Webmaster, Derbyshire VCH Trust

Feet of Fines to be published

Our sister organisation – the Derbyshire Record Society (DRS) – is shortly to publish ‘Derbyshire Feet of Fines 1196-1325’. We preview this publication here.

This book completes the publication of the late Harold Garratt’s calendar of feet of fines recording the conveyance of estates in Derbyshire from their commencement in the reign of Richard I down to the end of Henry VIII’s reign. An earlier volume (XI, 1985) contained the fines for the county
executed between 1324 and 1547.

This second volume replaces and extends the unindexed calendar published in instalments in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal between 1885 and 1895.

What are feet of fines?

Feet of fines are among the best known and most heavily used sources for medieval genealogy and the descent of landed estates. They provide a wealth of information, going back to a period from which few estate muniments survive. Above all, they are precisely dated from their commencement, which most private deeds are not before the end of the thirteenth century. With the appearance of this volume, Derbyshire finally joins the list of counties for which all the medieval fines are available in print in a reliable calendar in English, fully indexed by person, place and subject.

The book will immediately become (and remain) a standard work of reference for historians interested in medieval Derbyshire, and for genealogists tracing the origins of families in the county

Further information

The book will be published at the DRS AGM on 23 September 2023. Priced at £25 for members, it is available to non-members at £35 (plus postage). The DRS website will shortly have an on-line order form available, but you can also email their treasurer at treasurer@derbyshirerecordsociety.org.

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AGM talk focus on businesswomen in Georgian England

Our AGM on 23 September includes a free talk – open to all – this year focussing on the role of businesswomen in Georgian England.

Through Derbyshire case studies, our speaker Dr Collinge, will explore this perhaps neglected subject. Female-owned businesses are commonly regarded as short-lived, marginal concerns, abandoned upon marriage, appropriated by avaricious husbands or set up by impoverished widows.

But Dr Collinge presents evidence of women navigating the opportunities and challenges they encountered in order to secure an independent living.

Everyone is welcome to attend the talk (you don’t have to be a VCH member). Our AGM starts at 2pm, with the talk starting at 2.30pm – Imperial Rooms, 4 Imperial Road, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3NL, Saturday 23 September 2023. Light refreshments are available afterwards. Admission is free.

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Bess of Hardwick – born between 13 February 1521 – 12 February 1522

When was Bess of Hardwick born? Our county editor thinks it was sometime between 13 February 1521 and 12 February 1522, not as some others have it in 1527. We take a look at the evidence in this short blog.

Bess is probably the third most famous Englishwoman of her age after Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. Bess is, of course, particularly, associated with Hardwick Hall.

Though there’s no shortage of books on Bess of Hardwick, there has been some conjecture, over a long period, on just when she was born, most quoting 1527. Our VCH county editor, Philip Riden, who has extensively researched the issue, is certain, though, that she was born between 13 February 1521 and 12 February 1522.

It’s widely known that Bess of Hardwick had four husbands ending with George Talbot 6th earl of Shrewsbury, who died in 1590 – hence the ES emblazoned extensively on Hardwick new hall. She died in 1608.
The impressive monument to Bess of Hardwick in Derby Cathedral. It was designed by Bess in her lifetime. For some years it was thought that her age inscribed on the monument was incorrect, but our county editor believes that its does carry the correct information. The banner sited adjacent to the monument, which gives her birth as 1527, is therefore incorrect.

Philip presents his argument in an article in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal (DAJ) of 2010 ‘The Hardwicks of Hardwick Hall in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries’. You can directly download the article as a pdf via the link here. Look for the final paragraph on page 150 onwards, which presents a reasoned argument for her birthdate. Since publication in 2010 we are not aware of anyone who has presented alternative evidence. So, we are sticking with a birthdate in between 13 February 1521 and 12 February 1522.

You can find out more about Bess and the Hardwick estate in our paperback book ‘Hardwick a great house and its estate’ though this is now out of print, you may be able to obtain copies second-hand.

Our County Editor’s article in the Derbyshire Archaeological Society’s Journal of 2010 presented a reasoned argument as to why Bess of Hardwick was born between 13 February 1521 and 12 February 1522 and not in 1527.

Philip has extensively researched the Hardwick family at Hardwick Hall and published a number of articles on the family and their descendants. In the 1980s, with David Durrant, he published building accounts for Hardwick Hall. More recently his work in the archives at Chatsworth has enabled him to publish (again in two parts), household accounts of William Cavendish of Hardwick (1597-1607) all for the Derbyshire Record Society. His latest DAJ article on the family – ‘The household accounts of the Cavendish family of Hardwick’ – was in 2016.

(If the above link to the 2010 DAJ article does not work try selecting his the article from the contents page here:
https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/…/vi…/daj/contents.cfm… )

This is a revised and updated version of a blog originally posted in January 2021.

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Found – a Gallimore’s almanack

This blog looks at a ‘find’ we’ve made – a copy of the 19th century Chesterfield printer’s ‘Gallimore’s Almanack’ in Chesterfield Local Studies Library.

Gallimore’s almanack

Front cover of Gallimore’s Almanack (then ending with a ‘k’) for 1842. This is believed to have been the first edition of 22, but local content is strictly limited. Our knowledge of 19th century printers in Chesterfield is incomplete VCH hopes to sort this out as part of its work on the town’s history.

You may remember in our blog of 28 May 2021 we posted about Gallimore’s almanack – which might have been a much earlier version of the once popular TP Woods Almanac with its popular chronicle of local events.

Thanks to some work by one of our members and staff at Chesterfield Local Studies Library, we have now found a copy of the errant publication, which we said we’d love to see.


We must admit to being a bit disappointed.

Speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club in late 1924, local historian William Jacques mentions ‘Gallimore’s Almanac’ which he said dated back to 1842 – which makes the copy we’ve identified the first edition. Jacques had recently been presented with a set of 22, which he believed were the only ones in existence. 

Jacques description of Gallimore’s almanack content was that half of it consisted of advertisements ‘nine-tenths of which related to quack medicines’ (Gallimore was a dealer in these). Jacques makes reference about some local content being present – but in the edition we have found, this is very limited.

In fact our copy basically comprises, for the most part, ‘Moore’s Almanack’ (now Old Moore’s) for 1842 which is of 48 pages in length. Local content is limited to ‘C Gallimore’s (late Ford) companion to the Almanacks for 1842’. This comprises a short list of the Chesterfield Corporation followed by names of such local offices as the clerk of the peace, gas and water company, boards of highways, etc. There then follow details of local carriers, feasts and wakes, followed by county lists of fairs, all ending at page 8. There’s certainly no local chronicle – a feature of TP Wood’s almanacs. (Indeed, the the title is actually ‘…Almanacks’ indicating there’s more than one within the covers!)

Open the cover and you’ll find that the vast amount of the almanack’s content is provided via the insertion of Moore’s Almanack within it.


There’s then a so-called ‘Second Sheet’. Rather as described by Jacques, this comprises testimonials from users of ‘Parr’s Life Pills’, of some four pages. A further four pages are given over to more Parr testimonials, until a description of Simpson’s ‘antibilious pills’ takes two pages, whilst the same manufacturer’s ‘herbal pills…for coughs aschmas & consumptions’ takes the remaining two pages. All these, what we now call quack medicines, are naturally stocked by Gallimore. The whole has a presumably Gallimore printed cover, which is illustrated above.

So, all in all, rather a disappointment, particularly when set against Jacques’ talk to the Rotary Club in 1924.

Incidentally, the almanack is not part of the local studies library’s Jacques’ collection. It appears to have been presented or acquired by the library within the last 20 years or so. There’s still, then, the mystery as to what happened to the 22 copies Jacques had.


As we’ve written above, the first edition is 1842 – making the almanack featured here the first one of its type.

This would also nicely fit into the start of TP Wood’s almanac, which, in his almanac for 1904 (published in 1903) he stated was first published in 1864. If 1842 was the first edition and there were 22, TP Wood would have started publication only a few years after the Gallimore almanack had ceased. 

A limited amount of local information follows the Moore’s almanack section. It commences with a list of the Chesterfield Corporation. This section would have been printed by Gallimore in his premises on Iron Gate – formerly that occupied by printer of the 1839 History of Chesterfield – Thomas Ford.

In 1903 Wood went on to state that he his first almanac had been a ‘ready-compiled’ purchased from ‘a Mr Egglinton’, with a few added pages about Wood’s own business. The following year, Gallimore’s having ‘retired’, Wood added ‘about a dozen pages’ of local information’ to his almanac. The publication then rapidly grew, so much so that in 1903 Wood was expressing his concerns about the commercial viability of his almanac, suggesting that it might be slimmed down in future years.

More about Gallimore

Following our original post in May 2021 we were very pleased to receive the following comments from Isabel Fogg via our Facebook page.

She stated that in an article Quaker Printers, 1750-1850, C. Gallimore is listed as a printer c. 1845-1850 in Chesterfield. In contemporary newspapers they have the Gallimore brothers in dress and deportment apparently resembling Charles Lamb, the essayist. There are also references to ‘Moore’s Almanack with Gallimore’s Appendix’ and ‘Gallimore’s Companion to the Almanacks’.

As we have previously noted – VCH needs to carryout further work on Chesterfield’s 19th century printers. This should include following up the above comments.

In a past blog we have looked at Thomas Ford – printer and publisher of the 1839 history of town – who proceeded the Gallimores at their Iron Gate premises.

Featuring in the almanack are various testimonials for what we would now regard as ‘quack’ medicines.  One wonders what these contained?

Found but limited

So, almanack found – but its content is limited. Maybe it increased as the years went on – but we don’t know – as we still need to find the other editions that were published.

Although it is only one example of the 22 editions Jacques says he had, we can rather confidentially say that if this edition of Gallimore’s Almanack is of limited use to VCH in our research. Unless, of course, we decide to look at the quack medicines of the 19th century – readily available in Chesterfield and elsewhere – particularly to Parr’s Life Pills’ or Simpson’s ‘antibilious pills’!

Gallimore was, of course, promoting his own business with these medicine testimonials – as he stocked them. This block is taken from his 1842 almanack.

Our thanks to the staff at Chesterfield Local Studies Library (where the edition of Gallimore’s Almanack featured here can be found) and to Derbyshire County Council for allowing us to reproduce the illustrations in this blog

Sources for this blog

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Markham’s meal as out-going mayor – a lavish affair

In this blog we take a look at a lavish dinner thrown by members of Chesterfield Corporation, in 1911, to celebrate the final year of retiring mayor Charles Paxton Markham. And it may well surprise you as to just how lavish it was. We’ll also take a brief look at Markham’s final spell as mayor and the man himself.

No expense spared – not even with the menu card – complete with gold embossed borough seal towards the top. Note the decorative blue ribbon.

It’s Late October 1911 and Charles Paxton Markham (1865-1926), who many later regarded as the ‘uncrowned King of Chesterfield’ is just about to complete his spell as mayor for the third and final time. Markham, without doubt the area’s leading industrialist (and perhaps politician) at the time, was entertained by the corporation members to a sumptuous dinner at the Stephenson Memorial Hall. Thanks to one of our member’s who has leant us a copy of the menu, we can look at that grand mayoral dinner and just what was on the menu.

CP Markham

The ‘uncrowned King of Chesterfield’ – Charles Paxton Markham – taken from the 1913 yearbook and directory of Chesterfield.

Markham was the managing director and chairman of the Staveley Coal & Iron Company and had many other industrial interests. He had a reputation of being a man who wanted to get things done and wouldn’t let things get in his way too much. He personally paid £10,000 towards clearing the notorious Dog Kennels slum housing area and construction of a new road through a part of them – known as Markham Road – completed by March 1912. The Dog Kennel clearance had become something of a personal crusade to Markham.

Markham had started to become interested in social conditions and housing matters, including those for whom he employed. But he was equally a man you would not want to cross unless you were well prepared or didn’t work for him! Despite these later interests in the welfare of his workers he was anti-union. A few years later he would describe unions as one of the worse things that could have happened to workers.

Markham had first been elected as Mayor in 1896, a term of one year, which was to be repeated for two years from 1909. In 1910 he was also elected as one of eight aldermen and a little later the same year an Honorary Freedom of the Borough was also conferred on him. He was first elected to the council in 1895, serving on it until 1920.

The complimentary dinner

So, to the ‘complimentary dinner’ that members of the town council threw for Markham as he retired from his mayoral duties. And it was right royal affair – fit for an uncrowned king!

Just take a look at the menu below. Starting with ‘native oysters’, we then move into Turtle soup, followed by a second course with all manner of delicacies, all rounded off with fruit and coffee. The wine list also looks interesting, with presumably different wines served at different points in the extensive menu.

A feast fit for an uncrowned king? The complimentary dinner menu. On another page of the menu card ‘artists’ at the dinner are listed – ‘Mr Langford (humourist); Mr Sadler (FRCO); Councillor Lancaster; Councillor Glossop; The Cavendish Glee Party’. It’s thought that Sadler was organist at the parish church, but of the glee party we know nothing. A further page lists the three toasts given, another members of the 1911 corporation and a further one mayors of Chesterfield since 1835 (see below).

It’s not known who paid for this dinner – but it is possible that members of the corporation themselves paid for it, as their thanks to the outgoing mayor (this tradition lasted until recent years). The corporation at that time consisted primarily of business men in the borough – people who would generally be of some means. But whoever did pay for it, it might well have been regarded as one of the social events of the year. 

The new Mayor – The duke of Devonshire

Markham was replaced as Mayor by the duke of Devonshire, in early November, at the mayor making ceremony, with Alderman Markham becoming deputy mayor – a separate occasion to the complimentary dinner. It is believed to be the first time that the corporation had sought a mayor from outside its elected body. (The duke was, of course a member of the Lords, but was also a county council alderman, Chairman of the Bakewell Board of Guardians and had been Mayor of Eastbourne. It appears that the council wanted to use his expertise in promoting the borough and in its governance).

Markham’s ‘splendid mayoralty

In reporting the mayor making ceremony, the Derbyshire Courier’s headline expressed; ‘Alderman Markham’s splendid mayoralty’. (The Courier was one of the two Chesterfield based newspapers of the era).

In reviewing his two years in office the Dog Kennels’ area improvements were stressed. Markham himself made reference to extension of the borough (in 1910) and improvements to the Queen’s Park Annexe which had been started.

In typical Markham fashion, he announced that he and Major Clayton, as Trustees of the Jubilee Drill Hall, had executed a deed to hand it over to the town, if the Territorials using it were to disband. The rider being that there was a big debt on the building – if the town were to pay it the trustees might well hand it over! (This building was much later owned by the borough council. From 1970 it opened as an entertainment centre, renamed as the Goldwell Rooms, and was used as such until the Winding Wheel Theatre opened).

Markham expressed pride that the town were early adopters of ‘town-planning’. Lordsmill Street had been widened – but he hoped that more of it could be so treated – St Mary’s Gate was ‘a disgrace to the town,’ he said. The sewage works had been modernised and work was planned to widen Hasland Road.

Perhaps somewhat confusingly Markham also promised to hand over the deeds of ‘Eastwood Park’ to the town council. This, he said, was land he acquired some time ago, but that he had held onto during negotiations with the Midland Railway when the line through Chesterfield was quadrupled. (This is probably a piece of the frontage of the park, presented in 1913 – though is some miles distant from the railway).

Markham did think a good job had been made of the coronation celebrations held in Chesterfield of King George V.

All-in-all this was typical Markham stuff, in times when the mayor was seen as something more than the mainly ceremonial role played today. It’s clear from the Courier’s review that Markham had given the council (he sat on all the committees as mayor) the benefits of his considerable knowledge.


But there had been also been some difficult issues – perhaps in particular the August 1911 railway riot. Here Markham had to read the riot act, in order to deploy military forces against striking and rioting railway workers.

The Chesterfield Railway Riots were one of a number of disturbances nationwide during the railway strike of 1911. As mayor, Markham took a leading, but not uncontroversial role in quelling them. These extracts are taken from the Derbyshire Courier of Tuesday 29 August 1911. The Courier appears to have been a particular supporter of Markham.

The extension of the borough in 1910 had not realised all the corporation’s wishes. Their desire to extend into Whittington and completely into Newbold was not met. Thus were sunk aspirations to become a county borough.

Due to the extension, elections were required to the council.  In those days the electorate for the town council was much more limited than today – more likely to vote for those, as Frank Wright in his volume (IV) of the History of Chesterfield puts it; the ‘shop-keepers, professional men, manufacturers and engineers’ that were elected to the council.

Indeed, the unofficial opposition during the period was mainly from Chesterfield Trades Council (the group still with us today of trades unions in the area). They had, for example, written to Markham (as mayor) in April 1910, objecting to the £4,000 that was to be spent on the Queen’s Park Annex.  So, the elections of November 1910 returned the usual mix of people. Perhaps the return of the status-quo was somewhat celebrated at the complimentary dinner a year later. Entertaining was, of course, much more lavish back then and Markham and his cohorts would have been used to rather more food than we are today. More (albeit earlier) examples of this type of entertaining are given by Markham’s sister -Violet – in her autobiography ‘Return passage’.

The complimentary dinner does not seem to have attracted the Courier’s attention, though that newspaper’s rival – the Derbyshire Times – did briefly mention it in fulsome terms. But it lamented that a fuller report could not be given due to the private nature of the event. The newspaper was able to record that the duke of Devonshire’s speech apparently embodied the ‘highest ideals of public service, and one which might cause many of the critics of municipal management to think furiously’. The menu was not mentioned.

One might imagine that the vast majority of Chesterfield residents would have been quite surprised, with some of them possibly outraged at the dinner’s menu and indeed the expense of whole event.

The printed menu booklet ended with a list of mayors from 1835. When Markham was first elected as such in 1896 he would have been in his early 30s. The menu measures about 130mm x 205mm, comprises eight pages (including the front cover) – with six printed pages.


  • The complimentary dinner menu.
  • Derbyshire Courier 4 and 11 November 1911.
  • Derbyshire Times, 4 November 1911.
  • V Markham, Return passage (1953).
  • J Murphy, ‘Chesterfield’s drill halls’ The Cestrefeld Journal, number 8, 2023.
  • TF Wright History of Chesterfield volume IV (1992).
  • Chesterfield yearbook and directory for 1913.

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Why this bit of London is in Derbyshire – David Mellor and his legacy

As something a little different from our normal posts, we look at the enduring legacy of David Mellor – master metalworker – and why you’ll find a London bus shelter in a Derbyshire village!

Why is this London bus shelter in Derbyshire? Or for that matter what are the traffic lights or the square post-box and the bollards doing in a corner of Derbyshire – at Hathersage – in the county’s Peak District? The answer is really quite simple – David Mellor (1930-2009) – as these are all products of the late designer and master metalworker, who in 1990 established a factory in the village.

David Mellor – early life

Best known for his range of cutlery, which can justifiably be called ‘iconic’, Mellor was born in Sheffield to working-class parents. He won some acclaim, when only a youngster, building models of ships scrapped by city company Thomas W Ward.

Attending the junior department of the Sheffield College of Art he was given and developed knowledge of metalworking, pottery, house painting and decorating. Progressing to the Royal College of Art (RCA) he continued to develop his interests, not only in cutlery and silverware, but contemporary design in its wider sense.

He attended the RCA from 1950 for four years, after his National Service. During his time there he designed his ‘Pride’ cutlery range, which was made by Sheffield cutlers Walker & Hall. It’s still made today – at the factory he much later established in Hathersage. As an example of his much wider design interests David Mellor designed a lighting column for Abacus (who have a manufacturing plant in Nottinghamshire to this day) during his final term at the RCA.

In business

Returning to his native city Mellor set-up a studio-workshop there, where he was shortly to become Walker and Hall’s design consultant (their factory was adjacent). His designs encompassed pieces in silver, silver plate and stainless steel. His wider interests saw him design a solid fuel convector heater and the Abacus manufactured bus shelter pictured above – first produced in 1959. Other items of street furniture followed, including litter bins, outdoor seating and more bus shelters.

Some more examples of David Mellor’s design work, situated outside his Hathersage, Derbyshire premises, including the controversial post box.

Park Lane

In 1960 he had constructed a purpose-built home, design studio and factory at Park Lane, in the Sheffield suburb of Broomhill. There followed many commissions for work including silver and other metal ware for cathedrals, universities and churches, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and others. A major commission for British Embassies saw him design and his company make a prestigious range of silverware and cutlery. In the 1970s a series of designs for tools saw him work on such diverse objects as garden secateurs and a very successful range of industrial saws for Eclipse tools.  The controversial square pillar box was via a Post Office commission from 1966. Around the same period Mellor designed a range of cutlery for use in government canteens and the NHS – such was his reach.

Apart from his cutlery – much of which is currently in production – perhaps his most commonly encountered creations are the traffic lights and pedestrian signals of the 1960s – still in use today.

Broom Hall

Mellor purchased and converted Broom Hall, Sheffield, in 1973. This part Tudor/part Georgian building was carefully restored as his new home, studio and cutlery factory. New designs, particularly of cutlery, continued to flow. Shops were opened and the business expanded.


So to the Derbyshire Peak District, where in the 1980s David Mellor commissioned the Michael Hopkins Partnership to adapt the site of the former village gas works. Opened in 1990 the Round Building – where cutlery is manufactured – sits on the site of the former gas holder. Other buildings such as the retort house and offices have been converted into living space, offices and design areas. The buildings, in particular the Round Building, have received much praise and many architectural awards.

The award winning Round Building at Hathersage – the modern manufacturing base of David Mellor Design Ltd.

Today the facility includes not only retail space, but what we think is a rather good café and, importantly, a small design museum. Here you can marvel at the legacy that is David Mellor and the continuing high-level of design and manufacturing still carried out in his name by son Corrin. For it is he who continues to design cutlery, architectural features, tableware and other products at this architectural and design gem, which is well worth a visit.

Further information

If you want to know more about the Mellors, the Round Building and other aspects of their work we would particularly recommend ‘David Mellor, Master Metalworker’, now in its third edition, published by David Mellor Design and available from the company. For further details about the Round Building, of which bookable tours are available, and of the design museum see the company’s website.

This excellent book, in its 2013 edition, covers David Mellor’s career, along with the designs and premises he created. We have used it in this account.

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Who was the architect of Chesterfield Market Place Station

Our county editor (Philip Riden) has been investigating a long-running mystery of who designed the now demolished Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast railway station at Chesterfield Market Place. In this blog we take a look at this work and reveal who we think was the architect.

The Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway

The Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway (LD&ECR) famously never reached either of its intended destinations and had an independent existence of barely ten years. It’s one of those oddities of railway history which has attracted antiquarian attention out of all proportion to its modest economic importance.

Nothing, however, seems to have been written about one aspect of its history: the identity of the architect of the stations on the line between its western terminus at Chesterfield ending at a junction with the Great North & Great Eastern Joint line near Lincoln.

Chesterfield’s Market Place railway station. Next door, to the left, is the Portland Hotel. The station building was a sad loss when it was demolished in the early 1970s. We now know that Cole Alfred Adams was probably the architect. (Collection P Cousins).

The station design

The station at Chesterfield, which stood on the south side of West Bars at the west end of the town’s large Market Place, was in a class of its own: an imposing three-storey building, with a front range facing the street and two wings flanking the platforms behind, executed in red brick with stone dressings and slate roofs. It was in a vaguely Dutch baroque style. The upper floors served as the company’s offices. Chesterfield station was opened in March 1897

Reported in detail – but no architect mentioned

The opening event was reported in detail in local newspapers. The LD & ECR has also been the covered in some detail in around six different volumes. But neither the newspaper reports in the books mention an architect. There’s also some copies of the Market Place Station plans in Chesterfield Local Studies Library – but no architect’s name is on them.

Not the Portland Hotel’s architect

The Portland Hotel was next door to the LD & ECR station. Opened in 1899 it was designed by the Sheffield architect James Ragg Wigfull (1864–1936), who did other work for Stones brewery, mainly in the city. It remains open today. Wigfull was not, however, the railway company’s architect.

The station’s designer discovered – Cole Alfred Adams

The best clue so far found as to who designed both Chesterfield station and the semi-standard design used for the other stations on the line comes from an incidental aspect of the building of the railway, in the National Archives at Kew.

Because of the late date of its construction, the LD & ECR was subject to the Act requiring railway companies which demolished working-class housing for their line to build a corresponding number of new dwellings.

In Chesterfield the company’s line curved away to the  east from the station at Chesterfield, through a heavily congested area of slum housing behind the buildings on Low Pavement on the south side of the Market Place. The architect for the rehousing scheme which the company had to execute was Cole Alfred Adams. He practised mainly in London and did not work (as far as is known) for any other railways.

Who was Cole Adams?

Adams was born at Sudbury in Suffolk, where he was baptised on 13 September 1844. He was the son of William Cole Adams, a wine and spirit merchant, who died young.

In 1851 Cole was noted in the census as one of six children in a household headed by his widowed mother, Eliza Jane Adams, aged 33. The household also included a governess and three servants.

Ten years later, aged 16, Cole was working as a clerk in London and lodging at 12 Clapham Road, Lambeth. By 1871 he had trained as an architect. The census of that year has him staying at Downton Lodge, the home of a retired Army officer and his family, in the Hampshire village of Hordle, near Lymington.

Cole Adams appears to have worked in Bournemouth for part of the 1870s, where he was in partnership with Henry Peter Horner. He then appears in a number of towns and latterly in London and is associated with a number of building designs. He married, aged 44, in 1889 and appears to have done quite well for himself, but died in February 1909, aged 64. At this time the family were living at 13 Glazbury Road in West Kensington.

It’s also likely that Adam’s designed the other, now mainly demolished, distinctive LD & ECR stations – including this lucky survivor at Edwinstowe. (Gerald Lovelock).

Adam’s work for The LD & ECR

Adam’s work for the LD&ECR fell into the last phase of his career, when he had an office in Victoria and a substantial home in West London.

In April 1896 the directors of the railway agreed to pay him professional fees of £578 in connection with their Chesterfield rehousing scheme. This was calculated as 5 per cent on the contract price, which was £11,560.

Although firm evidence has yet to be found (we’re still looking for more evidence), it seems almost certain that, if Adams undertook the rather mundane work of preparing drawings for working-class cottages for the LD & ECR, he must also have been commissioned to design the stations (and possibly other buildings) on the line.

It’s the 28 November 1965 and Chesterfield Market Hall is having the top from its clock tower removed. Our interest here, though, is the Chesterfield Market Place railway station frontage to the right – then in use as a paint and wallpaper warehouse. Sadly the building was demolished in 1973. (The late Chris Hollis – collection Philip Cousins).

How did Adams come to work for the LD & ECR?

How did a London architect with a practice which seems to have been mainly confined to the Home Counties come to be engaged by a small independent railway company in the East Midlands?

The answer appears to be a fairly distant family connection. The LD  &ECR’s solicitor in its early years was Dixon Henry Davies, originally from London. In 1891 he was living at a house named Longlands, on Slack Lane in Brampton. Davies was in practice in partnership with C.S. Busby.

Davies later married, at St John’s parish church in Clapham, Alice Constance Westmacott, the daughter of J.S. Westmacott. It was a connection through the Westmacott family that made Cole Adams and Alice Davies cousins. This in turn appears to have led Mrs Davies’s husband to suggest to the directors of the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway that Adams should be engaged to design the stations on the new line.

Handsome buildings at a cost

The result of Adam’s engagement with the LED & ECR may have been a group of handsome buildings, especially the one at Chesterfield. However, the decision to build on the scale the company did may have been another (admittedly probably small) contribution to the financial problems which dogged the company from the start. These ultimately and led to its early demise as an independent concern.

Sadly, because of the demolition of Market Place station in Chesterfield in 1973 and the disappearance of most if not all the smaller stations, there is today little or nothing to see of Adams’s work for the company.

Work is still on-going on the Adams’ story, with a fuller account in preparation.

Attempts made to identify the architect of the Market Place railway station have been prompted by the awarding a of grant to Chesterfield and District Civic Society from the East Midlands Railway community fund. This is to fund a plaque to commemorate the Portland Hotel and the former adjacent railway station.

There’s more about the history of Chesterfield’s railway stations in our blog here.

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A North Western centenary

In this blog we celebrate the centenary of another Peak District bus operator – but unlike our previous 2021 blog on Hulleys you won’t find this operator – the North Western Road Car Company – about today. Yet it was once an important bus service provider in the area.

The North Western Road Car Company’s logo-type was once a familiar sight on the side of their fleet across the north west, including the Peak District and around Matlock.

The beginning

On 1 April 1923 the Peak District Committee’s assets of the British Automobile Traction Company (BAT) were transferred into a new North Western Road Car Company. BAT had operated some local services in the area before the First World War including Buxton in 1920 – where they had a garage.

A year later services in Stockport started. Here were garages and offices at Great Egerton Street. In 1924 the North Western’s HQ was transferred to Stockport’s Charles Street, from Macclesfield. With the company on an expansionist phase, operations were expanded into the area around Stockport and Manchester. Services were running into the city centre from Buxton, Hayfield, Macclesfield, Warrington and elsewhere by 1930, with an expanding network of express coach and local services.

Derbyshire depots

In the Peak District and Derbyshire area bus depots were established in Buxton (1920, closed and replaced in 1963, closed by Trent in 1999), Castleton (1935, closed 1979 by Trent – only two buses were stabled here); Glossop (1927 closed 1979 by Stagecoach) and Matlock (first part purchased in 1933 – still in part use today by trentbarton).

Not on its way to Buxton! In fact it’s outside the Museum of Greater Manchester Transport during the very successful company centenary events of 22/23 April 2023. This 1963 Leyland Leopard is in the coach livery of North Western. In the 1971/72 company timetable the route 27 – a Stockport to Buxton service – ran at frequencies of up to every 30 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays. On Sundays it extended to Manchester with a maximum hourly frequency.

Operating area

Centred on Stockport, Manchester and Macclesfield the North Western empire, with its once familiar red and white buses, stretched down to Matlock (where it also ran a network of town services), into Buxton, down to Biddulph, across to Northwich, Warrington and beyond – a significant operator. It also once reached as far as Chesterfield (on its way to Mansfield) with its joint express service with East Midland Motor Services – the X67 – and as far as Barnsley with another express service. North Western also had a once thriving and extensive coaching and excursion operation. Trips out into the Peak District from Manchester and Stockport were once a favoured destination.

North Western Road Car Company territory. A route map taken from the company’s winter 1971/72 timetable. Matlock is to the bottom right, with Stockport and Manchester towards the centre. (Download the full map below as a higher resolution Jpeg).

The end

We won’t go into a detailed company history here, suffice to say that North Western ended up in the hands of the National Bus Company (NBC), which was formed in 1968.  But its demise was really sealed by the setting up of passenger transport executives (PTEs). South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire PTE purchased some 272 buses from North Western in 1972 – plus depots at Altrincham, Glossop, Oldham, Stockport and Urmston for its directly operated bus services. This left the reminder of the operations; which were ‘sold’ to other NBC operators –  generally to either Trent Motor Traction (Peak District and Derbyshire) or Crosville – in the same year. At that time North Western were left operating only coaching and express services, but even this was later to cease as other operators took over.

But to those of certain age, relying on North Western and its services to get them to work, home, shopping or leisure, the company was a well-known part of the social and economic fabric of the area. The company itself has been gone for over 50 years, but is still remembered in some quarters for the role it played in everyday community life.

For a short-lived company, North Western has perhaps had something of a cult following amongst enthusiasts. As perhaps an indicator of this there are at least three modern vehicles painted in the company’s livery to mark the centenary of its foundation. Here are two Stagecoach examples at the Manchester museum, with, on the right, a 1960 ‘dual purpose’ Leyland (fitted with coach style seats). A third example in heritage livery is operated by Hulleys of Baslow.

Further informatiuon and sources

If you are interested in the history of the company and would like more information, we would particularly recommend a recent publication by the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester, ‘North Western Road Car Company a centenary history’ (£8 plus postage). For those who want an in-depth account there is also a two-volume history of the company published in the early 1980s, edited by Eric Ogden. The Greater Manchester Transport Society have published a bibliography of the company in their Journal, ‘North Western 100’ special issue, May 2023. We particularly used these in our account here along with the company’s timetable for winter 1971/72.

Originally purchased from Hand’s Garage (1933) with an addition made a year later when North Western purchased the interests of Alfreton Motor Transport, this still familiar building on Bakewell Road, Matlock, is the most visual reminder of the company in the Derbyshire area. It passed to Trent in 1972 and is still used as a small outstation for trentbarton services in the Matlock area – though most of it is used by a tyre fitting business. The gables were added in alterations undertaken in the 1950s. The final allocation of buses here (or ‘cars’ as the North Western styled them) was 20 single deckers. Tacked on to right of the building, immediately adjacent the pavement, was once an enquiry office. Long gone are the days when you could pop into a staffed office in Matlock and get bus information! (Google Earth).
The south-east corner of the former North Western Road Car Company territory. A route map enlargement of the Matlock and eastern Peak District area taken from the company’s winter 1971/72 timetable. The thick red lines are those of the North Western’s routes. A key to the map can be found on the previous map showing the entire North Western territory.

This blog was revised on 26 April 2023 to add a downloadable higher resolution copy of the 1971/72 company route map.

A North Western centenary Read More »

Who wrote Ford’s ‘History of Chesterfield’?

In this blog we’ll take a look at Ford and his 1839 history of Chesterfield. Did he really write it and what became of him?

Ford’s history

Title page of Ford’s 1839 book.

Ford’s 1839 published ‘History of Chesterfield’ is a well-known book (at least amongst local historians).  Of some 504 pages, it is still a valid and quoted source of Chesterfield’s history. It also contains some now well-known illustrations of the town and its buildings. Indeed, until the 1974 and onward volumes of the Borough Council’s sponsored history of Chesterfield series, instigated by the late John Bestall, perhaps little of any great consequence on the town’s history had been published since Ford.

For convenience, and for the most part, we’ll still refer to the 1839 history as Ford’s in this blog.

Though we haven’t been able to positively identify Ford’s Irongate premises, we think that the most likely candidate is the four-storey building to the centre of this photograph – now without a shop window.

Figaro in Chesterfield

Before the 1839 History of Chesterfield book Thomas Ford was possibly best known as the printer and publisher of ‘Figaro in Chesterfield’, in the early 1830s. This was published from Ford’s then offices in New Square.

Figaro… was a mixture of newspaper and pamphlet, but spent most of its time in what could be scathing attacks on its enemies, of which there were seemingly many. It was described by Pendleton and Jacques in their ‘Old and new Chesterfield’ book (of 1903) as a ‘very scathing publication, trouncing friend as well as foe… If exercised now “Figaro” would have been chin high in writs for libel’.

The 1839 history

The 1839 History of Chesterfield that Ford published was nominally a revised second edition of the Rev George Hall’s history of 1823, which compromised just over 140 pages. Hall’s history was printed by Thomas Ford’s father – John Ford (d. 1830, aged 68).

On announcing the project, Thomas Ford, who had followed in father as a printer, but also a bookseller and stationer, by then based in Irongate, received favourable support. Ford had originally intended to republish Hall’s history in parts, with additional information, but went much further and included new illustrations. He started publishing the edition, in 21 parts, from March 1837 until early 1839. In the spring of the latter year, they were drawn together in a book described as ‘newly published’. A cloth and board edition of the complete history cost 20 shillings.

In May 1839 the plates were made separately available for framing. They were ascribed to the names C [Charles] and W [William] Radclyffe. They were son and father of an originally Birmingham based business.

Who wrote the history?

For some years it’s been believed that Ford didn’t actually write the history, though he may obviously have contributed to it. Ford is not named as the author on the book’s title page.

Illustrated on page 278 of Ford’s history is this ‘ancient seal’ found at Broad Oaks. Ford was able to include a plate of it following an appeal he made in the Derbyshire Courier newspaper back in February 1838.

It appears that historical material in this book was mostly (if not entirely) written by Robert Wallace, Unitarian minister, who had succeeded George Kendrick (1814-1815) and before Kendrick a Thomas Astley (1773 – 1813). This assertion first seems to appear in the Derbyshire Courier newspaper in 1877. A history of Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel, published in 1967, also claims Wallace wrote the majority of the book.

Like Ford, Wallace is not credited as author on the title-page either. Why this is so remains a mystery – perhaps both Ford and Wallace agreed that the source material gathering and authorship (possibly shared) were of a level that did not warrant one or either being acknowledged. We will probably never know.  But the book is now well-known as ‘Ford’s History of Chesterfield’. Ford would have known Wallace as he was presumably a worshipper at Elder Yard Unitarian Chapel.

That doesn’t mean to say that Ford was not interested in collecting material for the book or didn’t contribute. For example, he wrote a letter to the Derbyshire Courier in February 1838 inquiring about the potential loan to him of a copy of the Gentleman’s Magazine, describing a seal found near ‘the Broad Oak’ in about 1798. If one refers to the Ford history this seal is actually illustrated – albeit not from the Gentleman’s magazine. (The illustration is taken from a casting made at the time it was found ‘by the Rev Richard Astley, of Shrewsbury’. This is not the Astley who proceeded Robert Wallace as minister at the Elder Yard Chapel, but could be related).

Ford’s history gave us a useful collection of plates, including this of the Elder Yard Unitarian Church, where Ford would have presumably worshipped, guided by the minster there, the Rev Robert Wallace, who is regarded as the chief author and editor of the book.

Wallace had arrived in Chesterfield from Manchester College, York in September 1815. During his time as minister (until 1840) at the Elder Yard Chapel he made many improvements there.

Ford’s completed history was published in two editions. Pages were sized at 8 ½ by 5 ½ inches, with a larger edition sized at approximately 10 ½ by around 8 ½ inches – though the same printing blocks and plates were used in both editions. It’s not known how many of each edition were published, or the print-run of the parts.

Ford and his father were well-known in Chesterfield as stationers, printers and booksellers. As we have discussed, Thomas had published ‘Figaro in Chesterfield’, from his then office at New Square, during the early 1830s.

Thomas Ford sold the printing business, by then at Irongate in the Shambles, at auction, in early March 1841. By June 1841 C Gallimore is advertising his takeover of the former Ford business at the shop in Irongate. The Gallimore enterprise actually consisted of brothers, who were Quakers and also printers. Their father was a well-known auctioneer. Both Ford and the Gallimores also sold patent medicines. The Gallimores were selling up in Jun 1864. They were followed into the building by another Chesterfield printer – John Edward Roberts – who was there in August 1867.

Ford’s printing business was for sale in March 1841, as advertised in the Derbyshire Courier, 20 February 1841. Note the reference to the history of Chesterfield.

In 1872 an RJ Smithson (also a printer) is trading from Ford’s and Gallimores’ old shop. Later, in October 1881, the premises were described as ‘desolate’. In June 1886, it was advertised as to let, complete with five large rooms above the shop, ‘formerly occupied by Messrs Gallimore’.

Hard times

Thomas Ford was living in London by the 1851 census with his wife, daughter and two sons. His residence contained a total of 15 people. He died in London on the 28 November 1859, aged 58.  He had been pursuing his former business – in 1854 he is noted as publishing books and pamphlets from his premises in Gloucester Street, Queen Square.

We don’t know why he moved to London and exactly when – but further research may reveal this. He had apparently fallen on somewhat hard-times before his death. An unfitting end to someone who had contributed, at the least with Robert Wallace, and certainly printed, what is still regarded as an important source for the history of Chesterfield.

Ford left the district and later fell on hard times as witness this appeal, made just a few months before his death, in the Derbyshire Times of 24 September 1859.


We’ve used the following sources in this post:

  • Non-conformist and non-parochial registers – Elder Yard Chapel (TNA RG4/516).
  • Derbyshire Courier 21 January 1837, 4 March 1837, 17 February 1838, 16 February 1839, 16 March 1839, 25 May 1839, 20 February and 5 June 1841, 27 August 1853, 3 June 1854, 10 December 1859, 24 September 1859, 20 February 1841, 10 January 1874 and 13 January 1877, 15 September 1881, 22 June 1886.
  • Derbyshire Times, 18 June 1864, 17 and 28 September 1867, 21 December 1872.
  • Vallance and Robinson, The history of Elder Yard Chapel, Chesterfield (1967)
  • Pendleton and Jacques, Modern Chesterfield, 1903
  • Pendleton (‘Tatler’), Old and new Chesterfield (1882)
  • Ford History of Chesterfield (1839).
  • http://www.artoftheprint.com/artistpages/radclyffe_edward_labour.htm
The Derbyshire Courier was prepared to speculate who had written ‘Ford’s’ history in its edition of 13 January 1877, following a query by one of its readers (above). But in 1881 John Pendleton in his ‘Old and new Chesterfield’ book was still referring to the history as Ford’s.

This account was edited on 15 May 2023 to include new information on the possible site of Ford’s Irongate shop. Our thanks to Janet Murphy for this information.

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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 – mertonpriory@btinternet.com.

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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