The Strines Journal

Scope and Content

The Strines Journal: A Monthly Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art was edited, written and illustrated by John M. Gregory and Joel Wainwright, two employees of Strines Printworks, and was dedicated to the 'Gentlemen of The Strines Printing Company'. The Journal was produced in a single, handwritten and hand-decorated copy, which was circulated amongst employees of the Printworks, the editors' friends and associates.

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 to contemporary events such as the Crimean War and the Indian 'Mutiny'.

The Strines Journal was illustrated from the outset, but a major innovation occurred in 1853 when the editors began to include photographs. This was only nine years after the publication of William Henry Fox Talbot's landmark work, The Pencil of Nature. In 1853 the use of photography to illustrate books and periodicals was still exceedingly rare; Gernsheim's Incunabula of British Photographic Literature records that only twenty-three photographically illustrated books had been published up to the end of 1853. The Strines Journal is therefore of exceptional important for the history of photography. This innovation was largely due to Joseph Sidebotham (1824-85), senior partner in the Strines Printworks and a pioneer of photography. Sidebotham moved in the elite mercantile and intellectual circles of Manchester, and he was able to elicit articles for the Journal from James Glaisher (1809-1903), of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and the engineer James Nasmyth (1808-90), another pioneering photographer. Thus the Journal contains an extremely rare example of one of Nasmyth's 'moon photographs', 'taken from a large drawing by James Nasmyth', as well as a photograph of a Nasmyth steam hammer.

The Journal is also profusely illustrated with a variety of other artistic illustrative techniques, including ink drawings in imitation of engravings and etchings; watercolours; drawings in ink and coloured or monochrome washes. The illustrations are either pasted in, or applied directly to the page. Many are highly accomplished and the artistic ambitions of the editors evidently expanded after the first relatively modest numbers. In the preface to the first volume, they note that 'Hitherto, the illustrations have been drawn by ourselves, but we rejoice to tell our Readers that several drawings of surpassing merit, have been kindly sent to us by Amateurs of undoubted ability, to embellish our second volume, which is in course of preparation.' There are numerous ornamental initial letters and the title pages are decorated in imitation of contemporary printed journals.

In addition to the unique set of the Strines Journal, the collection also includes a copy of Joel Wainwright's published work, Memories of Marple: Pictorial and descriptive Reminiscences of a Life-time in Marple, Leisure Hours on the banks of the Goyt, the Tame and the Etherow, with stories of old and new of byegone days (Manchester: privately printed by Chorlton & Knowles, 1899), which contains Wainwright's own account of the history of the Strines Journal (Eng MS 1422/7). The copy is inscribed by Joel Wainwright to his son Richard, 17 July 1899.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Strines Journal: A Monthly Magazine of Literature, Science, and Art was one of the most extraordinary and significant provincial 'publishing' endeavours of the nineteenth century. The journal was published in five volumes (forty-seven issues) between September 1852 and December 1860, by John M. Gregory (b. 1832) and Joel Wainwright (1830-1916), who were employees of the Strines Printing Company. Strines Printworks was located close to the village of Marple in Cheshire, although the works itself was situated on the other side of the Cheshire-Derbyshire border. A further 'extraordinary' issue celebrated Joel Wainwright's marriage to Ellen Wild on 1 May 1856.

The term 'published' must be qualified, because the Journal exists in a single, handwritten and hand-decorated copy, which was circulated amongst employees of the Printworks, the editors' friends and associates. As such it has its roots in a much early tradition of manuscript news-books, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which were circulated privately. While we should not underestimate the effort required to produce the Journal in manuscript form, it was much cheaper to produce than a printed journal. The manuscript format also gave the editors complete freedom over the organization and presentation of text and images, and as a single copy it has a much more intimate, personal character than a printed journal.

John M. Gregory and Joel Wainwright, junior clerk and accountant (later manager) respectively at Strines Printworks, were evidently people of great intelligence. As working-class men they presumably received only elementary education, and they were largely self-taught. They are a testimony of the Victorian devotion to self-improvement. While their lives were rooted in Strines, they were excited by the broader scientific, intellectual and cultural developments in mid-century Britain and the wider world. Their considerable artistic and literary abilities found an outlet in the Strines Journal.

In the very first number of the Strines Journal the editors set out their intentions:

'Our object in issuing this Journal, is to place within the reach of all who may wish to favor 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.'

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-nineteenth-century life and thought. The vast majority of sources for mid-nineteenth century intellectual and scientific history have a strongly metropolitan, or at least urban bias, and it is rare to find such a wealth of information on the impact of the scientific and industrial revolutions on rural communities, which are often perceived as being isolated from the mainstreams of intellectual and cultural life. Strines was in fact unusual in its rich cultural life. Joel Wainwright records in Memories of Marple (1899) that the Strines Printing Company, which dominated the village, established a library of several hundred 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.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was purchased by the Library from Mrs Ann Barnes of Chelford, Cheshire, in November 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the collection can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the collection. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

According to Gladys A. Swindells, The Strines Journal, 1852-1860: An Appreciation (Marple: Marple Antiquarian Society, 1972), the journals were then in the possession of Mrs F. Buckley of Wilmslow, grand-daughter of Joel Wainwright. The journals later passed to her daughter, Mrs Ann Barnes, of Chelford, Cheshire. She transferred them to Adrian P. Taylor, Chairman of Marple Senior Citizens Association, for sake-keeping. Mr Taylor temporarily deposited them in the Library in November 2013, with Mrs Barnes' agreement, and a purchase was subsequently agreed.


Michael Hallett, 'The Strines Journal and the Nasmyth Steam Hammer', History of Photography, 13.3 (1989), 221-2.

Gladys A. Swindells, The Strines Journal, 1852-1860: An Appreciation (Marple: Marple Antiquarian Society, 1972).

Joel Wainwright, Memories of Marple: Pictorial and Descriptive Reminiscences of a Life-Time in Marple, Leisure Hours on the Banks of the Goyt, the Tame and the Etherow, with Stories of Old and New of Byegone Days (Manchester: privately printed by Chorlton & Knowles, 1899).