Christine Richardson is the author of the most authoritative biography of James Brindley. She has also written several books about the history of the Chesterfield Canal.
She now has a website for her archives.
To see it click here.
Christine writes –
“At last, the culmination of an ambition held for many years – the creation of a website containing my history findings about the Chesterfield Canal. The result of my research, starting in 1985, and on-going.
At first it was a hobby, learning about research methods as I went on. Eventually I became ‘hooked’ on the earliest years of the Chesterfield Canal, which is still my primary period of the waterway. The turning-point was 1990, when my husband Malcolm said “I’ll keep a roof over our heads, you write the book”. That allowed me to do full-time research and the result was my book Waterways Revolution – From the Peaks to the Trent 1768-1778.
As time went on I discovered, or was pleased to receive, information about the canal’s later centuries. However, for many years I’ve wanted to make my research findings available to others, making it possible for them to discover the fascinating history of the Chesterfield Canal, and the people who worked with it. Plus the years of work were not backed-up anywhere. Getting it on-line would be a good answer for both aspects, but it would not be easy as I set my requirements high. Putting text on a website, and being able to Search it, is easy. But I also wanted viewers to be able to Sort and Filter the information as well. That’s not easy for the software that creates websites. Plus I wanted to be able to update the website myself.
The breakthrough was working with Karl Salt of Oakleaf Graphics. An answer was found, and Malcolm and I have been busy typing the information in, a project that has grabbed us both. And just right for dark winter days!
Although the site is ‘live’ there will always be more to do – for example, how to make maps available, which come in all shapes and sizes, but if we wait for everything it will never be deemed completed. I have only a few historic photographs so I’m leaving that to the other CCT people who do have collections. Also, some items had “C Richardson Collection” as the source, which of course is not generally accessible to the public, so we’ve made a start in scanning them into ‘books’ in the site’s Library. But at the moment Malcolm and I need a rest, it’s been a heavyweight project but very interesting.
As an example, you will find much of the information mentioned in the Chesterfield Canal Registers article on page 20 within the archive.
The website may prove useful for those who are now responsible for making decisions about the canal by providing background information. And, hopefully, others will use it to find more about their family, or the places in which they live, or the stretch of canal they enjoy, by boat or on the towpath. And, perhaps, find an interest in getting involved in more research themselves, because I haven’t found everything there is to know about the history of the Chesterfield Canal. There’s plenty more to find because – You Never Know What’s Out There.”
Christine’s website may have set new standards for on-line canal archives. We think the Chesterfield may, once again, be at the forefront of achievements.
Also, now that a technical solution has been found for Christine’s research, her experience may prove to be the solution for making the Trust’s archive available online.