Researching Community Heritage

  • Carpenter Workshop

Global Cotton Connections

The Global Cotton Connections project runs from February 2014 to January 2015 and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of its Connected Communities programme. The project seeks to examine the global histories and legacies of cotton in the UK’s Derbyshire Peak District through archival research and active engagement with local communities and community based groups, including those of BME heritage. Supported by the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, the project is using new archival research into cotton supplies and product use, including links to slavery, to inform collaborative work with three local community-based groups from different heritage backgrounds: members of local history and heritage societies in Glossop, a Sheffield Hindu cultural group and an inner city Nottingham group of African Caribbean heritage.

The Sheffield-based element builds on a National Lottery ‘All Our Stories’ project that ran from November 2012 to March 2014 that was led by the Hindu Samaj. Firstly we looked at the ways in which Edward Carpenter, the writer and socialist who made his home in Milthorpe, was influenced by Indian writings and teachings, and even travelled to India in the early twentieth century. Esme Cleall and Helen Smith, both researchers at Sheffield University, ran a workshop with members of the Hindu Samaj,  on how to use archives and then we all went down to Sheffield City Archives to do some research on Edward Carpenter. The second element of the project explored cotton and how Indian cotton was spun in mills all across the Peak District in the nineteenth century. Our researcher Sacha Hepburn, found records of Indian cotton from Surat and Western Madras being spun in the mill at Calver. Phase II of the project provides an exciting opportunity to build on and extend this work and link up what the Hindu Samaj have been doing in Sheffield with work done by other community groups around the Peaks.

More information about the Global Cotton Connections project can be found at the blog here. 

More information about the Sheffield-based Hindu Samaj Component can be found here.

For more information please contact Esme Cleall: e.r.cleall@sheffield.ac.uk