Pictures in the Landscape returns

This week, as well as being the Derbyshire schools half-term holiday, the Discovery Days festival is being celebrated across the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. When we were asked to join in, we wanted to find a way to use the museum collections in a different setting.  We don’t have many objects that relate to the mills themselves but we do have some wonderful images of the local area.


Cromford, taken from the Bridge. Watercolour by William Day, 1789.


Cromford has been attracting visitors since the 1700s, when artists came to paint the landscape and tourists came to admire the industrial innovations taking place at the mills. The images in the museum collection span the period from then until the 20th century, with the landscape reproduced in paintings, drawings, engravings and photographs.


Engraving, published by Rock and Co, 1852

This is also a revival of a project that first took place in Dovedale in 2010 as part of the Derbyshire Literature Festival. This time round, we found 16 images of Cromford to reproduce and they have been hung along the short section of the canal from Cromford Wharf to Leawood Pumphouse, a route which is easily accessible and much used by local residents, day visitors and tourists.


Pictures in the Landscape: Cromford, 22-30 October 2016

We hope everyone will enjoy seeing some historic views of Cromford along the canal during Discovery Days – and, if they haven’t been before, take the opportunity to visit Cromford Mills and High Peak Junction at either end to make it a real day of discovery.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery would like to thank our friends at Derbyshire Countryside Service, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and Cromford Mills for their help with all our Discovery Days events.

A Fascination with the Victorians

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory often finds meaning in a an object and sparks a discussion which, at the end of the day, is what museums are all about! Over to you, Ian:

Today at Buxton Museum, I’m cataloguing photographs of objects in the collection. I have come to an image of a thermometer made from Ashford Black Marble with inlaid decoration and a pointed top.


This object reminds me that there is currently much interest in the nineteenth century; it is the subject of television shows like Victoria, Ripper Street, Victorian Railways and The Victorian Show. The visual arts and furniture of that age are not so popular but stories and documentaries about it are all over the schedules.

Why a surge of interest in this particular epoch? It’s easy enough to talk of nostalgia but can we go deeper?

Today, we are often being told, rightly or wrongly, that…

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While the Museum is Closed …

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

It’s been two weeks since Buxton Museum and Art Gallery closed for refurbishment and there have already been dramatic changes to the building. The staff room has been emptied to make way for a lift and the builders have ripped out the old toilets. This means the museum staff are temporarily having lunch in an empty art gallery and visiting a portable lavatory. We are happy to endure these provisional measures to improve the facilities for you, dear public.


Closure has given us the opportunity to take stock of the museum shop and pack everything away. This entails counting hundreds of imitation Roman coins, gemstones and Woolly Mammoths. The retail is actually part of the redevelopment. Arts Council England are kindly funding Buxton Museum to help improve both the shop and the merchandise. Some of the items on sale when we re-open next Spring are based on the collections and…

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Buxton’s Orchestra Days

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Ian Gregory, volunteer archivist at Buxton Museum, gives us some insight into another of the lesser-known collections he’s been working on:

For the last two weeks, I have been editing images of programmes for The Spa Orchestra of Buxton. These date from the 1940s and include summer seasons (May to September) and winter and Christmas concerts.


There are, unsurprisingly, differences between live entertainment then and now but also parallels. The programmes are overwhelmingly Classical apart from a little Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin. Many end with the National Anthem. There are names of composers now forgotten although many are still familiar.


Nevertheless, there is a general parallel between then and now; present day Buxton has a thriving arts festival and fringe festival. The festival began in 1979 and has gone from strength to strength. The Buxton Fringe is now a good size with young people involved in live productions.

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A Letter from Buxton’s Spa Heyday

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Buxton Museum is grateful to Derek Brown for donating this letter written by his grandfather James. The letter is undated but it concerns taking the spa treatments of Buxton so we estimate its age to be somewhere between 1880 and 1920.

It is a sincere and charming message that permits an insight into a time when people came to sample the air and water of Buxton to improve their health and cure a variety of ailments.

The handwriting is a little faded and hard to read in places but we think it reads:

3 Leyland Cottages

Hardwick Square


Dear Mamma, Richard, Will, James, Alice and Grandma

I am here alright as you will see and have got beautiful lodgings with a very nice family, and I think I shall be very comfortable. It is a bonny place and a lovely ride to it after you leave Manchester district. I…

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Don Bramwell: The archaeological artist

Don Bramwell: The archaeological artist

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

When most people think about the work of Don Bramwell they will be reminded of his accomplishments within the field of archaeology, working on sites in Derbyshire such as Fox Hole Cave and Elder Bush Cave. But a select few might also recognise his creative side through his archaeological drawings of finds like this bear skull seen below. The accompanying photograph (showing the actual bear skull drawn in his diagram) helps to highlight the precision to which he gave to these drawings and how invaluable his talent was to aid in the recording of these sites, at a time when it was much harder to get a perfectly clear image from a camera.

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His talent for the arts was not just kept to archaeological objects and finds however, and while searching through boxes of archived material I have come across many detailed illustrative drawings, complete with watercolour additions, of…

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