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Yellowing Pages

Archivist Catherine Clark from Whitehaven Record Office and Local Studies Library, talks about trade journals as a source...

BEFORE we had Yellow Pages and search engines we would have picked up a small book, commonly called a Trade Directory, to find out about local goods, services and prominent residents.

We have a fine selection here in our local studies library within the Record Office, or you can have a browse at some digitised copies on-line at www.historicaldirectories.org.
Our collection consists of directories from a number of publishers and spans the years 1794 – 1968. Bear in mind 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 trades-people and people of prominence, make it easy to spot names. Equally, for those interested in local history or general surroundings, the range of background information given for each place can provide crucial facts. Included in this information 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 spade maker, at Lane Foot in Murton.
Specialist professions were available such as that of Joseph Bibby who was offering a veterinary service in Drigg.
The large employers were included: 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 St, Whitehaven, CA28 7NL. www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives gives further details and opening hours.

By Alan Cleaver
Published: January 19, 2011


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