August 2021

New book on the Chesterfield Brewery Company

The front cover of John Hirst’s new book on the Chesterfield Brewery Company.

We are pleased to welcome Chesterfield pub and brewery historian John Hirst’s new book on the Chesterfield Brewery Company.

Whilst VCH seeks to chronicle local communities, including breweries and public houses, it is not designed to replace research like that by John. In fact, we have used some of John’s previous research, published in his 2005 book ‘Chesterfield pubs …’, in our VCH spin-off ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’.

John’s new 28-page book, ‘The Chesterfield Brewery – the story of Chesterfield’s second largest brewery’, chronicles its rise and fall. Also included is information on some of the directors, including the Mills and Burkitt families. There’s a map and plan, list of the brewery’s pubs and photographs.

The brewery, which opened in 1854, occupied a site at the junction of Brimington Road, Brewery Street and Infirmary Road. The Trebor factory occupied the site until recent years, incorporating some of the brewery buildings. It’s now part of the Riverside development, with new offices currently under construction on a part of the site.

John charts how the brewery company acquired the wine, spirit and mineral water business of TP Wood, High Street, Chesterfield (and producer of a locally famous almanac) in 1911. But the end of the 1920s and into the early 1930s saw a decline in the company. This was despite 1920s investment in some grandiose public house schemes. These included the Hollingwood Hotel, Poolsbrook Hotel, Spital Hotel and the Gardeners Arms (all Chesterfield area) and the White Post at Farnsfield.

In late 1934 the Mansfield Brewery Company took over the Chesterfield brewery and promptly closed it down in January of the following year. 

You can read more of the story in John’s book, which is available by emailing him at The cost is £4 plus postage. it’s also available from Chesterfield tourist information centre or the Chesterfield museum.

A 1982 photograph from John’s book showing the former brewery premises – then in use by Trebor. Infirmary Road is to the bottom.  The original brewery buildings were centred around the tall chimney. (John Hirst).
John’s book describes the brewery in detail and includes a plan of it. Here in 2004 we see a view of the basement which ‘…stretched beneath the tun room, stables and wagon shed. The tun room was set on cast iron columns and girders, with brick arches …’  Note that the slight curvature of the columns in this photograph is due to the camera lens! When this photograph was taken this area was being used an electric motor store for the Trebor Bassett undertaking. (Courtesy Ian Atkinson).
Another 2004 basement photograph – showing the then plumber’s store. The brick arch construction can be seen. (Courtesy Ian Atkinson).
The soon to be demolished Chesterfield Brewery Company’s ‘Station Hotel’, near the Chesterfield Midland Railway station, as it appeared in TP Wood’s Almanac for 1934. By the end of that year the Mansfield Brewery Company had taken over the Chesterfield company, the brewery soon closing in January 1935. As John Hirst explains in his book, there were a hundred or so Chesterfield brewery pubs, spread over a large area, when they were taken over by the Mansfield concern in late 1934. As our ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ book explains the Station Hotel was first opened in 1877.
Another illustration from John’s book, this time reproducing an advertisement from ‘Commercial Chesterfield’ of 1931. TP Wood’s High Street premises, over-looing the Market Place were sadly demolished in the mid-1960s to make way for the Littlewood’s (now Primark) store.
The Chesterfield Brewery premises included this building which was used for the brewery manager and for company offices. The building later formed offices for the Trebor sweets factory. Now demolished, a new office block is currently being built on the site. A 2004 photograph.  (Courtesy Ian Atkinson).
A final image from John’s book – ceramic match strikers like this would have found a place on Chesterfield Brewery Company public house bars. Matches went in the top and were struck on the base. Despite the ‘noted ales’ slogan, the brewery’s ales were apparently regarded as poor quality in its latter years.

This blog was revised on 27 August 2021 to correct the date TP Wood’s business was acquired by the Chesterfield Brewery Company (in 1911 not the previously stated 1921) and to correct a minor typographical error.

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Harsh comments for Barlborough School in the 19th century

We make extensive use of school inspectors reports and school log books in our VCH ‘Red Books’ as we plot the history of education in a particular parish. Here we look briefly a Barlborough, where some of the comments made by the Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools in the late 19th century were quite severe.

Barlborough Schools in 2021.

With only a few exceptions, the inspectors made uniformly poor reports. For example in 1876 they found the school was unpopular with parents and numbers on role had decreased. Early in the 20th century the inspectors found the schoolroom was dirty with a lack of separate classrooms. One of the problems appears to have been with the headmaster’s attitude and lack of staff. In 1898 an assistant was teaching 55 boys, with the headmaster only 18, both in the same room.

The school was transferred to the county education department in 1903. A new headmaster – David Barnfield – appointed two years later found the school in an ‘indescribable’ state with poor discipline and low standards of work. It was he who helped turn the school around. He was there for over 30-years – the school receiving excellent reports throughout.

The premises are pictured here in 2021. Part of the buildings probabaly date back to 1866, when they were originally erected by the Rodes estate. They were extended in 1911, with further new classrooms added in 2000 and 2002. For some time, the memorial gateway we featured in our recent post formed an entrance to the buildings.

Our VCH Derbyshire Volume III – Bolsover and adjoining parishes tells the fuller story of education in Barlborough.

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