Chesterfield is a historic market town and local government district in Derbyshire, a county in England. It lies north of Derby, on a confluence of the rivers Rother and Hipper. Including Staveley, the population (2001) is 100,879, although the town itself is 70,260. It is Derbyshire's largest town (Derby itself being a city), although the county town of Derbyshire is Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales. Around 250,000 people live in the immediate area nearby including Dronfield, Bolsover, Staveley, Shirebrook and Clay Cross. It is located on the A61, fairly close to the M1 (via the A617 to junction 29).
Chesterfield benefited greatly from the building of the Chesterfield Line - part of the Derby to Leeds railway (North Midland Line), which was begun in 1837 by George Stephenson. During its construction, a sizeable seam of coal was discovered during the construction of the Clay Cross Tunnel. This and the local ironstone were promptly exploited by Stephenson who set up a company in Clay Cross to trade in the minerals.
During his time in Chesterfield, Stephenson lived at Tapton House, and remained there until his death in 1848. He is interred in Trinity Church. In 2006, a statue of Stephenson was erected outside Chesterfield railway station.
The spire is both twisted and leaning, twisting 45 degrees and leaning 9 feet 6 inches from its true centre. The leaning characteristic is believed to be the result of the absence of skilled craftsmen (the Black Death had been gone only twelve years prior to the spire's completion), insufficient cross-bracing, and the use of unseasoned timber. There have been other explanations: One is that the spire was so shocked to learn of the marriage of a virgin in the church that it bent down to get a closer look. Should this happen again, it is said that the spire will straighten and return to its true position. Another is that a Bolsover blacksmith mis-shoed the Devil, who leaped over the spire in pain, knocking it out of shape. However it is now believed that the bend began when the original wooden roof tiles were replaced by heavier slate and lead. The bend in the spire (the twist being deliberate) follows the direction of the sun and has been caused by heat expansion and a weight it was never designed for (as explained to us by curators at the Chesterfield Museum). There is also no record of a bend until after the slate change. An interesting point is that the spire is not attached to the church building but is kept on by its own weight.
A new landmark was planned to be erected on the outskirts of the town—the Solar Pyramid, which would have been built by the side of the M1 at Poolsbrook. Work on the 'sculpture', which would have been the largest in the UK, commenced late Summer 2007 and was expected to be completed by mid-2008. This sculpture has now been cancelled due to a lack of funds.
Chesterfield's current boundaries date from April 1, 1974, when under the Local Government Act 1972, Chesterfield took in the urban district of Staveley and the parish of Brimington from Chesterfield Rural District.
Chesterfield is the location for the headquarters of the local newspaper, the Derbyshire Times.
From 1981 to 2002, 15,000 jobs in the coal industry disappeared and not a single colliery remains open, although open cast mining continued at Arkwright until a few years ago. Many of the sites were restored by contractor Killingleys for Derbyshire County Council.
Very little evidence of the industry remains today; a cyclist and walkers route, the so called "Five Pits Trail" now links some of the former collieries and most of the sites are now indistinguishable from the surrounding countryside.
Within the town itself, large factories and major employers have disappeared or relocated in the last 10 years including:
Whilst others have downsized significantly:
Manufacturing employment has fallen by a third since 1991, though the percentage of the population employed in manufacturing is still above the national average, underlining how critical it has been to Chesterfield in the past. Today, smaller scale firms are to be found on several industrial estates, the largest of which is located at Sheepbridge. Business located on the estate include SIG plc subsidiary Warren Insulations, Franke Sisons Ltd (founded in 1784 in Sheffield, and one of the first to manufacture stainless steel kitchen sinks in the 1930's), Rhodes engineering, Chesterfield Felt, and others.
Next to Tesco there is a 40 acre clearing due to Arnold Lavers relocating to a modern sawmill at Halfway, on the Sheffield border. The former sawmill being demolished, with plans being proposed for a new waterside village built around a new marina at the end of the Chesterfield Canal which currently terminates at a weir adjacent to the site.
There is a Morrisons on the junction of Chatsworth Road (A619) and Walton Road (A632), a Sainsburys on Rother Way (A619 for Staveley), and a Tesco on the junction of the A619 and A61 (known locally as the Tesco Roundabout). The Institute of Business Advisers is based on Queen Street North. The Chesterfield Royal Hospital is on the A632 out towards Calow and Bolsover.
Peak FM broadcasts from Sheepbridge on 107.4FM and 102FM via the nearby Chesterfield Transmitter, which also hosts BBC Radio Sheffield on 94.7FM. DAB transmissions for Chesterfield come from the Chesterfield Transmitter, however only Digital One is currently broadcast and NOW Derbyshire is due to start soon, although some digital radio stations can be received from outlying transmitters. The local television stations are ITV Yorkshire and BBC Look North, both transmitted from Leeds. The digital switchover date for the area is 2011.
Chesterfield is also home to the area's only RSPCA Branch. Other centres are further afield and obviously do not cover the same area. These are Sheffield, Derby, Radcliffe on Trent and Bawtry. The Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Branch serves the whole of the Chesterfield area, and is not government funded, relying on the good people of Derbyshire to keep it going. The centre holds many events to raise money, one being an annual Dog Show held in the summer. The centre itself is on the verge of a major rebuild.
The town's biggest employer is the large and newly constructed "Post Office" administration building located on the edge of the town centre. The Royal Mail's Pensions Service Centre is near the town on Boythorpe Road, in Rowland Hill House. There is another Royal Mail building in the town on West Bars called Future Walk. Formerly this was Chetwynd House, now substantially demolished and replaced by the new Post Office building. Here a work by sculptor Barbara Hepworth Carved Reclining Form or Rosewall was prominently displayed for many years and nicknamed Isaiah by local critics, due to it resembling a crude human face with one eye higher than the other ("eye's higher"). Soon after its installation a painted nose and mouth were added, and the work was surrounded by screens for some time while cleaning took place. The work was under the threat of being sold in 2005, but the plan was eventually scrapped.
The shopping opportunities in Chesterfield are numerous. Vicar Lane was redeveloped in 2000 to become a pedestrianised, open-air shopping area, that involved almost all of the existing buildings being demolished. The project was so large that two new streets were created in its development. It now hosts major chains such as Woolworths, BHS and Argos. It is located near the crooked spire.
Chesterfield Library's main entrance is located just outside The Pavements at the exit that is next to McDonald's with steps leading down to New Beetwell Street. The library spans several floors and was planned as part of the development, but did not open until 1985. In 2003 Chesterfield Library was the 8th busiest in the UK.
On 27 June 2007 the Somerfield store in the Precinct was completely gutted in a fire during which the roof collapsed. Fortunately, only a few shoppers suffered minor injuries. The fire was reportedly the result of an accidental ignition. The fire started at 13:10 on 27 June and was not extinguished until 23:30 the same day. All the shops in The Pavements were closed and evacuated. Other areas including the Market Hall were later evacuated as cordons were placed as a result of the smoke becoming worse.
Following the fire, Somerfield announced their intention to cease trading in Chesterfield. The former Somerfield site will re-open in September 2008 as a Tesco Metro store.
Despite all the aforementioned development, Chesterfield has retained much of its town centre from the pre-war era. As previously discussed, Chesterfield is home to one of the largest open air markets in Britain, the stalls sitting either side of the historic Market Hall. In the middle of town, a collection of narrow medieval streets make up "The Shambles", which houses The Royal Oak, one of Britain's oldest pubs.
Near Holywell Cross is Chesterfield's largest department store, the local Co-op, more correctly "The Chesterfield and District Co-operative Society". Their buildings occupy the majority of Elder Way and include an enclosed bridge. Since 2001, this has been incorporated within Midlands Co-operative Society Limited—or Midlands Co-op as it is better known—which is the second largest independent retail Society in the UK.
"The Pomegranate Theatre" (formerly known for many years as 'Chesterfield Civic Theatre', and prior to that 'The Stephenson Memorial Theatre') is a listed Victorian building (in what is now known as the Stephenson Memorial Building), with a small auditorium, seating around 500 people . A variety of shows are performed throughout the year. Also in the Stephenson Memorial Building is the Chesterfield Museum, until 1984 it was used for the town's lending library. The museum is owned by Chesterfield Borough Council, as are the Winding Wheel and the Pomegranate Theatre. The box office for both entertainment venues is located in the entrance area of the theatre.
Also Chesterfield has a competitive athletic team which competes regularly all over England. Chesterfield & District Athletic Club is based at Queen’s Park Annexe - near Boythorpe Road south of the town centre, close to the cricket club Chesterfield Swimming Club is based at the Queens Park Sports Centre on Boythorpe Road.
Chesterfield also has its own amateur Sunday football league that plays host to over 100 teams on a Sunday morning. The Chesterfield and District Sunday Football League consists of nine divisions and 3 cup competitions.
A speedway training track operated at Glasshouse Farm in the early 1950s.
Chesterfield Rugby Union Football Club was initially formed in 1919 and played their first game in 1920.
Chesterfield previously had two other rail stations:
These railways all crossed each other at Horns Bridge, the Midland Mainline passed over the GCR loop in to Chesterfield, and the LD&ECR passed over both on a 700 feet long viaduct. Horns Bridge has been substantially redeveloped since the latter two railways closed and Horns Bridge Roundabout, where the A61 Derby Road and A617 Lordsmill Street meet, now occupies the site. The viaduct was demolished in the 1970s.
In addition to railways, Chesterfield had a tramway system, built in 1882, and closed in 1927.
In terms of healthcare, Chesterfield is served by Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and has two hospitals, one in Calow, known as Chesterfield Royal Hospital, and one in Walton, known as Walton Hospital. The A&E Department is located at the Royal Hospital, with the Emergency Ambulance service provided by East Midlands Ambulance service. Non-emergency Ambulances are provided by Ambuline.
Other famous people associated with the town: