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Dr. Colin Pounder

Ilkeston - Heanor Area

Braddas Beavers

Bradwell Dale in Derbyshire was where the famous Braddas Beavers were made, initially for lead miners. Sheeps' wool gathered locally was carded then felted before being steamed on a mould to create the unique shape. Some hats were left white but others were dyed black. (There is an article on this plus a photo on Derbyshire Heritage. The hat was used as the basis for the soldiers metal helmets of WWII).

The felt hat was strong and durable. The lead miners put a piece of clay over the front brim into which they put a tallow candle. Coal miners for obvious reasons did not!

I have attempted to enlarge them to illustrate the 'waterproof' gear they are wearing and their hats. Heanor Marketplace was of course the site of a large coal pit but I do not recall at what date.


This lanternslide is of Heanor Marketplace. Enquiries date it about 1860 as there is no clock in the church tower and certain features of the church have been changed after that date. If this date is correct then the two men standing just along from the old lady are the earliest recorded coal miners wearing Braddas Hats!

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Heanor Marketplace about 1860

Norman Roberts
23 Mar 2014
Felt Hats And Candles

Your web site was brilliant for me.  I needed to work out the size of the candle and felt hat chamber at the mine(s) which are under our garden.  I wanted to apportion a particular part of a superficial collapse to the hat and candle room.   Knowing now that the head gear was about the size of 1914 tin hats, I can estimate the size of the candle and hat room.  We know that 700 men were underground at the stage that relates to the superficial collapse.  There is unchallengeable evidence that felt hats and  candles were used in 1901 as this headgear was used by Prince Francis of Teck, seen to the left, at a visit into the mines on 3 September 1909.

I lived near Heanor and Ilkeston for 23 years. 

Norman Roberts.

Terry Smith
27 December 2011
The image of the Church can be confirmed as being 1860s or earlier

Good afternoon.

The image of the church shows parts of the medieval church, this was removed in 1868, so we know that the image must be before this time. 

I am afraid so far as part of our church archive project we also have been unable to date this image, I would appreciate it if at all possible a high resolution copy of the one you have can be obtained, as it is by far the clearest I have seen (most I have seen are copies of copies of copies).

As a possibility do you have image editing software - there is a notice of an exhibition (floral? Choral) behind the men, if the image is a high enough resolution you may be able to enhance this enough to see if there is a date (also if it is an event for raising money for the rebuilding of the church it would narrow the window to the beginning of the project etc)

Kindest regards

Terry Smith
Heanor, St Lawrence, Church Archivist

--<Email 2>--

Hello Fionn

Thanks again, I am a direct descendant of Isaac Smith b. 1818ish as you can see by my name.  I have got back to his marriage in 1935 but nothing on his birth or where he came from for sure.

I have been trying for above 10 years , it will come to light one day because there are more and more records becoming available all of the time.

There does not seem to be much on the internet at the moment from the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire area. I have been to the records offices but no joy. 

Nottinghamshire family History society have more records for births, marriages and deaths than the internet sites, all on CDs

So if anyone is stuck and have Nottinghamshire roots tell them to try them.

Mick Siddons did a fantastic job for Nottinghamshire FHS right up to when he died he transcribed many thousands of records for them.

What a site you have got , every one of my ancestors were miners and mine sinkers, mostly from the Ilkeston area but from Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire as well!

Unfortunately this is the highest resolution I have and enhancing has proved fruitless
Pit Terminology - Glossary