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Chesterfield

[ches-ter-feeld]

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).

History

The town received its market charter in the year 1204 from King John and around two hundred and fifty stalls can still be found in the town centre every Monday, Friday and Saturday. A flea market takes place each Thursday.

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.

Chesterfield is perhaps best known for the "Crooked Spire" of its Church of Saint Mary and All Saints and is why the local football team is known as The Spireites.

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.

Local economy

In the last 30 years, the economy in and around Chesterfield has experienced major change, moving the employment base away from the primary and secondary sectors, and towards the tertiary area. The area sits on a large coalfield and the area played host to many coal mines, including:

  • Clay Cross
  • Arkwright
  • Bolsover
  • Grassmoor
  • North Wingfield
  • Holmewood

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:

  • GKN plc. now shut and site being turned into a business park.
  • Robinson's (has demolished several buildings and cut thousands of jobs).
  • Trebor merged with Bassetts sweets of Sheffield and relocated a modern unit at Holmwood Business park and were taken over by Cadbury.

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.

Shopping, entertainment and leisure

Queens Park Leisure Centre

Chesterfield has a vast array of leisure, entertainment and social facilities. The Queens Park is located within the town centre and recently benefited from a multi-million pound programme of investment. Also on the outskirts of the park is Queens Park Leisure Centre, which has a large swimming pool and gym, several indoor courts (for a variety of sports) and several more outdoor tennis courts.

Healthy Living Centre, Staveley

The town also has a brand new £8m Healthy Living Centre within the Borough at Staveley (opened in Spring 2008), which has a 25m swimming pool with a movable platform, an 11m climbing wall, leisure facilities including an indoor children's soft play area, crèche facilities, a fitness suite, health spa and dance studios.

Vicar Lane

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.

The Pavements

In the late 1970s a large area between Low Pavement (in the Market Square) and New Beetwell Street was completely demolished (except the original shop fronts) to build "The Pavements" shopping centre, known by some local residents as "The Precinct", with larger shops such as Boots the Chemist, which was opened in November 1981 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. It has entrances located opposite Chesterfield Market and escalators leading down to New Beetwell Street. An enclosed bridge links the site to a multi-storey car park built at the same time adjacent to the town's coach station.

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.

Town centre

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.

Food and Drink

Cuisine available in the area includes Chinese, Indian and Thai restaurants and takeaways. Several night clubs are located around the town, predominantly towards "The Doughnut", more correctly called "Holywell Cross Car Park". Scattered around the town are many bars and pubs and west of the town centre the "Brampton Mile" provides 13 pubs on a one mile section of Chatsworth Road. Chesterfield's night-life is well-regarded by many within the area for both its variety and number of venues located within a relatively compact area, although there are now very little if any that cater for alternative tastes.

The Arts

The Winding Wheel, previously an Odeon Cinema and Fusion nightclub, is a multi-purpose venue, hosting concerts, exhibitions, conferences, dinners, family parties, dances, banquets, wedding receptions, meetings, product launches and lectures. Past notable appearances include Ricky Tomlinson and Patrick McGuinness. Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra give three concerts a year at the Winding Wheel.

"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.

Sport

Chesterfield is home to the Football League Two club Chesterfield F.C. who play at the Recreation Ground (usually referred to as Saltergate). Chesterfield FC are known as the Spireites, after the Crooked Spire in the town. In 2005 plans were announced to build a new stadium on the old Dema Glass site north of the town in Whittington Moor, however the start of the building work is yet to be confirmed. The team's most notable achievement of recent years occurred in April 1997, when they reached the semi-final of the FA Cup, losing to Middlesbrough in a replay following a 3–3 draw at Old Trafford. It turned out to be one of the most controversial games in recent history with Chesterfield having a goal not given when referee David Elleray decided the ball had not crossed the goal line from a Jonathan Howard shot, a decision which was later proved incorrect by video replays. Had the goal stood the club would have progressed to the final of the FA Cup for the first time in its history—a feat which no club in the third tier of the league has achieved. The team has a fierce rivalry with neighbouring town Mansfield. In 2006 Chesterfield FC beat Premiership heavyweights Manchester City and West Ham to move into the last 16 of the Carling Cup where they were narrowly beaten on penalties by Charlton. Despite their Carling Cup exploits, Chesterfield were relegated on the penultimate game of the season

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.

Queen's Park also plays host to Chesterfield Cricket Club and is an outground of Derbyshire County Cricket Club

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.

Chesterfield Spires RLFC are a Rugby League club formed in the town in 2003 and currently play in the RL Merit League

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.

Transport

Roads

Junction 29 of the M1 motorway at Heath links Chesterfield to the motorway network to the south, via the A617 dual-carriageway. Construction of the new Junction 29a has been completed at Markham Vale, Duckmanton, and the new junction opened at the end of June 2008, (The signs do not signpost Chesterfield). With Links to the M1 at Junction 30 and the North via the A619. Other major roads include the A61 Sheffield Road (north)/ Derby Road (south) (with a dual carriageway beginning in the town centre and continuing onto Sheffield) and the A619 (a major inroad to the Peak District, eventually joining the A6 near Bakewell) and the A632 to Matlock.

Buses & Coaches

Stagecoach plc are the predominant operator of buses, the only other significant operators are TM Travel and Trent Barton. A new coach station was recently built, with scheduled services provided by National Express. A number of tour companies also operate there. The Stagecoach depot at Stonegravels is notable for its size and many vehicles stored there are not in regular use. Several firms operate taxi services.

Railways

Chesterfield railway station is located on the Midland Main Line, with East Midlands Trains providing services to London, Sheffield, Leicester, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham and Norwich and CrossCountry serving Newcastle, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh and Plymouth.

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.

Air

The nearest airfield is Netherthorpe Aerodrome near Worksop in Nottinghamshire, however this is not licensed for commercial flights. When travelling by air, passengers usually do so via East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Doncaster Robin Hood and Manchester airports. These are all within 2 hours travel time by road.

Water

The Chesterfield Canal linked the town to the national network of waterways, and was the most important trade route through the 19th century. Overtaken by rail and then road for freight transport it fell into disuse, but has been partially restored since the mid-20th century for leisure use. However, the section through Chesterfield remains isolated from the rest of the waterway network.

Education

The borough of Chesterfield has many schools within and around it. There are several secondary schools in the area (most of which are community schools; Hasland Hall, Brimington Junior School, Brookfield, Tupton Hall School, Parkside, Meadows, Netherthorpe, Newbold Community (which has moved into a new £17 million school building), Deincourt, The Bolsover School and Springwell) almost half have a Sixth Form. There is also a Roman Catholic school, St Mary's Roman Catholic High School, in Newbold.

A Further Education college, Chesterfield College, is located within a five minute walk of Chesterfield railway station and offers many courses. It has over 15,000 students.

Public Services

Chesterfield is policed by Derbyshire Constabulary, and Chesterfield Police Station, on New Beetwell Street, is the Division 'C' Headquarters, with local police stations in Bolsover, Clay Cross, Dronfield, Killamarsh, Newbold, Staveley, and Shirebrook.

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.

Chesterfield is served by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, which has Fire stations in Chesterfield, Clay Cross, Clowne and Staveley.

Famous people

Famous people to come from Chesterfield include:

Other famous people associated with the town:

Twinnings

Chesterfield is twinned with:

International events

Chesterfield is home to gluten free beer, with the first ever international gluten free beer festival held in Chesterfield in February 2006. The event was hailed internationally as a success, organisers are working to repeat the event for the future. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) hosted the event with the cooperation of Glutenfreebeerfestival.com and brewers of gluten free beer from all parts of the globe have announced that they wish to attend and present their brews to the public at the next Chesterfield event, which is under discussion between the organisers and the local authority.

References

External links

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