Category Archives: General

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.

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 .

The Victoria Centre Knifesmithgate

Well known , both to Chesterfield residents and further afield as a characteristic image of Chesterfield , the Black and White frontage of Knifesmithgate is well worthy of preservation .

Currently however , the upper floors are empty , and their future unknown. The  issue is that the building belongs to a London property management company,  and nothing is known of their plans .

Chesterfield Centre – the last Hundred Years


This article was first published in the 2014 newsletter

Chesterfield is an historic market town of some substance, having received its market charter from King John in 1204, and it has possibly one of the largest open air markets in Britain.

The town sits on a large coalfield which formed a major part of the area’s economy along with pottery, engineering and chemicals, until the 1980s. Whilst there is little evidence of these industries today, the town remains proud of its industrial roots and its Town Centre.

There was a phase, between the Wars, when a cosmetic offensive was mounted in Chesterfield to Tudor-bethan-ise’ the town centre, and revive the charms it probably never originally enjoyed. The awareness of a problem, however, and the willpower to do something to rectify it at the time is an interesting point.


Then in the 50s and 60s there is what could be called the Civic Era. It had begun before WW2 with the rather pompous Council Offices and some quite significant interventions in the neo-classical manner in the main streets, and it continued afterwards with the Law Courts and the new Civic Centre. There was even water and sculpture. All of the individual projects were quite good for their times, but they were planted out like bedding plants and turned their back on the historic core, which became increasingly seedy. Eventually Chetwynd House was replaced with a pleasant modern office block whose red brick walls and dark roof help knit the area together, though we still await the removal of the derelict car park at West Bars.    (finally demolished in 2016)

 Then came the first coherent attempt at a strategy for the whole town, both in its conservation aspects and in the provision of scope for new developments. The architect, Sir Bernard Fielden thought the net result was quite good and was rightly proud of his work. There is a legacy here which is worthy of study.The public library is a successful modern building, whereas Theatre Yard was good on conservation but changes in levels deter footfall. The later shops on Vicar Lane/ Steeplegate work on plan but disappoint by the lack attention to detail. That, and a respect for context and good quality materials, distinguish the better new buildings around the town. The new courthouse, for example, looks good on the outside, but the artificial stone plinth is starting to let it down.The Market Hall extension shows that improvements can be achieved on a tight budget.


The developments over the last 100 years reflect how we value the town centre.The 2009 Masterplan for the town centre has a strong commitment to the future but probably needs refining, to take account of retail trends that have left the Co-Op store empty and filled the new retail units on the slightly disconnected Ravenside retail park. It is likely that the town centre will become more attractive as a cultural centre and a place to live. To succeed, it will need more attention to the public spaces, more connectivity and more of the good conservation of buildings that has occurred recently though Lottery funding. That is quite possible and should be considered alongside the redevelopment of the Northern Gateway and Waterside projects.

The Civic Society supports Chesterfield Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council in their work, particularly in challenging economic times .

Professor John Tarn OBE and Bryan Thompson


Chesterfield Waterside – An Illustrated Talk by Peter Swallow

Chesterfield & District Civic Society
East Midlands Association of Civic and Heritage Societies

Public Meeting

Saturday 21 January 2017 at the Saints Centre,
St Mary’s Gate, Chesterfield
10.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.

Anyone interested in the work of Chesterfield & District Civic Society, founded in 1964 to promote pride in the town and campaign for environmental improvements and a high standard of architectural design, is warmly invited to come to our next public meeting,
held in conjunction with the regional organisation for civic societies.
There will be a business meeting and discussion on the work of the Chesterfield and other civic societies in the morning, followed at  2 p.m. by

An Illustrated Talk
by Peter Swallow on
Destination Chesterfield
and Chesterfield Waterside

Peter Swallow is Chairman of Destination Chesterfield, a network of businesses and professional firms which encourages inward investment into the town, and also Chief Executive of Bolsterstone PLC, the lead developer of Chesterfield Waterside, one of the largest regeneration schemes of its kind in the country, centred on the terminus of the Chesterfield Canal on Brimington Road.
Come and find out about both these important ventures and put questions to the man in charge. There will also be displays illustrating the work of civic societies from around the region, and one by the Chesterfield Canal Trust, which has campaigned for many years for the restoration of the Derbyshire section of the canal, including the creation of a new basin and moorings at Chesterfield.