(Suggestions made by the author, as Scheme Manager)

The Shipley Estate, of which Shipley Country Park is the core (1/3 of the original land area), is unusual as being the majority land-holding of a once powerful and wealthy family. A considerable quantity of historical records, such as abstracts of title, estate maps, rent lists, commercial accounts and family letters, is held at the Derbyshire County Record Office; a large proportion of these were photocopied and now are held at "The Gardens". In addition) many other items of historic material have been sought out by SEE IT. In conjunction with the County Education Department Software Centre, a computer database system to encompass much of the genealogical information has been developed.

Being a distinct and contiguous land area, Shipley Country Park offers considerable scope for ecology and environmental studies. This is of high potential value for the new GCSE syllabi, for appropriate GCE A-Levels and even for higher studies. SEE IT has carried out detailed studies of the flora and fauna of the many habitats to be found in the Park. The data will provide a sound baseline for those planning to use the Park for teaching purposes.

All in all, Shipley Country Park, although at first sight not exceptional, has a sound claim to become a study area of the highest interest and quality. The SEE IT scheme has made many contacts, especially with those engaged in education but also with individual and group members of the public. Without exception, the level of interest expressed has been very high. The question, however, is how can this potential be realised? First, it seems clear that there is a genuine need for a Field Study Centre in this area of Derbyshire, with its ease of access to the highest population densities in the County and to similar areas in Nottinghamshire. "The Gardens" now is most suitable for use as a Study Centre. It is County Council property; it is wholly central to the Park; it is fully converted to the necessary standards of lighting and fire prevention; it has a more than sufficient number of large rooms, that would permit ground floor utilisation by students and first floor office and archive space; it has a dark-room and there are adequate refreshment and toilet facilities. No other Park property, not even the enlarged Visitor Centre, could be as suitable.

Such a Study Centre, or, on a lower key, an extension to the study facilities at the Park Visitor Centre, would need a team of staff. This team might consist of experienced graduates able to carry on research and to guide others in Local History and Environmental Science; one or two teachers for work with school parties; a graphic artist and a photographer (both able to do teaching when required); an administrator/secretary, perhaps both; and a cleaner, also to do refreshments. From among those who have been employed on the SEE IT scheme, there is a considerable pool of suitable professional people with in-depth knowledge of the Park, its history and its natural history. It would be unfortunate, perhaps even short-sighted, to lose all of those people because their contracts with the CP Agency have ended. They present a group of tried and tested people who have shown considerable talent and dedication in the service of the County Council and it would be regrettable if their sole reward for their services is to be the loss of their jobs.

The Park itself needs a comprehensive and properly-implemented management scheme that will retain and enhance its features. SEE IT has helped to identify a number of historical attributes that call for sensitive and imaginative preservation; notable among these are the varied and interesting floor surfaces and layers of buildings in the Stableyard area; the Ha'Has; and the numerous buildings and other structures (a number of which lie outside the present park) which were constructed at the behest of the Miller Mundy family. There are several sites with potential for archaeological excavation which should be preserved from over-zealous landscaping. There will be an on-going need for habitat management, such as a carefully implemented mowing/grazing programme, removal or planting of trees and so-on.

To conclude, Shipley Country Park is a major asset for the County and the surrounding areas. Indeed, it is a national asset. Its value is not spectacular, such as is that of the Peaks, but as an example of a feudal park, as old as any in Britain, with many of the features of the evolution of such an estate essentially intact and with a documented history from 1000 AD to the present, it offers a unique insight into the history of these islands.


In addition to the needs outlined above and the educational material that such a permanent centre could be expected to develop; the following are themes that SEE IT identified but could not pursue.

A. Wildlife of the Park (general. B. Horticultural trail around Shipley Hill. C. Outdoor interpretive trail for the blind and disabled. D. Gamekeeping & Poachers (a sportsman's diary).

Wildlife of the Park (general)

Proposal: To prepare a broadsheet or leaflet on the wildlife to be seen in the park, giving where and when to be seen and including information on the diversity of life in the park.

Horticultural trail around the Hill

Proposal: As the Tree Trail dealt only with native trees, it is felt that there may be sufficient variety of exotic and/or ornamental trees and shrubs to warrant a trail for horticulturists or gardeners. This would complement the booklet on the gardens (see Historical section below).

Outdoor interpretive trail for the blind and/or disabled

Proposal: To produce a trail around the hill and/or (possibly) Mapperley Reservoir to cater specifically for the special needs of blind and disabled visitors. (This would complement the work of the "Routes" team).

Gamekeeping and Poachers (a sportsman's diary)

Proposal: To prepare a leaflet illustrating the sporting history of the park, from deer park to pheasant shoots (Joint project with Historians).

Miscellaneous industries at Shipley

Work to date: Limited information is available on the coal-mining associated industries at Shipley, e.g. the gasworks, pottery, limekilns, etc.

Shipley Country Park Game

Preliminary artwork done, estimate of costs obtained.

Go to Natural History Archive

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