Bolsover Archive Day

26th July 2014, Bolsover Library

Bolsover archive day train copy

On Saturday 26th July we will be in the Library at Bolsover to share the Bolsover Past Lives archive of photos, digitised cinefilm and oral history, the DVD of the Bolsover Past Lives with soundtrack performed by students from Bolsover School with Past Lives Project musicians will also be on sale to the public, with a free copy for each film depositor.

Drop in between 11:00 – 3pm and say hi!

Great Nottinghamshire Local History Fair

Recently we held a stall at the ‘Great Nottinghamshire Local History Fair’, we had a great day out and it was a wonderful opportunity to meet history groups from Mansfield and Nottingham, particularly as we’ll be bringing Past Lives Project to both of those regions in the next year.

We had a fantastic meeting with a chap who showed us a photo of his grandfather from Bolsover, we couldn’t believe it when we saw the picture, as we had used the photograph at the Past Lives Exhibition and listed the picture (below) as ‘Unknown Gentleman Carr Vale’, as part of the Past Lives Bolsover Project we partnered with Picture The Past to share some of their archive photos lacking information, in an aim to add provenance to the photos. (Link to Picture the Past original)


So it was fantastic when we learned some more information about the Unknown Gentleman…

The photo was most likely taken at the Station Hotel at Cresswell, and the gentleman’s name is Lewis Shinfield. He worked as a shaft sinker in Cresswell Pit and referred to himself as a ‘German’ and that his original family name was Schoenfeld. The second photo is of Lewis Shinfield’s wife in the middle and his sister and daughter. Photo was taken in 1898 and Lewis died in 1912.

One of the many great things of Past Lives Project are these personal stories that come along with the photos and film, and it’s wonderful to be able to add more provenance to archives.

We’ve forwarded the information to Picture The Past and they will be able to update their archive shortly.

A walk In Carr Vale

Chris Ellis, Past Lives Project musician and music researcher  took a walk with Fred Webley , who grew up in Carr Vale and agreed to show us the landscape he remembers as a boy. Chris has recorded this walk which we are hoping to make available as an audio walk through Past Lives Project.

“Walking down from the top of Car Vale, we come to a broad swathe of grass that still cuts a clean line through the town. This is the path of the railway track built by William Arkwright for his Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway. The line never made it all the way to the coast but it came through here, disappearing into a tunnel a few hundred yards east up the slope that cut through the escarpment and emerged at Scarcliffe. The tunnelling disturbed so many natural springs that flooding was always a problem in the tunnel and a water works was built to cater for the outflow and supply the town…

We make our way up the line of the tracks in the warm sun, towards where until the ground falls away ahead into an overgrown thicket … this is the way to the all that remains of the tunnel entrance, now sealed with concrete.

On the way back down, we look again for remains of the water works but it has all been erased, though the brook still runs clear, right down past the ends of the lower streets of the town & into the valley, Fred remembers playing in the brook as a boy – damming up the water which, coming as it did from natural springs via a drinking water filtering system, was crystal clear.


The series was apparently shown only once, in 1981* – and copies are rare: no-one I have spoken to has seen it… it would be good to see those sequences of Carr Vale…maybe we will have a look for it.


We’re standing on the track bed of a branch of the Midland line that served the local collieries and the Byron Brickworks – where Fred got his first job at 17. He was in the brick pressing room two weeks later when the news came that the plant was to close.


The site and its rail sidings are covered in birch and sycamore trees now, but Fred can locate the surviving loading bays in the undergrowth where the coal for the kilns arrived; and further into the trees we find traces of the high quality bricks that were prized for their durability; they are noticeably dense & heavy to lift; Fred reckons these were mostly rejects by the look of them.

We’ve been walking south along the railway line from Carr Vale. Now we turn North and take a path that runs back up the valley alongside the River Doe Lea.

9Ahead are some big ponds – now a wildlife reserve. I assume they are where the clay
for the bricks was originally dug, but Fred puts us right – this is the result of mining
subsidence: the coal seams under the river were dug out more cautiously than the area surrounding it, leaving more columns of coal & rock standing to support the ground. As a result, the land around the river sank unevenly and created these dips; later we see lines of fence posts disappearing into the water.

10As we walk we talk of the experiences of a childhood in this valley: the favourite haunts and games, the long six weeks of freedom in the summer.

There were dangers to be sure – and Fred tells of boys who died in accidents while playing around the railway wagons or clambering into tunnels. But without taking these lightly, there was also a freedom to roam that it’s hard to imagine now.

11As we come closer to Carr Vale again, we scramble up the embankment that once carried Arkwright’s railway east across a viaduct and through the town. This is the site of one of Fred’s childhood exploits: pushing empty wagons up the incline as a gang & then riding them back down to hit the buffers at the bottom.

From up here you can see the squares of new Bolsover – the model village built by the Bolsover Mining Company in a genuine attempt to create a better living environment for its workers. Carr Vale was built soon after as the mine expanded – though it was clearly designed on more utilitarian lines. A description from D.H. Lawrence about houses on a hillside runs vaguely through my mind as we stand there; later I look it up & it turns out to be from Sons and Lovers:

“To accommodate the regiments of miners, Carston, Waite and Co. built the Squares, great quadrangles of dwellings on the hillside of Bestwood, and then, in the brook valley, on the site of Hell Row, they erected the Bottoms”

We are about 15miles as the crow flies from Lawrence’s home territory in Eastwood… a good days walk.

We end up back down in the town, just over the dividing line between Carr Vale and New Bolsover, standing by a new sculpture to commemorate the finding in 1978 of a fossil ancestor of the dragonfly on the coal face at Bolsover colliery. It’s one of the best specimens ever found of its species and is now in the British Museum. They stopped the cutter at the coal face while the geologists had a look for more; Fred recalls the story that the foreman’s advice to any miner who noticed another fossil that might hold up production was sharp and to the point.”

*A footnote on Sons and Lovers:
A quick look around for information on the BBC series reveals that it was shot in 1980 and scripted by no less a writer than Trevor Griffiths – there is a mention of it on his site at:-
And to top it off, the music was by John Tams …  

Past Lives Bolsover Performance

On 15th March we showed the Past Lives Bolsover film,  with live music performance to a packed house at Bolosver Assembly Rooms. The film was made from local donated cinefilm edited by Anthony Hatton and the music was performed by Bolsover School Pupils who had worked with Dave Sturt and Chris Ellis.

200 people came to the film and music performance, with people queueing out the door. We’ve had a fabulous time working in Bolsover and been made very welcome, the first region of Past Lives Project tour, and we’re currently looking into local partnerships to allow us to stay working in Bolsover for longer.

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We’re working on recording the music score and creating a DVD of the Bolsover films if you would like to be contacted when the DVD’s are available please leave your details below.

Bolsover DVD Request Form

Bolsover exhibition

15th March we held an exhibition at Bolsover Assembly Rooms to share our findings and experiences from the project to date. We’ve had a really great time working in Bolsover with lots of support from local public taking part in the project.

We shared photos from our scanning day, and hosted Reminiscence Vintage Cafe who helped keep everyone supplied in tea and cake.


During the exhibition we asked visitors to write down any memories or knowledge they had of the photos and articles on show. These notes will be added to Picture The Past photo archive to add history to the photos they already have of Bolsover, and to photos that have been added to the archive through the project.


We had a 156 visitors to the exhibition throughout the day, and had many interesting conversations about Bolsover and great feedback about the project.


At 5pm the exhibition closed and we turned the room around for the grand finale performance of Bolsover Past Lives film and music. Photos to follow…

Bolsover grande finale film & exhibition

Assembly Hall Bolsover, photo courtesy of Picture The Past archive, photo no DCBR000278

Assembly Hall Bolsover, photo courtesy of Picture The Past archive, photo no DCBR000278

This Saturday 15th March we will be at the Assembly Hall in Bolsover.  There is a free exhibition from 1-5pm, and we opening a vintage tea rooms for the day where you can buy tea and cake, and drink it from vintage china. The exhibition will show photos, memories, film clips and recordings from the project. At 5pm we will briefly close to set up the room for…

Bolsover Past Lives Grand Finale! – Films you’ve donated, memories and music that Bolsover has shared has been transformed into a new original film with live soundtrack from international musicians and Bolsover school students.

Join us at 7pm Saturday 15th March in Bolsover Assembly Hall, tickets available via

Past Lives leaflet final 15th March

Bolsover Photo Trail

To help inspire Bolsover to get involved in their heritage, Debbie Cooper has worked with  Picture the Past; photo archive for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to create a photo trail around the town from archive Bolsover and Carr Vale Photos. We have also include donated photos from Bolsover Civic Society and stills from cinefilm footage donated to the project.

Here’s a few of the posters from the photo trail you can find the rest of the photos around Bolsover town over the next few weeks.

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Many of the photos will be shown at the exhibition on 15th March, exhibition runs at 1-5pm at the Assembly Rooms. Later on at 7pm The Past Lives Bolsover Film will be premiered, tickets available in Bolsover Town from Beans Cafe & T A Page & Son, or  via eventbrite: