Domesday Reloaded in Derbyshire

A Derbyshire photographer says recording the landscape and our social history is an important part of preserving our natural heritage.

Paul Hill is about to see some of the results of his work in cataloguing Derbyshire which, as yet, has remained unseen for 25 years.

In 1986, the BBC asked a million people to contribute to a digital snapshot of Britain called The BBC Domesday Project.

The UK was divided into 3km by 4km blocks each allocated to a school, WI branch, scout troop or simply an enthusiastic individual.

Between them the contributors surveyed 9,000 squares - approximately 75% of the populated land mass - and generated 25,000 pictures and 150,000 articles.

Mr Hill was one of those who was invited to submit images and information about his locality.

Image caption Paul Hill contributed several photographs to the original Domesday project

He lived at Bradbourne, close to where the then new Carsington reservoir was being created.

At the time, he was concerned about the impact the reservoir would have on the area - but he also realised that the Domesday project would be one way to record what was happening.

He said: "My passion was for history - so the Domesday book appealed to me and the idea of a time capsule, in a way, relating to a particular era.

"For me, [the technology] was a way of archiving for future generations.

"The new dam would the last major dam to be constructed in the 20th Century in Britain and it was just a mile away from where I lived.

"So it was obvious to me that I should record the working going on in the early days and then see how it had changed the landscape."

All the data - personal memories, photos, maps, video and essays - were etched into two digital laser discs.

Image caption Elizabeth Brassington realised the reservoir was necessary for the area

However disaster struck for the project - the format became unaffordable and quite soon obsolete.

The result was that most people never saw their contributions.

Now, 25 years later, the BBC has relaunched the Domesday vast archive of information and wants you to explore it and help update it.

Domesday Reloaded is the 2011 sequel to the original project and, for the first time, the information is being made available online.

So how has life in Derbyshire changed since the orginal archive was made?

Forcibly flooded

Also back in 1986, Elizabeth Brassington and her husband, John, used to farm at Sitch Farm, Kirk Ireton.

The couple had been farming there for 19 years when their land was forcibly flooded for Carsington Water.

They were devastated - more than 100 acres of their land was taken.

As a result, the couple had to diversify and so started a bed and breakfast business, which was successful.

Mrs Brassington said: "They just bulldozed everything out and emptied the ground.

"But is was part of life. Although my husband hated it, we realised it probably was necessary."

The couple also have vivid memories of the day the first dam collapsed, causing almost a decade of delays to the project.

Now, Liz Brassington loves Carsington Water but also believes it is important that the history of the reservoir should be preserved: "People should know exactly what went on in the lives of the people who were here at the time.

"A lot has changed."

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