It was good to just wander around Chesterfield the other Wednesday and see how popular the Wheel is mid-week . Chesterfield is still a market town , and all the roads seem to lead here eventually . If only on the way to the Library .
But , the heart of the town is here , and still attracts after centuries .
Some fifty Civic Society members and guests joined the Mayor of Chesterfield, Coun. Maureen Davenport, and the Mayoress, Mrs Liz Archer, at the Ringwood Hall Hotel in Brimington on Wednesday 17 January for a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Charles Paxton Markham, who lived at Ringwood between 1908 and his death in 1926.
Among the guests were Mr Toby Markham, a descendant of C.P. Markham’s brother, Sir Arthur Markham Bt MP, and his wife, and Mrs Halcyon Palmer, a great niece of C.P. Markham’s sister Geraldine. The Leader of the Borough Council, Coun. Mrs Tricia Gilby, Coun. Terry Gilby and Coun. Barry Bingham were also present.
Ringwood Hall was built in 1829–30 by George Hodgkinson Barrow, the owner of Staveley Ironworks, and was later occupied by his son Richard Barrow. After C.P. Markham died, the House became a social club for Staveley staff. Having stood empty for some time, it has been restored in recent years as a luxury hotel.
After the Mayor unveiled the plaque, the owners of Ringwood Hall, Mr and Mrs Heyer, entertained the party to an excellent lunch. The event concluded with a short speech of thanks to the hotel by the Civic Society chairman, Philip Riden.
In the spring, the society hopes to install a plaque at 55 West Bars, the first large store built by Chesterfield and District Co-operative Society, which opened in 1903.
Members and guests who attended Chesterfield and District Civic Society’s meeting at St Thomas’s church centre on Saturday November 18 heard four outstanding presentations on ‘Democracy at Work: a View from Inside’. The event was the society’s contribution to UK Parliament Week.
Te first speaker was Natascha Engels, until recently Labour MP for North East Derbyshire and one of only two women to serve as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. Ms Engels, putting over important points in a clear and witty way, explained how the reform of procedure since the turn of the century has given backbench Members more influence over the Government and Opposition front benches.
She was followed by Lee Rowley, the newly elected Conservative MP for the division, who shared some first impressions of the Commons, as someone entering the House from a business background. He wished to see more issues approached on a non-partisan basis, for example the improvement of public transport in the North of England, which he argued was hardly a party matter.
The third speaker, Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield since 2010, by contrast took the view that politics was always bound to be partisan. He explained how an effective Opposition could put pressure on the Government and sometimes force it to abandon or change its policies. He too succeeded in explaining very well some technical details of Commons business.
Finally, Paul Holmes, the Liberal Democrat MP for Chesterfield between 2001 and 2010, made an impressive case for proportional representation, giving numerous examples of the unfairness of the current first-past-the-post system, and arguing that coalition government in Europe did not, as the British often believe, always mean weak government. He pointed out that the Coalition Government of 2010–15 had, despite gloomy forecasts to the contrary, lasted its full term and achieved a measure of economic recovery.
All the presentations attracted a lively discussion, including valuable comments from Mr Harry Barnes, the former Labour MP for North East Derbyshire , and everyone agreed afterwards that the meeting had been both enjoyable and instructive.