MEMORIES: Derbyshire Times’ staff past and present remember old Station Road buildings ahead of demolition

The Derbyshire Times' former home on Station Road in Chesterfield. Archive picture.
The Derbyshire Times' former home on Station Road in Chesterfield. Archive picture.
  • Buildings at the Derbyshire Times’ former Station Road home to be knocked down
  • Memories are rife among scores of staff past and present
  • Developers intend to create more car parking spaces at the site
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Ahead of the demolition of the former Derbyshire Times’ buildings on Station Road in Chesterfield, staff past and present have shared their memories of their ‘second home’.

Bernard Jones worked as a photographer for the Derbyshire Times before retiring in 2012 after a career spanning 48 years.

Long-serving photographer Bernard Jones at work in 1973.

Long-serving photographer Bernard Jones at work in 1973.

Bernard, who joined the flagship title when he left school at the age of 15 and went on to take hundreds of thousands of pictures, said: “When I first entered 37 Station Road at 7.45am on August 4, 1964, I had no idea that it would be my place of work for the next 48 years.

“In those days it was not a particularly welcoming place. You were met by the smell of molten metal, a rare cocktail of chemicals and ink stains adorned the banisters. All of this was a far cry from the clean, environmentally-friendly office I left in 2012.

“My fond memories are more with the many people I met along the way. Some helped shape my life, some have remained friends forever.”

Bernard, who was renowned for his vast local knowledge, suggested surrounding street names should now be renamed to honour greats of the Chesterfield institution.

My fond memories are more with the many people I met along the way. Some helped shape my life, some have remained friends forever

Bernard Jones

Eric Lowe, the last pressroom manager at Station Road, said: “My career started at the Derbyshire Times on March 21, 1961. I was 15 and an apprentice printer.

“My first impression was of a majestic black and brass Crabtree newspaper press acquired from the Scotsman paper in Edinburgh. The Station Road building had been specially built to house this press.

“When it started up the whole building vibrated and it was like the heartbeat of the building. The huge DC motors which ran the press took all the power and TV screens disappeared and lights dimmed in Mill Street and Eyre Street - people weren’t happy!

“My first job was cleaning and maintenance and when the press was running keeping the ink ducts full from large tanks pumped by hand. It was a noisy and dirty environment – the smell of ink and paper filtered through the air along with ink mist.

Bernard Jones with the 150th edition of the Derbyshire Times.

Bernard Jones with the 150th edition of the Derbyshire Times.

“The Derbyshire Times’ print run started on the dot at 1.10pm every Thursday and finished at 7.30pm – 86,000 copies.

“It will certainly be emotional to see the old buildings go. A lot of ex-colleagues will feel the same.

“Goodbye to the irreplaceable Derbyshire Times’ buildings at Station Road.

“It is the end of an era.”

From February, 1971, when Geoff 'Tuggy' Wilson retired as press foreman after 50 years at the Derbyshire Times. Eric Lowe is second left.

From February, 1971, when Geoff 'Tuggy' Wilson retired as press foreman after 50 years at the Derbyshire Times. Eric Lowe is second left.

Community and features writer Gay Bolton, who has worked for the Derbyshire Times since 1983, said: “I joined the Derbyshire Times more than 30 years ago and still remember the sense of wonder I felt when I first saw everyone’s idea of what a newspaper office should look like.

“Back then the whole process of production took place on one site.

“It was the days before computers when stories were written on typewriters and each paragraph was typed on a sheet of paper.

“Sub-editors would check the stories, pack them into metal cylinders which would whizz across a yard in a pneumatic tube to the printers’ department. The stories would then be typeset and pasted on to pages ready for printing.

“There was always a buzz of excitement on Thursdays when we collected the paper hot off the press and saw vans rolling up to take the news we had written out to the villages and towns of Derbyshire.”

Multimedia images editor Marisa Cashill recalled: “The first thing you noticed as you arrived at work in the early days of my time at the Derbyshire Times was the smell of Black Jacks from the nearby Trebor factory. A sickly, sugary smell that instantly put a smile on my face.

On April 19, 1935, the Derbyshire Times reported about the new Crabtree press arriving at the Station Road premises.

On April 19, 1935, the Derbyshire Times reported about the new Crabtree press arriving at the Station Road premises.

“As you walked through the car park to the office everyone was friendly – nobody walked passed you without saying ‘hello’ or ‘morning’.

“It was bustling with people from every department. Numbers dwindled over the years until the building became simply too big for us.”

Yvonne Bihari, who worked in the newspaper sales department, added: “I’ve got some very happy memories of working there. I worked with some lovely people and met some larger-than-life characters. I’m sorry to see it go.”

Station Road was the Derbyshire Times’ home for 100 years.

Over that century, thousands of people from Chesterfield and surrounding areas worked at the premises in a wide variety of roles.

Work to knock down the disused buildings is due to begin on Monday.

The building which formerly housed the printing presses and another building which was used as offices will be demolished.

One of the buildings on the site – which used to be the offices for editorial and commercial staff – has been redeveloped into the headquarters for Heathcotes Group, a provider of residential care homes. This will not be knocked down.

Planning documents state Cordwell Properties LLP intends to create more car parking spaces at the site after the demolition work has taken place.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council – which is responsible for highways – said Mill Street and Station Road would be closed between Corporation Street and Spa Lane between Monday and May 30 to facilitate the demolition work.

A council spokesman said: “A diversion will be in place and access will be maintained, wherever reasonably possible, on the affected length of road.

“The road will reopen as soon as the work is finished – this may be earlier than May 30.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused while the work takes place.”

The Derbyshire Times relocated to new offices at Spire Walk in Chesterfield in June 2013.

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END OF AN ERA: Old Derbyshire Times’ buildings to be demolished

Gay Bolton celebrated 30 years with the Derbyshire Times in 2013.

Gay Bolton celebrated 30 years with the Derbyshire Times in 2013.