This story has been contributed by Alec ‘Jock’ Turner, from his numerous copies of ‘The Link’ (the Robinsons ‘in house’ magazine’) and he will soon be bringing us more of his memories and recollections of Brampton’s past history, He also has a ‘fund’ of stories and information drawn from the memories of his parents and grandparents; plus his recollections of working as Senior Graphics Designer at Robinsons from where he retired after 22 years. He was also editor of the ‘in house’ magazine for a number of years.
81 year old Jock was born in the ‘Chain Bar’ property on the corner of Chatsworth Road and School Board Lane (pictured below) in 1933, and lived there with his large family up to the latter part of the Second World War.
Jock made contact with me as a result of seeing the extract from my Joe Cocker article in Chesterfield’s ‘Twist’ publication (taken from the full length feature in Sheffield’s ‘My Kind Of Town’ quarterly magazine), after noting my mention of the ‘flat’ over the shop on the right hand side of this building ( on the corner of Chatsworth Road and School Board Lane) as the site of the production of the Joe Cocker demo recording that I took to London to secure his recording contract; and where we lived for a few years during the late 1960s. Remarkably, Jock and his family had been raised in the house next door, on the corner, during the second world war years .. his story will follow shortly .. DMcP.
To strengthen the chain of good fellowship in the Factories of Robinson & Sons, Ltd.
Editor : Mr. W. Wheatcroft.
No. 116 MARCH, 1962
THE BESTWICKS OF BRAMPTON
Castles are not the only buildings which have historical associations and enshrine old memories. The immortal Shakespeare was born in a cottage, as were hundreds of other men and women who left their mark on their day and were hundreds of other men and women who left their mark on their day and generation.
This group of buildings, familiar to all Brampton people, at the corner of School Board Lane and Chatsworth Road, was the home for several generations of the Bestwick family who originally came into the district from Holmesfield. Tom Bestwick was the last of his name to live there. From the little corner shop he carried on a very successful milk round and some of his cows were kept in the buildings behind the shop.
Tom Bestwick’s father, Henry, was a very well-known butcher and cattle dealer and farmed some of the fields which lay between School Board Lane and Stone Row ; these were very handy for turning his cattle out on the finer days of winter, but the main farm was on the south side of Chatsworth Road from Wash House Lane up to Brookside.
The recent demolition of the cottages adjoining Tom’s old shop has shown the extensive range of buildings behind the shop which Henry Bestwick used. The little building with the diamond opening over the double doors was where he slaughtered his cattle; and still further behind, just showing on the picture, were farm buildings where the cows were kept. Henry was one of a family of five, three girl and two boys; and his wife’s name was Emma Biggin, who hailed from Holmesfield and died in 1921 aged eighty-six. Unfortunately, Henry died when he was comparatively a young man.
School Board Lane was only a cart track in those days, with wooden gates at the entrance to Chatsworth Road. The Bestwicks had a very well established garden and orchard on the other side of the lane almost reaching up to the premises built later on by Tommy Dodd. The water which collected in the upper end of Ashgate Road flowed into the Inkerman Clay Pit and emerged as a little stream running through what is now the Springfield Estate and finally found its way into Tom Bestwick’s field adjoining Chatsworth Road, and ran immediately behind the wall separating the orchard from the highway, it then disappeared through a grate and passed underneath Bestwick’s house and came out into the open again in the gardens of the old Chain Bar Cottages shown in the picture below. These were pulled down some years ago, but they had provided the homes of various members of the Joseph Silcock family, who was in business as a builder, and Edward his son built himself the more imposing house at the end of the row. He did quite a lot of building work for the Firm. Later on he became the landlord of the Bold Rodney Inn.
Henry Bestwick had a fine family of eight children, three girls and five boys. John Henry the eldest son succeeded to his father’s butchery business whilst. Tom, the third son, took over the farming side of the business. Tom’s youngest brother Charles was in business in Cross Street, Brampton as a baker and confectioner. George the fourth son was in business as a butcher in Chatsworth Road.
Henry had a sister named Hannah who made history for the family when she married William Wilson, a snuff manufacturer of Sheffield, and lived at a very fine house at Dore on the outskirts of Sheffield called “ The Moss.” Wilson’s Mills were known as “ The Sharrow Snuff Mills.” In more recent years the members of this family lived at Horsleygate, at the far end of the Cordwell Valley, and
were Masters of the Barlow Hunt. The Brampton Bestwicks were on the friendliest and happiest terms with Hannah and were frequent visitors at her Sheffield home ; and two of the daughters of Henry, named Emma and Edith, made their home in Sheffield with their aunt.
Mrs. Hannah Wilson was called “ Hannah ” after her aunt who married a man named Potter, and they occupied the corner cottage adjoining Tom’s shop. This cottage was known as the Toll Bar House, and after her husband’s death Hannah Potter carried on as toll bar keeper and was the last person to do so. Today an old historical relic of her trade survives—in the picture of the very handsome front door of this cottage a metal eye can be seen sticking out from the side of the doorway and the chain which was used to close the road was hooked into this old eye. Chains across the road were not so common as gates at these old toll bar houses so it is quite understandable how the district came to be known as Chain Bar, Brampton. The old boot scraper at the side of the door is also a reminder of the times when stone pavements and tarmac roads were unknown. A careful observer will find numbers of these old scrapers still surviving at the side of Brampton houses ; but they will soon be things of the past and photographs will be the only evidence that they were in common use. On the other side of the road alongside the cartway leading down to the “ New Brampton Colliery ” was the post to which the other end of the chain was permanently fastened.
Toll bar houses are still a common feature on our English roads and dozens of them can be seen in the course of an afternoon’s motor ride from Chesterfield. These toll bars must have been a very effective means of reducing the amount of traffic on the roads, for a horse going through Chain Bar had to pay 4d, and if it was hitched to a carriage and pair the owner would have to hand 8d over to the toll bar keeper. Cows were charged 2d and ffocks of sheep Id per sheep. If this had been the only toll bar between Chesterfield and Baslow the charge would not have been quite so burdensome, but the name “ West Bars ” reminds us that a toll bar was there too; and
there was still another at Brookside and its existence is commemorated in the name of the new street which ran down at the side of the old toll bar keeper’s cottage and known as Brookside Bar. The old toll bar cottage was pulled down only quite recently. The last occupier was a cattle drover.
A hundred and fifty years ago there was no free use of the roads in this country and there were toll bars on all main roads, and even as late as 1840 they were often to be found at intervals of six to eight miles and every vehicle going through had to pay, except when a corpse was being taken in a wheeled vehicle to a church or a farmer moving his stock from one farm to another. The tolls were all clearly stated on the board which hung at every toll bar, and contrary to modern practice there was a lower charge for big heavy wagons, the reason being that these wagons always had very broad wheels and were welcomed by those who owned the toll because they helped to roll in the stone which was put on the roads to fill up holes and ruts. Needless to say, these toll bars were not very popular and in Wales there was one toll bar which was burnt down over and over again.
One old hawker, by the name of Jimmy Ford, had his own way of evading payment at Chain Bar; as pedestrians were allowed to go through free—just before he approached Chain Bar he would stop his donkey cart, unharness the donkey and put it in the cart, and then pull it through the toll bar gate himself. One can gain a little quiet amusement by imagining the conversation between Jimmy Ford and Mrs. Hannah Potter.
Toll bars received their death blow when railways were built and at the yearly auction of the rights to collect tolls bidders often failed to turn up, and tolls only lingered on at bridges, and as late as 1931 there were still 88 toll bridges in the country, but it will not be long before these reminders of the past have all vanished.
Our Brampton Chain Bar cottage still stands, and was the first home of Mrs. Emma Turner, daughter of Tom Bestwick, where she brough up a fine family of eight children, five boys and three girls—all born in this little three-bed roomed cottage. Her husband, who served as an officer in the 1st Batt. Notts. & Derbys. during the 1914/18 war, died in 1937 leaving his wife the hard task of bringing up her large family with the eldest only fourteen years of age. At present four of the unmarried members of the family live with their mother in a very lovely home in Haddon Close, in which on festive occasions the whole of the Turner family gather, which with the four sons’ wives and the four grandchildren now totals sixteen members; and it is interesting that two of these, ‘ Jackie ’ and 4 Jock,’ work with us at Portland Works.
Copyright 1962 Robinson and Sons Ltd. All Rights Reserved