November - History and Heritage
History and Heritage
We’ll be looking at the background to some of Chesterfield’s iconic spaces and places, helping you to explore some of the less well-known areas of our borough and unearthing some interesting facts about Chesterfield’s outdoors.
Our museum is the first port of call to discover the story of Chesterfield - from its beginnings as a Roman fort, to the expansion of the market and the Industrial Revolution, which brought ‘father of the railways’, George Stephenson, to town.
Start your journey on our dedicated Chesterfield Museum web page or, even better, call in to find out for yourself what treasures they hold.
Walking Together - Markham's mining memorial
Across three disasters at Markham Colliery in 1937, 1938 and 1973, a total of 106 miners tragically lost their lives with many others seriously injured.
Stephen Broadbent's mining memorial at Markham Vale Business Park commemorates the 106 miners who died. This walking trail of figures symbolises a miner’s journey to the pit and back home again.
Markham Vale Business Park was built on the site of the former colliery, with the memorial providing a permanent reminder of the area's mining heritage and the many lives which were lost at work.
A downloadable map of the Walking Together trail is available on the Markham Story Mine website, with free parking available at Markham Vale Environment Centre, on Markham Lane.
You can find out more about the Walking Together memorial on the Markham Story Mine website, whilst our website's museum section provides more about the history of Chesterfield’s mining industries and the lives of the miners.
George Stephenson - father of the railways
George Stephenson is famously known for building the world’s first public passenger railway between Stockton and Darlington, and for developing engines including ‘Locomotion’ and ‘Rocket.’ The railway track width he used for his metal rails - 4 feet, 8-and-a-half inches - became known as the standard, or Stephenson gauge, and is the most widely used railway track gauge in the world.
He went on to oversee the construction of the North Midland Railway line (opened in 1840), which runs through Chesterfield. During this time, he founded the Clay Cross Company - producing coal, iron ore and limestone.
Stephenson spent the last 10 years of his life living in Chesterfield at Tapton House. When he died in 1848, he was buried beside his second wife, Elizabeth, by the altar inside the town’s Holy Trinity Church.
You can learn more about George Stephenson, and his life, at Chesterfield Museum.
Did you know that some of Chesterfield's parks are very old? There is plenty of history and heritage to be found in our public green spaces.
Queen's Park, in the heart of the town, was founded in 1894, followed by the opening of Eastwood Park in 1913, Brearley Park in 1920 and Tapton Park in 1925.
Poolsbrook Country Park
The closure of the coal mines not only affected employment levels and local communities, but also the landscape as former spoil heaps remained. Work was done to reclaim the remaining spoil tips of the Ireland Colliery site in Staveley, with a view to encouraging recreation and redevelopment of the area. Hence, Poolsbrook Country Park (pictured above) was created.
As Chesterfield’s largest park (165 acres), it was officially opened in 1999 and is enjoyed by many with fishing lakes, cycling and walking trails, a weekly parkrun and picnic areas.
Find out more about Poolsbrook Country Park on our website.
Holmebrook Valley Country Park
The site of Holmebrook Valley Park had been exploited for coal, ironstone and clay since the 1600s until the around the mid-20th century.
Controversially, coal was initially removed from the site through open casting - the technique of removing coal from an open pit. Between 1990 and 1992, a total of 270,000 tonnes were removed.
Covering a site of 141 acres, an ambitious partially-funded project to transform the site was undertaken, including the creation of a 6.5 acre lake at the heart of the site. Sports fields, meadows and bridleways were also included in the project.
The park officially opened in April 1995 and now provides a habitat to a range of wildlife from water voles to moorhens - with designation as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. It is also used for a wide variety of events and activities; from dog walking, cycling and jogging to remote control aircraft, petanque (French boules) and orienteering.
Want to find out more about this park? Visit our Holmebrook Valley Park information page for more.
Holmebrook Valley Trail
To Holmebrook and back – follow Holme Brook as it meanders from Chesterfield town centre to Holmebrook Valley Park. Discover how this former coal mine has been transformed into a wildlife habitat on this gentle, family-friendly walk.
You can find out more about the Holmebrook Valley Trail on the Hidden Heritage website.
Or - if you’d like some company while you explore the park itself - why join our friendly Walk With Us group? The group meets by the café in the park every Thursday at 10.30am, for an hour’s stroll and a chance for a cuppa afterwards.
For more information, contact our community lifestyles officer on 01246 345669, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Queen’s Park is included on English Heritage’s National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, with a Grade II* status.
The original impetus for the creation of the park was Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The site was dedicated on 21 September 1887, when the first ceremonial tree was planted, and the land sales were settled in July 1888.
It provided a much needed green, open space at a time when many of the town’s inhabitants lived in poor, cramped conditions.
Queen’s Park was officially opened to the public on 2 August 1893 with the first Chesterfield Floral and Horticultural Society Show being held in the park.
A cricket pitch, constructed in 1893-4, was inaugurated in May 1894, while the associated pavilion was constructed in 1898.
Since its opening, the park has been a focus for leisure activities and events in the town. Cricket, football, cycling, children’s playgrounds and even a miniature train have been features of the park since its early days, as well as events such as flower shows, athletics and musical entertainment.
Cricket has been a feature of the park since it opened. The first match was played 5 May 1894 between Chesterfield ‘A’ and Clay Cross Park, with a win for the home side. June 1898 saw the first county game between Derbyshire and Surrey.
Tapton Park and House
Tapton House and the surrounding park and gardens were presented to the borough by Charles Paxton Markham in 1925.
The house itself opened as Tapton House School in 1931, while the grounds and gardens were open to the public to enjoy. A large part of the 200-acre site was turned into a public golf course in 1934.
The Earth and Wildflower Labyrinth in the park was part of the borough council’s Per Cent for Art scheme after the building of Tapton Innovation Centre. Designed by landscape architect Jim Buchanan, it opened in 1997 and is planted with a variety of wildflowers.
Tapton House is an 18th century building and was home to prominent people in Chesterfield’s history. Notably, it was home to George Stephenson from 1832 until his death in 1848. The house was then bought by Charles Markham, a prominent local businessman involved in the railway and coal industries. After it was given to the town in 1925, the house became Tapton House School, which closed in 1994 and the building became part of Chesterfield College.
Remembrance in Chesterfield
Remembrance Day in the UK and across the Commonwealth is marked every year on 11 November, the day in 1918 when the Armistice became effective and the First World War came to an end after four years of conflict.
Every year on Remembrance Day, and on Remembrance Sunday (the nearest Sunday to 11 November), a two-minute silence is observed at 11am in memory of all who have died in conflict since the First World War. The significance of it being held at 11am originates from when the Armistice became effective at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
In Chesterfield, a cascade of poppies (the adopted symbol of remembrance) is placed every year at Town Hall. Made of over 40,000 knitted poppies, some brought in from across the globe, the cascade is both a spectacular and humbling sight.
Stay tuned! There is more to come on this page.