Hotel, gallery or school suggested for famous old Chesterfield building

Boutique hotel, art gallery and a school are just some of the suggestions for the future use one of Chesterfield’s most famous buildings.

By Jon Ball
Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 8:17 pm

The Grade II*-listed Tapton House is being marketed as offices, but is currently empty – leading to suggestions for alternative uses.

The house, built in the late 18th Century, is the former home of railway pioneer George Stephenson who leased the house from 1832 until his death in 1848.

It was then bought by Charles Paxton Markham, director of Staveley Coal and Iron Company, and was the Markham family home until 1925, when it was gifted to the borough.

The house was converted into a school and later became part of Chesterfield College, before being returned to Chesterfield Council ownership in 2018.

The council currently rents it out as office space, but it has no tenants.

And with the council already offering office space at Dunston Innovation Centre and the town centre Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre office block due for completion imminently – while work progresses on a new office complex in the Chesterfield Waterside development – there are fears it may be difficult to find tenants in an 18th Century building away from the town centre.

Philip Riden, Chesterfield & District Civic Society chairman, admitted it is a concern.

The Grade II*-listed Tapton House in Chesterfield.

He said he had approached two different schools to use the building, but “unfortunately both met with no response”.

He said: “A corporate headquarters is the best bet. You’d have to secure the grounds though, as the rest is a park which must remain open to the public, a condition of the gift.

“It could become a museum, but Chesterfield already has one and the rooms aren’t suitable.

“Another idea is where it could become an art gallery, using the big spaces as the galleries.

Railway pioneer George Stephenson lived in Tapton House from 1832 until his death in 1848.

“The other possibility would be to restore it to residential use again.”

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‘Ideal solution would be corporate offices’

Another suggestion would be a small, boutique hotel, although, Mr Riden said, that market is already served in Chesterfield with Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa in Brimington.

The main entrance to Tapton House, with plaque recording how it is the former home of George Stephenson.

However, he said all ideas faced difficulties, with potential tenants facing the possibility of costlybusiness rates or a hefty repair bill for the restoration of the house – “you only have to look at the windows to see they need work” – while the Markham family would have to give permission for certain uses outside the terms of the original ‘gift’.

He said: “Tapton House is quite a large house, over three storeys, so there’s a lot of house there to fill.

“The ideal situation will be corporate offices, because I think it’s well suited for that.”

The council said the office space is still available to rent and it is making regular checks of the building – indeed, fencing has just gone up around the building while repairs are carried out to its roof.

A council spokesman said: “Tapton House remains on the market and available for tenants.

“While it has been vacant we have been making weekly inspections and then arranging maintenance works as required in order to ensure it does not fall into a state of disrepair.

“As the council is currently undertaking repairs to the roof, fencing has been installed as a safety precaution while the works take place.”

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