Today's Journey's by Michael & Patricia Spencer - Derbyshire Records Office

Derbyshire Records Office & Local Studies detour


In response to questions asked about DRO and visiting there I thought I would do a "Journey" there. Obviously for those who use it regularly and have walked this way many times before it may be a "boring walk" so if you don't want to go I understand.

Where is DRO (Derbyshire Record Office)? It's in Matlock, which is eighteen miles north of Derby and half an hour by rail. Trains depart from Derby 8.32, 9.50, 11.50, 13.31, 14.50. for Matlock, which is the end of the line, which makes it easy because when the train stops for over five minutes you know you must get off, and it must be Matlock.
The best way to find out though is to listen to the announcement from the driver or watch for the station signs.
Cost from Derby adult fare return is under five pounds.
When the DRO closes at 16.45 there is a train back thirteen minutes later, so if you can run, you may just make it, or leave earlier to take a steady stroll to the station. There is a train later at 18.11 and three later than that.
The above information is based on the Timetable ending 11 June 2005.
Matlock Station is not one where you will expect to find a bookshop or newsagents or cafe, but as the town is only minutes away and full of cafes and newsagents it's no bother.

If you travel by bus from Derby the Transpeak or R61 will bring you into Matlock. Transpeak travels the A6 while the R61 will take you via Wirksworth having turned off at Belper.
Transpeak takes 45 minutes and leaves Derby bus station Bay 13 at 7.55, 10.25, 12.25, 14.25. It returns from outside Somerfields Supermarket, Matlock at 17.31, 18.00, 18.25, 19.31 and 21.10. The above information is good for Monday to Friday Services and is current with the latest Timetable of 27 March 2005 for Summer.

The R61 departs from Bay 13 of Derby bus station every hour at 50 minutes to the hour. The journey goes via Belper, Cowers Lane, Idridgehay, Wirksworth, Middleton by Wirksworth before joining the A6 at Cromford and arriving at Matlock at seven minutes past the hour. Total journey time 1 hour 17 minutes. It's a more scenic route.

It leaves Matlock from outside Somerfields at five minutes to the hour arriving at 13 minutes past the hour and taking a minute longer to go back, thereby offering value for money on the return one hour and eighteen minute journey.
Note, the last R61 bus to Derby is at 16.55.

You can of course return by Transpeak and see all the scenery you missed by travelling on the R61 or vice-versa.

If you wish to get a train from Chesterfield or Buxton to Matlock there will be a delay because currently there is no railtrack down. So you have no choice, unless travelling by car to either walk the twenty two miles from Buxton or the shorter journey of just ten miles from Chesterfield.

The Transpeak will also bring you from Buxton leaving the Market Place at 8.41, 10.41, 12.41, and 14.41. There are later buses but as they will get you to Matlock when DRO is shut I don't think you will be interested in them. It takes about one hour along mainly the A6 calling at Taddington, Ashford in the Water, (don't worry you stay dry) Bakewell, Rowsley, Darley Dale and Matlock. Cost is about seven pounds 50p return. Buses leave Matlock 17.11 and 19 .11 from inside the Bus Station and not from outside Somerfields.

From Chesterfield the No.17 Bus from Beetwell Street, just outside the Registrars (BDM) will bring you to Matlock at 8.10 then from 9.30, and every hour after that on the half hour. It's a thirty five minute journey and will cost around 3 pounds 25p return.
It leaves Matlock for Chesterfield 17.10, 18.10, 18.57, 19.57 22.42. After that you walk.

It may be worthwhile to ask the driver of the bus for, or purchase from Tourist Information Offices or at Derby Train Station Ticket Office a "Derbyshire Wayfarer" ticket. It costs seven pounds and 50p and entitles you to free travel on almost any bus service and most train journeys for one day throughout Derbyshire. It is terrific value for money. You can swop buses or step onto a train for part of your journey.

So now you are in Matlock, and first things first. Where are the toilets? Well the good news is, there are some in the Bus Station, facing you just as you get of the Bus. The much nicer ones are just inside the entrance to Somerfields on the left. There are also some opposite Woolworths in the park, and of course there are some at DRO five minutes away.
On your way in, not long after negotiating the roundabout in the centre of Matlock, look out for the Swimming baths on your left, they come just after the turn at Wilkinson's Shop (Wilko's) because this walk is going to DRO via that route.

Now if you have retraced your bus wheels you should be walking past the Swimming Baths on your right. The building on your left across the road is the HQ of Derbyshire Dales District Council not Derbyshire County Council whose headquarters are at the top of the hill you will see when crossing the road and heading towards the Post Office. There is a pedestrian crossing just down the road and it would be wise to use it. Unless of course you want to be added to your family tree prematurely!
The hill is Bank Road and once it carried passengers via trams, up and down for a few pennies. You can't miss it. It's the one with people carrying oxygen bottles on their backs.

You will be pleased to know that if you want to get to Local Studies with its GRO index, Census material and newspapers you will have to negotiate this hill. As sherpas are somewhat a rarity in Matlock you will have to walk there yourself, or get the 11.15 or 13.15 No 64 (Clay Cross) Bus from the Bus Station Bay 3. It takes three minutes or less by bus, or twenty minutes walk and three oxygen bottles.
There is of course a Taxi Rank in the Bus Station. You can't miss it. It has a lot of cars with the word Taxi written on them. The minimum cost is currently two pounds and 50p and if you ask to be dropped opposite the "Henry Avenue entrance of Bank Road" just past the County Offices car park, you will arrive at the entrance way to Local Studies.

There is no need for ID at Local Studies, but it may be advisable to book a reader (01629 585579). Go under the arch and Local Studies is through the double doors at the top of a few steps. If you require alternative access for wheelchair then go towards the end of the path you are on and turn right. Access is available through that entrance. The Local Study section of the building is down the far end of the building. Go down the left hand side. You will pass a lot of people at desks looking at books, go past them, they are used to people wandering in and out looking lost. Hopefully with this guide you will look like someone who knows where they are at ! When you arrive at the desk ,sign in and claim your hopefully pre booked machine.
Before you leave the far entrance take a look to your left, you will also notice here is where the toilets are including ones for those who are disabled.
There is no facility in Local Studies for food or drink although you may be able to use the Council canteen. Ask for directions and times.
If travelling by car ,there is a very large car park here, but there is also a lot of cars. So you may find yourself driving round a few times before a space becomes available.
If coming from Chesterfield by car, turn right at the Duke of Wellington pub. It's at a major junction, which you cannot miss. If you do, I would question why you are still driving!
Take the next turn left, go down the hill keeping left and crossing another large junction near the "Gate" pub. The car park entrance is about fifty yards on your right.

Well that's Local Studies out of the way. Now to resume our walk to DRO.

Now as we were saying. You are now walking past the Swimming Pool. In front of you is the Post Office. You now need to go up this road past the Post Office, a Dentist and on the opposite side the back of the Police Station. Go up to the junction and turn right, a sharp turn and a steepish hill greet you. Well this is Matlock.
The Record Office is up this road about a hundred yards or less on your right. Walk through the small car park and beyond the railed gates, mostly fully open. It is not part of the visitors car park.
The entrance to DRO is now on your left ,with access for wheelchair users via a newly purpose built ramp. The doors will open automatically when the large button is pushed, but you can just push them anyway.
Once inside you are greeted by lockers on your right, place your belongings, bags coats inside one of the lockers ,lock it, take the key which you retain until you leave, having hopefully taken your coat out from the locker before you go home !
There is a table immediately in front of you which has various leaflets on display. The toilets are also in this area including one for anyone disabled.
Having placed your bags and coat in the locker, enter the double wooden doors into the inner sanctum itself. This is the search room. You will be asked to show two pieces of evidence as proof of identity, CARN card, Passport, Drivers Licence will suffice. Even a Utility Bill showing your name and address will do. DRO will not pay your bill unfortunately, I have tried it.
You will then be asked to sign the register, giving name and address and showing reason for visit. Most people are here for family history so just enter "1" at the side of the page if that is your reason. A list and numbers for other reasons is on display, so don't worry you wont have to make a reason or number up.
Once that is done, the assistant will click a switch and the door into the search room itself can be pushed open. You are now in.

Here you will find a central desk where orders for documents that are not on microfilm are taken. A slip is handed in at the desk and they are collected at varying intervals throughout the day. You can have three items at any one collection time, but only one document at a time to view unless using Tithe Maps on the Map Table and you need the Schedule as well. If there are two of you, that means you can have three each.
The collection times are 9.45, 10.15, 11.15, 2.00, 2.30, and 3.45.
If you know the reference number of the document beforehand you can phone to have it ready for you when you arrive, so you don't have to wait for a collection time.
Please try and get your requests in earlier than the time for collection as staff have to check and list location of documents before they are collected, so the later you leave it, the longer it takes to receive.
The lads in the backroom do a great job, but occasionally get up the wrong item. If this is so, once told, they will get the correct one for you. However many wrong documents are produced because whoever ordered them made a mistake over the reference numbers. Easily done, so take time to ensure you order the right document with the correct reference. References are found in the maroon files on the shelves. There are place, personal name and subject indexes all which aid you in locating the document and reference you want. It is not difficult, so don't worry about it. You will soon get used to it.

Items on film are found in the metal cupboards and the lists of which reels they are found on are to be located on the table behind the first assistant who dealt with you.
By the side of your machine is a red box, place this box in the space where you remove your microfilm from. One microfilm at a time, there is nothing more frustrating than finding someone has put the wrong film in the wrong box.
Also follow the instructions on the reader concerning re-winding the film. Again a frustrating experience when we have to unwind and re-spool film that has not been correctly rewound.
Some things on film are very difficult to read. If this is so ask if you can see the original. The archivist will decide if that is possible. They may decide to read it for you themselves and check it for you if it is only one line, or they may decide that you can look at the original if what you are looking at covers a number of years or several pages.

For records which are originals and still hard to read ask for the ultra violet light.

Some records like Electoral registers are on microfiche and DRO now have the Census for various years on CD.
There are four computers in the search room for public access. There are also four printers and though you can use digital cameras, you must tell the staff first as some documents may be subject to restrictions and you may be asked to sign forms confirming usage etc.
Pencil only and quiet voices please.

To get to DRO by car from Chesterfield, follow the Local Studies route but instead of turning into there car park follow the road a further hundred yards or so, turn left and right then left into DRO car park. Carefully, I may be coming out.
Fro Derby or Manchester way turn up Bank Road described earlier and third right then right again then left into the DRO car park. Carefully I might be going in.
The car park at DRO is very small, fifteen or so places, though there is a free car park near the train station, about ten minutes walk back to DRO.

No documents which are originals can be produced after 3.45, so if you get there late you will have wasted your journey.
Finally DRO close at 4.45.

There is no facility for phones, food or drinking at DRO so you will have to go into Matlock to find these.
Matlock has various places to eat out, including a chip shop, sandwich shops and pub food. There is also an excellent large park where you can stroll alongside the river or just sit down and wonder why you couldn't find that elusive ancestor again.

Mike, May 2005


Mike (without Patricia, whose gardening )

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