All posts by Roger Ward

Brown Hares In The Derbyshire Dales — Christine Gregory — 16th December 2013.

Christine has lived in the Derbyshire Dales for 22 years and has made a very detailed study of the brown hares in the region.The Front Cover Of Christine's Book

Hares were intro­duced into this coun­try by the Celts about 2000 years ago for both reli­gious reas­ons and food.  Down the years they have been asso­ci­ated with most reli­gions and even witch­craft. There are three types of hare that live in the British Isles, the moun­tain hare, the Irish hare and the brown hare. The moun­tain hare and the brown hare live in Derbyshire. In winter the moun­tain hare changes its coat and becomes white making it hard to spot in snowy con­di­tions but the brown hare does not.

As its name sug­gests it has a very col­our­ful brown coat, long poin­ted ears which are tipped with black and are white at the back. It has bright brown eyes and a black tail which it holds down when in flight. Unlike its smal­ler cousin, the rabbit, it lives above ground and almost from birth lives alone. As soon as a doe gives birth to a litter she takes each leveret (baby hare) to a dif­fer­ent part of the area for it to grow up.  The leveret knows that this is its ter­rit­ory and once a day the doe will call it for suck­ling.  Hares do not have a home but they do have a ter­rit­ory.

Hares are herb­i­vores and forage for food all night. Although they are not soci­able anim­als they will con­greg­ate for mating and can be seen in the morn­ings and even­ings during the mating season which can run from March to October. During this season they can be seen run­ning around and also stand­ing on the hind legs boxing. The female is slightly larger than the male and it is gen­er­ally the female doing the boxing to deter an amor­ous male. A doe will give birth to a litter, which on aver­age con­sists of about 3 lever­ets after a 42 day gest­a­tion period, but she can have 2 or 3 lit­ters inside her at any one time.

Its main enemies, apart from man, are the badger and the fox. In the 19th cen­tury there were about 4 mil­lion hares in the coun­try but by the year 2000 their number had dropped dra­mat­ic­ally to about 250,000, mainly due to man’s activ­it­ies in shoot­ing and farm­ing: for­tu­nately this decline is being reversed now.

The hare has almost 360o vision but does have a blind spot dir­ectly in line with its nose. It also has very power­ful, long back legs and if it spots a pred­ator from a dis­tance it is likely to stand on these to make it look bigger and it will remain in the same place. However if it has to run to escape it will always try to run to higher ground, jump­ing over walls and chan­ging dir­ec­tion many times to con­fuse and exhaust its assail­ant.

Christine’s talk was extremely inter­est­ing and I have barely skimmed the sur­face. If you would like to know more about the sub­ject and her work she has writ­ten a book called “brown hares in the Derbyshire Dales”, avail­able from Amazon, or you can find out more by going to her web­site , click­here.



Get Leaner — Mr. David Taylor — 9th December 2013.

When David Taylor star­ted to talk about get­ting leaner he made it clear that his sub­ject was noth­ing to do with slim­ming but rather instig­at­ing effi­cient pro­duc­tion sys­tems in man­u­fac­tur­ing. He used Henry Ford as an example of flow pro­duc­tion when he pro­duced the model ’T’ Ford .  If he was pro­du­cing 1000 cars a day he would pro­duce 1000 axles per day and 1000 body panels. In other words just enough com­pon­ents were man­u­fac­tured for the right number of cars and there was no waste. However when dif­fer­ent models of cars were intro­duced it was neces­sary to have vari­ous depart­ments making parts to stock. Larger and more expens­ive machines were cre­ated to do the work. These had to be kept run­ning to jus­tify their exist­ence. Parts and com­pon­ents were made to stock rather than to order. The mass pro­duc­tion system star­ted to replace the flow system and inef­fi­ciency began to creep in. Production times, waste, and errors all went up, whilst cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion went down. The flow­chart of work going through a fact­ory took  on the appear­ance of spa­ghetti.

Around 1947 Sakichi Toyoda decided to man­u­fac­ture cars but they had to be better than what was being pro­duced at the time, and so they sent an engin­eer by the name of Taiichi Ohno to study the Ford man­u­fac­tur­ing system. He iden­ti­fied large areas of inef­fi­ciency or waste in the man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cess.

  1. Waste of over pro­duc­tion (largest waste)
  2. Waste of time on hand (wait­ing)
  3. Waste of trans­port­a­tion
  4. Waste of pro­cessing itself
  5. Waste of stock at hand
  6. Waste of move­ment
  7. Waste of making defect­ive products

They star­ted to develop the Toyota Way aimed at redu­cing all 7 above in favour of more value added work. This became the prin­ciple of ‘just in time’ and ‘lean man­age­ment’ sys­tems.

David Taylor has worked at Cardiff University on many pro­jects with vari­ous com­pan­ies, intro­du­cing the lean man­age­ment system across a broad spec­trum of activ­it­ies. These include the NHS, a pork meat fact­ory, and a char­ity in India reunit­ing run away boys with their fam­il­ies again. He showed what sav­ings could be achieved by get­ting the work­force within a com­pany, involved in plan­ning and waste man­age­ment. Apart from redu­cing waste and increas­ing pro­ductiv­ity the ‘lean man­age­ment’ system increases the  moral within an organ­iz­a­tion, and increases cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion.


Dore to Sheffield Railway Widening — 1890 to 1904 — Part 1 (Dore to Heeley)- Ian Howard- 4th November 2013.

This was part 1 of a double present­a­tion show­ing the changes that took place along the Sheaf valley during the widen­ing of the lines by the Midland Railway in the short period around 1900. Part 1 covered the sta­tions and facil­it­ies from Dore and Totley, through Beauchief and Millhouses to Heeley. Each loc­a­tion was illus­trated by a large number of con­tem­por­ary pho­to­graphs, some dating between 1890 and 1900 before the widen­ing and others after the work had been com­pleted. Almost all the pho­to­graphs used were from the Midland Railway period itself, i.e. before 1923. For sev­eral of the loc­a­tions, maps and aerial pho­to­graphs helped to put the pho­to­graphs into per­spect­ive.

The work from Dore to Heeley was divided into three con­tracts which were coordin­ated by one engin­eer­ing man­ager, and were com­pleted over a period of about three years. One fact which stood out was that the con­tracts were put out to tender and all the con­tracts com­pleted for less than the ori­ginal tender prices: some­thing, which I am sure, is unheard of today. Another inter­est­ing fact is that the sec­tion from Dore and Totley was well illus­trated with pho­to­graphs; not so many for the Beauchief and Millhouses sec­tion, and even less for the Heeley sec­tion. The reason for this was that pho­to­graphy was in its infancy and was expens­ive and could only be afforded by the more afflu­ent res­id­ents that lived in the devel­op­ing sub­urbs.

Although some of the work was done by steam shovels, most of the work was done by gangs of navies who were each cap­able of dig­ging and remov­ing six­teen tons of spoil a day. The navies were like fore­men who had laborers work­ing for them and they ate and drank heart­ily, because of the enorm­ous energy they used each day.

The talk was very well presen­ted and we look for­ward to part 2 which will take us to the centre of Sheffield in the near future.

Portland-Druce Exhumation Case — Dr Susan Deal- 1st October 2013.

duke-of-portland-and-charles-druceDr Susan Deal told the extraordin­ary story link­ing the 5th Duke of Portland to one Thomas Charles Druce. It was claimed that they were the same person by the daugh­ter in law of Thomas Charles Druce and that her son was the right­ful heir to the Portland for­tune. It was a Victorian mys­tery full of twists, claims, counter claims, and lies. In the pho­to­graph the Duke of Portland is on the left and Thomas Charles Druce is on the right.

In brief the 5th Duke of Portland was an exceed­ingly eccent­ric man; who lived from the 12th September 1800 to the 6th December 1879. He was  christened William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck and lived at Welbeck Abbey, in the Dukeries, Nottinghamshire.welbeck-abbey-woodbury-seri He never mar­ried and pre­ferred to live in seclu­sion and was not seen for long peri­ods of time. During his life­time he built sev­eral under­ground cham­bers and halls, linked together by approx­im­ately 15 miles of tun­nels.

Thomas Charles Druce was sup­posed to have been born in 1784 and died in 1864. He lived in London, was very wealthy and was the co-owner of a London uphol­stery busi­ness called the Baker Street Bazaar. He looked very much like the Duke of Portland and his daugh­ter in law claimed, after the death of the Duke that the death of Charles Druce had been faked by put­ting lead weights in his coffin so that the Duke could return to his estate in Nottinghamshire. When the claim became public vari­ous other rel­at­ives showed up on the scene each claim­ing their right to inher­it­ance.

Eventually on the 30th December 1907, amid tight secur­ity, the grave of Thomas Charles Druce was opened and his body exhumed, prov­ing that the Duke had not lived a double life.

There are ref­er­ences to the case in Wikipedia, UK Campus, Leftlion and many more web­sites. They all make inter­est­ing read­ing.

Dr Susan Deal’s account kept us spell bound and would have been classed as an unbe­liev­able story if it were not true.

Visit To Cromford Mills & Village — 18 September 2013.


As our chair­man said in his note in Stumpers, it was an excel­lent day made all the better by the weather. Some pho­to­graphs of the day can be found in the new  Gallery which can be found at the right hand side of the menu bar. More will be added over the coming week.

The mills and vil­lage were built by Sir Richard Arkwright, the father of the fact­ory system, mass pro­duc­tion of cotton thread and the shift system. He was 100 years ahead of Henry Ford and his mass pro­duc­tion of the Model ‘T’ Ford car. Arkwright was born in 1732, the son of a tailor. His par­ents couldn’t afford to send him to school and so his cousin Ellen taught him to read and write. He was appren­ticed to a barber and wig maker and during that time he inven­ted a water­proof die for wigs. He had a burn­ing desire to make money and turned his mind to the spin­ning of cotton which was a ‘cot­tage’ industry at that time: the thread being pro­duced by women in their houses. He designed a spin­ning frame based on an earlier idea of Thomas Highs who didn’t have the fin­ances or the under­stand­ing of why his design didn’t func­tion.

Arkwright’s frame was first used in Preston in 1768 a midst tre­mend­ous oppos­i­tion from the skilled hand spin­ners who feared he would put them out of busi­ness. In 1769 he moved to Nottingham and teamed up with Jedediah Strutt, who inven­ted the stock­ing frame, and Samuel Need, a wealthy hosiery man­u­fac­turer. In 1769 Arkwright took out a patent for his frame and tried to power it by a horse tread­mill but it was unsuc­cess­ful.

Realizing that water power could be the answer he and his part­ners built the first mill,which was five stor­ies high, at Cromford in 1771 where there was a plen­ti­ful supply of water. This came from the Cromford sough, which was a three foot dia­meter drain, built by the lead miners of the area to get rid of the water from the mines. The water from the sough went into a round sluice area, loc­ally known as the ‘bear pit’, because that is what it resembled. The ‘bear pit’ con­tained two sluice gates to either send the water, via an aque­duct to the mill or to a mill pond for stor­age, known as the Greyhound Pond because it is situ­ated behind the Greyhound Hotel.

After only a year or so Arkwright exten­ded his first mill by about another 30% to cope with the demand for his cotton thread. Arkwright ran the mill around the clock, oper­at­ing a two, 13 hour shift system: he was the father of the shift system!

Within the next year or two he built a second mill which was seven stor­ies high and used the water from the first mill to power this by chan­nel­ling it down a millrace. The mills were heated up to approx­im­ately 30 degrees cen­ti­grade and the floors were kept con­tinu­ally wet to obtain a high humid­ity, the best con­di­tions for spin­ning and work­ing cotton. Work in the mills must have been very unpleas­ant under these con­di­tions, which is prob­ably where the expres­sion of a ‘sweat shop’ came from.
He paid his work­ers higher than normal wages for the time. He provided a doctor for ill­ness and acci­dents, and once or twice a year arranged feasts and balls for them. He built ware­houses in front of the mills without win­dows on the ground floor on the out­side walls, partly to store his goods but to also act as a defence against mob attack.
It could also be said that he built Cromford Village for his work­ers, includ­ing a market square and streets of houses which his employ­ees rented from him. The houses were built of stone to quite a high stand­ard for the time, and were three stor­ies high. The ground floor was for living in, the first floor was for sleep­ing and the second floor was designed so that the man of the house could have a weav­ing machine. He built two inns in the vil­lage because beer was recog­nized as the only safe liquid to drink. He also built the Greyhound Hotel where his poten­tial cus­tom­ers and cli­ents stayed, and where he con­duc­ted his busi­ness. Although he made a lot of money from the mills he made more money from licens­ing his pat­ents to other busi­ness­men.
He built a school for the chil­dren before it became com­puls­ory for them to attend full time edu­ca­tion, prob­ably because he real­ized what he had missed as a boy.
Sir Richard Arkwright was mar­ried twice and was knighted for his con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try. He had a son, who was also called Richard who became a banker as a result of the enorm­ous wealth that his father had accu­mu­lated. He died on the 3rd August 1792 at the age of 59.

45 Years In Radio — Gerry Kersey — 29th July.

gerry270Gerry Kersey is as enter­tain­ing in the flesh as he is on the radio. He was born and brought up at 415 Bell House Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield. He had two older sis­ters, the elder one, Vi (Violet ) was twenty-one years older than him and was the one he used to con­fess all his mis­deeds to. On one occa­sion a willow tree close by their house attrac­ted hun­dreds of lady­birds which intrigued young Gerry who promptly decided to col­lect them in a flour bag. However after a while he got bored with this and left the flour bag in the house and went out to play. Needless to say that when he returned the house was full of lady­birds and who was to blame!

Gerrey’s first job was at Hadfields Foundry, Sheffield, work­ing in the wages depart­ment. He had to go round the vari­ous depart­ments col­lect­ing in the clock cards which helped him to develop his com­mu­nic­a­tions skills. At eight­een he was called up for National Service and was recruited into the RAF as a tele­phon­ist. Little did he know but this was excel­lent train­ing for him for his future in radio.

He was very keen on ama­teur dra­mat­ics, first play­ing with the Shiregreen and District Community Players, fol­lowed by the Sheffield Play Goers and finally the South Yorkshire Operatic Society.

In his radio career Gerry played the part of Frank Forthright and did Saturday night theatre on Radio 4. He went to work for Radio Hallam and took over Bill Crozier’s pro­gramme and later took over from the presenter, Roger Moffat.

Gerry can be reg­u­larly heard on Radio Sheffield at 4:00 pm on Sunday after­noons in his pro­gramme, “Musical nos­tal­gia and chat.”

Gerry’s present­a­tion was both inter­est­ing and exceed­ingly enter­tain­ing and was met at the end with a resound­ing applause.