It’s the end of an era in Chesterfield as the town centre branch of Marks & Spencers (M&S) closes on 29 November 2022, to be replaced by a newer facility in nearby Ravenside Retail Park. We thought we’d take a quick look at M&S in the town to mark the event.
The early history of Marks and Spencer is well-known, so we won’t repeat it here – suffice to say that Michael Marks, after starting a simple market stall in Leeds went on to open a series of ‘penny bazaars’ in various towns and cities before the First World War. Thomas Spencer was Mark’s business partner from 1894.
The original retail concept came under pressure by rising inflation and was subsequently reinvented by Simon Marks (Michael’s son) and Thomas Spencer after the First World War. Public listing gave expansion plans a boost and a series of shops were opened across the country. It wasn’t until 26 May 1933 that M&S opened their shop in Chesterfield. They selected a site on 2-6 High Street. The original building comprised the left-hand section of the present reddish brick and white stone structure.
The Derbyshire Times of 27 May 1933 enthusiastically reported that much interest had been caused in the town by this new ‘super store’, erected by ‘Messrs. Bovis, London, the striking frontage of Empire stone and Jacobean brick being 150 feet in height and 40 feet wide. On the ground floor the sales department is divided into approximately 20 departmental counter displayers, comprising a wide range of merchandise.’ Two floors above were used for ‘stock accommodation, office staff, tea room, etc.’ Fifty girls from Chesterfield and district were employed at the store.
Previously the Derbyshire Times (1 October 1932) had reported that M&S had practically completed negotiations with the owner of their proposed site. Apparently, this had been occupied for many years by Mr. HJ Cook, who had moved his business to Cavendish Street. ‘The store, we are informed will occupy a part of the yard and back premises of Mr. Peter Warner, fishmonger, with whom readjustment of lease has been made, and will stretch right through to Knifesmith Gate. We are informed that it is hoped to have an entrance both from the Market Place and also from Knifesmith Gate.’
Extension and reconstruction
The store was obviously successful as it was reconstructed and extended in 1938. It took over the former shop of Blackshaw & Sons, who were bakers at number 8 High Street.
It’s not entirely clear when further modernisation to the premises was made, but the Knifesmithgate elevation and goods loading bay appears to have been substantially remodelled, perhaps in the 1970s.
M&S were still clearly on an expansion trend in the town. In 1965 the well-known Hadfield’s pork butchers and provision merchants closed. M&S appear to have bought the site for expansion, but standing between this site and their shop on High Street was MacFisheries, as successor to Peter Warner’s shop. A new shop was constructed on the site of Hadfield’s in about 1967 – MacFisheries moving to this shop – their old shop next to M&S was then demolished – leaving a gap, which was filled by scaffolding and a hoarding for some years.
The Derbyshire Times of 6 October 1978 announced the ‘shock’ closure of MacFisheries’ store ‘by early next year’ (when the ‘freehold’ property was described as having been constructed 11 years ago). By 1980 work was underway to convert the former store as an expansion to M&S. On opening access to the converted MacFisheries was via a short walkway, inside, to/from the left of the left-hand M&S High Street entrance. This took shoppers into the converted ground floor of the former MacFisheries’ building.
In the early 1980s the former MacFisheries’ (now M&S) building and the space between that and M&S main High Street store, were filled by a modern building, which brought a first-floor coffee shop to M&S for the first time – a feature that will be missing in the new Ravenside shop.
As one might expect, buildings in this area have an interesting history, which we hope to explore in a future blog. In this area, for example, was the failed Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Bank, the Derbyshire Courier offices (a now defunct Chesterfield newspaper taken over by the Derbyshire Times in the 1920s) and also the town’s first post office. To add to the interest, at some stage Peter Warner had also occupied a building on the site of Hadfield’s. Both this building and their shop next to M&S were separate properties, but appear to have been possibly re-fronted as some stage in the same style.
You can access a 1959 view of the Chesterfield Market Place and High Street areas on Picture the Past by following the link – https://picturethepast.org.uk/image-library.html?keywords=dccc001450. On that image the premises of Hadfield & Sons can be seen with Peter Warner’s fishmongers sandwiched between them and M&S. Both Hadfield’s and Warner’s former sites form part of an extension to the M&S Chesterfield High Street branch, set for its last trading day on 29 November 2022.
Sources used in this blog have included our ‘Chesterfield streets and houses’ book, T F Wright’s volume IV of the ‘History of Chesterfield…’, contemporary editions of the Derbyshire Times and Borough of Chesterfield official directories from 1959, 1965, 1967, 1971 and 1973.
Chesterfield formerly had three railway stations in or adjacent to the town centre. But it didn’t end there, as a further seven were contained within what would now be Chesterfield borough. In this blog – a version of which first appeared in the Derbyshire Times – we take a brief look at these stations.
Stations weren’t just closed in the so-called Beeching era of British Railways (the 1960s under a plan developed by the then Chairman). Some were surprisingly early losses as competing company lines were closed. In Chesterfield borough, for example, the lines of three formerly competing companies once served the town – the Midland Railway, Great Central Railway and the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway. Of these only the former Midland station is still in business – at the bottom of Corporation Street. All the other railway stations in today’s borough have closed.
Station names can change, but we’ve used those that most people might remember. The closure dates we give here relate to passenger services. It’s worth remembering that some stations retained a goods service after they closed to passengers.
Chesterfield Midland Station – open but reconstructed.
Chesterfield’s remaining railway station, at the bottom of Corporation Street and on the NE/SW and London route, is the town’s earliest.
It was first opened in 1840 as part of the North Midland Railway’s Derby to Leeds line. Construction of this line brought George Stephenson to live at Tapton House, not far away from the railway station, where he died in 1848. Stephenson was the engineer in chief of the line (with his son Robert). George was regarded as the so-called ‘father of the railways’ and is commemorated by a statue outside the station by Stephen Hickling which was unveiled in 2005. It was, though, Stephenson’s understudy Frederick Swanwick who took most of the decisions during the line’s construction. George Stephenson is buried in nearby Trinity Church.
In 1844 the North Midland Railway amalgamated with three other companies to form the Midland Railway. A ‘grouping’ of railways in 1923 resulted in the Midland becoming part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, until nationalised in 1948.
It appears that North Midland House – the isolated property which has the station car park behind it – may have been built out of repurposed masonry fragments from Francis Thomson’s original station building. These were probabaly salvaged when a new station was constructed in the late 1860s to early 1870, about 200 yards north of the first building, to accommodate the opening of the current direct line to Sheffield (opened in 1870). Until that time passengers for the city had to travel to Rotherham Masborough and catch a local train from there to Sheffield.
The 1870 station was rebuilt in the early 1960s (in stages). This building was itself replaced in 2000 by the present structure. Throughout the various rebuildings the 1870s station platform canopies have been retained albeit altered at some stage – they appear to have less glazing in them than their original configuration. The outer edges of the canopies were re-clad in 2023, to a similar design as that existing.
There were once extensive goods yards and sidings nearby (the site of the present car park), which included a brick built and a wooden built goods shed and stables for horses.
Chesterfield Market Place Station (closed and demolished)
The Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway’s Market Place Station (next to the Portland Hotel) was opened in 1897 and closed to passengers in 1951 (though a sparse goods service continued until spring 1957). After some years as a paint and carpet warehouse it was sadly demolished in 1973.
Though it was planned to, the railway never reached Lancashire nor the East Coast. It was taken over by the Great Central Railway (GCR) in 1907, became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923 (when the railways were grouped into four big companies) and was part of British Railway’s (BR) Eastern Region from nationalisation in 1948.
From here you could catch trains to Lincoln, Mansfield and stations in between (for example Arkwright, Bolsover, etc.), though the service was always sparse.
The line was carried into the Market Place station via major engineering works. Most noteworthy was a viaduct at Horns Bridge, which towered above the area, including the Midland Railway and the Great Central Railway lines, which all crossed in this area. A very small remnant of this brick and iron lattice-work viaduct can been seen today, in the form of a blue-brick pillar backing on to the Midland Railway line at the Horn’s Bridge A61/A617 roundabout.
For more about the probable architect of this station – Cole Adams – see our blog here.
An extensive goods shed and yard was near the station. In the line’s early years, a small steam locomotive engine shed was also situated nearby. The station and goods yard hosted an, at one time, well-remembered centenary death of George Stephenson railway exhibition in 1948. The goods yard, on West Bars, later formed the home of Arnold Laver timber merchants.
Chesterfield Central Station (closed and demolished)
Another demolished station was the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’s (later GCR) buildings on Infirmary Road. Its site is now covered by the inner relief road – officially known as ‘Great Central Way’ – which opened in 1985.
The station was built as part of a branch off the company’s then new ‘Derbyshire Lines’ Beighton to Annesley extension. Work on making the line into a loop had started while the branch to Chesterfield Central was still being built. This involved construction of a tunnel through Chesterfield, part of which still remains. The original constructing company – the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway – then built a new mainline to London Marylebone. The company changed its name in 1897 to the Great Central Railway, anticipating the opening (in 1899) of this new line. What became the ‘Chesterfield Loop’ departed the mainline just south of Staveley Central Station, re-joining it again near Heath.
Having opened in 1892, the station passed into LNER hands in 1923, then into BR’s Eastern Region in 1948. It closed in early March 1963.
Like other stations on the Chesterfield Loop, passenger services were mainly local – to/from Nottingham Victoria and Sheffield Victoria. A very limited number of expresses did call at the Chesterfield station at varying periods during its existence.
An extensive brick-built goods shed and sidings were nearby.
Sheepbridge and Brimington Station (closed and demolished)
The next station on the GCR’s Chesterfield Loop towards Staveley was Sheepbridge and Brimington, at the bottom of Wheeldon Mill. Its site is now mainly occupied by a haulage business – though the former station master’s house still survives.
Like that at Chesterfield, stations on this part of the GCR were of wooden construction and were lauded by railway historian Gordon Biddle as being amongst the best of their type.
This station opened in June 1892 and closed in early 1956. The platform buildings on the left in our photograph had survived, albeit minus their canopies, until April 2010, when they were destroyed by fire.
Staveley Works for Barrow Hill Station (closed and demolished)
Next towards Staveley on the GCR Chesterfield Loop line was Staveley Works (for Barrow Hill) Station. This was carried over the Chesterfield canal on a bridge, in the area of the present Hollingwood Hub. Some of these embankments and their abutments still survive.
This wooden station building, like Chesterfield Central, also opened in 1892 and closed in early March 1963.
The 1892 datestone in a nearby wall was originally at the Chesterfield Tunnel entrance portal on Infirmary Road. It was rescued from storage by members of the Chesterfield Canal Trust.
Staveley Central Station (closed and demolished)
The GCR’s loop joined their mainline just south of Staveley Central Station. Situated at Lowgates this station is now the route of the A6192 Ireland Close.
Here were more wooden buildings, opening in 1892 and closing in early March 1963. Nearby was a large engine shed (closed 1966) and railway workers’ housing.
As the station at Staveley was on the mainline, trains travelled through it (but did not usually call) until 1966 – when services on the mainline were finally withdrawn. Indeed, freight carried on longer as the line was then used by coal trains to/from Arkwright Colliery.
Nearby the station was a once extensive goods yard with goods shed.
Staveley Town Station (closed – street level building survives)
A little further eastwards from the GCR’s station at Lowgates was the Midland Railway’s Staveley Town station, at Netherthorpe, opened in 1888 and closed in 1951, a road-side building, presumably the booking office, still survives on Fan Road.
The platforms were in a cutting behind and below this building. This was not a mainline station – the route ran to/from Mansfield and Chesterfield Midland station via Clowne.
Sheepbridge & Whittington Moor station (closed, street-level buildings survive)
When the Midland Railway opened their direct line from the still in business Chesterfield railway station to Sheffield in 1870, some local stations were also included. Sheepbridge and Whittington Moor station was just one of these.
The booking office still survives at street level, as does the station master’s house, painted white in this photograph. The station closed in 1967, but was used for engineering works diversions until 1975.
Barrow Hill and Whittington stations (both closed, both demolished)
Until the Midland Railway constructed their direct line to Sheffield the city, as we have previously mentioned, was accessed via a line that went to Rotherham Masborough, opening in 1840 and constructed by the North Midland Railway. In the present Chesterfield borough were two stations situated on this line which both replaced much earlier ones.
Replacing an earlier structure, Barrow Hill station opened in 1888 and closed in 1954, though was used for trains to the nearby Barrow Hill railway roundhouse open days into the 1980s. This station is part of a bid to reopen the line to passengers. Today there is little in the way of remains, though it is possible to trace the lower part of the booking office wall which was situated nearly opposite the Barrow Hill Memorial Hall. The current Barrow Hill Roundhouse is situated nearby.
Whittington opened in 1873 and closed in 1952, but excursion trains still called until at least 1977. (There was an earlier station at Whittington, which had opened October 1861, closing when the 1873 station opened).
Names and renames and more about openings and closings
This post was slightly edited on 21 December 2022, to make it clear that the second Midland station at Chesterfield was built around 200 yards north of the 1840 station. The picture of the 1870s Midland Railway station and a revised picture of Chesterfield Central Railway station (both from TP Wood’s Almanac for 1900) were added on 28 December 2022. A further edit was undertaken on 15 May 2023 adding a link to a post on the architect of the LDECR Market Place station and update the entry on Chesterfield (Midland) station, refering to a canopy refurbishment.
In early 2021 we looked at the Shuttlewood schools complex noting that the former senior school of 1907 was to be demolished. It’s perhaps worth noting, then, that this school building has, in fact, been knocked down over the last few weeks.
Situated on Clowne Road (B6418) near to Bolsover the now demolished building was at the northern part of the schools’ site – the southern part is occupied by Brockley Primary and Nursery School, which is still very much open. This southern part of the complex (opened in 1927) is listed grade II – as a good example of the work of ground-breaking Derbyshire Education Committee architect GH Widows.
The now demolished building was not listed and had not been used for teaching since 2007.
You can find out more about the history of the school buildings by following the link here.
Both of our ‘Chesterfield Streets and Houses’ and ‘History of Hasland…’ books are likely to become out of print in the next few weeks. If you are thinking of buying a copy, we’d advise you to do so as soon as possible.
We believe copies are still available at the Chesterfield Visitor Information Centre (near the Parish Church) and at Waterstones in the town. Each book costs £20. At the moment we cannot say whether there will be a reprint.
Our thanks to everyone who has supported our work by purchasing a book. We hope that you have enjoyed it.
Our next publication is likely to be on Wingerworth – hopefully available during the first half of 2023. This will build on a substantial raft of work already undertaken by well-known local historian Dr David Edwards, supplemented by further work in The National Archives and elsewhere.
We’ve been looking at industries in the area around Storforth Lane, Hasland parish, in our last few blogs. We end this story with a look at how the modern Storforth Lane Trading Estate came about and its immediate predecessor – a brickworks.
In 1898 Charles James Saunders (1853–1925), who had a brickworks on Brockwell Lane (in Newbold), adjoining his home at Brockwell House, incorporated his business as C.J. Saunders & Co. Ltd, with capital of £1,4000 in £10 shares.
The new company was to take over the Brockwell Lane works as a going concern and build a brick and tile-works at Storforth Lane. The works stood on the north side of Storforth Lane immediately to the east of the Midland Railway, from which it was served by a siding, whereas the Brockwell Lane works (which closed in 1914) was never rail connected. Part of the site had previously been occupied by the spoil tips and miscellaneous works of Storforth Lane colliery. Clay was got from pits adjoining the works.
Saunders was chairman and managing director; the other directors were P.H. Chandler and John Saunders; and the other subscribers were Reuben Wragg, a slater, Edward Mitchell and his son Arthur Edward, chartered accountants, F.A. Walker, solicitor, and C.W. Rollinson, architect.
The promoters took all the shares and there was no public offer. The shareholders were largely identical with the syndicate which at about the same time developed the ‘Hasland Building Estate’, the grid of streets between Storforth Lane, Hasland Green and Hasland Road, and the works were probably established in part to supply materials for the new houses.
The company was reconstructed in 1921 and in 1931, a few years after Saunders had died, the works were offered for sale, including the kiln and other buildings standing on a 25a. freehold site, the siding and a loading dock, tools, stores, stock in trade, goodwill and all the remaining clay. Portions of the land were let to a variety of tenants, producing a yearly rent of £91, and the worked-out clay pits were being used to tip refuse by Chesterfield corporation. The company appears to have remained in existence for a short time after this sale.
To give an example as to the extent of works the Derbyshire Times of Saturday 31 March 1934 reported that the clay pit on site had a drop of 60 to 70 feet with about 16-20 feet of water in the bottom.
In its edition of August 25th, 1934 the Derbyshire Times reported that;
‘Storforth Lane Brickworks, Chesterfield, formerly owned by Messrs. C. J. Saunders and Company, Ltd., which had been idle since the death of the founder two or three years ago, is again working full time and producing large quantities of bricks needed in connection with building developments in Chesterfield and district. A new department for manufacturing rustic and other patent bricks is contemplated for the near future. A new company has taken over the concern and is registered as Brickworks, Ltd., with a capital of £12,500 in £1 shares. The managing director is Mr. Edwin Glossop, of Ambergate. The works and kilns have been reorganised under the new management, whose main works are at Ambergate, with a branch at Twentywell – Lane, Dore. The new owners are looking forward to a long period of prosperity and are hoping to eclipse records established during the past thirty years.’
Kelly’s directory of Derbyshire states that Saunders Brickworks Ltd were operating the site in their 1936 edition. The works appears to have remained open until at least 1942, when it was being described as ‘Saunders Brickworks Ltd.’
After the brickworks closed the site was redeveloped by Edwin Marriott as Chesterfield’s first purpose-built trading estate for small businesses. A company ‘Storforth Lane Industries’ was registered in June 1956, presumably to develop and let the trading estate. Builder and contractor Edwin Marriott was the chairman of the board and permanent director, with the other first directors being Florence Bethune Marriott, Richard Edwin De Glossop and Marjorie Anne Glossop. The company was dissolved in January 2010.
Our previous blogs about this area – to the east and west of the Storforth Lane railway bridge – have been: