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