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History of Chesterfield

History of Chesterfield
  • council: Chesterfield
  • population: 100,800
  • phone code: 01246
  • postcode area: S40
  • county: Derbyshire
  • twin Towns: Darmstadt - Germany, Troyes - France

Chesterfield is a historic market town and local government district in Derbyshire. It lies north of Derby, on a confluence of the rivers Rother and Hipper.

Including Staveley, the population (2001) is 100,879, although the town itself is 70,260. It is Derbyshire's largest town, although the county town of Derbyshire is Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales. Around 250,000 people live in the immediate area nearby including Dronfield, Bolsover, Staveley, Shirebrook and Clay Cross.

Town centre
Despite all the aforementioned development, Chesterfield has retained much of its town centre from the pre-war era. As previously discussed, Chesterfield is home to one of the largest open air markets in Britain, the stalls sitting either side of the historic Market Hall. In the middle of town, a collection of narrow and old streets make up "The Shambles", which houses one of Britain's oldest pubs.

Near Holywell Cross is Chesterfields largest department store, known to local as "The Co-op" but more correctly "The Chesterfield and District Co-operative society". Their buildings occupy the majority of Elder Way and include an enclosed bridge over the street.

Food and Drink
Cuisine available in the area includes Chinese, Indian and Thai restaurants and takeaways. Several night clubs are located around the town, predominantly towards "The Doughnut", more correctly called "Holywell Cross Car Park". Scattered around the town are many bars and pubs, and out of town the infamous "Brampton Mile" provides 13 pubs on a one mile section of Chatsworth Road. Tradition dictates that anyone "doing the mile" has at least one drink in each pub.

Local government in Chesterfield is organised in a two-tier structure. At the upper tier, services such as consumer protection, education, main roads and social services are provided by Derbyshire County Council. At the lower tier, services such as housing, planning, refuse collection and burial grounds are provided by Chesterfield Borough Council. The borough is unparished with the exception of Brimington and Staveley: Brimington Parish Council and Staveley Town Council exercise limited functions in those areas.

County council
Derbyshire County Council has sixty-four elected county councillors, each representing a single-member electoral division. The entire council is elected every four years. At the last elections in June 2009 the Conservative Party took control from the Labour Party after 28 years.

Borough council
Chesterfield Borough Council consists of forty-eight councillors. Elections of the whole council take place every four years, the last elections having occurred in 2007. The borough is divided nineteen wards, with between 1 and 3 councillors elected for each ward. As of 2009 the Liberal Democrats control the borough council with 38 councillors, while the Labour Party has 10 councillors.

The council choose one of their members annually to be mayor of Chesterfield, with the 368th mayor elected in May 2008.

The borough council set up a system of community forums in 1999 as part of their decision making process. There are eight forums which meet at least six times a year and consist of the borough and county councillors for the area and a number of co-opted members. The eight community forums are:

* Barrow Hill and Whittington
* Brimington and Tapton
* Dunston, Moor and St Helenís
* Hasland and St Leonardís
* Holmebrook and Rother
* Newbold and Brockwell
* Staveley
* Walton and West

Coat of arms
The borough council uses armorial bearings originally granted (to the previous borough corporation) by letters patent dated 10 November 1955. The blazon of the arms is as follows:

Gules a Device representing a Pomegranate Tree as depicted on the ancient Common Seal of the Borough the tree leaved and eradicated proper flowered and fructed Or and for the Crest on a Wreath of the Colours Issuant from a Mural Crown Gules Masoned Or a Mount Vert thereon a Derby Ram passant guardant proper. Supporters: On the dexter side a Cock and on the sinister side a Pynot or Magpie proper each Ducally gorged Or

The shield is based on the borough's ancient common seal, which is believed to date from the first half of the sixteenth century. The seal depicts a stylised pomegranate tree. When the arms were formally granted, the College of Arms expressed the opinion that the plant had been adopted by the town as a symbol of loyalty to the crown, as it was a royal badge used by Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII and Mary Tudor.

The crest depicts a Derby Ram, representing the county of Derbyshire, and a mural crown, suggestive of a town wall and thus borough status.

The supporters on either side of the arms represent the Cock and Pynot Inn, Old Whittington. The inn, now Revolution House, was the site of a meeting between conspirators against James II in 1688. Among those meeting there were the Earls of Danby and Devonshire, commemorated by the ducal crowns around the supporters' necks. The two birds stand on a compartment of rocks and moorland. The motto is "aspire", a punning reference to the crooked spire of the parish church.

In the last 30 years, the economy in and around Chesterfield has experienced major change, moving the employment base away from the primary and secondary sectors, and towards the tertiary area. The area sits on a large coalfield and the area played host to many coal mines, including:

* Clay Cross
* Arkwright
* Bolsover
* Grassmoor
* North Wingfield
* Holmewood

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