mining laws

Mike reads a poem written for the (mostly) illiterate lead miners to help them remember the lead mining laws, customs and liberties – he only read a short section from this very long poem.

Mike Lynch of the Bonsall History Society reads the lead miners poem by Edward Manlove.
 Titled: The Liberties and Customs of the Lead-Mines within the Wapentake of Wirksworth in the County of Derby.
London: 1653.

To find out more about Edward Manlove, a lawyer residing in Ashbourne and the full text of the poem visit https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Manlove,_Edward_(DNB00)

The dogs were engrossed

The dogs were engrossed

A picnic by the restored Lime Kiln near Hollowchurch Way

A picnic by the restored Lime Kiln near Hollowchurch Way

The official launch of the 6 History walks around Bonsall will be on Sunday afternoon 19th May – all welcome!

Launch of the Bonsall History Trails! Sunday May 19th 2pm, Bonsall Village Hall

The Pig of Lead Pub, Bonsall

The Pig of Lead Pub, Bonsall

Telling our story: Bonsall History Project celebrates £9,300 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant with the launch of 6 history walk leaflets around Bonsall

Bonsall History Project is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) ‘All Our Stories’ grant.

After months of research and preparation the 6 walk leaflets are now complete and will be officially launched at Bonsall Village Hall on Sunday May 19th at 2pm.

To help the village tell its own story and find out more about the heritage of Bonsall the project has included research trips to Ruddington Framework Knitting Museum, the Black Country Living museum, Matlock Mining Museum, a landscape photography workshop, a social media workshop and lots and lots of walking!

On Sunday May 19th at 2pm villagers are invited to come along to a celebration and launch afternoon where they can collect their Bonsall History Trail leaflets.

There will be a display of photos and historic images of Bonsall and refreshments.

Peter Fellows of Bonsall History Group said:

“We will use the event to give a free set of six leaflets to each household in the village. The illustrated leaflets cover the historical development of Shops and Pubs; Lead Mining; Framework Knitting and Other Trades; Schools and Churches; Bonsall’s Landscape and Historic Routes through the village. They each include a walking map to guide users around each route. Everyone is welcome to the launch and we hope to give you the opportunity to find out something of why Bonsall has developed in the way that it has.”



Bonsall History Blog: A walk through history www.bonsallhistory.wordpress.com

Bonsall History Website www.bonsallhistory.org.uk

Bonsall Village newsletter Mutterings  www.bonsallvillage.org

Heritage Lottery Fund

Emma Sayer, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said:

“Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for the The Bonsall History Trails and Leaflets Project as the Bonsall History Project embark on a real journey of discovery.”

Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories funding stream is now replaced by Sharing Heritage


Second Archive Film Night is a hoot!

The second archive film night which was presented as part of the The Bonsall History Trails Project attracted a full house at Bonsall Village Hall. After the relative sobriety of the excellent British Transport Films Unit ‘Peak District’ film, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX86reWvrKk – there were plenty of laughs as we watched films about hen racing in Wirksworth, one man’s struggle to scale High Tor in Matlock Bath and a blast from the seventies – a film about the Janet Reger Underwear Factory. £65-£85 for a night dress! In the 70’s! You’d have to be Joan Collins to afford that!


Mike and Jon ready the DVD projector before showing the films

The footage shown of Matlock in flood was astonishing whereas the images of Matlock in the deep freeze in the 60’s weren’t quite as shocking given the conditions around Bonsall recently! For more information about these films see http://www.macearchive.org

See the current Janet Reger website here http://www.janetreger.co.uk

With refreshments at the end (thank you Brenda!) it was a great night out and a welcome break from the unremitting snow and winter weather.

Framework knitters of the world unite…

Knit your socks off with a Komet Knitter

Knit your socks off with a Komet Knitter

Machinery silhouetted within the museum

Machinery silhouetted within the museum

This is what we had in Bonsall

This is what we had in Bonsall

Photo for cover of Bonsall History Project LP

Photo for cover of Bonsall History Project LP

This machine makes socks!

This machine makes socks!

Subliminal message

Subliminal message

You have nothing to lose but your 13 hour day and your Komet Knitters (see pic).

The Bonsall History Project set out on another freezing (but sunny) morning having set the controls (and our trusty coach driver Peter Fox) for the heart of Ruddington near Nottingham. Quite a few of our number had already been to the Ruddington Frameknitting Museum – but such is the lure of the characterful buildings, old framework knitting machines and charming museum staff – they couldn’t wait to return.

Parts of Bonsall once rattled to the sound of 143 knitting machines as scarves, smoking caps, ties, shirts, stockings and underwear were produced. But then Arkwright  started the Industrial Revolution and they ended up in factories in Cromford!

It’s a really interesting visit to Ruddington and the combination of a welcoming brew on arrival, a booked guided tour and a demonstration of framework knitting (it’s complicated!) meant that we all came away buzzing in a historical kind of way.

One of the guides mentioned that Ned Ludd (of Luddite fame) was a myth. What next – Santa doesn’t exist?! We’re not sure about Ned – what do you know? Is he a made-up smasher of machinery?

Thanks to the Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum.

Great welcome, excellent tour and demonstration by Andy Bone (see video here) www.frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk.

Plough the fields and scatter – The Landscape of Bonsall Walk number 5

Ridge and Furrow field in Bonsall

Ridge and Furrow field in Bonsall – a remnant of medieval farming practice

In walk number 5, The Landscape of Bonsall, you can see examples of different archaeological features on view, some made through medieval farming practices.
One landscape feature to look out for is the ‘corrugated’ look on some fields, created because of the ridge and furrow method of farming.  There are a few of fields with a corrugated look dotted around the village. “Each field was divided into furlongs (long furrows), which in turn were split into strips. An individual’s strip was not in one parcel but scattered throughout the open fields to include both good and less-desirable land.” Ridge&Furrow2
 “As oxen, and later horses, trudged up and down pulling a plough, earth was banked up forming characteristic ridges and furrows.”.  Bonsall – A Village and its History
Horse ploughing - courtesy of Pegtop Farm, Woodeaton http://www.pegtopfarm.co.uk/

Horse ploughing – courtesy of Pegtop Farm, Woodeaton http://www.pegtopfarm.co.uk/

For further information on Ridge and Furrow in the UK see:
Plough Plays, mummers plays and the like were performed in January for entertainment:  “Twelve Night was the period of celebration between the Winter Solstice and the New Year until the Reformation. Farm work traditionally resumed in England on the first Monday after Twelfth Night (January 6th), which was the end of the Christmas season. This was the time of year when plowing began for the spring grains. This isn’t really the most appropriate time to plow in England, where the winter rains are likely to make the ground too wet, or even worse, it may be frozen. Still this was the custom”. For more information see http://piereligion.org/plowsongs.html
Here’s a lovely performance of an old Plough song…….

Bonsall Wildlife Talk starts at 7pm 16th February

Talk on Bonsall's wildlife - talk starts at 7pm

Talk on Bonsall’s wildlife – talk starts at 7pm

Sorry! the talk by  Dan Abrahams starts at 7pm and not 7.30pm – don’t be late (if you are it’s my fault!).

Bonsall Village Hall, 7pm Saturday February 16th


Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge Monday nights BBC2 9pm

Dancing on the Edge filmed at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley

Dancing on the Edge filmed at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley

The Black Country Living Museum steps into the spotlight in Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge (BBC2, 9pm).  During January 2012 the Museum was transformed into a film set as Hollywood stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, John Goodman and Jacqueline Bisset joined British TV legends Mel Smith, Anthony Head, Caroline Quentin and Jane Asher in Dudley to film scenes in the Museum’s 1930s bedroom, the Darby Hand chapel and the 1900s village.

Monday 4 & Tuesday 5 February, 9pm, BBC2 and every Monday thereafter

Visit to the Black Country Museum : A trip down memory lane….

Karen and Slack's Coach driver welcome us on board

Karen and Slack’s Coach driver welcome us on board

As part of the Bonsall History Trails Project a busload of Bonsallites got the Slack’s charabang to The Black Country Museum of Living last Saturday. It was a cold but fascinating experience. Some went down the mine, some straight to the charming ‘sawdust on the floor boozer’, and some flitted from coal fire to coal fire. It seemed that every little corner of the many brick built houses had a lovely range or fire to warm yourself by.

Fish and Chips fried in beef dripping..ummmm

Fish and Chips fried in beef dripping..ummmm in the 80 year old fryer

And you got the chat – Dudley style. It was great to meet the various characters who inhabit the 26 acre site and listen to their descriptions of how tough life was between the 30’s and 50’s but also see how characterful and interesting the various the shops were. We’ve lost so much over the last 50 years – the shops here justify the phrase ‘shopping experience’.  The perfect antidote to the nippy weather was either Mushy Peas and Faggots or Fish and Chips (fried in beef dripping!).

 A welcome coal fire awaits in the wartime house

A welcome coal fire awaits in the wartime house – rationing was in force

Many of the shops and workshops (including the chippy) could have been on Yeoman Street or High Street anytime between the 40’s and 60’s. For anyone over 50 it was pure nostalgia. Many of the small forges, shoemakers and leather working shops again could have been around in Bonsall within living memory.

The charming 1930s kitchen

The charming 1930s kitchen

We left at 3.15pm but could have seen more. A great day out, highly recommended both for young and old – and a interesting look at what Bonsall shops, pubs and workplaces had to offer in days gone by. Thanks to Slacks Coaches for the excellent driving enquiries@slackscoaches.co.uk

Landscape Photography in Bonsall

“Histograms, f stops, white balance, exposure compensation, coffee and hobnobs….”

Choosing the right 'f' stop

Choosing the right ‘f’ stop

It was bitterly cold last Sunday but the Bonsall Heritage Trails ‘Landscape Photography Workshop’ – lead by professional photographers Ian Daisley and Alex Hyde was a resounding success.

Stepping Lane, Bonsall

Stepping Lane, Bonsall

We met in Ian’s studio at the Via Gellia Mills and after coffee we were straight into a brief slide presentation on picture composition, followed by the professionals helping everyone get to know their digital SLRs. Nobody’s camera was left on ‘automatic’! For many of us it was a revelation – discovering the meanings of Exposure Compensation or Live View.

Reviewing photos

Reviewing photos

With a view to getting images suitable for use in the 6 Bonsall Heritage Trail Leaflets we set off for the most photogenic quarter of Bonsall – around the Cross, St. James Church and Stepping Lane.  Here we were able to put into practice the theory we’d been given in the morning. The weather had other ideas. But horizontal hail and a very icy Stepping Lane didn’t deter the dedicated photographers from getting some excellent architectural shots.

Checking composition

Checking composition

The group were then taken up the lane beyond Brumlea Farm to take pictures of stone barn typical of the Bonsall area. The light got better and everyone had oceans of space to combine the technical aspects of the course with the creative elements which the sunlit snow, fields and barn gave us.

Ian and Alex - photographers extraordiaire

Ian and Alex – our professional photographer leaders

Then back down to Ian’s studio for very welcome tea and a fascinating review of everyone’s captures from the day’s shoot and a very interesting introduction to image manipulation.  We all came away buzzing with new information and a lot more knowledgable about our respective cameras.

Thank you Ian and Alex for making the workshop so enjoyable and for sharing your skills.  To view all the best photos taken on the workshop visit our Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonsallhistory/

Thanks for reading this post – please send the link on to anyone else who may be interested…..