Zoe Durrant-Walker works for York Archaeological Trust as a Visitor Experience Team Leader in the Attractions & Events Division of the JORVIK Group.
I have worked for the Jorvik Group of fifteen years and applied to do project work .I was successful in being given a resilience project about the Rougier family and comb manufacturing in the city of York. I love researching people’s family genealogy and have many years experience in this; therefore the Rougier’s family was an ideal one for me.
I spent many hours at York Explore searching through the trade directories. Looking through these directories gave me an insight into what was being sold in the city throughout the 19th century. The trade directories gave me names that I could search for in the national census’s 1841-1911. The searches I made through the census were complicated by spelling errors but with some lateral thinking usually solved it.
The study revealed that the Rougiers were lucky in getting a street named after their works, because many other family businesses did not, such as the Steward’s, trading for at least 40 years; and the Lund works, 40 years again. York owes a lot to these manufacturers in terms of employment.
It also became apparent that York owes a lot to a group of people known as non- conformist’s – most likely Quakers who were restricted in what they could do, they could not go the University and often went into manufacturing; and in York we have a long history of Quaker manufacturing.
I was very pleased to get this project and would love to do more of them. There is so much still to be discovered about the people of the City of York.