Crooked Spire Exhibition 2017

This summer Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery in partnership with Chesterfield Parish Church will present an exhibition all about the Crooked Spire; the historic building and symbol of Chesterfield.

The Museum and Parish Church would really love to include stories from Chesterfield people in order to add a much more personal dimension to this exhibition.

We want your stories, memories and anecdotes about this beautiful building.

Has it played an important part in your life?

What does it symbolise to you?


Please contact:

Rachel Fannen
Museum Collections Officer
Tel: 01246 345722


A Lifetime of Service

People will have been saddened to hear of the death of 88 year-old Philip Johnson in January 2017. The business has been part of the Brampton scene since 1888, moving to its present site in 1898 when it became a general ironmongers. It had been owned by Philip Johnson since 1952. This appreciation appeared in Reflections Magazine in September 1996.

Over the years, Johnson’s has supplied the people of Brampton and beyond with the spades that dug for Victory, the oil that burned in the blackouts and during the coal and power strikes, the pots and pans, the baking trays and the tea trays that carried food to every table, the clothes lines, the pegs and the clothes post, and even the pen-knife in a young lad’s Christmas stocking – all and every sort of goods for all and every sort of customer.

This advertisement appeared in the catalogue for the Shopping Festival of 1914. Notice the advertisement for the Sunrise washing machine – ‘A woman’s work done by a child in a quarter the time’.

January meeting

As the trip to the Museum on the 17th January, has fallen through due to a misunderstanding we are now meeting in the United Reform Church, Rose Hill at the usual time. We have been very fortunate in that Chesterfield artist, David Charlesworth, has agreed to talk to us about Darjeeling and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is a World Heritage Site.

It is a bit far from Chesterfield, but it promises to be an interesting evening as I imagine that many people like me know little about India apart from The East India Company, the Taj Mahal and the Indian Mutiny. It is a very special railway not just because of the terrain it has to climb, or that 125 year old Scottish built locomotives are still working but because it has survived regular wash-outs during the monsoons and that unlike most railways, it is not separated from the people. It is part of them and their lives. For most of the journey it passes with feet of their front doors!

Darjeeling and Kurseong are still major education centres. The top schools were established in British days and are still there

Darjeeling, West Bengal is in the Lesser Himalayas at an elevation of 6,700ft. There are spectacular views of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. The development of the town dates back to the mid-19th century, when the colonial British administration set up a sanatorium and a military depot. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and the distinctive Darjeeling tea developed.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train”, is a 2 ft narrow gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 48 miles long and rises almost 7,000 ft. Four modern, diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services; however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India’s highest railway station) are handled by the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotives.

Chesterfield & District Civic Society

Chesterfield & District Civic Society

East Midlands Association of Civic and Heritage Societies

Public Meeting


Saturday 21 January 2017 at the Saints Centre, above Spires Coffee Shop, St Mary’s Gate, Chesterfield

10.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.

Anyone interested in the work of Chesterfield & District Civic Society, founded in 1964 to promote pride in the town and campaign for environmental improvements and a high standard of architectural design, is warmly invited to come to our next public meeting, held in conjunction with the regional organisation for civic societies.

There will be a business meeting and discussion on the work of the Chesterfield and other civic societies in the morning, followed at 2 p.m. by

Chesterfield Waterside: regenerating an industrial heritage into a vibrant new destination for Chesterfield and its region.

by Peter Swallow

Peter is Chairman of Destination Chesterfield, a network of businesses and professional firms which encourages inward investment into the town, and also Chief Executive of Bolsterstone PLC, the lead developer of Chesterfield Waterside, one of the largest regeneration schemes of its kind in the country, centred on the terminus of the Chesterfield Canal on Brimington Road.

Come and find out about both these important ventures and put questions to the man in charge. There will also be displays illustrating the work of civic societies from around the region, and one by the Chesterfield Canal Trust, which has campaigned for many years for the restoration of the Derbyshire section of the canal, including the creation of a new basin and moorings at Chesterfield.

December Newsletter


Festival of (Christmas) Trees at St Mary and All Saints Parish Church November 2016


A local optician displayed their tree upside down – should have gone to…


This tree sponsored by a hair salon featured hair rollers and hair extensions.


This tree built from books by a firm of solicitors.


This one by the British Legion


Only a few of the many fantastic trees are illustrated here. We look forward to seeing many more at the festival next year.

Wendy Pockson.


For your diary…

Tuesday January 17th – Visit to Chesterfield Museum

Tuesday February 21st – AGM followed by presentation by David Howes
Tuesday March 21st – The Construction of Ladybower Dam by Keith Blood


New Surroundings for the New Season


As of October, we have now moved into the main chapel building for our monthly meetings. After many months squeezed into the room at the rear of the premises, we have now been allowed to use the main chapel giving our meetings a light, airy feel with all the luxuries and technological benefits of the main chapel room. We thank all involved for making this happen.

Our next meeting is on November 15th and the talk is entitled The Social History of Railways by Godfrey Holmes.

Please remember admission is via the main front doors on Rose Hill.


Ellis Travel Bureau

jersey-posterThis colourful poster, part of the Post It exhibition at Chesterfield Museum, reminds us of the growing popularity of trips to the Channel Islands as people took their first holidays abroad after the war. A familiar name in the bottom left hand corner is that of the Ellis Travel Bureau.
Arthur Constantine Ellis, son of an estate agent, was born in 1887, by the time of the 1911 census he was a commercial clerk with an engineering company. During WWI he was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps serving in France, Italy and Russia. Perhaps his experiences encouraged his interest in travel.
In June 1932 a short paragraph in the Derbyshire Times advertised cheap trips by LMS to Belle Vue, Blackpool and Alton Towers. By September the range of trips had increased and an LMS display advertisement stated that tickets were available at the station or could be booked at the Ellis Travel Bureau, 16 Knifesmithgate, which is the first mention of the bureau. A novel way of attracting people’s attention to the business was to show the week’s Derbyshire Times pictures in the window so that people could them through the bureau.
Although the move to 21 Holywell Street was said to be because of the expansion of the business, the building was probably about to be demolished to make way for Marks and Spencer. In turn number 21 was demolished to make way for the Electricity Board Showrooms and Ellis Travel Bureau moved to number 29, next door to the Punchbowl.
The bureau advertised that personal attention would be given to all matters concerning travel to all parts of the world by Road, Rail, Sea and Air. As well as operating as a travel agent the bureau offered “personally conducted continental parties and cruise parties”. For the time these were quite adventurous and included a trip to the WWI battlefields in 1933 and a trip to the World Fair in New York in August 1939. The outward sailing was aboard the Queen Mary and the return sailing aboard the Scythia, which allowed five days ashore at an inclusive cost of £44 10s third class or £60 5s tourist class.
Conducted parties by road and rail or annual outings could be arranged inclusive of transport, meals, theatres etc. A party of 200 Grammar School pupils were escorted to Vauxhall Motors at Luton followed by a trip to Whipsnade Zoo. But the most amazing feat of organisation must have been the Robinson & Sons Centenary Celebrations when 3,700 merry makers made their way to London aboard eight trains where they boarded eighty buses for tours round London. Refreshments were served at four Lyons Corner Houses before everyone made their way to the Albert Hall for an evening’s entertainment followed by a weary journey home.


The commemorative panel on Goyt Side Road
Did the bureau continue to operate in a limited way during the war? In 1941 the offices were taken over by a squadron of the ATC. But in 1950 the company was back in business offering a trip to South Africa aboard the Pretoria Castle with a ride on the Blue Train. At 280 guineas only the wealthy could afford it.
In 1968 Ellis Travel Bureau opened a branch in the Co-op. presumably that didn’t last very long, as a branch was later opened in Swallows. Arthur Ellis died in 1971 but the company is thought to have continued until at least 1973. Does anyone know about its final years?

Janet Murphy

New lease of life for old St Helena building

Girl’s High School later known as St Helena Girl’s School


The former St Helena School on Sheffield Road is due to reopen after undergoing a long awaited face lift and major internal overhaul by its new owners Derby University.

Built in 1911 the school served as a grammar school to girls of Chesterfield until 1991 when it became one of the four sites of Brookfield School under the Secondary School reorganisation. A couple of years later it was put to use as offices by Derbyshire County Council. When they left in 2013 the once magnificent building began to fall into disrepair. Former staff and students began to wonder if it would be lost forever until it was purchased in 2013 by Derby University to be used by students on their highly popular Nursing courses. After three years of restoration the building is ready to reopen. Many of the original features have been retained including stained glass windows featuring the figure of St Helena and the Chesterfield Seal, original doors and floors returned to their former glory and draughty windows replaced with modern casing alternatives.

As a Grade 2 listed building the work has been negotiated with the local Conservation Officer.

Former staff and students were invited to an open day where they could take a tour and reminisce about their experiences at St Helena School.

St Helena School under wraps April 2016
The rear of the building taken from the neglected tennis courts. April 2011
The stained glass window in the school hall depicting St Helena
Henry Boot Construction for Derby University opening Autumn 2016


Stained glass window depicting St Helena viewed from the balcony.

Wendy Pockson.