March 2023

End of an era for 23 West Bars, Chesterfield

Shipton & Hallewell Solicitors business has been subsumed into the Anderson Partnership – and their historic offices at 23 West Bars is now for sale. In this blog we mark the end of another era in Chesterfield. For the premises is the only purpose-built solicitors’ offices of the period in Chesterfield –  occupied as such since it was built, probably around the 1830s.

Our Chesterfield Streets and Houses book looks in some detail at the history the area around 23 West Bars. We use this as our main source for this blog.

23 West Bars. The late Georgian property of solicitors Shipton and Hallewell is now for sale after the business was recently subsumed into the Anderson Partnership.

Early history of the site

William Senior’s early 17th century survey of Hercules Foljambe’s former estate, which had been bought by Bess of Hardwick and her son William Cavendish in 1599–1691, includes four premises said to be on West Bars.

One was a small ‘toftstead’, which does not appear to have stood on a street frontage and cannot be located.

Another was a long ‘burgage plot’ which (mainly because of its length) can be securely identified with the present 87 New Square. The measurement of the other two plots suggests they shared a common back boundary, with both having street frontages. One was occupied by John Crookes, the other occupied by a John Holland.

Cavendish estate

In 1803 the Cavendish estate on or near West Bars included only three parcels belonging to that estate. One was what is now 87 New Square. The other two were the plots on which 19–23 West Bars later stood. Their combined dimensions fit very closely to those given by Senior for the plots held by Crookes and Holland in 1610.

One of the two houses on the plot in 1803 was occupied by George Holland. It could conceivably have been held by successive members of his family since at least 1610. In 1803 Holland’s house had an outbuilding used as a hat factory. This property was re-let in 1806 to Henry White on behalf of Ellis Holmes and himself.

The other house was occupied by Widow Pinder. It was said to be ‘all tumbling down’ in 1803. The plot was later redeveloped with the building of a new house (no. 23) on the left-hand side (as viewed from West Bars) set back from the road. This entailed the demolition of one of the houses standing on the street frontage in 1803 and the rebuilding of the other as a semi-detached pair, which later became nos. 19– 21 West Bars.

23 West Bars is built

By 1836, 23 West Bars had been sold by the Cavendish estate and it is possible that the rebuilding of the property took place soon after this sale.

In 1849 the whole plot belonged to John Charge, a solicitor and clerk of the peace, who occupied 23 West Bars and used it as an office. He lived at Spital House so had no need for a residence nearer the town centre.

Chesterfield’s first purpose built solicitors has been occupied as such since at least the 1830s. It is grade II listed building.

Architectural details

Number 23 is a two-storey, 17 three-bay red-brick building with a hipped, slated roof. The sash windows have engraved lintels. The central moulded wooden doorcase to the main entrance is set back in a moulded stone architrave with inset half-round fluted wooden pilasters. The door comprises six fielded panels and a segmental fanlight. It is set back from West Bars, fronted by a garden. It is listed Grade II.

Despite being a ‘stone’s throw’ away from the New Square and the centre of Chesterfield, its position is relatively secluded, particularly as it is now bounded on one side by the Shentall Memorial Gardens.

Front door name-plate, for this once-well known business of solicitors. How many times has this plaque been polished?

A dynasty of solicitors

As we have speculated, the house appears to have been built around the 1830s.

John Charge was articled to Bernard Lucas junior in 1795 and was in practice on West Bars in 1828, if not before. He died in 1849, aged 71. Five years earlier Charge had taken into his office as managing clerk a solicitor named Joseph Shipton, who succeeded to the practice on his principal’s death.

Shipton & Hallewell were once part of the fabric of everyday Chesterfield. Like other such solicitors their ‘bread and butter’ work saw them act as solicitors for property conveyancing. One such example is this sale of Belmont near Holymoorside, as reported by the Derbyshire Times of 20 June 1941.

In 1851 Shipton took into partnership a John Hallewell, who had been articled to Charge. Thus was  founded the firm of Shipton, Hallewell & Co., which, until earlier this year was still in practice at 23 West Bars, the only purpose-built solicitor’s office in Chesterfield (though, of course, there are more modern examples).

Shipton died in April 1880 aged 65, having lived since around 1857 at Thornfield, on Sheffield Road in Stonegravels. At the time of his death the Derbyshire Times speculated that ‘It is perhaps indisputable that no firm of solicitors in Chesterfield have such an extensive private practice as this, and without prejudice it must be accorded the memory of Mr. Shipton that he was the main cause thereof, Mr. Hallewell devoting his attention chiefly the important duties of clerk to the county…’ Unlike his partner Shipton was active in local politics, becoming a town councillor and mayor.

Hallewell, who was born in 1828, lived at Walton Cottage and later Newbold Fields. He died in December 1892. He had been clerk to the Chesterfield gas and water company, and clerk to the county magistrates and was associated with many other bodies in the town. Known as a keen sportsman he was particularly interested in shooting and was the first captain of the Chesterfield Volunteer’s ‘A company’. According to his obituary in the Derbyshire Courier, in his earlier years at Shipton and Hallewell ‘he liked nothing better than an adjournment to an outbuilding and a smart round with the gloves at a good man’!

The end of a dynasty

Now the practice of Shipton, Hallewell & Co has been subsumed into the Anderson Partnership. The offices at 23 West Bars have been closed and are for sale. Unless another firm of solicitors decides to buy the West Bars premises another link with Chesterfield’s past will be broken – the continuous occupation of a property built in around the 1830s purposely for a solicitors will end.

Sources used in this blog

All sources used in the blog are fully referenced in our Chesterfield Streets and Houses book. They have, however included the following:

  • Chesterfield Tithe Award (1849) (copy in Derbyshire Record Office).
  • Peter Potter, ‘General Map of the Borough of Chesterfield showing more particularly the several estates which belong to His Grace the Duke of Devonshire as surveyed in 1803’. Photograph of map (A292) and what appears to be the original terrier in Chesterfield Local Studies Library (CLSL).
  • George Unwin, ‘General Map of the Borough of Chesterfield showing more particularly the several estates which belong to His Grace the Duke of Devonshire’ (1836). Photograph of map in CLSL (A309); terrier in Devonshire Manuscripts at Chatsworth.
  • William Senior’s Survey of the Estates of the First and Second Earls of Devonshire c.1600–28 (Derbyshire Record Society, 1988).
  • Contemporary Derbyshire Times and Derbyshire Courier newspaper reports.
  • White’s Directory of Derbyshire (1857); Bagshaw’s Dir. Derb. (1846); Pigot’s Dir. Derb. (1828).
  • Historic England, listed building entry no. 1203453.

Our Chesterfield Streets and Houses book is still available to purchase at Waterstone’s Chesterfield branch,  the town’s visitor information centre or direct from the publishers –

Apparently it was formerly not unusual for the local sessions (court) to meet at the offices of Shipton and Hallewell – hence this report from the Derbyshire Times of Wednesday 26 January 1881.

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Penmore Hospital, Hasland

In this blog we’ll take a look at the former Penmore Hospital Hasland. What follows is a shortened version of an account in our History of Hasland book.

The newly-built Penmore Hospital, pictured in TP Wood’s Almanac for 1905. The almanac states that the Chesterfield Joint Hospital Committee, who had commissioned the building, comprised ‘representatives of the Corporation and of neighbouring Urban Councils of Brampton and Walton, Newbold and Dunston and Whittington. It is not intended for small-pox cases, which will still be dealt with at the Spital Hospital’.


In 1894–5 Chesterfield corporation purchased just over 12 acres of land at Penmore from the duke of Devonshire for an isolation hospital.

Plans for a 30-bed hospital were prepared in 1899 by G.E. Bolshaw of Southport (Lancs.), with construction tenders sought in 1902.

The hospital consisted of several blocks of buildings to the rear of Penmore House. Access was from Hasland Road. The building was opened in 9 December 1904. It was commissioned by the Chesterfield joint hospital committee. An earlier smallpox hospital off Spital Lane was not replaced by this building, which was to continue handling such cases.


In 1912 Penmore had 38 beds. 1916 saw extensions, designed by the local architect T.S. Wilcockson, completed at a cost of £9,000. Built of brick with stone dressings to harmonise with the older buildings, the extensions comprised a male ward with eight beds, a female ward with five, and a doubling of the accommodation in the administrative block. Electric light was installed in 1924. In 1922 Penmore had 50 beds for infectious diseases.

After escaping closure during a reorganisation of isolation hospitals in north-east Derbyshire in 1930, the number increased slightly to 59. Six years later the Chesterfield joint hospital committee was dissolved and Penmore isolation hospital, with 58 beds, was transferred to Chesterfield corporation.

In 1942 a scabies cleansing station was established at Penmore by the corporation.

The Penmore Hospital some ten years after the facility had opened. The entrance was from a driveway off Hasland Road (not shown on this map extract). 25-iches to 1 mile, Ordnance Survey map, Derbyshire sheet XXV.11, Revised: 1914, Published: 1918. (Courtesy National Library of Scotland).

Post-war reconstruction and refurbishment

The rest of the buildings appear not to have been used as a hospital during the Second World War, since after they passed to the National Health Service in 1948 they had to be repaired before the wards could be reopened. From that date Penmore was one of several hospitals, in addition to the Chesterfield Royal, administered by the Chesterfield hospital management committee. In 1945 Penmore was said to consist of old buildings on an uneven site subject to mining subsidence and lacked a resident medical officer.

Welbeck Ward, Penmore Hospital. An AR Wilsher photograph taken from a 1972 guide to hospital services in Chesterfield

The first of three blocks at Penmore, containing 35 beds, was ready for use in May 1951, when the rest of the hospital was expected to be completed by August. The Sheffield regional hospital board determined that Penmore would be used for long-stay orthopaedic and medical cases. With authorised accommodation 25 for 60 beds, the hospital had 12 patients in June 1951 increasing to  45 in November.

A 1950 scheme by management committee proposed to purchase Penmore House as accommodation for residential staff did not go ahead.  Instead the former tuberculosis pavilion adjoining the hospital was adapted to become a nurses’ home. In 1953 Penmore House (not to be confused with the adjacent Penmore Hospital) was taken over by Chesterfield College of Art.

At the hospital there were problems with subsidence in 1952–4, for which the National Coal Board accepted liability. In 1952, after an inspection by the General Nursing Council, Penmore was accepted as a training centre for nursing assistants, subject to certain conditions, which the management committee undertook to meet. These included the improvement of sanitary accommodation on the wards, the provision of fridges in ward kitchens and the creation of day rooms for patients.

The training school opened until 1956, when a nurse-tutor was appointed (who had herself to take a training course). The first intake of ten students was admitted in January 1957.

The training centre moved to Spring Bank House in Chesterfield at the end of 1961, when the accommodation at Penmore was briefly used as a chapel and later became a patients’ day room.


1952 saw the staffing levels set for the hospital were a matron, assistant matron, night sister, three ward sisters, three staff nurses and 14 enrolled auxiliaries. There were also 28 non-nursing staff. Twelve months later the hospital lost a ward sister and a staff nurse and was given five orderlies instead; the non-nursing staff was reduced to 20.

When another ward was opened in 1954, an additional sister and staff nurse were appointed, together with four enrolled auxiliaries and two orderlies. In 1954 the hospital had difficulty recruiting  nursing staff and remained heavily reliant on overtime working for several years.

The first matron retired in 1957. When her successor was appointed the nursing establishment was increased to 29, including (in addition to the matron, assistant matron and tutor) a night sister in sole charge, three ward sisters, four staff nurses, 12 state enrolled nurses, four pupil assistants and two auxiliaries. The hospital then had just under 50 patients.

When the last ward to be refurbished opened in 1958 the figure rose to about 60. In 1960 Penmore had accommodation for 60 chronic sick cases. By this date the ‘blocks’ of the old isolation hospital had been named Clumber, Thoresby and Welbeck wards and efforts made to improve the grounds.

This extract from a July 1967 ‘Particulars of hospitals etc’ in the the then Chesterfield Hospital Management Committee group shows the staffing and patient accommodation at Penmore Hospital. Note that the Scabies Department, which first seems to have opened in 1942, is still in operation and the responsibility of the borough council. (Collection P Cousins).


In 1956 staff at the Chesterfield Co-operative store raised funds to present television sets for two of the wards, for which they were warmly thanked, as were 15 students of the college of art who provided Christmas decorations.

From 1958, when £123 was raised, a sale  of work was held every summer. By 1963 these events had raised a total of £1,232 for the hospital.

Successive rectors of St Paul’s, Hasland, served as hospital chaplains from 1951, joined by a minister  from Hasland Methodist church from 1958.

Declining years

In 1962 student nurses from the Royal Hospital were accommodated in the former administrative block at Penmore. In this period the NHS also owned a pair of semi-detached houses, 38–40 Penmore Street, acquired with the hospital, which were generally let to junior medical staff, as were two flats in the old pavilion, part of which was demolished in 1962.

In 1967 the use of the administrative block as a nurses’ residence was thought likely to be reduced in the near future. The following year the regional hospital board suggested that surplus land at Penmore might be sold. Despite these signs of decline, in 1972–3 a new dayroom was built at the hospital, sanitary facilities improved, and colour televisions bought for the wards.

After the opening of the new Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Royal Hospital at Calow in 1984, Penmore was retained as a 60-bed geriatric unit. It continued to be used in this way in 1987, when it was planned to be run down to closure in 1994.

After the hospital closed, the buildings were demolished and the land sold for housing. The houses on Penmore Street passed into private ownership.

Penmore Hospital in the 1960s. The denoted ‘College’ includes the still extant Penmore House, which was then occupied by the Chesterfield College of Art. (Ordnance Survey 6-inches to 1 mile. SK36NE – A. Surveyed / Revised: 1960 to 1967, Published: 1967. Courtesy National Library of Scotland).

Sources used in this blog

All the sources used in this blog are fully referenced in our History of Hasland book. Although this book (published in 2022) is not now in print, copies can be consulted in Chesterfield local studies library.

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An early attempt at steel-making in Chesterfield?

Research at The National Archives in London by our county editor has revealed a possible attempt to make steel in Chesterfield in the period around 1600.  We’ll take a brief look at this potentially important discovery in this blog.

The Leakes and the Foljambes

Hidden away in what are called Star Chamber depositions (witness statements taken as part of legal proceedings) taken in 1608 is a reference to what seems to have been an experimental iron mill. The case centred on whether the mill was in Walton or Brampton. At this date Walton manor was held by the Foljambes, and Brampton held by the Leakes of Sutton.  The River Hipper formed the boundary between the two. The Foljambes and Leakes were the two leading gentry families in the Chesterfield area in the sixteenth century and it was not unknown for violence to occur where they disagreed!

The last head of the direct male line of the Foljambe family, Godfrey Foljambe, died in 1598, leaving a young widow, Isabel, who married Sir William Bowes of County Durham. There was already an ‘iron mill’ powered by the Hipper on the Foljambe estate, but Bowes claimed in the court case that he had spent £300 building another one.

An experiment in steel making

Witnesses in the Star Chamber case gave conflicting accounts of a dispute between servants of Sir William Bowes and Sir Francis Leake in September 1605, but both sides described the new works as a mill to make ‘steel and iron’. This is an unusual phrase for this date, added to which Bowes is said to have kept the works locked, suggesting that he was experimenting with a new process there. Attempts to make steel were just getting underway around the start of the seventeenth century, in the Sheffield area as elsewhere, and it is possible the Bowes was trying to make steel at the mill on the Hipper, using iron smelted at another iron mill higher up the river. The experiments probably came to an end when Bowes died in 1611, if not before.

This ground-breaking illustration, which appeared in Philip Robinson’s 1957 book ‘The Smiths of Chesterfield’, attempted to reconstruct the area around the Griffin Foundry in the period around 1788. The surviving Cannon Mill is to the right of centre, behind the smoking chimney. It was in this vicinity that much earlier attempts may have been made to produce steel.
The location

In his deposition Bowes stated that when he gained control of the Foljambe estate through his marriage to Isabel there were already six corn mills, one lead mill and one iron mill on the Hipper in Walton. The first of these figures refers to the number of mill stones, rather than separate buildings, but it is clear that the river was already being intensively exploited by industry in the late sixteenth century.

Bowes’s new works stood on a piece of ground called Upper Whitting Holme, which in the 1770s became the site of Ebenezer Smith’s Griffin Ironworks and Francis Thompson’s engine-building forge. The only surviving built from either enterprise is Cannon Mill, built by the Smiths apparently for boring cannon during the Napoleonic War, which ended in 1815. The date 1816 on a cast-iron plaque on the building commemorates its use during the war, not when it was built.

The mills on the river in the early seventeenth century are marked on a map of the Foljambe estate in Walton surveyed in 1622. This marks the mill built by Sir William Bowes downstream from the corn mill, iron mill and lead mill. The corn mill remained in use until modern times and the storage pond which supplied water to this and other mills survives as Walton Dam off Walton Road. One of the other mill sites was later taken over by Hewitt’s cotton mill, which also survives and is one of the very few late eighteenth-century fire-resistant textile mills still standing anywhere in England.

Research on the history of the Foljambe estate at Walton in the early seventeenth century, for which the main source are the voluminous records of litigation in Star Chamber and other courts, is continuing and it is possible that more will be discovered about what Sir William Bowes was trying to do at the iron mill on the Hipper.

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Wingerworth and its Lido railway

In this blog we take a look at a long-forgotten narrow gauge railway which ran for only a few years at Wingerworth’s Lido. No doubt it gave pleasure to many, but was probably a victim of the Second World War. We are currently researching Wingerworth for our next VCH spin-off book. The Lido and its railway will be included – we’d love to see pictures of it!

Captured in time. The Wingerworth Lido railway is shown on this extract for the 1938 Ordnance Survey 25-inch to one mile map. Described as ‘miniature railway’ its 2ft gauge actually makes it a narrow gauge railway! (National Library of Scotland).

A narrow-gauge railway at the Lido, which skirted the western and northern edges of the site, with a bridge over the north-west corner of the pond, was first mentioned in the Derbyshire Times of 5 July 1935.  

The Lido narrow gauge railway’s steam locomotive may well have looked like this – an illustration taken from manufacturer – Kerr Stuart’s – 1924 catalogue.

The single-track line had a large balloon loop at its north-eastern end and a smaller loop near Nethermoor Road, giving a total run of about a half a mile out and back. There was also a short siding at the western end of the line, adjacent to Nethermoor Road, next to a shed that presumably served as a station, and a longer siding which left the main line near the eastern balloon loop.

The track was laid to a gauge of 2 ft. The motive power was provided partly by an 0-4-0 saddle tank steam locomotive built by Kerr Stuart in 1915 bought second-hand (through T.W. Ward, the Sheffield merchants) from Sheffield Corporation. It was previously used at their Ewden Valley waterworks from 1931, during a phase that saw remedial works carried out.   It was repurchased by Wards in December 1935, who sold it simultaneously to T. H. Austin. Other motive power at Wingerworth Lido was provided by a four-wheel petrol mechanical loco, fitted with an 11 horse-power Morris engine, which may have been home-built.

1 shilling and 3 old pence return to Wingerworth Lido by bus, as advertised in the Derbyshire Times, 19 June 1936.

Originally part of the Hunloke Estate, the Lido itself had been purchased by Thomas Henry Austin (later the sole operator) and Frank Norman, both of Wingerworth, who developed the site commercially. In May 1934 the promoters announced the opening of ‘Ye old Smithy Pond’ for swimming, sunbathing and boating in and around the 5½ acre pond (which in the centre was 26 ft deep). There was an 18 ft diving stand, 12 rowing boats and several punts for hire, and two motor boats offered trips round the pond. The promoters were negotiating with East Midland Motor Services to provide a bus service from Chesterfield to Wingerworth, which apparently had not previously existed.  

The end of the Austin enterprise occurred after he was required, in 1939, by the Chesterfield rural district council, to construct better sanitary accommodation at the Lido. Austin’s plans to address this were presumably overtaken by the outbreak of war, when the venue appears to have closed down.

End of a short-lived era. The sale at Wingerworth Lido on 8 October 1941 included materials from the narrow gauge railway.(Derbyshire Times, 3 October 1941).

In October 1941 an auction was held of much of the equipment from the Lido, including the railway track and wagons, but not the locomotives. It appears that these had previously been returned to Wards. The rails, sleepers and wagons may have been requisitioned as scrap, since a newspaper report of the ‘remarkable’ sale makes no mention of them. It does, however, refer to the second-hand timber, sectional buildings, catering equipment and furniture, for which ‘extraordinarily good prices’ were realised, possibly because none of the items offered were obtainable new.

Austin, who lived at ‘Blackhill’, Wingerworth, died in March 1944, leaving effects valued at £4,570.

So ends this story of Wingerworth’s own narrow gauge railway. A short-lived affair, which never-the-less was doubtless enjoyed by many. And, among with the rest of the Lido attractions, helped bring a bus service to the village!

They’ll be much more about the Lido and lots more about Wingerworth in our forthcoming ‘History of Wingerworth’ VCH spin-off book, which we hope to publish later this year.

In the meantime, if you’ve any photos or recollections of the railway we’d love to hear from you.

Our thanks to R.T. Gratton, S.R. Band and the Industrial Railway Society for information in this blog, also to Rob Marriott and his Chesterfield History and Genealogy Facebook page for a useful discussion thread on the railway. We’ve also used contemporary newspaper accounts and Howard Bowtell’s 1977 book ‘Reservoir Railways of Manchester and the Peak’.

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