“Great pity” and “disappointment” as historic former courthouse in Chesterfield is demolished

A historic old courthouse in Chesterfield is being demolished – with the town’s Civic Society labelling the decision a “great pity.”
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Chesterfield and District Civic Society has expressed regret that the former courthouse complex on Brimington Road, near the train station, is being demolished.Howard Borrell, Civic Society Chairman, said: ‘Many people will remember that this now privately owned building was latterly the Probation Service and was, some time ago, a martial arts centre. We are very disappointed at its demolition. The society were not consulted about this, as it is not a listed building.

“Though properties such as this can be difficult to convert, it is a great pity that something could not have been done about it. We believe that the site is destined to become a temporary car park, pending firmer plans. Whatever eventually replaces the building we hope that its townscape value will be greater than what has been lost.”The building was first opened in 1914 at a cost of £10,000, excluding the site. The architects were Messrs. Hunter and Woodhouse of Belper, with the main contractor a once well-known Chesterfield builder – G. F. Kirk. It was built with Accrington Bricks, having stonework from Darley Dale.The building dated back to the days when the borough and county police forces were separate. It was needed to house the Chesterfield Petty Sessional Courts. But the complex also included a county police station, a house designed for the Deputy Chief Constable and ‘cottages’ for the ‘police groom and police clerk’. A lock-up and offices were included.

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To the rear was an exercise yard for prisoners, a space for drill, a stable, coach-house and a ‘motor-shed’. There were originally two main court rooms with concave ceilings and a third for childrens’ cases.Howard Borrell added: “This nicely proportioned building was not statutory listed. Its demolition is a reminder of the importance of identifying buildings at risk and even just unloved buildings that need some care and attention. The Society are currently reviewing our existing list of such properties and I think it’s fair to say that this building would have been added.’Reporting on the then new building project’s initiation, in its edition of January 18 1913, the Derbyshire Times lamented that due to its situation the building would ‘not do full justice to the designers’. In May the following year, it was described it as ‘plain and substantial’.

Howard Borrell is the Chairman of the Civic Society. 
Credit: Chesterfield and District Civic SocietyHoward Borrell is the Chairman of the Civic Society. 
Credit: Chesterfield and District Civic Society
Howard Borrell is the Chairman of the Civic Society. Credit: Chesterfield and District Civic Society

A temporary car park is planned for the land for up to 110 car parking spaces for up to three years, by a private company.

The application is part of the wider plan for Chesterfield Waterside set out in the Local Plan, looking to develop the land for mixed use.

The council is currently preparing an updated masterplan for the Waterside scheme, which has been approved for consultation by the council’s cabinet.

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This identifies the site as part of the ‘Station Place’ character area within Waterside, to be developed for residential and commercial use.

This photo shows part of the complex being demolished.This photo shows part of the complex being demolished.
This photo shows part of the complex being demolished.

According to planning documents the council is in dialogue with the landowner regarding the future development of the site, but the land is complex and it is anticipated that the final use of the site will take some time.