Conference: Enlightenment, Science and Culture in the East Midlands c1700-1900

University of Derby.




 University of Derby

Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology

Centre for Identity, Conflict and Representation


Enlightenment, Science and Culture in the East Midlands c1700-1900

9-5pm Saturday 22nd June 2013

This conference examines the impact of scientific and intellectual cultures in the English East Midland counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland between 1700 and 1850. Keynote speakers include Professor Ruth Watts of the University of Birmingham and Professor John Beckett of the University of Nottingham.


Key Themes Include:

Enlightenment, Science and Technology

Urban Science

Representations of Science, Technology and Industry

Science, Class, Gender, Religion and Ethnicity

Heritage and Historiography of East Midland Sciences and Enlightenment


This conference is hosted by the Centre for Identity, Conflict and Representation in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology at the University of Derby and will be held at the Enterprise Centre on Bridge Street in Derby, close to the city centre.

Cost of the conference:

£20: £15 students and unwaged. Includes refreshments.

If you wish to attend the conference then please visit the virtual unishop and register here

For other information please contact:

Paul Elliott at: or Teresa Barnard at:

Paul Elliott, Reader in Modern History and Teresa Barnard, Lecturer in English, School of Humanities, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB, UK

The organisers are grateful for support for the conference from the Arts, Design and Technology Research Fund, University of Derby

Enlightenment! exhibition heads to Strutt’s North Mill

Enlightenment! exhibition at Buxton Museum, photographed by Nick Lockett

The Enlightenment! exhibition comes to an end at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery this Sunday, 14th April. 

Although it will be sad to see it go, the next part of its journey begins at Strutt’s North Mill.  ‘Derbyshire in the Age of Enlightenment’ opens in Belper on the 20th April and runs until 27th May.  The exhibition incorporates loans from Buxton Museum and Derby Museums and is accompanied by an events programme which includes guided walks of the town, a tour of Strutt’s Ice House, and a Night at the Mill evening event. More details can be found on their website.

Strutt's North Mill poster

World Heritage Site Discovery Days 2012

Matt Edwards is giving a talk about the Enlightenment! project on Friday 2nd November, 1pm – 2pm at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

There will be a chance to see some of Derby Museums’ purchases up close and personal at the end of the talk.  It is FREE but places are limited so please call Gwen Wilson , Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Administrator, during office hours on 01629 536831.

The talk is part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days.  The festival is in its eighth year and there are over 160 events happening up and down the Valley between 27th October and 4th November.  You can see the full programme here.

I’ll just flag up a few events that might be of particular interest:

Joseph Wright’s Derby

Saturday 27th October

11.00am -12.30pm, starting from the Joseph Wright Gallery at Derby Museum and Art Gallery. FREE. Suitable for adults. Booking is essential on 01629 536831 (office hours only).

Internationally respected 18th century artist, Joseph Wright, had a strong connection to Derby – the place he lived, worked and died. Join the Assistant Head of Museums, Jonathan Wallis, for this fascinating walk around Joseph Wright’s Derby.


Joseph Wright’s Life and Work

Thursday 1st Nov

1.00pm – 2.00pm, Derby Museum and Art Gallery. FREE. Suitable for adults. Booking is essential on 01629 536831 (office hours only).

Join the Assistant Head of Museums, Jonathan Wallis, for his ever-popular talk on the life and work of the internationally renowned 18th century artist, Joseph Wright.


John Smedley’s Mill – 228 Years of Production at Lea Bridge

Saturday 3rd Nov

7.30pm at the Gothic Warehouse, Cromford Wharf. FREE. Pre-booking recommended on 01629 536831 (office hours only).

Illustrated talk by Jane Middleton-Smith, to include the history of the mill, the Smedley family and the project to catalogue the company’s unique heritage.

Arkwright Housing – From Cottages to Grand Houses

Sunday 4th Nov

2.00pm – 3.30pm, from outside the Greyhound Inn, Cromford Market Place. FREE. Pre-booking recommended on 01629 536831 (office hours only).

Barry Joyce reveals recent research on Alison House, one of the lesser known Arkwright Houses, on a walk from Cromford Village, past the housing built for the mill-workers on North Street.

‘Revealing the World’ exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Last week we opened our latest exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, ‘Revealing the World’. The exhibition looks at the curios and artefacts brought back by travellers, scientists and explorers who travelled the world. The exhibition includes loans from the British Museum, Derby Museum Service and Bakewell Old House Museum, and includes some of our Enlightenment! purchases. Other items were donated by Enlightenment figures with Derbyshire links such as Joseph Banks and Thomas Bateman.

On display there is an oil painting called ‘Near Tokyo’ by Frank Beresford that Derby Museum and Art Gallery bought from Ebay earlier this year. Frank Beresford was born in Derby in 1881 and trained at the Derby School of Art. In 1908 – 1909 he went to Japan on a painting tour, you can find out more about the artist and his visit to Japan here.

The other two loans from Derby Museum Service look at how far-away places influenced fashions and designs back home. On display are the two Derby Porcelain plates that the project bought in 2009. The plates painted by John Brewer show Arctic scenes including a Newfoundland dog rescuing a sailor and a rather docile looking Polar Bear. Their production shows the level of interest in the Arctic explorations that were happening at the time.

Another loan from Derby is a mettzotint of Joseph Wright’s painting ‘The Widow of an Indian Chief Watching the Arms of her deceased husband’ – showing the fascination there was for the image of the ‘Nobile Savage’ in late 18th century Britain.

Other loans include a pyramidion collected and donated to the British Museum by Sir John Wilkinson Gardner, an Aleut Indian canoe donated by Joseph Banks and three Peruvian figures collected by Thomas Bateman.

The exhibition is free and runs until the 24th November.

Derby Lecture: Mines, Mills and Machines

Thursday 31st May, 7:30pm to 9.00pm

Derby Local Studies Library


Enlightenment, industry and tourism in eighteenth century Derbyshire .

Join Che Binder as he explores the Enlightenment in Derby and Derbyshire. The birth of the scientific method and early emphasis on its application to industry led to the world’s first factories and other wonders such as the purpose-built technological marvel that was Strutt’s General Infirmary in Derby.

Philosophers, scientists and industrialists travelled from all over England and Europe to view these achievements in order that they might emulate them at home. Charles Cotton ‘Wonders of the Peak’ and Defoe’s work also encouraged people at this time to begin to view the natural landscape as a spectacle in its own right, rather than as a resource to be exploited.

Learn about the voyages of discovery taking place in eighteenth century Derby and the along the Derwent. Count the world firsts as they stack up and find out more about the men who laid the foundations of the modern world.

Tickets cost £6 and early booking is advised.  Tickets are available by calling Derby Local Studies Library on 01332 642240 or email For more information visit –

Enlightenment! trip to Lancashire

16 people from 8 organisations came on the Enlightenment! study trip in early December.  The trip was a chance for new faces to get to know people and for us all to see what industrial sites in other regions are doing.

Our first stop was Helmshore Textile Museum in Rossendale, Lancashire. On arrival we were met by Suzanne and Louise who gave us an introduction to the site and a much needed cup of coffee. The museum consists of 2 mill buildings which are packed full of original machinery and informative, yet accessible, interpretation. Together with its sister museum, Queen Street Mill in Burnley, the museum holds Designated Collection status.

We were really impressed with the hands-on low-tech interactives and it was fantastic to see the original water wheel in motion. Another highlight was seeing Arkwright’s 96 spindle water frame – the only complete one in existence.

Louise gave up a whole morning (and some) to show us round which was really appreciated. We picked her brains on operational issues and have come away with lots of ideas for our own sites.

After a (very) quick lunch we got back on the minibus and headed to Bolton Museum’s off-site store. Erin and her colleagues showed us their textiles, local studies section and their textile machinery. Of particular interest to us was the original waterwheel shaft and a finisher carder which both originally came from Cromford Mill.

It is always nice to have a poke around another museum’s store and at Buxton Museum we have been inspired to re-pack some of our costume collection, so a big thanks to the staff at Bolton Museum for showing us around.

Victorian style pop-up theatre

Follow our step-by-step guide and make your own Victorian style pop-up theatre.  The guide has been developed by artist Creeping Toad and ties in with two theatre making  workshops that were run during October half term.

During these workshops families created their own theatres and stories featuring scenery and characters linked to museum collections. 

 The theatres were filmed and we’ll be uploading the film online soon. In the meantime you can get a flavour of the event and some of the colourful characters that were created from these photos.

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