Chesterfield and District Civic Society has produced this list of some of the best-known thoroughfares and back alleys in our town, and the often long-forgotten background to their names.
Society chairman Philip Riden said: “The names of streets, whether they have existed since the Middle Ages or whether they have been devised in modern times, can throw a great deal of light on the history of a community, in Chesterfield as in any town.
"Also in Chesterfield, as elsewhere, some old names have disappeared but remain clues to the past.”
1. St Mary’s Gate
Chesterfield is unusual in that the name of the main road running from south to north through the town has changed completely. What are now St Mary’s Gate and Lordsmill Street were both called Soutergate until the 16th Century. The first element (‘souter’) means ‘shoemaker’ and illustrates how important tanning and shoemaking were in the medieval town. The second element does not mean ‘gate’ in the modern sense but ‘street’. Philip Riden, chair of Chesterfield Civic Society, said: "The northern half of Soutergate became St Mary’s Gate in the 16th Century, at the same time as the parish church acquired its modern double dedication to St Mary and All Saints."
Photo: Brian Eyre
2. Lordsmill Street
This view, from the Crooked Spire of St Mary and All Saints Church, shows Lordsmill Street, which gained its current name in the 17th Century. It refers to the corn mill belonging to the lord of the manor of Chesterfield. This stood on the River Hipper immediately upstream from the bridge carrying the road over the river. The mill ended its days as a leather works and the buildings were only demolished in the 1980s.
Photo: Marisa Cashill
3. Corporation Street
There was another manorial corn mill in Chesterfield, owned by the deans of Lincoln, although confusingly the lane leading from near the parish church to the mill was called Bishop’s Mill Lane. Most of this road disappeared when Corporation Street was built (by the council, as its name implies) in 1870 to provide a more impressive route to the new Midland Railway station.
Photo: Jon Cooper
4. Station Back Lane
Most of Bishop’s Mill Lane disappeared when Corporation Street was built but a short section survives as Station Back Lane. Mr Riden said: "This is an example of where the historic name is much more interesting than the modern one and might be reinstated."
Photo: Brian Eyre