The Night Watchmen’s Reports
What are the Watchmen’s Reports?
An ordinance in 1233 required that watchmen should patrol towns and villages overnight. This role evolved for centuries. Eventually it was taken over by the police forces stablished in the 19th Century.
This particular ‘Watchmen’s Reports’ book relates to Belper, Derbyshire. It covers the period February 3rd 1833 to July 16th 1836. The book was purchased at auction by crowdfunding coordinated by Belper Historical Society and Derbyshire Record Office. The reports cover the duties of the nightwatchmen employed by the Strutt’s (the main mill owners of the town) to ensure their property was secured and the people of the town behaved themselves outside of the working day. This shows the huge influence the mill owners had on the whole community.
What is the focus of this learning pack?
This pack and teachers guides set out a number of activities for pupil’s at Key Stage 3 and 4. The activities suggested are interactive ways to explore and construct meaning from a specific primary source; the “The Watchmen’s Reports February 3rd 1833 to July 16th 1836” held at Derbyshire Record Office. It might be useful if your pupils are:
- Conducting a local history study
- Learning to use primary sources
- Exploring the impacts on society of Britain as the first industrial nation
- Exploring Crime and Punishment in Britain prior to the introduction of the police force.
What activities are included?
1: Analysing Documents
Pupils will learn to critically appraise a primary source (The Watchmen’s Report). What are its strengths and weaknesses? What can we deduce from this source?
- Creative Crime and Disorder
Using some of the ‘stories’ of crime and disorder in the Watchmen’s reports pupils will be able to create either a cartoon storyboard or piece of drama piece based on the accounts.
- Mapping Crime and Punishment
Pupils will learn how to combine historical and modern maps with information from the Watchmen’s reports to assemble a creative, annotated map highlighting the crime and disorder ‘hotspots’.
Full information, session plans and activity resources are available in the ‘Learning Activities and Guide – The Watchmen’s Reports” free to download below. Accompanying digital maps and a full transcript of the reports are also available to download.
A talk about The Watchmen’s Book by Adrian Farmer – local historian, DVMWHS Heritage Coordinator and Vice-Chair of the Belper Historical Society is available here: https://youtu.be/7Gg5z8Xq0Wg
Downloadable Resources for The Watchmen’s Reports
Learning Activities and Guide
The Watchmen’s Reports Transcript
Images of Maps below – click on the map to view and zoom in
Belper 1st Edition 1875-1882 OS
Belper c1791 Burdett Map Cropped Section
Belper Modern OS with numbers