The Mills Archive

The Mills Archive is a permanent repository for the documentary and photographic records of traditional and contemporary mills and milling, as well as similar structures dependent on traditional power sources. It makes that material freely available for public inspection and use in research and learning. The Mills Archive is one of the world’s great mill collections. It has rescued over 3 million documents and images that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill site. It is an Aladdin’s cave filled with memories and free to users. The collections show the rich and diverse crafts, buildings, machinery, equipment and people involved with mills in the UK and around the world.

Can You Help?

Sugar production is one of a number of industries that exploited slavery and we feel that the experiences and contribution of all people who have been involved in milling, need to be preserved and shared. The same is true of other marginalised groups in many industries. All voices from the past should be heard, if we are to ensure the historical record is complete and properly documented. This is a big issue for heritage generally and for the narratives that society decides to tell.

Here at the Mills Archive Trust, we have a responsibility to address any gaps in our coverage. To date, much of our material focuses on the technology rather than the story of the people involved and we are seeking to address that with your help.
We are looking at any gaps in our information and seeking any opportunities to attract, gather and share a wide range of accounts and perspectives on the history of milling. These narratives are brought to life through the stories of the people involved.
We therefore encourage you to get in touch.

Do you – or someone you know – have information, memories, research, or publications that would contribute to our efforts to document the multi-faceted history of milling?

Do you have suggestions of any organisations we could get in touch with? Areas include the roles and experiences of a range of people – locally and globally – such as slaves, women, children involved in child labour, and the working classes.

Thank you in advance for any assistance or insight you can provide. With your help, we will be able to ensure that the history of milling – with its many stories and lived experiences – will be preserved for current and future generations to learn from and understand. We appreciate your support and contributions.
Kind regards”.

Liz Bartram
The Mills Archive Trust

Nathanael Hodge
The Mills Archive Trust

If you would like to hear from us on your specific interests in mills and milling, register to get email updates here

Nottingham Industrial Museum

Nottingham Industrial Museum, the hidden treasure in the courtyards of Wollaton Hall and Deer Park have not let the Covid 19 Emergency get them down as their dedicated team of Volunteers continue to roll out the accolades.

Earlier in 2020, when travel was still possible, a team from the World History Project travelled to the UK to collect material for a series of videos that form part of the curriculum in approximately 8000 schools this year, mostly in the US but also many other parts of the world.

The films covered a range of large topics – Britain and the First World War, Origins of the Industrial Revolution, the Macartney Expedition to the Qianlong Emperor to name a few. 

To the delight of the Researchers, Presenters and Production Team some of the most significant and affecting of the videos features the story of the life of ‘Nailers’ in Victorian times.  The story adapted and portrayed by NIM volunteer Avi Benn (aka Mrs Mary Ann Bird in her Victorian Kitchen exhibit) has been quoted by Researcher, Professor Trevor Getz from University of San Francisco State as ‘giving an extraordinarily well-designed, pedagogically intentional, and compelling history’.

This was further acknowledged as the Museum were named as Finalists in both the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ and ‘Small Charity – Big Impact’ categories of the East Midlands Charity Awards, on the same day!  A fitting response to their hard work and dedication.

Dr Getz said ‘We will forever remain grateful to the Volunteers at Nottingham Industrial Museum for providing us with such incredible resources and contributions of knowledge for our World History Project.  The dedication and professionalism of the NIM Volunteers shone through and it was indeed a humbling experience to share in their work’.

Toni Thorncraft-Smith, NIM Operations and Fundraising Lead said ‘As our Museum strive to share at all levels and with all people NIM remain both grateful and thankful to The World History Project for this incredible opportunity, for all that they have contributed to the future life of NIM and for helping History come even more alive, creating memories that we will take with us in all walks of our lives.  We look forward to sharing the films when the Museum is able to reopen Post Covid 19.’

Meanwhile, previews of the films can be viewed at and Nottingham Industrial Museum will re-open to the Public 11-4 on weekends, Spring and Summer Bank Holidays, with midweek Group and School Visits welcome, post Covid 19.  

Want to join us?  Volunteering enquiries are always welcome.

Snippets from History vol 7 by Bob Massey

The Story of the Higginbottoms of Arnold

A family of education and architecture, this is the story of the Higginbottom family of
Arnold and their influence set in the context of  the times they inhabited. During the later half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th one half of the family were very influential in education locally and nationally; the other half were architects designing a lot of churches, schools, libraries, shops, public and private buildings including war memorials all over the country.

The book is due for release in June and costs £5.95p.

It will be available from and NG Magazines Arnold , 5 Leaves
Bookshop Nottingham, Floralands Mapperley, The Bookcase Lowdham and MSR
News Arnold.

Heirs and Spares: Succeeding George IV

Richard A Gaunt

George IV spent most of his adult life waiting to be King. So accustomed have we become to this fact, and to the various machinations associated with his part in the Regency Crisis of 1788-89 (memorably immortalised in Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George), that we have forgotten how vulnerable George’s own legacy was, once he succeeded to the throne in January 1820.

In Georgian Delights, the prominence of this issue was reflected in devoting the whole of the central exhibition case to the succession to the throne. Informally known as the ‘Heirs and Spares’ case, the content sought to chart the circumstances through which three putative heirs to the throne came into their inheritance and, in two cases, lost it.

The threat of a Catholic claimant to the throne had largely been extinguished with the repulse of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Though there were still living descendants of the House of Stuart, at the time of George’s accession, the ruling Hanoverian dynasty had established itself in political fact and popular acclaim as the ‘legitimate’ ruling family of the United Kingdom. This had been reinforced in 1814, during the Regency, when the country commemorated the centenary of the accession of the House of Hanover. It is not surprising that, after being crowned as King, George spent much of the period 1821-22 progressing through his kingdoms – notably, Scotland, Ireland, and Hanover – as a public display of royalty.

George’s own colourful love life may have resulted in some illegitimate heirs to the throne (though none has been definitively proven), but the only one with a secure claim to succeed him, Princess Charlotte, had already died by the time that her father became King. Charlotte had been the only good outcome of the disastrous marriage between George and Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte had grown up to be a charitable, intelligent, but stubborn daughter, who held out against her father’s initial opposition to secure her choice of husband. Life at Claremont in Surrey, where she lived with Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, appears to have been idyllic. However, it was shot through with tragedy – the couple underwent multiple miscarriages even before the final tragedy of Charlotte’s death in childbirth. This event, in November 1817, led to widespread national mourning. It coincided with the execution of three men for leading the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. The poet Shelley, reviving an image of Thomas Paine, complained ‘We pity the plumage but forget the dying bird’. In his view, the country had forgotten the suffering of ordinary people in its headlong rush to mourn a privileged young Princess. Nevertheless, the spate of commemorative ware, prints, and verse, produced in the aftermath of Charlotte’s death, testifies to the lost possibilities of a ‘Charlottean’ age.

Over the course of the next decade, George’s inheritance passed to his next two younger brothers: Frederick, Duke of York, and William, Duke of Clarence. Both had followed the conventional path of younger sons of the monarch, York by serving in the army (he rose to be commander in chief of the army) and Clarence by serving in the navy. Both took mistresses: Clarence conducted a long-term (and loving) relationship with the actress Dorothea Jordan, but the Duke of York consorted with a woman who nearly destroyed his reputation. Mary Anne Clarke was found to be involved in trading commissions in the army. York resigned over the scandal, in 1809, but was later re-instated as commander in chief, when Clarke’s friend, Gwillym Wardle, was discovered to be the principal actor behind the scenes. York recovered his reputation sufficiently to become the leading opponent of Catholic Emancipation in the 1820s. For Ultra-Tories worried at the threat of Catholics becoming MPs, York was the trump card in their opposition to the measure. However, York died in 1827, shortly before the final political crisis which resulted in Catholic Emancipation in 1829, and the succession passed to Clarence.

Clarence had already abandoned Mrs Jordan in less than honourable circumstances; she died in 1816. Following Princess Charlotte’s death, the government offered financial inducements to George’s brothers to contract marriages which would produce legitimate heirs. Clarence found a congenial wife in Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen in 1818. The couple had children together but none of them survived childhood. Clarence was, in some respects, more liberal than both his older brothers. He succeeded to the throne in 1830. Although he was widely known as the ‘Sailor King’, his naval career had not been especially conspicuous, although he had avoided the fate of the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ by being memorialised in a satirical nursery rhyme. Ruling as King William IV, Clarence went on to preside over a period of political and social reform which presented a sharp contrast with the reign of George IV. Lacking a legitimate heir of his own, the throne passed to his niece, Princess Victoria, when he died in 1837. The future of the monarchy, which had seemed so vulnerable in 1820, now looked far more secure.

Georgian Delights: Life during the reign of George IV (1820–1830)

An exhibition at The Weston Gallery, Lakeside Arts at The University of Nottingham, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of George’s accession, examines his life and reign, highlighting the contrasts between the King and his subjects, through The University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Special Collections.

The exhibition has been jointly curated by Dr Richard Gaunt, Associate Professor in History (School of Humanities) and Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham.

Post-lockdown, the Georgian Delights exhibition will re-open for a short period before closing (it had to close 10 days earlier than advertised due to lockdown).

For interviews with Lady Antonia Fraser, Professor Jeanice Brooks, and Dr Nigel Aston please see the video here:

There is also a gallery object-discussion of ‘The Cradle Hymn’ with Jeanice Brooks. Many thanks to Joe Bell for producing these.

Also, please look at the two excellent videos which Paul Bradshaw has produced for his ‘Viral History’ channel, available here:

These are an overview of the exhibition (including Private View) and a piece on Cato Street.

Online Adult Education Programme at The University of Nottingham

In response to the coronavirus emergency, the University of Nottingham has organised an Adult Education programme of over thirty one-hour online sessions on a range of topics, commencing on Tuesday 21 April.

Some sessions are related to the epidemic, some are more general.

There is no fee

Details are at:

These sessions are intended to be of interest especially to the communities of Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands.

Registration is already open for the first three sessions – registration for the remainder will be open after Easter.

A Message from our new Chairman

Hello everyone.  I am writing to introduce myself as the new Chairman of Nottinghamshire Local History Association. You may already know that John Parker is resigning on 28th March 2020, after a long and very busy spell as Chairman. He has worked tirelessly to promote Local History in Nottinghamshire, and will be a hard act to follow – I shall try my best.

I have been a member of NLHA for more years than I care to remember, since studying Local and Regional History at the University of Nottingham, where I obtained my MA in 2007. I am interested in many aspects of local history, particularly social and agricultural history. My MA dissertation was about the rise and fall of the Grimsby fishing industry, which continues to fascinate me. I am currently working on a book about the mediaeval priories of Nottinghamshire and on my memoirs.

Whilst a committee member (now Trustee) of NLHA I have been involved in organising day schools and other events.  I particularly enjoyed a ‘Hands on History’ day at a local school, where we introduced 14-year olds to the delights of the Archives, archaeology, and family history.  I am particularly keen on getting youngsters involved.  I think local history can give them a sense of belonging and pride in their heritage, and I hope to find a way to progress that.     

I am keen to continue the long history of NLHA, supporting and representing local historians and Societies, holding day schools, producing our Half-yearly magazine ‘The Historian’, and our monthly email Newsletter. Suggestions are most welcome, and I hope to see you at our next day school – unfortunately due to the present crisis we do not know when that will be.  We will keep everyone informed via the Newsletter and our website.

Best wishes to you all, keep safe

Jenny Sissons MA      (formerly Page)

Nottinghamshire Settlers by Rob Smith

Following the Southwell Settlers book which NLHA supported a few years ago, Rob Smith has now completed his book covering the full story of the Nottinghamshire 1820 Settlers in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

This is the bicentennial year and, in view of contributions to the commemorations freely given by others, Rob has decided to make the book available as a free of charge PDF.

This is an extensive book so Rob has included a detailed table of contents and index. The search facilities within the PDF reader are also useful to find specific content.

Download a PDF copy here


28th March 2020 at Ravenshead

As you know we were planning to hold our Spring 2020 Day School and annual general meeting at Ravenshead on Saturday 28th March however with the issues surrounding Coronavirus and particularly the risks concerning older attendees we have taken the decision to postpone this meeting with a view to hopefully holding it in October on the same subject of ‘Religious Separatism and Radicalism’. We find ourselves in exceptional circumstances as far as local history meetings are concerned but our first priority is always the well-being and safety of our members and attendees at our events and we have taken this decision with that view at the forefront of our thinking.

We will reschedule the annual general meeting as soon as we can but in the meantime the current trustees (Jennifer Sissons, Judith Mills, David Anderson, James Wright and Chris Weir) will remain in office and be joined by two new co-opted trustees (Sarah Seaton and Bob Massey). It is still my intention to retire as Chairman and trustee at the end of March along with Nick Hayes, Jeremy Lodge and Robert Mee. I remain confident in the ability of the trustees to manage the business of the committee and provide support to individual historians and local history groups as we have in the past.

Please check the website and our FaceBook page for further information particularly for local history society meetings that were advertised in the newsletter but have now been cancelled or postponed.

Thank you for your support.

John Parker – Chairman

The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain

The Redress of the Past is a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project examining historical pageants in twentieth-century Britain. In July 2019, it was awarded a year of follow-on funding for Impact and Public Engagement. This funding supports a programme of events, exhibitions and other activities.

The project has now published a pageants database, and would be really interested to hear what you think about the database. Thoughts, comments, suggestions for amendments and corrections all much appreciated—as it will be updatied for many years to come. Please email about the database on

More information at

Women’s History Network – Community History Prize 2020

Celebrating Women’s History

£500 prize – Submission deadline 31st May 2020

This annual prize of £500 is awarded to the team behind a Community History Project by, about, or for women in a particular locale or community which has been completed between the 1 January 2019 and 31st May 2020. It has been sponsored by The History Press since 2015.

Last year’s prize was won by the wonderful entry from Glasgow Women’s Library which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act.  Please follow this link to see more about it:

Nominate your own group or someone else’s for the prize.

For information about making your application visit or email