May 2021

Have you heard of Gallimore’s almanac?

Our 15 March 2021 post on Chesterfield wine and spirit merchant TP Wood’s series of almanacs, was quite popular. But did you know that there may be a much earlier local version, which we would love to see?

Advertisement from the Derbyshire Courier of 5 June 1841 announcing that C Gallimore had taken over the business of T Ford. We are not quite sure how effective ‘Old Parr’s infallible life pills’ were! It’s thought that the Gallimore’s were Quakers.

Speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club in late 1924, local historian William Jacques mentions ‘Gallimore’s Almanac’ which he says dated back to 1842. Jacques had recently been presented with a set of 22, which he believed were the only ones in existence. The Gallimores, who according to Jacques, were brothers, took over the printing business of Ford in Irongate (the Shambles). We do know that a C Gallimore was advertising that he had taken over Ford’s business in May 1841 – our illustration is taken from the Derbyshire Courier of 5 June 1841.  Ford is best remembered as the publisher of the 1839 ‘History of Chesterfield…’

Thanks to the Derbyshire Times of 27 December 1924, we know a little more about Jacques’ talk and what he found in the almanac. Jacques apparently mentioned the old Town Hall in the Market Place, the Grammar School and other early schools and religious meeting houses. Jacques stated that half of Gallimore’s almanac content consisted of advertisements ‘nine-tenths of which related to quack medicines’. (Gallimore was dealer in these).

Jacques was secretary of the Chesterfield Education Committee for many years, a JP and formerly editor/manager of the Derbyshire Courier, he died on New Year’s Day 1931, aged 71. He also wrote ‘Modern Chesterfield…’ jointly with John Pendleton, which was published in 1903.

The almanacs remain a bit of a mystery. One might have thought that they would have found their way into the Jacques’ collection in Chesterfield Local Studies Library – but they haven’t. Nor does there appear to be much in the way of newspaper advertisements for the publication. What we do know is that, according to an advertisement in the Derbyshire Courier of Saturday 01 December 1849, ‘Allen’s Great Midland Almanac’ was available from Gallimore’s (and other stockists). Is this the ‘Gallimore’s almanac’ that Jacques refers to; with locally produced pages interleaved with a regional publication?

VCH will try and sort out the progression of the local printing industry in Chesterfield, so we’d love to see a copy or receive any further information on these mysterious almanacs.

Update 12 July 2023 – we found a copy in Chesterfield Local Studies Library! See our update here.

This blog was amended on 28 March 2023 to reflect the correct date of the first edition of Gallimore’s Almanac as 1842 not 1824 and that the Gallimores were Quakers.

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Chesterfield’s old town hall revealed

Chesterfield’s present municipal hall is a very grand affair on Rosehill, opened in 1938. But Chesterfield also had another town hall in Chesterfield Market Place, designed by the famous York architect John Carr. Though demolished long ago, this blog looks at how you can see what we believe are a few remnants of this building, which brought some grace to the street-scene – at least if a well-known engraving of the time is to be believed.

This illustration from Ford’s 1839 ‘History of Chesterfield’ is well-known. It show the old Town Hall to the extreme left, on the corner of the Market Place with Gluman Gate.

This town hall was on the site of present HSBC Bank, at the corner of Glumangate and the Market Place. Our first (well-known) picture, from Ford’s 1839 History of Chesterfield, shows the town hall, of 1787-8 which was manorial (that’s to say not used by the Chesterfield Corporation). Designed by John Carr of York, it passed from the 3rd duke of Portland to the 5th duke of Devonshire in 1792. On the ground floor was a debtors prison, the room above being used for quarter and petty sessions. Its story is told in our ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ book.

This town hall building was itself replaced by the building in our second photograph (Scales & Sons), taken from an Edwardian guide to Chesterfield. The present building – now the HSBC bank – may have been constructed sometime in the early 1920s. It’s shown to the bottom left on our fourth (and modern) photograph. Note that the HSBC building has part of the town hall’s replacement building surviving on Glumangate. The London and Midland Bank Ltd. (a constituent of the HSBC) didn’t open in Chesterfield until 1892 and then at premises on Low Pavement.

By the time of this view, from an Edwardian guide to Chesterfield, was taken the old town hall had been demolished and replaced by what looks like a quite well-mannered Victorian building.

We think that there’s a very small remnant of the original town hall surviving. Our final modern picture shows this as the stone-work now acting as a boundary wall and access point to the rear of buildings on Glumangate. This belief is somewhat confirmed by local historian W Jacques. On 26 July 1926 he is reported in the Derbyshire Times saying that ‘…If one stood …in Glumangate and looked across, they would see where a door which gave access to the Court [to the hall] had been built up.’

A modern view looking down Glumangate to the Market Place. The present HSBC bank is to the far left. The brick-built portion appears to be a remnant of the old town hall’s replacement Victorian building.

So, next time you are in Chesterfield have a look to see if you can spot the remnants of a once rather grand looking town hall.

Access to a rear court yard on Glumangate is probably the only fragment remaining of the John Carr’s old town hall.

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Did the old Chesterfield Royal Hospital reuse Durrant Hall’s kitchens?

As a little aside to our posts on Durrant Hall a few months ago, there is some mystery over the comment in successive reports of the Chesterfield Royal Hospital management committee that ‘…the hall was demolished with the exception of the kitchens, which were utilised as part of the present [old Royal hospital] buildings.’

The old Chesterfield Royal Hospital front block, opened in 1859, on Holywell Street, taken on the eve of closure on 28 April 1984. The day after the hospital was transferred to a new site at Calow. The hospital in the photograph was largely built on land once occupied by Durrant Hall.

This statement isn’t contained within the first published history of the hospital in 1917. Nor is any reference made to the reuse of the kitchens in contemporary newspaper reports. But by the time of another published history in 1926 it is made. The kitchen re-use statement is then successively repeated in hospital reports in the 1930s.

Perhaps the statement is taken from a report in the Derbyshire Times of 27 December 1924 which records local historian W Jacques’ talk about old Chesterfield to the Rotary Club. In this he makes a similar assertion. But mapping evidence indicates the main structure of the hall was a little way back from the original hospital building.

Wherever the statement arose from the original front block’s design was certainly not conducive to modern medical practice.

A 1984 view of the passageway leading to ITU and X-Ray. This area was actually below ground level in the 1850s original block. The 1920s X-Ray Department is beyond. Above this, on ground floor level, were the main out-patients’ department and accident and emergency. Despite what you might think, this area was very much a public thoroughfare.

Our second photograph shows the rather low and narrow passage to the Intensive Therapy Unit, situated at lower ground floor level in the 1850s block. You might just be able to make out the small green projecting sign to the right, which marks the unit’s entrance. Beyond (where the staff member is stood) you were into more modern territory – the X-Ray Department. This was situated below ground level in an extension opened in late 1922. You can just see part of the building to the left in our first photograph.

In Richard Banyard’s history of Chesterfield Royal Hospital (published in 1984), he recounts just how much the new X-Ray Department was needed. But sadly it came too late for the hospital’s first Honorary Radiologist. Not long after the new department opened, he was forced to resign on ill health grounds. Apparently, this was due to prolonged exposure to X-Rays.

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