Unexamined Lives

The story of the 20th century as lived by residents in the Derbyshire village of Borrowash


Ockbrook & Borrowash Historical & Archaeological Society

The Ockbrook and Borrowash Historical and Archaeological Society was founded in April, 1986 as the result of a News Letter circulated by one of the local voluntary organisations.

The editor, being short of items, asked me, as a tame journalist, to write some off-beat material and one of the stories was about an historical feature in Borrowash.  This brought in a number of phone calls from residents who wished to know more. In the next edition of the News Letter, I wrote a follow-up which began: “Would anyone be interested in founding an Historical Society?”

The Chair, Eric Highton, was besieged with calls from interested residents.  We booked the Village Hall for the first Friday in April, 1986 and more than sixty people turned up.  We still have a few founder-members with us, although most of the present membership joined us at a later date.

Our meetings are still on the first Friday of each month and feature a guest speaker, a raffle and refreshments.  From January to November, we met at the Moravian Lecture Hall on the Settlement, Ockbrook, but our December meeting is a Christmas Party, held at the Royal Oak.

We organise several field trips during the Summer months to places of historic interest. We have visited the Open Fields system at Laxton, Nottinghamshire, many historic houses, various museums and have even run several canal trips.

Our biggest achievement to date has been the Little Hay Grange excavation which was carried out in conjunction with Derbyshire Archaeological Society (of which several of us are members), Ilkeston, Spondon and Sherwood Historical Societies and the Trent and peak Archaeological Trust. The site finds included a Roman building, Iron Age artifacts and various other items which dated the site back to the Stone Age, BC 8000.

Our efforts won for us a prize in the Pitt Rivers Award scheme which is run by British Archaeology.  We are currently producing a Millennium book, “Ockbrook and Borrowash Before Doomsday”, for which we have received a lottery grant. When published, this will be given to schools, colleges and other appropriate organisations.

We are still determining what sales to the public we can manage and the price to be charged.  One has to be extremely careful to stay within the Lottery rules.

We have a number of projects for the future including the reciting of the Keyes cistern, possibly at its original position at Hopwell Hall and which we recovered from Nottingham County Council, a Millennium Parish Census, acquisition of a property which could be used as a local Heritage Centre & etc.

Membership is £5 a year and the Annual General Meeting is held in April each year.  We always welcome new members who will receive a monthly mailing. Casual visitors to Society meetings are asked to contribute 50p