Category Archives: News


Plans to transform the area between the town centre and Chesterfield train station were out for public consultation, closing on 8 March 2021. Amongst a number of other local organisations the civic society has submitted its views on the scheme, which has been put together by Chesterfield Borough Council, working with AECOM and Whittam Cox Architects.

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We are generally supportive of the masterplan, but you can read our comments in the download below.

The plan sets out a vision to create a ‘gateway’ to Chesterfield and north Derbyshire and identifies potential development sites. Also included are improvements in cycling, pedestrian and public transport routes and facilities.

Download the PDF here.

Brampton Manor

Brampton Manor

The following account of Brampton Manor has been compiled from material made available by the Victoria County History for Derbyshire, which has been assembled for a planned future publication on the parish of Brampton. It is being presented in this form to assist Chesterfield Borough Council in determining a current planning application to convert Brampton Manor, which has for some years been occupied by a private members’ club, into six flats. The property includes, as well as the main house, a cruck-framed barn contemporary with the house and a later gazebo. The ‘Archaeological Assessment’ submitted with the planning application unfortunately says virtually nothing about the history of Brampton Manor.

The house on Old Road, known since the early nineteenth century as Brampton Manor and before that as New House, was built c.1600 by Godfrey Watkinson, a leading Chesterfield lead merchant. Either he or his son, also Godfrey, who was born in 1611 and died in 1668, was named as owner by William Senior on his plan of the manor of Chesterfield of 1633. The younger Godfrey’s son, a third Godfrey, in 1664 married Elizabeth, the daughter of Robert Wood of Monk Bretton in west Yorkshire. Godfrey and Elizabeth, as well as three daughters, had a son and heir, a fourth Godfrey (1668–1740), who married a woman named Mary Green, said to be of Cheshire; she died in 1711. Godfrey and Mary’s son and heir was yet another Godfrey, who died in 1757, aged 53. In 1736 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Robert Scollar of Rowsley. Their son Godfrey died without issue in 1741 or 1742, leaving five sisters as coheirs. The Brampton estate passed to Ann, one of the five, who married as her second husband a surgeon named Stephen Melland of Youlgreave, with whom she had a son, William Melland.

In the 1820s and early 1830s William Melland was living at what was by then known as Brampton Manor House. He died there in 1839, aged 60, described as late a captain in the 68th Regiment of Foot. His daughter Eliza married Simeon Manlove, the Holymoorside cotton spinner, in 1842, and his widow, also Eliza, died in 1861. The Chesterfield solicitor, William Melland, who in 1842 advertised Brampton Manor for sale with between 6 and 20 acres of land, was presumably a relation.

The house appears to have been let or sold to the Revd Matson Vincent, the rector of St Thomas’s, Chatsworth Road, who died there in 1846. Mrs Tabitha Vincent was living at the Manor in 1857–62. There is a reference to cricket being played in the grounds in 1864.

In 1874 a scheme was announced for a Brampton Manor Freehold Land Society, which proposed to develop 9 acres belonging to the estate, with a frontage to Ashgate Road, in 64 plots ranging in size from 378 to 1,268 square yards. In March 1876 tenders were invited to build two new roads through this land for Squire Heaton, who was presumably promoting the development, and in September an auction was announced of 2½ acres of the Brampton Manor Freehold estate in plots of between 410 and 1,287 square yards. The land was bounded on the north-east by Ashgate Road and was served by the two new roads, Heaton Street and St Thomas’s Street, which would give purchasers access to Chatsworth Road. This implies that the land society had collapsed. In October the remaining lots were offered for sale by private treaty, suggesting that the auction had not been very successful, although from January 1877 advertisements appeared seeking either tenders to build houses on the estate or tenants for those that had been completed.

In the 1870s the Manor House itself was owned and occupied by Edward Nicholls, an official at the nearby Inkerman colliery, and in the 1930s there were local memories of flower shows in the grounds in that period. Between 1880 and 1884 Nicholls tried several times to sell the estate, comprising the house, grounds and 8½ acres of land, either by auction or private treaty, or to let it. The mansion was described as a desirable residential property and the land as suitable for building villas; the coal beneath the estate was then let to Knowles, Wright & Knowles for 21 years from 1878. It is possible that the house stood empty for some time but by 1897 it had been taken by James Pearson, the head of one of the largest pottery companies in Chesterfield, whose works stood on Whittington Moor. Pearson died at Brampton Manor in 1905. By 1907 the Chesterfield accountant and businessman, Samuel Edward Short, the founder of the firm of the same name whose offices are on Ashgate Road, and his family had moved into the house. From the start of the Shorts’ ownership, the grounds at the Manor were frequently opened for charitable events, social gatherings (especially during Short’s term as mayor in 1908–9), and fund-raising efforts for the Liberal party. Short was for many years the Libert agent for the Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire divisions.

S.E. Short died in 1914, aged only 45. Mrs Short continued to live at Brampton Manor, joined a few years after their marriage in 1920 by her daughter Alice Margaret (Marjorie) and her husband John Leam Middleton (and later their children). Jack Middleton DFC was the son of John Middleton, a former town clerk of Chesterfield. During and after the First World War Mrs Short hosted fund-raising events for local charities at the Manor, as she and her daughter did in the 1930s and during the Second World War. Beneficiaries included the VAD hospital at Ashgate, the Royal Hospital, and the Chesterfield Magdalene Home.

After the Shorts sold Brampton Manor, it was briefly owned by Plowright Brothers Ltd, the Brampton engineering company. They used the property as a guest-house and social club, and also built a new office block alongside. When Plowrights ceased trading in 1962 the estate changed hands again. From the mid 1960s it had what a later owner described as a ‘colourful spell as a gentleman’s dining and gaming club with the benefit of the only late licence in Chesterfield’. From 1970 the property became better known as a squash club, before declining in the 1990s and 2000s , when the business fell into receivership. Brampton Manor changed hands in 2005 and became a country club with facilities for weddings, private parties and spa days, as well as a sports club.

Brampton Manor has no connection with the manor of Brampton, whose chief house was Caus Hall Farm on the edge of Old Brampton village. Until at least 1740s it was simply known as ‘New House’, presumably because it was the first new house of any size to be built on the road leading out of Chesterfield towards the west, on which it would have been a prominent landmark. It stood completely on its own in 1633 and for a long time afterwards, until the modern suburb of New Brampton grew up around it. The present name seems to date from the early nineteenth century, when the Melland family may have felt that Brampton Manor sounded grander than New House (and in any case by then the house was about two hundred years old).

The house is shown on William Senior’s plan of 1633 with a main south front divided into three gabled bays. In this respect its appearance has changed little since it was built, although behind this façade the house has been modernised and in recent years a new kitchen and other service rooms added at the rear. The house is built of local sandstone, laid as coursed rubble, and is today rendered. It is of two storeys and an attic. The front elevation has nineteenth-century sash windows in stone frames, which are round-arched in the gables. The back is pebble-dashed with irregularly set stone mullioned windows. These probably date from the time of building, whereas the sash windows at the front reflect efforts to modernise the property. The house is roofed in stone flags.

The third Godfrey Watkinson was assessed on eight hearth at Brampton Manor in 1670. When he died in 1674 a very detailed inventory of the house, describing its contents room by room, was drawn up. The inventory listed the ‘hall’ (the main living room, which in recent years was the main bar of the club), several ‘parlours’ (one of which was probably what became the club restaurant and another the ‘copper bar’) and a range of kitchen and service rooms (which were probably on the site of the modern kitchen at the back of the house). There were ‘chambers’ over all the principal rooms. Godfrey had a well-stocked mixed farm and also left tools and a stock of lead at his smelting house at Holymoorside. In all, his personal estate was valued at £523, which probably made him one of the wealthiest residents of Brampton of his day.

In 1674 (and before and after) the corn recorded in the inventory would have been stored in the barn behind the house. This is an impressive cruck-framed structure (later encased in stone), one of several which survive at farms in Old Brampton, Barlow, Holmesfield, Dronfield and other parishes between Chesterfield and Sheffield. The one at Brampton Manor has been dated by dendrochronology (counting the number of rings in the timber) to c.1600, showing that it was built at the same time as the house. Cruck-framing survived as a type of construction for secondary buildings like barns for much longer north of the Trent than in the Midlands and south, and other examples in north-east Derbyshire also date from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth centuries. The barn is not only a listed building (as is the main house) but also a scheduled monument, indicating that it is considered to be of national importance.

The other outbuilding which is listed (grade II*, putting it into the top 10 per cent of listed buildings nationally) is a gazebo, which appears to date from the early eighteenth century. It is built of coursed rubble sandstone with ashlar quoins and window surrounds, beneath a stone-flagged ‘fish-scale’ roof.

Brampton Manor has given its name to Old Hall Road, Manor Road, Manor Crescent and Manor Drive, and to Manor primary and secondary schools.


Chesterfield and District Civic Society

A future for the site of the Chesterfield Hotel

This post can be downloaded as a PDF here


The Chesterfield Hotel was built in 1876–7, a few years after the Midland Railway rebuilt its station at Chesterfield on its present site (a short distance to the north of the first station of 1840). The hotel stood at the foot of Corporation Street, which was itself laid out by the Borough Council in the early 1870s as a more impressive approach to the station than the original road, part of which survives as Station Back Lane.

The hotel, which is built of brick with pitched slate roofs on a quadrangular plan around a central courtyard, was extended three times. Two more or less matching wings were built at either end of the original block, one on Corporation Street and the other on Malkin Street. The last extension was much less satisfactory – in brick which did not match that of the earlier phases, with windows that were not the same size or shape, and in part a flat roof.

The setting of the hotel was not improved by the decision to sever Corporation Street as a motor road when the Inner Relief Road was built, separating it from the other commercial buildings higher up the street, and leaving it in not very splendid isolation, flanked by minor roads on three sides and the Inner Relief Road on the fourth.

Known for most of its life as the Station Hotel, it was renamed the Chesterfield Hotel in the 1980s, presumably because the older name had rather down-at-heel connotations, although the later name was essentially meaningless.

The Station Hotel set out from the start to be Chesterfield’s leading hotel. For much of the twentieth century it was one of Mansfield Brewery’s leading residential houses and was featured a good deal in the company’s advertising. It was a three-star hotel, whereas its nearest rival, the Hotel Portland of 1899, also a railway hotel, was Chesterfield’s two-star hotel.

For many local people, the hotel is probably most affectionately remembered as a function venue, rather than as somewhere to stay. It was for decades the place to have an engagement party, wedding reception, retirement do or whatever. It was a popular choice for club dinners and lunches, as well as business meetings, fashion shows, trade exhibitions and the like.

Hotels of this sort in not particularly wealthy medium-sized provincial towns have not had an easy time in recent decades and for most local people it was probably disappointing, rather than surprising, when it ceased trading. It was presumably a very expensive building to maintain and, despite the efforts of recent operators, was arguably doomed from the day the Casa opened on Whittington Moor, which (despite its uninspiring location alongside a four-lane dual carriageway with an outlook onto car dealerships and a supermarket) does provide Chesterfield with a good class modern four-star hotel.

The recent past

After the Chesterfield Hotel closed it was sold to its present owners, Prestige Hotels (Midlands) Ltd. Despite its impressive name, this appears to be a shell company run by a syndicate of business people living in south-east England, whose registered office is a modest private house in Bushey (Hertfordshire). It was incorporated in 2016 with issued capital of £1, and its most recently available balance sheet shows assets valued at £0.98m. and liabilities, principally it appears a mortgage on the Chesterfield Hotel, of £1.07m. We have been unable to locate any hotels, prestigious or otherwise, in the Midlands or elsewhere, owned or operated by the company.

It is just possible that the company did once intend to reopen the building as a hotel, although the only work they did was to board up the ground floor to make the building look even worse than before they bought it. An attempt to install short-term tenants as ‘guardians’ fell foul of public health and fire safety legislation. It seems rather more likely that the company intended from the start to sell the site on, probably with a view to it being redeveloped by others with more capital than themselves.

Some time after the property was sold, Chesterfield Borough Council announced ambitious plans to redevelop the whole of the approach from the station up to St Mary’s Gate, including land on either side of both Corporation Street and a new road parallel to it. Much of this area is currently either unoccupied or used as temporary car-parks. All of it is extremely unattractive and gives a very poor impression to visitors arriving at the station. The area clearly needs comprehensive redevelopment and the council’s plans have been generally welcomed.

The other major development in recent years is the Waterside scheme, occupying a large area immediately to the north of the Chesterfield Hotel. This promises to transform what has for years been a very bleak area, comprising the site of the former Trebor sweet factory, Arnold Laver’s timber yard, S. & J. Kitchen’s engineering works, and the old Great Central Railway station and goods yard. The retention of the Chesterfield Hotel (and for that matter the former county police station and court house on Brimington Road, now largely unoccupied) would seriously detract from the setting of the Waterside development.

Arguably, the whole area from the Inner Relief Road to the northern end of Waterside needs completely redeveloping as a mixed-use area, including a good proportion of reasonably priced housing. It is simply not practicable to retain prominent, but architecturally unremarkable and economically unviable, buildings on the edge of what is meant to be a prestigious landmark development. At the same time, it would be impossible to create a new approach to the station if the hotel building was retained.

The future

For all these reasons, the Civic Society believes that the Borough Council was right to allow the Chesterfield Hotel to be demolished. Civic societies are dedicated to campaigning for the improvement of the built environment in their local community. They are not ‘preservation societies’. Improving the built environment sometimes means demolishing buildings which have outlived their useful life. The Chesterfield Hotel falls into that category.

What is now important is that whatever takes the place of the Chesterfield Hotel enhances this very run-down part of the town. We need to look forward, not back. The current owners of the site are proposing that it should be redeveloped with a commercial building with car-parking, as part of the Borough Council’s overall scheme for the improvement of the approach to the station. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this idea but we would like to suggest an alternative.

Although another residential hotel on the scale of the Chesterfield Hotel is unlikely to be economically viable on this site, arguably there is a demand for some hotel and catering services in this part of the town. People sometimes have time to kill waiting for a train and would prefer to do so in more comfortable surroundings than a station buffet; business and professional people come to Chesterfield by train for meetings and do not wish to venture further from the station than necessary; and there is a demand from local business people for somewhere to meet for a drink or a meal within walking distance of the town centre (which the Casa is not). The site is also close to both the theatres in Chesterfield, especially the Pomegranate, and there should be a demand for pre-theatre meals or drinks afterwards (neither the Winding Wheel nor the Pomegranate serves food).

It might be argued that this market is already catered for by the licensed bars higher up Corporation Street and on Holywell Street. These, however, appear to be aimed at a predominantly young market, have late licences and are essentially drink-led operations, sometimes accompanied by loud music. There is a demand for this type of outlet, but it is not going to attract the market outlined in the previous paragraph. What we have in mind is somewhere with a more traditional, not to say quieter, offering, serving tea and coffee during the day, light lunches and a simple (but good quality and traditional) dinner menu in the evening might.

Could such a venue also offer residential accommodation? Obviously not on the scale the Chesterfield Hotel once did, nor as somewhere for coach operators to accommodate large numbers very cheaply (a market catered for in Chesterfield principally by the Ibis, it appears), but an operation on the lines of a ‘restaurant with rooms’ might be viable. People sometimes wish to stay close to a station if they are leaving early the following morning, and some people arriving by train might wish to stay as near the station as possible. Once again, the Chesterfield Hotel site has the advantage of being within walking distance of the town centre, if people have business there. We believe that it might be possible for a good quality restaurant also to offer a limited amount of overnight accommodation for both business and leisure travellers.

Another possibility, which would be an innovation for Chesterfield, would be to include in a restaurant-with-rooms development a small number of service flats, catering for those who wished to stay in Chesterfield for more than a couple of nights but not for long enough to rent an unfurnished flat. We are thinking of business and professional people working in Chesterfield for between a few weeks and a couple of months on a temporary contract, who would like more than just a hotel room to live in during the week and do not want to rent a room in a private house. Flats of this sort – with one or possibly two bedrooms – would have a modest kitchen (comparable to the facilities provided in some student accommodation) but the assumption would be that the tenants would have most (and possibly all) their meals in a restaurant that formed part of the development. This would provide something of a captive market for the restaurant, especially midweek, when there is likely to be less demand from non-residents. If a new building on the site of the Chesterfield Hotel was a three-storey development, the ground floor would have the usual range of restaurant, bar, lounge and kitchen, the first floor a small number of good quality letting bedrooms, and the second floor perhaps half a dozen flats.

Finally, it is worth stressing how centrally Chesterfield is placed for the main-line railway network. As in most provincial towns, the emphasis tends to be on the service to London (which is very good), but thanks to the town’s position between two major junctions, it is also possible to get direct trains to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Norwich, Bristol and Birmingham, as well of course as Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby. Not many towns the size of Chesterfield can offer this. This might also be a selling point for anyone thinking of basing themselves in a service flat close to the station in Chesterfield, which would at the same time be within easy walking distance of the facilities available in a medium-sized town.

We hope that when the redevelopment of the Chesterfield Hotel site comes to be considered, the case for continuing to use it in the same way as it has been since the land was first built-up in the 1870s will be borne in mind, rather than settling for just building another office block, which could go elsewhere in the town.

January 2020

This post can be downloaded as a PDF here


Chesterfield and the Co-operative Movement.

Co-op Plaque West Bars Chesterfield

President of Central England Co-operative Elaine Dean, Mayoress of Chesterfield Anne Brittain, Mayor of Chesterfield Councillor Stuart Brittain and West Bars Funeral Director Margo Gasston 
unveil the plaque.

On Wednesday 20th March a Blue Plaque was unveiled at West Bars to mark the town’s historic links to the the Co-operative Movement. Members of the Civic Society attended both this ceremony and the re-dedication of the the Funeral Home after its recent renovation. More photos can be found below, and a detailed report of the day was published in the Derbyshire Times.

Derbyshire Times report

A more detailed history of the Co-operative Movement in Chesterfield can be found here

HS2 Meeting – Thursday 28th February

Chesterfield Civic Society HS2 Debate

Civic Society HS2 Philip Riden

Over 30 members and guests met at St Thomas’s church centre on February 28 for a Civic Society discussion meeting on ‘Do we want HS2 in North East Derbyshire?’.

Andrew Pritchard, representing East Midland Cities and Transport for the East Midlands, outlined the strategic case for the north-eastern leg of the high speed railway.

Civic Society HS2 Andrew Pritchard

Explaining the need for greater capacity for passenger services between London and major cities on the route, he emphasised that the proposed hub at Toton would be the most important station on the system outside London, bringing enormous employment benefits to that part of the region.

Enhanced opportunities, especially for young people in the poorer areas of north-east Derbyshire, was a theme stressed by the Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, Coun. Mrs Tricia Gilby. She mentioned the high quality skilled jobs that would be created, directly and indirectly, by HS2, and the scope to develop tourism by encouraging more visitors to come to Chesterfield by train. Coun. Gilby showed new architect’s drawings of the proposed remodelling of the station approach, including a large car-park, seamless integration with bus services, and a pedestrian walkway into the town centre.

A note of caution was expressed by Glynn Waite, a railway consultant, who detailed the congestion on the existing Clay Cross–Sheffield line and showed how trains could be seriously delayed for any of several reasons. These included lack of capacity on the adjoining Dore–Chinley line and the poor track layout at Sheffield station. Mr Waite felt that these problems must be tackled before plans are made to run high speed trains on the Midland Main Line.

Civic Society HS2 Glynn Waite

Finally, Tony Mellors spoke on behalf of a community group in Blackwell and Newton, near Alfreton, opposed to the building of a link from the Erewash Valley line to Clay Cross, since this will sever communities in their area. Over 20 houses will have to be demolished, some only a few years old, which has already caused distress to longstanding local residents. Aided by slide showing a white elephant, Mr Mellors argued that HS2 was likely to cost much more than currently predicted and was a poor use of public money.

The escalating cost of the project and questionable claims for the benefit-cost ratio were among the points raised during a lively discussion at the end of the meeting. In reply, Mr Pritchard pointed out that the north-eastern leg had the best commercial prospects of any part of HS2, and Coun. Gilby emphasised that the Borough Council’s ‘local labour’ clause in all its building contracts would ensure that jobs connected with HS2 came to the town.

Public Meeting and AGM – 27th September 2018

The society met at the St Thomas’ Centre for a talk  by Paul Staniforth on Development Management and Conservation within the Borough.  Although understandably this could cover only items within the public domain he managed to include the major town centre developments, and submitted affably to some fairly tough questioning, particularly on that perennial favourite topic, Chesterfield Market. He referred extensively to the list of heritage assets maintained by the Council, and details of this and other aspects of conservation can be found on the link at the bottom of the page.


Paul’s talk was followed by the AGM.  

Chesterfield – Conservation and Heritage




Chesterfield Museum Local History Day

On Saturday we were at Chesterfield Museum for the annual Local History Fair. It was an excellent event, and we thank the Museum for hosting it. Here are a few photos from the day.


As it was the first day of the Chatsworth Road Exhibition at the Museum we have reprinted the 1996 Brampton Trail booklet. Produced by the Brampton Living History Group and published by the  Civic Society, full details can be found in the previous post. You can link to it directly by clicking on this picture of Bradbury Hall, one of the fine drawings in the guide. 

A Brampton History Trail

This little booklet was first published in 1996. In the succeeding 22 years, Brampton has changed beyond recognition. Nevertheless, much still remains, and the trail is a valuable guide to the area, while the illustrations are reminder of what has now gone.

The Civic Society has  republished it with a new preface by Philip Riden to coincide with the current Chatsworth Road exhibition in Chesterfield Museum. It is priced at £3, and copies will be available for purchase at the AGM.

Click on the specimen pages to see them at full size. 

Brampton Trail Front Cover


Brampton Trail Back Cover

Brampton Trail Page Sample

Brampton Trail 2nd Edition Preface

Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse

For many years the future of Wentworth Woodhouse has been uncertain. The recent acquisition by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, and a substantial restoration grant from the Government has hopefully secured its future. 

On Tuesday 24th July members of the Society took advantage of the recent opening of the property to the public and visited for a conducted tour of the State Rooms. As befits the largest privately owned residence in the UK, they are magnificent. A selection of photographs from the day can be seen in the gallery below. Click on any photo to enlarge it.


Further details of Wentworth Woodhouse and visiting can be found here .