Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust newsletter Summer 2019

Chair's introduction

Summer 2019

Welcome to the revitalising of DHBT and thank you for joining us. After decades of productive activity rescuing nearly one hundred historic properties from dereliction and possible demolition, the Trust suffered a nadir when the Government ceased to give conservation grants. However, as a result of dedicated organisational work by a growing number of volunteers, and support from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, we are now re-establishing the Trust as a force to be reckoned with. You will see from this first newsletter the range of activities and projects planned. With your help, this will only be the beginning. Please ask your friends and acquaintances to become a Friend of the Trust, and, if you can find a little time, volunteer your services.

Derek Latham, August 2019

Support derbyshire historic buildings trust

Become a Friend of DHBT

Download our 'Be our Friend' brochure from our website.

Anyone passionate about Derbyshire's historic architecture should become a 'Friend of the Trust'. Please encourage friends and relatives to visit our website to become a friend. There are different levels to suit everyone, but all are 'Friends' and have access to talks and entrance to social events at a reduced price or advance offers.

events programme 2019


Sunday August 18th, 2-4pm

The Millennium Walkway, New Mills

Guided Walk: Torr Vale Mill, The Millennium Walkway and the New Mills Conservation Area

Come and explore the dramatic setting of this multi-storey textile mill in 'The Park under the Town'; the deep, gritstone gorge of the River Goyt, which winds below the town where road and rail bridges and tunnels defy this topographical challenge. See it from the spectacular Torrs Walkway (built as a Millennium project) high over the raging River Sett.

Allan Morrison, DHBT Trustee and conservation architect, will lead a walk through the New Mills Conservation Area, to point out it’s surprising attributes and where the Trust has involvement, culminating in a brief tour of Torr Vale Mill, by kind permission of the owner, Daniel Cunningham. Tickets cost £8.


Saturday September 7th, 6-9pm

Haddon Hall

An exclusive Late Summer Gathering and Tour of Haddon Hall

An exclusive late summer gathering and guided tour of Haddon Hall. If you are a Friend of Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, you will be able to purchase a ticket for this event at the reduced price of £25.00 (plus booking fee). Tickets for those who are not Friends of DHBT cost £35.00 (plus booking fee). Founder Friends are able to attend this event free of charge.

Sunday September 8th, 2-3:30pm

Spital Cemetery and Chapel, Chesterfield

Guided Tour: Spital Cemetery and Chapel, Chesterfield Sunday 8th September

An opportunity to visit the remarkable Spital Cemetery and its Grade II listed chapels. The walk will be led by members of The Friends of Spital Cemetery (FoSC), who have a wealth of knowledge about the wonderful place, its features, and the people buried there.


Tuesday October 8th, 10:30am-1:30pm

Darley Abbey Mills

Guided Tour: Darley Abbey Mills and Village

This is a unique opportunity to see the most complete group of 18th century cotton mills in the whole of the UNESCO Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The tour will cover the origins of the village, the development and adaptive reuse of the mills complex and the recent conversion of Darley Hall Stables.


Saturday 16th November, 3-6pm

The deadline for applications is the 31st August 2019

Celebrate the best of Derbyshire's built heritage.

Architecture awards, 2019

16th November, Elvaston Castle

We are asking for applications for our second annual awards. There are a number of building categories, so many historic building schemes will find they can apply. Our aim is to promote all that is best in the preservation of Derbyshire's built heritage.

We exist to safeguard Derbyshire's historic buildings; please support us by spreading the word for the Awards. The deadline for applications is 31st August 2019.

Book Review

'Wirksworth : A History'

'Wirksworth: A History' by Mary Wiltshire and Anton Shone

By Mary Wiltshire and Anton Shone. In conjunction with Wirksworth Civic Society. Bannister Publications 2016. £7.99 from Wirksworth Heritage Centre

A neat, thoroughly researched little book of 72 pages the authors cover from pre-history to the twentieth century in distinct periods. The reader is taken through a fascinating evolution and derivation of place and street names, some of which hark right back to it’s presumed location as the Lost Lutudarum, and important local Roman settlement based upon the extraction and export of lead. Though not proven, a convincing argument I made for Wirksworth to be that place, and its later importance during the Mecian period, appears to support this hypothesis with the early Wirksworth Charter of AD835.

A series of simple hand drawn maps show the evolution of Wirksworth’s Lanes and relevant buildings are illustrated by early artists impressions and photographs. Covering the component settlements of Steeple Grange, Wash green, Gorsey Bank, Bole Hill and the Dale with its history of encroachment from the commons not unlike the Favella shanty towns of South America.

Different aspects of the town’s life are covered related to the period in which they had the most impact, the church, manor, market and mills in the medieval period and especially during Wirksworth’s heyday when Georgian wealth expanded the town and established most of its civic presence and institutions.

As transport improved Wirksworth lost out to competition from abroad reducing the price of lead and the diversion of the main road north via the new Turnpikes up the Derwent Valley (the current A6). But Quarrying continued to be the mainstay of the economy, for fluorspar and then for stone.

However, as the scale of quarrying grew so did the fallout of dust which settled on Wirksworth creating an undesirable place to live. Thanks in part to the Civic Trust and the DHBT, when the quarries declined, investment in conserving the fabric of the past brought a late twentieth century renaissance, with Wirksworth again becoming a vibrant place to live and work with the creative heart that we recognise today.

Derek Latham, 2019

HOPKINSON’S HOUSE, WIRKSWORTH: rescued and restored

Between 1981-3, DHBT tackled its most challenging rescue of a historic building.

The property was built as a grand house in 1631 but declined dramatically in status over the following three hundred years. This led to a disastrous lack of care and the building was described as roofless and derelict when added to the statutory list in 1950. In 1954 the front and back gables collapsed.

As part of the 1978 Wirksworth town regeneration project, led by the Civic Trust and funded by the Sainsbury family charitable trust, the DHBT tackled ‘no-hope buildings’ of which Hopkinson’s House was the most spectacular.

A meticulous restoration of the surviving fabric was carried out by Lathams Architects and the provision of new floors and a new roof made possible the creation of a suite of rooms which could be let for use as office accommodation. This has helped fund the administration of the DHBT ever since.

Nearly 40 years on the office accommodation needs upgrading to meet up to date regulations and needs, particularly regarding thermal insulation, water supply, electrical services and lavatory provision.

We are, therefore, now embarking on a programme of fund raising.

L-R: Hopkinson's House, Wirksworth, before and after renovation. This building was retained by DHBT, with some of the rooms being let to commercial tenants.


Derby's Phoenix Foundry and its connection with the John Watson building in Mumbai

An interesting conservation controversy is raging in Mumbai (Bombay, as was).

A listed iron framed building, in a prestigious part of the city, has been declared incapable of repair, but conservation experts disagree.

Why has this anything to do with Derbyshire? The answer is that the iron structural components, over which the controversy is raging, were cast in Derby’s Phoenix Foundry and shipped out to Bombay in the 1860s as a prefabricated kit of parts.

The Phoenix Foundry, stood on the bank of the River Derwent, partly on a little island. It began operating early in the 1800s. In 1844 it produced the ironwork for London’s rebuilt Royal Exchange. By the 1860s it was acknowledged as a pioneer in constructional ironwork, providing iron work for station roofs, roads and bridges.

The foundry would have been well known to Derbyshire born engineer Rolland Mason Ordish who, at that time, was working with Henry Barlow on the design of the great single span roof for St Pancras Station.

Ordish came to be employed by colonial businessman John Watson to design a five storey block on Bombay’s posh seaside esplanade.

The cast iron components started to be shipped over to Bombay in 1865. They were assembled to provide the skeleton for what became the City’s most prestigious hotel. It had 130 bedrooms, a grand lobby, a restaurant, bar and a spectacular ballroom within a central atrium.

Its use was exclusively for Europeans and it is said this prompted Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, to build the world famous Taj Hotel.

Wilson’s Hotel closed in 1920 and was eventually converted for use as apartments and offices, the latter used as chambers by lawyers attached to the adjacent Bombay High Court.

Wrangling over rent control and changing ownerships led to a lack of maintenance. Partial collapse has led to calls for its demolition.

Bombay High Court has given orders for the building to be vacated to facilitate demolition, despite its listed status.

Italian architect Renzo Piano felt the building to be of sufficient importance to mount an international campaign to challenge the threat of demolition. This led to its inclusion in The World Monument Fund’s list of 100 World Endangered Monuments.

British conservation experts have recently been joint signatories to a letter in The Times urging the Indian Government to commission conservation and engineering advice to inform options on its repair and reuse.

Moving Forward

Recognising and Recording Derbyshire's Heritage at Risk:

A Community Project

Sudbury Gasworks (1874), a Grade II listed building on the Derbyshire Dales Risk Register since 1989
The Grade II Spital Chapels (1857); the first cemetery in Chesterfield

In partnership with Derbyshire County Council, we are currently preparing an application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a project that will help to safeguard heritage at risk with the support of local communities.

Our focus is the condition of statutory listed built heritage assets within our project area (Derbyshire, the Peak District, the High Peak and the Staffordshire Moorlands). The partnership project will increase people's access to, and enjoyment of, heritage by raising awareness through community involvement, learning and training.

With eleven Local Authorities, we will train volunteers to support the surveying of 8,000+ listed assets, creating a baseline condition record. With expertise and support from the DHBT team, we'll identify priority heritage at risk and offer help, advice and assistance to owners who need it. Evidence gathered will enable positive approaches to be devised, including targeted action plans and better informed heritage strategies.

We'll champion the role of buildings through all that we do, including developing a learning programme (with the University of Derby and Derbyshire County Council Environmental Services), involving volunteers, paid training posts and young people; raising awareness and highlighting careers involving the historic environment. Get in touch with us to register your interest in getting involved with this project.

DHBT seek new trustee

The Trust are now seeking a Learning and Engagement specialist Trustee who will:

- Help us to make learning and engagement central to our purpose.

- Help us to encourage, recognise and promote quality learning opportunities that relate to the historic environment of Derbyshire

- Be willing to advise on their area of expertise

- Help us to raise our profile.

Three of our current Trustees

If you feel you might fit this description, or know someone who does, find out more here:

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