March 2021

Bolsover baths

We are still at Bolsover for this blog – and is anyone up for a swim? Unfortunately, if you are – you’re too late, for these baths were closed, controversially, in the late 1980s and demolished.

Bolsover Baths was built complete with a house for the superintendent. The facility is seen under construction in 1925.

They were opened in 1925 on land given to the miner’s welfare committee fund by the duke of Portland, at the bottom of Castle Lane. Not only were there public baths, but the scheme also included public slipper baths (where, for those who had no bathroom, you could go and get one) and showers. The baths (there was one pool) could be boarded over for dances, concerts and meetings.

Our first photograph shows the baths, including the superintendent’s house, under construction. Our second the completed baths, both are courtesy of Bernard Haigh and featured in his ‘Around Bolsover’ book. The baths were certainly impressive.  As recorded in our book ‘Bolsover: castle, town and colliery’ the town’s urban district council took a 25-year lease on the baths in 1925, at a nominal sum.

They were used by local people and those from further afield – particularly schools, who would be transported by the town’s Castle Coaches to and from the baths. (The writer of this post remembers being ferried from a Chesterfield area junior school to Bolsover and back in the late 1960s by Bolsover’s own Castle Coaches).

The interwar period was one of progress by Bolsover’s urban district council. They constructed council homes, provided improved parks, purchased the formerly private water undertaking (1923) and began to supply electricity (from 1927). A library was also established in the council offices, jointly with the county council, in 1925, before moving to a former Co-op branch in 1932, on Cotton Street.

The completed Bolsover Baths in 1925. They were controversially demolished in the 1980s.

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England’s Past for Everyone 2008 launch at Bolsover remembered

We’ve dipped in to our own archives for this blog, with pictures of when our part of the England’s Past for Everyone (EPE) project was launched in Bolsover Library on 18 March 2006.

Dennis Skinner, then Bolsover’s MP, with the co-authors of the two EPE books produced as part of the project – Dudley Fowkes (left) and Philip Riden (right).

We were able to welcome Dennis Skinner, then Bolsover MP, who cut our rather tasty birthday cake. Professor David Hey (who sadly died in 2016) and Professor John Beckett from the University of Nottingham and one-time Victoria County History (VCH) national director were also present along with civic and local history organisations in the Derbyshire project areas (which were Bolsover and Hardwick). Professor Hey was a chairman of the Derbyshire Victoria County History Trust.

The much-missed Professor David Hey (right) is with Professor John Beckett (centre), talking to a member of one of the civic and local history societies invited to the project launch

The EPE project was driven by the internationally respected research standards of VCH. In addition to the two books on Bolsover and Hardwick which were eventually produced, a website was created. This is still accessible at The project included work with schools. A volunteer research group was started and contributed to the work. Other communities across England were also part of the EPE project.

Find out more about the Derbyshire EPE books on Bolsover and Hardwick (which are unfortunately now out of print) and other VCH publications here.

Our locally baked ‘birthday’ cake

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Our approach to digital media

It’s only fairly recently that we have been managing our own digital media presence. Both our own webpage and Facebook page are newcomers.

We have had a blog published by the British Association for Local History (BALH), about this recent approach to digital media, including Facebook posts. Take a look at…

The BALH has lots of information on its website ( for anyone interested in local history and runs a popular series of on-line talks and seminars.

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TP Wood’s Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Almanac

Local wine and spirit merchant Thomas Philpot Wood (1840-1911) published an annual almanac from his premises over-looking Chesterfield Market Place. Our first illustration shows the once familiar cover of one the later editions. The second illustration is taken from the rear cover of his edition for 1900, which clearly shows TP Wood’s premises. The almanac was distributed freely to his ‘customers and friends’.

A familiar cover design, which last appeared basically unaltered the last almanac for 1964, published at the end of 1963.

The first edition was published in 1863 with the final one in 1963 (for 1964), though by this time the business had long been part of the Mansfield Brewery Company. There were notable gaps in publication, including just before the First World War and after the Second World War.

In its early years, Wood would introduce each almanac with his personal thoughts about local and national happenings. There were general articles, a local directory and perhaps, most famously of all, a chronicle in which local events were briefly listed. Our third photograph shows the final entries for the 1900 almanac. They generally end in November of each year to allow for typesetting and subsequent publication around Christmas. The almanac for 1900 was therefore published in the period leading up to Christmas 1899. It comprised some 515 pages – quite an undertaking. They were eagerly awaited in many households.

The almanacs might also be illustrated with plates of local features, such as the workhouse on Newbold Road (later Scarsdale Hospital) – our final photo. Wood explains in his introduction that rebuilding or a move out of town was then under discussion. In the event the former was pursued.

The covers of the almanac changed little in its later years. Our first photograph shows one from 1921, which includes the TP Wood’s punch (in a) bowl trademark. The cover of the last edition for 1964 was basically the same, but with a dark blue paper.

TP Wood himself was a great benefactor to the town and prominent in its politics. Today he is best remembered as the driving force behind Chesterfield’s Queen’s Park and his almanac. You can find out more about him at this short biography by Chesterfield Museum.

There’s an interesting blog from the Derbyshire Record Office about how an engraving of Chapman’s 1837 map appeared in one of TP Wood’s almanacs here.

For us in Derbyshire VCH, we still use TP Wood’s almanacs as a useful research source – particularly its chronicle of local events.

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The Angel Hotel, Market Place, Chesterfield

We are returning to Angel Yard, more particularly the Angel Hotel, for this post. Our illustration here is an advertisement taken from TP Wood’s Almanac for 1900. It shows the hotel sandwiched between the National Westminster Bank and the former post office – all opposite the Market Hall. The entrance to Angel Yard is through the central archway.

The Angel Hotel, Chesterfield Market Place. An advertisement from TP Wood’s Almanac for 1900.

John Hirst’s ‘Chesterfield Pubs’ (2005) tells the later story of the hotel, which, by the mid-19th century, had become one of the best in Chesterfield. He cites an 1890 commercial guide to Chesterfield which gives details of the accommodation – 20 bedrooms, billiard room with three tables, coffee room, dining room and commercial room. The ‘Oak Room’ was said to the finest dining and ballroom in the county. Of 60ft by 30ft it could seat 120 people. Stabling was available for 80 horses.

Our own ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ book explains that the Angel Hotel took the name of an inn further east along High Street. This was possibly while other name changes for inns were taking place in the area in the 1790s. Until that time the Angel was called the Castle Inn. We also push the story back a little further – earlier into the 17th century – as we believe that the site was once owned by the one-time influential Clarke family.

In the early 1780s John Saxton was the landlord and also the Chesterfield postmaster. The Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol and Bath coaches all called there. The coming of the railways from the 1840s reduced The Angel’s importance as a coating inn, but it was still regularly used for assemblies, auctions and stabling. It was, itself, sold in 1876 for £11,300 – a considerable sum at the time.

By the late 19th century, the Angel was owned by Sheffield brewers Wm. Stones Ltd. But, the Angel’s days were unfortunately numbered. Stones owned the nearby Hotel Portland, with its more modern accommodation. In 1915, deeming that the Angel was surplus to requirements, Wm Stones gave up the hotel’s licence. The Angel Vaults was, however, retained. This comprised two rooms, used as a public bar (on the right-hand side of the photograph), until 1920 when the licence was transferred to a new Angel Hotel on Derby Road (now Tesco).

Since 1915 the hotel had been used as a British Red Cross waste paper depot. A dramatic fire, on an icy February 1917 night, seriously damaged the hotel building, with water from the fire-fighting inundating the Vaults.

John Hirst states that the building was finally cleared in 1926 with an extension to the Westminster Bank and former Post Office covering most of the site. A small gap marks Angel Yard – the subject of our post of 21 February 2021.

There’s a good account of 17th century coaching inns in the town (including the Angel) in Rosemary Milward’s 1980 article in the Derbyshire Miscellany (pages 31-7), although by a slip of the pen, on page 31, the Angel is placed on the south side of the Market Place. You can read this free by following this link.

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Brampton draft updated

We are always pleased to receive comments on draft text posted on our website. Paul Freeman’s research about Brimington tied in with Ashgate Hospice’s former role as a Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) hospital in the First World War (for causalities in that war). Our photograph here may well show the property – Ashgate  House – during this period.

The postcard here may date from the time that the present Ashgate Hospice (formerly Ashgate House) was used as a VAD hospital during the First World War.

As is probabaly well-known, the Barnes family owned the property for some time. In 1915 the family offered the mansion to the Red Cross for use as a VAD hospital after Trinity Institute on Newbold Road (in Chesterfield), which had originally been taken over for the purpose, was declared full. The Ashgate hospital continued to receive wounded soldiers until it closed in March 1919, by which date 1,1015 men had been treated there and at Trinity Institute.

Thanks to Paul’s research and that of others, we have been able to update our draft text on Brampton to reflect this part of the former Ashgate House’s history. We still need to sketch in the later history, but will be doing so in the coming months. For example, after the Second World War, it became an annex, for rehabilitation, to the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Royal Hospital on Holywell Street. In 1972 there were 45 beds there, some in a ‘Horsa’ building in the stable yard. Ashgate Hospice opened in 1988 using part of the former Ashgate House.

To find out more about the large parish of Brampton, which extended down Chatsworth Road to its border with Chesterfield, look at our draft text on Brampton at Look for the download on Brampton. Ashgate House is at page 60.

There’s also a short article on Ashgate House at

To find out more about VAD hospitals visit

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