From cheesy chips to Barking Badgers - remembering Chesterfield's 1990s nightlife

As pubs welcome drinkers back indoors, we take a look back in time at venues like the Brad and Barking Badger to see what a night out in Chesterfield was like in the 1990s...

Sunday, 3rd May 2020, 8:19 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 9:05 am
Partying in Chesterfield in the 1990s
Partying in Chesterfield in the 1990s

Neil Anderson’s ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1990s Chesterfield’ celebrates the town in the era of the Bradbury Club and the football club’s celebrated FA Cup run. One of most missed venues of the era was the Queen’s Park Hotel with its live music and cheesy chips.

Here the author remembers traditions of the era and this fondly remembered venue...

The 1990s held up cultural traditions sadly bereft of today’s generation:

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The Barking Badger was a key Chesterfield watering hole in the nineties

We somehow survived without iPhones and social media.

Friends managed to walk in a venue without ‘checking in’.

We’d make arrangements on a landline (ie. a phone that lived in your house, not in your pocket) and not actually speak again until you met in person.

Taking a selfie would be met with a barrage of abuse – you’d rightly be accused of ‘loving yourself’.

Enjoying the Chesterfield pub scene of the nineties

You could have also survived the entire 1990s period in any number of pubs or nightclubs without finding yourself ‘tagged’ anywhere on social media.

Copping off with your mate’s girlfriend or boyfriend was a far safer option way back then.

Drinking times were well ordered.

Pubs largely shut at 11pm and nightclubs operated from 10pm until 2am.

Partying back in the day...

But things had started to change.

One major pull for lovers of live music, karaoke or all round carnage was the Queen’s Park Hotel.

This age old hostelry enjoyed a late night stranglehold over much of the alternative scene for much of the decade.

Hundreds converged on the sprawling, two storey venue every Friday and Saturday night.

The much-missed Queen's Park Hotel

Live band upstairs, drinking and karaoke downstairs.

There seemed to be rooms everywhere, dark corridors, slippery stairs and a food hatch becoming ever more tempting as the night wore on.

Bands queued up to play – the venue even paid. Quite well as it happens.

And unlike many venues – you were almost guaranteed a full house for your musical offering.

The Queen’s Park Hotel was run by no-nonsense landlord Derek Boyd and his wife.

Smoke and mirrors were sometimes required to get on the pub’s roster.

Strongheart 'backstage' at the Queens Park Hotel with legendary producer George Young (left) – brother of AC/DC's Angus Young

Johnny Loco of local rock band Etiquette remembers: “I rang up and pretended to be from the NME. I asked if our band was due to play as the NME wanted to review them. The next minute I’d got Derek on the other line begging us to perform. It was strange – he’d turned us down two days earlier!”

The Queen’s Park Hotel was the first venue in Chesterfield to be granted a late licence for live music – it was also the first one to forfeit one via the unstoppable march of progress.

In this case it was bulldozed and turned into the retail park which is now home to Next and Pizza Hut.

But Derek Boyd was determined to go out with a bang.

He said at the time: “If they are going to bulldoze it, we might as well blow the roof off it first. It’ll be the last party, the last gig and we want musicians to be here for it.”

His favourites were the likes of local stars like Smoke, Lord Skamen, Please Y’Self and Idle Hands Blues Band.

“You could always tell when there was a good band playing upstairs because the chandeliers and lights started bouncing in the bar below”, added Derek.

Scores of bands performed in the seven years of his tenure. The venue was already steeped in rock’n’roll fame. The last night was lively – it also had plenty of ‘we was robbed’ football chants. You had to hand it to Chesterfield – they took their questionable FA Cup semi-final defeat far better than many clubs would have.

Mark Jones: “The loss of the Queen’s Park Hotel was felt for many years. It was a live music institution. Eric Clapton was reputed to have performed as a virtual unknown years earlier and there was hardly a renowned local act that didn’t perform at one time or another.”

Caroline Jordan: “It used to rammed every Friday and Saturday night. It was quite an old style pub – very big, the kind of thing you’d find in London. Considering there was such a mix of people – there never seemed to be any trouble. Everyone got on. That would never have happened in half the venues in Chesterfield.”

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