Nine walkers gathered outside Church on the 5th January, all willing to burn off some Christmas calories on our first walk of 2020. It had been decided to make church our start and finish point so we left our cars and set off. Walking through Newbold we picked up Evelyn as we walked past her house then continued skirting Pevensey Green which has been tidied and looked after as part of a community project.
Continuing we walked past Edinburgh Park before climbing a flight of steps onto and across Newbold Road. Walking up Cromwell Road there was a brief stop to read the blue plaque on number 26 – birthplace of Peter Maurice Wright in 1916. Later Peter was a principal scientific officer for MI5. His book Spycatcher became an international bestseller, part memoir, part exposé of what Wright claimed were serious institutional failings in MI5; it sold over two million copies. We walked past the courts of Chesterfield Lawn Tennis Club before descending down Ashgate Road looking down onto the allotments. Turning onto Chester Street we entered Monkey Park and met up with Mary, who was sat on a bench waiting for us. Following the Holme Brook we walked past the site of Chesterfield Gas Works, one of the two gas holders has recently been demolished before reaching Chatsworth Road.
Entering Queen’s Park we ate our lunch in the cricket pavilion. Queen’s Park was planned to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 but did not officially open until August 1893. Cricket has been played in the park since 1894 with many famous players including W.G. Grace having played on the ground.
After a relaxed lunch we continued up Dock Walk and Goyt Side Road. Here we were walking through Chesterfield’s industrial heritage. The Grade Two listed Cannon Mill and its water wheel was on the site of the Griffin Foundry which two hundred years ago produced cannon balls and ordnance for the Napoleonic Wars. At that time Derbyshire produced 25% of Great Britain’s total iron output and this foundry produced 25% of Derbyshire’s iron production.
In mid-Victorian times Brampton was a hive of industrial activity with numerous old coal pits, two working collieries, a dozen potteries, six brickyards, a corn mill and the factories and mills at Wheatbridge. Robinsons later employed many people on this site in the manufacture of their healthcare products. Continuing through the old industrial area we reached the Northwood Tissue Mill and Morrisons Supermarket before crossing Walton Road.
Here we walked past Walton Dam. The dam originally was built to provide water for nearby water wheels then later became part of the recreational care for Robinson’s employees. Swimming then fishing took place on the dam and a cricket ground was created on one side. We followed the course of the River Hipper through woods before walking through Somersall Playing Fields and reaching Somersall Lane. Turing right we walked between the two early nineteenth century lodges which were originally built at the entrance of the drive to Somersall Hall before crossing Chatsworth Road and walking behind the site of the old Terminus Hotel. This pub, built in 1906, closed in 2002 and was demolished to be replaced by flats. It was at the end of the Chesterfield tramway system, starting with horse drawn carriages in 1882 and electrified in 1904. The trams were replaced by trolleybuses in 1927 and finally by motor buses in 1938.
Continuing along the streets and footpaths of Brampton we crossed Old Road, passing Manor Offices, once the headquarters of the Kenning Motor Group. Next was Brampton Manor, the old house was built by two brothers, Robert and John Watkinson between 1585 and 1599. It was a private family residence until the mid 1960’s then it had a colourful spell as a ‘Gentleman’s Dining and Gaming Club’ with the benefit of the only late licence in Chesterfield.
Ashgate was next, then Loundsley Green before we returned to Newbold Village, passing the Chesterfield Barnett Observatory which was completed in 1960 and is home of an 18 inch telescope, according to ‘The Sky at Night’ the ninth largest amateur telescope in the UK. Opposite the telescope we caught a glimpse of the thirteenth century Eyre Chapel.
Soon we were back at our cars, foot weary and tired but we all agreed the walk was well worth the effort as we had seen parts of Chesterfield not seen before by some of the walkers. We were invited back to the home of Bob and Ruth Cable for soup and mince pies, washed down with homemade mulled wine, a welcome end to our New Year walk.
The next 5 mile walk on Sunday 2nd February will be led by Trish Law along the Five Pits Trail starting from Timber Lane Car Park. New members are welcome. We meet at the church gates at 12:00 noon with sandwiches and suitable footware. Transport is arranged before we set off.