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The Strines Journal

Joel Wainwright was a protege of Joseph Sidebotham, a senior partner and significant man in the printworks development. Joel worked his way up to become accountant and then manager of the Works serving from 1849 to 1905. From 1852 he was responsible, along with J M Gregory for producing a handwritten journal containing items of interest regarding activities in the works and educational features from further afield. These were accompanied by drawings, watercolours and early photographs. They were circulated round the works monthly and were eventually bound into 5 volumes. Until 2013 these were still in the Wainwright’s family ownership when Rosemary Taylor, a local historian, located them and they are now housed in the Rylands Library in Manchester.


The following is an appraisal of the Journal written by John Hodgson, Manuscript and Archives Manager, of The John Rylands Library:


The Strines Journal; A Monthly Magazine of Literature, Science and Art was one of the most extraordinary and significant provincial ‘publishing’ endeavours of the 19th century. The Journal was published in 5 volumes (47 issues) by two employees of Strines Print Works, John M Gregory and Joel Wainwright, between September 1852 and December 1860. A further ‘extraordinary’ issue celebrated Wainwright’s marriage to Ellen Wild on 1st May 1856. In the first number the editors set out their intentions;


       “Our object in issuing this journal, is to place within the reach of all who may wish to favour us with contributions on any useful                   subject, the means of so doing. We are led to think, that if some such medium was in existence, much talent that now lies                         dormant, would have an opportunity of being developed. We are open to original essays, narratives of travels and excursions,                   articles on practical science and the fine arts, poetry, and anything that may tend to enlighten and improve the minds of our                       readers; but of course we shall expect all articles sent to us to be original”.


Each number contains essays on a wide variety of historical, biographical, literary, scientific and geographical subjects; articles on science and art, including accounts of lectures delivered at Strines Institution; accounts of travels in Britain and occasionally further afield; the editors monthly observations; original poetry; and miscellanies, including references such as the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny.


The Strines Journal is thus a unique record not only of everyday life in a Derbyshire village during the Industrial Revolution, but also of how the national (and international) events and scientific literary and artistic developments impacted upon its residents. The journal is a microcosm of mid 19th century life and thought.


Strines was in fact unusual in its rich cultural life. Joel Wainwright records in "Memories of Marple" that the Strines Printing Company which dominated the village established a library of 700 volumes. The Strines Institution held regular lecture series, and there was also a rifle club, village band and cricket club. The activities of all these organizations are recorded in detail in the journal.


The Strines Journal was illustrated from the outset but a major innovation occurred in 1853 when the editors began to include photographs. At this time the use of photography to illustrate books and periodicals was exceedingly rare. The Strines Journal is therefore of exceptional importance to the history of photography. This innovation was largely due to Joseph Sidebotham, senior partner in the Strines Printworks and a pioneer of photography. Sidebotham moved in the elite mercantile and intellectual circles of Manchester.


The journal is also profusely illustrated with a variety of other artistic illustrative techniques including ink drawings, watercolours and coloured or monochromed washes. Many are highly accomplished.


The Strines Journal was acquired by John Rylands Library, the University of Manchester, in 2013. It is a remarkable survival, important in so many ways - for the history of photography, for the history of Strines and Marple district, for studies of the popular interest in and understanding of science in the mid 19th century, for studies of popular culture and vernacular art, and as an extremely rare example of a unique manuscript journal. We are confident that it will attract major interest from a wide range of students, from local schoolchildren to academic researches.


Please use the links below to find items of interest. 


Alternatively there is a facsimile of the Journal available to loan from M C Smith - tel no. 01663 762704

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