Review of ‘A Derbyshire Parish at Peace and War’, by Keith Taylor and Trevor Brown

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 29th October 2001, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Keith Taylor and Trevor Brown
Published by Country Books
ISBN 1-898941-59-9 (2001)

Last year (2000) the same authors, Keith Taylor and Trevor Brown, published the highly acclaimed A Derbyshire Parish at War, the parish of the title being South Darley and the war being World War One. This companion volume tells in wonderful detail about life in South Darley through to World War Two and the subsequent return to peace. It honours the five local men who died and the many parishioners who served in and survived the second war.

The story, though, is also a tribute to the entire local population. The day-to-day lives of the villagers are typical of the way the country coped first through the hard times of the 1920s and 1930s, and then the horrors of another world war. The people in and around South Darley have been generous with their memories and especially so with their photographs, very many of which have not been previously published and are an fascinating record of the times.

Front Cover

Keith Taylor and Trevor Brown must have stirred dozens of memories to have winkled out so many good yarns. Without this book, most would have faded until there was nobody left to tell. Imagine, for instance, a corrugated shed at Two Dales turning out eiderdowns during the Depression, the milk man arriving with two buckets hung from a yoke, women togged out in overalls to clean locos at Rowsley, POWs, school staff coping with scores of home-sick evacuees, rationing. It is even a book of smells - pubs stinking of farmyards, or the odorous men who emptied earth-closets into the 'Violet Wagon' at dead of night.

The authors give exactly the right amount of attention to every topic and fresh material enters the story at an enjoyably brisk but smooth pace. Past, present and future generations of South Darley have once more been served well.

Review by Julie Bunting

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