Members may remember that at the AGM last February we were short of volunteers for the position of committee members. At the last committee meeting held on the 13th September it was decided to co-opt Christine Merrick onto the committee. Christine organised the walk round Old Whittington during the summer and guided Barry Bingham through his talk on Old Whittington at the September meeting.
People who attended the meetings at the end of the last session will be aware that the meeting room did on occasion get rather full and consequently rather hot. Even worse we were reaching the limit imposed by the number of chairs available. In future all meetings will be held in the Church except on the rare occasions that the Church requires it. Entry will be from the front of the Church and not from the rear to avoid the risk of someone falling down the awkward steps between the front and the rear.
The Social History of Railways
We already have one volunteer for the Member’s evening on December 13th – we could do with another one or two speakers for a short presentation of about 20 minutes.
We now have three volunteers and a possible fourth – please put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Mr A Greenhough was the Headmaster of William Rhodes Senior School from when it opened in 1931 until 1938 when he became the Deputy Borough Education Officer, before becoming Borough Education Officer in 1942. In 1952 he instigated the award of the Greenhough Medallion to be presented annually, usually at Speech Day and Prize Giving, to a pupil or member of staff whether past or present who, by their service or achievement, had enhanced the reputation of the school.
The first recipient was P.W.Pearson in 1953, deputy headmaster at the time, who had recently been awarded the Royal Humane Society testimonial for an attempted rescue of a man from the sea in Cornwall. Other recipients included headmaster A.N. Crookes; long serving art master C.Scothern; and D. Windle who followed his father as teacher at the school, forming the school band about 1969 which developed into Rhodian Brass. Not all were masters – P.R. Clarke, was the first student to get into Cambridge University; F.Lowe was the no doubt long suffering caretaker and Lisa Dunks was the only female recipient after girls were admitted into the school in the 1980s. The last recipient was W.T.Chappell, who donated the medallion to the Museum.
Following the 1945 Education Act Chesterfield Borough Council produced an ambitious development plan for education within the borough. Included in the plan was the idea that the William Rhodes and Peter Webster schools should concentrate on applied science and crafts, with William Rhodes concentrating on engineering and building, and Peter Webster concentrating on engineering and mining. The Junior Technical College, which was housed at Towndrow Mill on Lordsmill Street was to disappear and the students absorbed into the two schools.
This necessitated an extensive building programme at William Rhodes and a sizeable extension housing a chemistry lab, metalworking and woodworking shops was opened in 1950. Until 1948 the Council Works Depot was adjacent to the rear entrance to the school on Boythorpe Mount and this may be where the building classes were held after the depot moved out in 1948. Finally in 1952 a new dining room was opened.
This could have been the completion of the building work at that time. It could also account for the design of the medallion, which is inscribe ‘William Rhodes School 1931-1952’ and incorporates a brick-layer’s trowel.
Although there are many cases of brothers being killed during WWI, it is fortunately rare that two are killed on the same day. So it is perhaps surprising that two more brothers with connections with Chesterfield were killed on the same day just over a year later than the Verner brothers.
Joseph Goddard was born at Eckington in 1882 but by 1891 the family, including a younger brother Benjamin, was living in Chesterfield. The brothers were evidently close as by 1914 they were both employed at Barlborough Colliery, played for the same football team, and were living in the same row of cottages in Clowne. They enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters on the same day and went to France together. Benjamin was killed on the night of 24th / 25th June and Joseph on the morning of the 25th. They were buried together, but their remains were never reinterred in a cemetery; they are commemorated on the Menin Gate. Their parents were still living in Chesterfield, which explains the memorial at Spital Cemetery.
Chesterfield brothers killed on the 1st day of the Somme Battle July 1st 1916
July 1st 2016 is the 100 year anniversary of the bloodiest battle of the First World War. Known as ‘The Battle of the Somme’ it claimed the lives of over 73,000 men.
Of these men at least 45 came from Chesterfield and the surrounding area. The front page of the Derbyshire Times featured row upon row of the faces of the local men lost on that day.
Two of those men were brothers Adrian and Richard Verner whose father Julius Anton Verner, a Russian immigrant was the manager of Staveley Iron and Steel Company.
The boys had enlisted on the same day with the York and Lancaster Regiment in Sheffield and they were given consecutive regimental numbers. Both shared the same birthday, July 2nd although there was two years difference in their age.
Chesterfield Brothers Killed in Action
The other day Mr and Mrs Verner of Spring house Calow received the devastating news that their two sons at the Front had been killed.
The information was conveyed in the following letter;
It is my painful duty to have to inform you of the death of both of your sons. They both fell during the attack we made on the first of the month with many friends. They could not possibly have had more noble deaths, though that is poor consolation I know for such terrible news. It was just such men as your two sons who has made the name of this battalion.
They were both held in great respect and it was a pleasure for me to recommend them for their commissions. The remnants of the battalion mourn for you and for the many brave parents left at home who have lost sons.
The two sons referred to are Privates Adrian and Richard Verner who in the September following the outbreak of war gave up lucrative positions to render what service they could to their country. Both boys were educated at Chesterfield Grammar School.
Derbyshire Times July 29th 1916
The boys are remembered on war memorials at Calow and Chesterfield Grammar School as well as on Thiepval memorial in France.
A new edition of the Derbyshire volume of The Buildings of England has recently been published. Perhaps better known as Pevsner’s guides, this edition has been edited By Clare Hartwell. Derbyshire is described as ‘one of England’s most rewarding counties, from the architectural splendours of the Peak District to the legacy of internationally significant structures from the Industrial Revolution.
Some entries for Chesterfield are much expanded e.g. Elder Yard Chapel, the Church of the Annunciation and St Andrew, Barrow Hill and there are some new entries e.g. Queen’s Park, the Workhouse and Barrow Hill roundhouse. Originally referred to the ‘ruthlessness Chesterization of Knifesmithgate; Hartwell describes the buildings there as ‘Mainly in Tudor style, half-timbered and jettied out over the pavement to form covered walkways, they make an impressive display. A much better description even if she has the Victoria to the west of the Co-op building rather than the east.
She was not impressed with Belmont: ‘The big, ugly C19 house with a tower has been replaced by a bigger, uglier apartment block with a tower, earlyC21.
Elsewhere there is a mention of the Millennium Walkway at New Mills and Lumsdale. There is also a section entitled ‘Geology and Building Stones’, by Ian Thomas. It is therefore much expanded from the previous edition with 414 pages compared with 733 in the new edition. With much additional information and 121 colour photos this also means that it is expensive at £35.
The Buildings of England Derbyshire, Clare Hartwell, Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-21559-5