Review of ‘Five Book Reviews’, by Various Authors

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on (), and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

READING FOR ALL WEATHERS

Whether the summer holidays bring out parasols or umbrellas, and whether it's going to be best foot forward or indoor comfort reading, the latest local publications cater for all possibilities and at least the days are long. Unless stated otherwise, these titles are all on sale in local outlets.

Looking on the bright side and the call of the outdoors, it is good to see that the range of Peak District Villages Insider's Guides is now complete - 10 sets comprising no less than 55 village leaflets in all, also available individually. Few local writers are more familiar with their subject than Tom Bates, who has travelled north, south, east and west; into the White Peak, Dark Peak and High Peak; up hill and down dale to compile these attractive 6-page pocket-sized brochures.

While paying due homage to the past, Tom also explores what our villages offer today, whether new uses for historic buildings, a golf course or outdoor swimming pool, galleries and restaurants, or just a shady seat outside a pub with a view. Take your pick! Produced in Derbyshire by Chevinside Publications, each guide is illustrated in colour and costs 99p.

As for getting even closer to our wonderful scenery, the indefatigable writer/walkers Pat and Peter Tidsall offer two new books to get us out and about. Short Circular Walks in the Peak National Park contains no less than 30 walks of 3 to 6 miles, some easily combined into longer routes. Circular Walks in Derbyshire and the Peak Park consists of 23 walks between 4 and 8 miles. The instructions are concise and uncomplicated, with the rare advantage that each route is graded according to the overall height climbed from start to finish; i.e. Grade 1 ascends less than 300 ft while Grade 3 ascends 700 - 1000 ft. Practical information extends from difficult stretches to sections which are wheelchair and pushchair- friendly. And these books really are pocket-sized. As the publishers, Ashbourne Editions, point out: 'At £3.99 each, there is at least two summers of weekend walking here at less than the price of a round of drinks!'

Messages of conciliation make for thoughtful reading within the pages of Tsedeqh and other Sermons from Church in the Market Place Publications. 'Tsedeqh' was the last sermon constructed and preached in two Peak District chapels by the late John Farley, a Methodist Minister in this area for many years. That powerful and topical sermon led to requests for manuscripts of this and others preached by John, who before his death in the spring of 2006 was able to select thirteen of his own choice for publication.

As Colin Morris writes in his foreword: 'John recognised that his hearers had minds to be stimulated as well as hearts to be warmed ... it was all done with great verve'. John Farley reached into the news and its worst headlines to preach against vindictiveness and miscarriages of justice. He used the Book of Jonah, for instance, to deplore racial hatred, and that was in a sermon of a quarter of a century ago.

Copies of 'Tsedeqh' can be obtained from Mrs J. Farley, 2 Woodland View, Crossland Road, Hathersage, Hope Valley S32 1AN (£5 + £1 postage).

For all those who are tracing their family tree and putting the results to paper, Keith Taylor shows the way to do it in The History of a Derbyshire Mining Family. With 300 pages and more than twice as many photographs, this is a treasure house of past lives set not just in their local context but in a wider history. Keith's 9x-great-grandfather Henry Taylor, for instance, was married in Darley Dale in the same week that the Spanish Armada was first engaged in the English Channel.

During three decades of his own lifetime, Keith has pursued his research down both male and female branches, tracking down births, marriages and deaths, jobs and housing, schooling, health concerns, disputes and tragedies; one discovery revealed that in the mid-1800s three brothers died at a young age from diseases associated with lead mining. Even skeletons in the family cupboard are not sacrosanct; three earlier Taylor brothers pleaded guilty at Derby Assizes to illegal 'buddling' (washing lead ore) in the Derwent, an expensive lesson in contamination versus compensation.

Other forebears followed the trades of blacksmith, higgler, seamstress, shirt darner and mole catcher, but many Taylor menfolk worked in the lead mines - and we can see from photographs what lead mining did for the film star looks of grandfather James Taylor.

The History of a Derbyshire Mining Family (published by Country Books, price £12.50) is a real-life saga that goes far beyond its title. Perhaps the most important lesson in genealogy comes from the author himself: '...one regrets not finding out information from members of the family before it becomes too late ... if only my interest had been aroused at an earlier date ...' A lesson for us all.

A rich store of discoveries about the landscape of the past are revealed in the groundbreaking Cassini Historical Maps - digitally enhanced reprints of early Ordnance Surveys. The two chosen for review here are Old Series 1837 - 1842 and Popular Edition 1921 - 1923, each covering a wide area around Buxton & Matlock. The Old Series maps date from the 19th century, while the Popular Edition was launched after the First World War and, with many revisions, continued into the 1950s.

Cassini Publishing has enlarged and reprojected these maps to match the same scale and coverage as the current OS Landrangers, in this case number 119. They have the same map numbers and even the familiar grid references. The Old Series version shows how the Peak has changed and what it has lost over the past 170 years or so: mills of all trades, including cotton and tape mills on the river Bradford and gunpowder mills that now lie under a reservoir; coal, copper and lead mines; toll gates and countless roadside inns; the famed Rosewood and Grey Marble quarries at Ashford. Two Dales is still Toad Hole and the present A6 from Matlock climbs along Upper Hackney instead of following the Derwent. Those early surveyors missed very little it seems, whether 'old crosses' or 'Druidical circles' as at Arbor Low and elsewhere.

Moving forward to the Popular Edition of the 1920s, we still find textile mills; limeworks and gasworks; Cromford Canal and several light railways with their stations; Carsington before the reservoir. Rifle ranges are dotted around the countryside from Dovedale to Bakewell - which also, like Ashbourne, has a workhouse, while Totley has its Cherrytree orphanage.

Social and industrial changes are just two aspects of these endlessly fascinating maps. They are priced £6.49 and £6.99 respectively. Further information on www.cassinimaps.com.

Review by Julie Bunting


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