Riddle of cast iron crest on Chesterfield park gate found on rubbish tip 60 years ago

A cast iron crest rescued from a rubbish tip more than half a century ago has posed a mystery.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:53 am
Do you know which park gate in Chesterfield borough this seal would have come from?
Do you know which park gate in Chesterfield borough this seal would have come from?

The seal, one of two that were attached to dumped gates, is believed to have been originally displayed in a park in the Chesterfield borough.

Its finder Chris Aldridge was born in 1946 and grew up on Troughbridge Road, Hollingwood. As a child Chris often noticed the gates abandoned amongst other scrap behind old swimming baths. He said: “I thought it a shame and borrowed my dad’s hacksaw one day when I was around 10, and took one crest home. I hope the borough forgives me, but it was due to my sense of pride and the crest reminded me of my William Rhodes school badge! If it is any consolation to the authorities, I did suffer badly for ruining several of my dad’s precious hacksaw blades."

Chris, who now lives in Beeston, contacted Chesterfield Canal Trust with a view to donating the artefact to an amenity within the borough.

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Cattle market sign in Ringwood Park, Brimington, a decade ago.

He believed the crest, which is 12 inches in diameter and around 3lbs in weight, was originally on the gates of Ringwood Park.

But when Chris’s story was published in the canal trust’s magazine, readers pointed out that Ringwood Park wasn’t incorporated into Chesterfield borough until 1974 so the gates of the Brimington park would not have had the crest on them before that year.

Rod Auton, editor of The Cuckoo magazine, contacted the Derbyshire Times in the hope that the mystery could be finally laid to rest. He said: “Several people have suggested that they could be from the cattle market gates, but they did not go until 1997. I saw the cattle market capitals in Ringwood Park ten years ago. They are now at Ravenside Retail park, virtually where they would have been originally. Can your readers help?”

In his mission to solve the puzzle, Rod contacted Philip Riden, chairman of Chesterfield Civic Society and a canal trust volunteer.

Cattle market sign spotted in Ringwood Park, Brimington, a decade ago.

Philip replied: “I am fairly certain that this is another example of the casting used by Chesterfield Corporation on park gates around the town. Other examples can be found (restored and nicely painted) on the gates of Eastwood Park in Hasland and Brearley Park in New Whittington, and unpainted on the gates of Tapton.

“The plaque is clearly the property of Chesterfield Borough Council, as the successor to Chesterfield Corporation. That being the case, I think you should pass it on to Chesterfield Museum. The museum may wish to display it or keep it in store, but even if it is simply stored, it would still be available for the council to use again on park gates or elsewhere.”

The museum has welcomed the new addition to its collection where there is already a wooden pattern that was used by Wharton’s Ironmongers to cast the seal on the gates of the Queen’s Park. Maria Barnes, museum collections officer, said: “I absolutely love this story. It’s a great story about an object.”