Placing the Strutt family of Belper, Derbyshire: an historical geography of a late-nineteenth century industrial family

Williamson, Bethany (2022) Placing the Strutt family of Belper, Derbyshire: an historical geography of a late-nineteenth century industrial family. MRes thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The Strutts of Belper have been an important industrial family for understanding how industrial pioneers and paternalists influenced the space they inhabited and manoeuvred through the creation of factory settlements. The earlier generations of the Strutts are notable for their contribution to Derby through ideas of improvement and Enlightenment progressivism demonstrated by William Strutt’s design of the Derbyshire General Infirmary and Joseph Strutt’s funding of the Derby Arboretum. Drawing on ideas of industrial paternalism (Nielson, 2000) and improvement (Billinge, 1996; Conway, 1991; Elliott, 2009), this thesis examines the public lives and civic presence of the later generations of the family which have been somewhat overlooked in comparison to the earlier members. It also investigates the public presence of the female members of the family by drawing on ideas of separate spheres ideology (Davidoff and Hall, 2002; Moore, 2016) and gendered notions of space (Price, 2009). Finally, it contributes to the body of literature that addresses the challenges geographers face when working in archives (Bressey, 2020; Hodder, 2017; McDonagh; 2017).

Qualitative data was collected from the digital archives of the British Newspaper Archives (BNA), the Wellcome Collection online archive and from the Derbyshire Record Office (DRO), home to the Strutt’s family records collection. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify emerging themes and then a thematic approach was used to explore the civic life of the Strutts.

The findings reveal that the later generation were active and influential in civic spaces through their involvement in education, welfare of the locality and leisure activities of their tenantry and the wider population. They were also at the forefront of the public health debate on compulsory vaccination through their involvement in the local politics of vaccination. In addition, through social and civic welfare, the Strutt women entered traditionally male dominated public spaces, contesting the ideology that middle-class Victorian women were confined to the private sphere and revealing how women could navigate these spaces to challenge gendered conceptions of space. Further studies of the women’s presence in the newspapers would contribute to the body of literature working to find silenced, missing or overlooked voices (Bressey, 2020; McDonagh, 2017).

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (MRes)
Supervisors: Seymour, Susanne
Beckingham, David
Keywords: historical geography, paternalism, gender, industrialists, reformers, Strutts of Belper
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 69008
Depositing User: Williamson, Bethany
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2022 04:41
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 04:41

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