Memories of a bygone Brampton.

Issue no. 56 – August 2014.

Words by Phillip Robinson.

Memories of a bygone Brampton

In March 1962, in Robinson and Sons Ltd company magazine, The Link, an article appeared featuring the building where Palfreyman’s Music and The Barbers now reside. Written by Philip Robinson and illustrated by Alec (Jock) Turner from the company, Jock has provided us with this piece to reproduce for you, to provide a new perspective for some, and a moment of reminiscence and nostalgia for others.

The Bestwicks of Brampton.

Castles are not the only buildings with historical associations, enshrining old memories. Shakespeare was born in a cottage, as were hundreds of other men and women who left their mark on their day and generation.

The group of buildings, familiar to all in Brampton, at the corner of School Board Lane and Chatsworth Road, was home for several generations of the Bestwick family, originally from Holmsfield. Tom was the last Bestwick to live there, from the little corner shop he carried on a very successful milk round, some of his cows kept in the buildings behind the shop.

Tom Bestwick’s father, Henry, was a well-known butcher and cattle dealer, farming some of the fields between School Board Lane and Stone Row; very handy for turning his cattle out on the finer days of winter, with the main farm was South of Chatsworth Road from Wash House Lane up to Brookside.

Other demolished cottages adjoining Tom’s old shop were part of an extensive range of buildings used by Henry Bestwick for slaughtering cattle; and keeping cows. Henry was one of a family of five, three girls and two boys; his wife Emma Biggin, hailed from Holmesfield, and died in 1921 aged eighty-six. Unfortunately, Henry died when he was a comparatively young man.

School Board Lane was only a cart track in those days, with wooden gates at the entrance to Chatsworth Road. The Bestwicks had a well established garden and orchard on the other side of the lane.

Henry Bestwick had a fine family of eight children, three girls and five boys. John Henry the eldest son succeeded to his father’s butchery business whilst Tom, the third son, took over the farming side of the business. Tom’s youngest brother Charles was in business in Cross Street, Brampton as a baker and confectioner. George the fourth son was in business as a butcher in Chatsworth Road.

Henry had a sister named Hannah who made history for the family when she married William Wilson, a snuff manufacturer of Sheffield, and lived at a very fine house in Dore on the outskirts of Sheffield called ‘The Moss.’ Wilson’s Mills were known as ‘The Sharrow Snuff Mills.’ In more recent years the members of this family lived in Horsleygate, at the far end of the Cordwell Valley, and were Masters of the Barlow Hunt. The Brampton Bestwicks were on the friendliest and happiest terms with Hannah and were frequent visitors of her Sheffield home; and two of the daughters of Henry, Emma and Edith, made their home in Sheffield with their aunt.

Mrs. Hannah Wilson was called ‘Hannah’ after her aunt, who married a man named Potter, and occupied the corner cottage adjoining Tom’s shop. This cottage was known as the Toll Bar House, and after her husband’s death Hannah Potter carried on as toll bar keeper, she was the last person to do so.

An historical relic of her trade survives, in the picture of a very handsome front door of this cottage a metal eye can been seen sticking out from the side doorway – the chain which used to close the road was hooked into this old eye. Chains across the road were not as common as gates at toll bar houses and it is how the district came to be known as Chain Bar, Brampton. The old boot scraper at the side of the door is also a reminder of the times when stone pavements and tarmac roads were unknown. On the other side of the road alongside the cart-way leading down to the ‘New Brampton Colliery’ was the post to which the other end of the chain was permanently fastened.

Toll bar houses were a common feature on English roads, dozens of them seen in the course of an afternoon’s motor ride from Chesterfield. These toll bars must have been very effective at reducing the amount of traffic on the roads, for a horse going through Chain Bar had to pay 4d, and if it was hitched to a carriage the owner would have to hand 8d over to the toll bar keeper. Cows were charged 2d and flocks of sheep 1d per sheep. If this had been the only toll bar between Chesterfield and Baslow the charge wouldn’t have been quite so burdensome, but the name ‘West Bars’ reminds us that a toll bar was there too; and there was still another at Brookside, its existence is commemorated in the new street which ran down the side of the old toll bar keepers cottage, known as Brookside Bar. The old toll bar cottage was pulled down, the last occupier a cattle drover.

One hundred and fifty years ago there was no free use of the roads and there were toll bars on all main roads. Even as late as 1840 they were often to be found at intervals of six to eight miles and every vehicle going through had to pay, except when a corpse was being taken in a wheeled vehicle to a church or a farmer moving his stock from one farm to another. The tolls were clearly stated on the board which hung at every toll bar, and contrary to modern practice there was a lower charge for big heavy wagons, the reason being that wagons always had very broad wheels and were welcomed by those who owned the toll because they helped to roll in the stone which was put on the roads to fill up holes and ruts. Needless to say, these toll bars were not popular and in Wales there was one toll bar which was burnt down over and over again.

One old hawker, by the name Jimmy Ford, had his own way of evading payment at Chain Bar; as pedestrians were allowed to go through free, just before he approached Chain Bar he would stop his Donkey cart, unharness the donkey and put it in the cart, and then pull it through the toll bar gate himself. One can gain a little quiet amusement by imagining the conversation between Jimmy Ford and Mrs Hannah Potter.

Toll bars received their death blow when railways were built and at the yearly auction of the rights to collect tolls, bidders often failed to turn up. Tolls only lingered on at bridges. As late as 1931 there were still 88 toll bridges across the country, but it was not long before these vanished.

Our Brampton Chain Bar cottage still stands, and was the first home of Mrs. Emma Turner, daughter of Tom Bestwick, where she brought up a fine family of eight children five boys and three girls-all born in this little three-bedroomed cottage. Her husband, who served as an officer in the 1st Battalion Nottingham and Derbyshire during the 1914/18 war, died in 1937 leaving his wife the hard task of bringing up her large family with the eldest only fourteen years of age. Later, four of the unmarried members of the family lived with their mother in a very lovely home in Haddon Close, in which, on festive occasions the whole Turner family gathered. With the four sons’ wives and four grandchildren it totalled sixteen members; and it is interesting that two of these, ‘Jackie’ and ‘Jock’, worked at Portland works.

Thanks to Jock for providing this for us to replicate and share with you today.