Catherine Clark from Whitehaven Record Office tells of the days before Google
BEFORE we had Yellow Pages and internet search engines we would have picked up a small book, a trade directory, to find out about local goods, services and prominent residents.
We have a fine selection in our local studies library in the Record Office, or you can have a browse at some copies online at www.historicaldirectories.org
Our collection consists of directories from a number of publishers and spans the years 1794-1968. Not every year is available, by any means, but for the years we do have, the directories can be a very useful source for family historians, as the alphabetical listings of names, albeit restricted to tradespeople and people of prominence, make it easy to spot names.
Equally, for those interested in local history or surroundings, the range of background information for each place can provide crucial facts. Included in this can be a potted history of each place, and details of schools, charities, and postal services.
From the 1897 Kelly’s Directory of Cumberland we gathered the following historical snippets:
A range of agricultural supplies were listed in rural areas such as William Foot who offered his services as a spademaker in Murton.
Specialist professions were available such as that of Joseph Bibby who was offering a veterinary service in Drigg.
Bigrigg contains listings for iron ore proprietors Lord Leconfield and Charles Cammel and Co. Ltd.
The Co-operative movement was establishing itself with branches of the Cleator Moor, and Egremont Industrial Co-operative Societies listed.
Help was still at hand with home improvement from local decorators, such as James McClellan and Son, painters, paperhangers and art decorators of Main Street, Egremont.
Listings for cloggers, as well as carters, remind us how many aspects of life have changed since the end of the 19th century.
Pop in if you want to find out more about the range of shops and service in your town or village in the past. Your local Archive: Cumbria Record Office, Scotch Sreet, Whitehaven, CA28 7NL. www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives
Published: December 29, 2010
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