On a cloudy and cool summer’s day, June 13th 2022, I ticked two stations off the list of stations in Derbyshire to visit; Chesterfield and Dronfield. My destination was Dronfield, but I had to change trains at Chesterfield on the way there and back.
On the way up to Dronfield, I had to change at Derby for the train to Chesterfield, although there are some trains which run direct from Burton to Chesterfield. I arrived at Chesterfield and awaited the train to Dronfield, just six minutes away by train. My impression of Chesterfield station is that the timetable is more of a rough approximation of when trains will arrive and depart. It has only three platforms, and many trains which serve the station. If one or two are late, then it has an impact on other trains.
My platform was altered at the very last minute, which meant having to use the subway between the three platforms to get from platform 1 to platform 3.
I arrived at Dronfield station just after 10 o’clock. Dronfield station originally opened in February 1870 on the Sheffield & Chesterfield line. It was closed in the Beeching Cuts in 1967, the last passenger train calling on New Year’s Eve 1966. The original station buildings were demolished in 1973. However, British Rail temporarily reopened the station in February 1979, due to heavy snowfall making roads around Sheffield impassable. Demand for trains was so high that passengers were queueing up to use the station. As a result, the station was permanently re-opened in January 1981.
Dronfield is a prime example of local people taking an interest in their railway station and campaigning for improvements to the station itself and the services. In the early 1990s, Dronfield station was becoming run down and neglected, with fewer services calling there. A group called Friends of Dronfield Station was set up to look after the station and lobby for more train services, which has been successful. The station is among the most pleasant I have visited, with well-kept gardens and artwork in the waiting shelters.
I left the station and headed for the town centre. Dronfield is a historic old town, with many old buildings and cottages within the town centre, along with the parish church of St John the Baptist.
In the town centre is the Peel Monument, a gritstone monument created in 1854 as a tribute to Sir Robert Peel, to thank him for repealing the Corn Laws while he was Prime Minister in 1846.
To the north of Dronfield is a piece of football history. The Coach & Horses Ground is home to the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield F.C. It is currently known as the Tuffnells Home of Football ground, for sponsorship reasons. Sheffield were formed in 1857 and have played their football at various grounds in and around the Sheffield area over the years. In 2001, they moved to Dronfield, purchasing the Coach & Horses Ground (named for a nearby pub which is still operating) from the defunct Norton Woodseats F.C. Plans are afoot for them to relocate back over the Derbyshire-Yorkshire border to the Meadowhead area of Sheffield, just a couple of miles up the road.
My next port of call was Mill Lane, once home to industry but now mostly a nature reserve. Parts of the old Damstead Works are still in situ there, along with a stream which flows through the area. There is a lot of litter and vandalism, though. It seems like the kind of place where bored children hang out in the evenings.
Further down the Chesterfield Road is another nature reserve; Dronfield Nature Park. I had a walk around the reserve, which is right next to the railway line.
I didn’t spend much time there, as a cancelled train meant that I had to get the next train back home, and I didn’t have much time to spare.
I caught the train back to Chesterfield with no problems, but I had a long wait at Chesterfield between trains, which became even longer when my train was delayed. It was a direct service to Burton, so I had no need to change at Derby. While I was in Chesterfield, I had a short walk around the town centre, just to see the famous crooked spire of the Church of St Mary and All Saints.
No-one is quite sure why the spire is crooked. Many local myths involve the devil in some way; he either kicked it over in a rage, sneezed or merely sat on top of it.
I hope to return to Chesterfield one day for a proper look around. The train from Chesterfield, when it eventually arrived, was packed. It got even more busy at Derby, as music fans were returning from Download Festival, a rock and roll gathering at Donnington Park in nearby Leicestershire. Dozens of young people boarded the already-packed train with all their camping luggage. Luckily, I was already standing in the vestibule, right next to the train doors. I managed to escape the madness of the train when it arrived back at Burton.
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