The Whatstandwell Trail

A history of Whatstandwell, Crich Carr and Codddington

Trail and photogaphs by Peter Patilla

Whatstandwell history trail map

1 Whatstandwell Bridge
2 The Family Tree & Smithy
3 Original railway station
4 Reading rooms, coffee house and Peacocks
5 Dukes Quarry and Robin Hood Road
6 Squirrel's Leap site of a butchers shop and fish shop
7 Wheatsheaf Inn
8 School
9 The first Post Office
10 Old chapel
11 Private School
12 The Gratings Ale House
13 Site of market garden and WW2 Balloon manufacturing
14 Site of old windmill
15a Coddington Hall Farm
15 Water Board building
16 Coddington seat
17 Broom maker shop
18 Old Chapel
19a Steps down to Glen Road
19 Bryans Steps
20 Greens Tea gardens
21 Site of a General Store
22 Once a sweet shop
23 Carr Cottage – Dames School
24 Chase Cliffe
25 Chasecliffe Farm – old mill stones (Penrose?)
26 Cottage with WW1 memorial plaque
27 Bramble Tor
28 Steps to Middle Lane
29 Site of a broom making concern
30 Second Post Office
31 Path to Whatstandwell Station
32 General stores and PO
33 Harris’s sweet shop
34 Cromford Canal
35 Site of Dawbarns & Foundry
36 Moved parish boundary stones

1. The journey must begin at Whatstandwell Bridge over the River Derwent.

Photo Roger Phipp

Photo of Whatstandwell Bridge

postcard of Whatstandwell Bridge

Old postcard


It is generally accepted that the name of the village dates from the 1390s and is a corruption of Walter Stonewell who lived near the difficult river crossing of the turnpike road from Crich. The bridge was built in 1391 by John de Stepul at his own expense and Walter Stonewell rented a cottage where the bridge was constructed.
It was only the buildings; the bridge, the Derwent Hotel and the cottage and old smithy building adjoining which lie between the river and canal, which were truly Whatstandwell. The rest of the village was known as Crich Carr. Officially there is no parish of Whatstandwell and it previously had no legal or administrative existence and it was never a lordship or a manor. The River Derwent forms the boundary between the neighbouring parishes of Alderwasley on the west bank and Crich Carr on the east. Whatstandwell was part of Crich Carr, but the Midland Railway named their first station Whatstandwell Bridge and the Ordnance Survey accepted the name. People also used the name and gradually it became accepted as Whatstandwell.
Further information: and

2. What was once the Derwent Hotel currently The Family Tree.

Photograph of the Family Tree

The Family Tree (once the Derwent Hotel)

Pld postcard of the Derwent Hotel

Old postcard of the Dewent Hotel

Whatstandwell WI

Derwent Hotel in 1991

Derwent Hotel in 1991

The Derwent Hotel was previously called the Bull’s Head before becoming The Family Tree. One unchecked reference mentioned that it was once called The Ship.

As the Bull’s Head, and being close to the bridge over the River Derwent, it was well known as a commercial hotel and posting house on the old turnpike road. Coaches which called here in 1846 were the mail between Manchester and Derby, Champion to Manchester and Nottingham, and the Peak Guide to Ambergate and Buxton. Its name was changed to the Derwent Hotel in later years.

There were many newspaper reports of happenings at this site, including reports of horse racing along the Derwent Hotel meadows towards Belper.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 31 August 1888
SUDDEN DEATH – Mr Thomas Davis, landlord of the Bull’s Head Inn, died somewhat suddenly the other day. Last week he was assisting to gather his hay, and on Friday was seized with an illness, which terminated fatally in a very short time. Deceased has kept the Bull’s Head 25 years, and was a highly respected man. Anglers who frequent the district have lost a tenant that had done very much to improve their sport.

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 30 September 1905
On Thursday a large number of spectators assembled at the Derwent Hotel Meadows, Whatstandwell to witness a one-mile race between Mr Herbert Yeoman’s pony “Surprise” of Holloway and Mr Abbott’s “Dandy” of Ashover, for £15 a side. The race was an exceptionally good one and resulted in Mr Abbott’s “Dandy” winning by 10 lengths.
Another race was made in which Mr Taylor’s “Kitty Boden” proved superior to Mr Painter’s mare of Alfreton. The race was for a stake of £5.

The building just above and at right angles to The Family Tree used to be the village smithy, owned by Charles Bunting.

Smithy at Whatstandwell

The smithy in 2017

Old smithy at Whatstandwell

Old postcard showing the smithy

3. Drinking fountain at the original Whatstandwell railway station.

Drinking fountain at the originl Whatstandwell railway station

Behind the Family Tree along a footpath is the site of the original Whatstandwell railway station before it moved to its present location in 1894. There is a drinking fountain at the site paid for by Francis Hurt in 1860. Around the outside of the stonework is carved ‘WHATSTANDWELL’ in big letters – though it is actually spelled ‘WATSTANWELL’ with the N as a mirror image.

Fountain at old railway sttion Whatstanswell


Map courtesy Glynn Waite

Map of 1880 showinf Whatstandwell railway station

1880 map showing the position of the original Whatstandwell Bridge Station

4. Site of the Florence Nightingale's Reading Rooms and Coffee House.

Site of the various coffee houses

Site of Florence Nightingale's Coffee House and Reading Rooms

Old postcard of Shaw's Coffee Rooms

Shaw’s Coffee Rooms c1921

In the 1880s Florence Nightingale and Dr Dunn, of Crich, wanted to establish a coffee house at Whatstandwell. In 1884 the Coffee House and Reading Rooms were prospering, it had a library of over 1,000 books. Subsequently the business was taken over by Mr Peacock when it became a reading and billiards rooms. From the 1920s Several grocers took over the coffee rooms including Archibald and Maud Shaw, Mr Kirk, and Arnold Wildgoose. In 1964 the café was Woodland View Stores and in 1971 became a house.

5. Squirrel's Leap, site of butcher's shop and a fish shop.

Photograph of Squirrels Leap at Whatstandwell

Sqirrel's Leap at the corner of Robin Hood

On the corner of Robin Hood, the road to Holloway, stands a modern house called Squirrel’s Leap. Between the two world wars this was the site of a wooden building which was, at various times, a small butcher's shop and a fish shop (which caught fire in 1910).

Derby Daily Telegraph 2 August 1910
Burning fatality at Whatstandwell.
Fish Shop fire and the sequel
Jerome Pollington, aged 57, of Whatstandwell was in a public house in the village on Saturday when it was made known that the premises next door – a fried fish shop – had caught fire. Pollington immediately left to give his assistance, and opening the shop door the full force of the flames caught him. He was badly burnt about the head, face, and chest, and it was deemed advisable to take him to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. There he received all possible attention, but he succumbed to his injuries early this (Tuesday) morning.

6. Dukes Quarry and the Robin Hood Road

Robin Hood Road, Whatstandwell

Postcard of the Robin Hood Road

A short way along Robin Hood Road, on the right hand side, is Duke’s Quarry. The quarry was owned by the Sims family, who were great benefactors to the community. Stone from this quarry was used to build many of the houses and chapels in the area. In 1929 there were plans to build a turnpike from Holloway to Whatstandwell – it would have been a branch from the Cromford Bridge to Langley Mill turnpike. In effect it would have replaced Bracken Lane and the Robin Hood road. In the event the plan never materialised.

In 1897 a large landslip occured at the quarry which caused significant problems for road, canal and railways communication. This was widely reported and thousands of visitors descended on the area to see the devastation.

Derby Daily Telegraph 4 March 1897
A Derbyshire hill on the move
The Midland Mainline Jeopardised

Considerable consternation prevails in mid-Derbyshire in consequence of a hill in the vicinity of Whatstandwell, and in close proximity to the Midland Railway Company’s mainline to Manchester, showing alarming signs of sliding. The hill, which is locally known as Crich Carr, comprising the sandstone deposits worked under the name of the Duke’s Quarries, has ever since the recent earthquake shown signs of moving. It would appear from their own accounts that the people inhabiting the district felt the seismic shock to a much more appreciable extent than is related in other parts of the county, and since then on the sandstone tips and in the quarries fissures have appeared some three or 4 inches wide, and at one place, near Mr Stone’s extensive sawmills, the ground has altogether subsided a yard. The matter did not, however, receive at his early stage the attention which is now being devoted to it. The Midland Railway Company began to make an examination, being concerned for the safety of their traffic over the Manchester and Derby mainline, which runs by at Whatstandwell. On the opposite side, from the old railway depot, there is a huge embankment of sandstone walling, 30 foot high, extending a distance of 25 to 30 yards from the mouth of the Whatstandwell tunnel, which passes under the highway. It was found that this wall was pushed out of its position, and also that the curvature of the railway had moved at least an inch. It was, therefore, found necessary to take precautions at once, and all trains passing through were “slowed” down. Between the rails, in the six-foot way, the company have placed heavy stonework, and on the top a large quantity of heavy iron rails. At the back of the 30 foot wall is the Cromford and Langley Mill Canal, which belongs to the railway company, and the towpath and the road above all show signs of movement. The Midland Railway Company at once saw the difficulty, and though, of course, absolutely powerless to prevent a slip if such was the reading of the signs of movement, set about endeavouring as far as possible to minimise its
effects. They put about 50 men at work, and we understand they have been excavating the portion of land lying between the breast wall and the canal, the traffic on the canal being suspended at this point. The work is proceeding day and night, and has been for the last three weeks. A distance of about 20 feet is taken out, to a square of 12 feet, and in this area huge pieces of sandstone cemented in with Portland cement up to the surface again; and it is intended to work this out the whole of the distance where it is thought to be unsafe. The work is under the superintendence of Mr Bird, of Ambergate, the district engineer. In the filling up process, besides the huge blocks of stone, small cut limestone is used. It is uncertain as to how long this work will continue, and every movement of the earth is most carefully watched. It is noticeable in the archway of the tunnel over the railway that the masonry has somewhat given way. At the houses close at hand some noticeable changes in the earth and buildings have been observed, and at the Derwent Hotel the water supply has completely disappeared by the movement of the hill. The stoppage on the canal has caused a great delay in the carriage of materials to the Cromford Wharf, and strong representations to the company having been made by the merchants they promised that if all goes well they will refill the canal two or three days next week, to allow the traffic to be relieved. Even now the work carried on by the Midland Company may prove unsuccessful in staying the movement of the hill, as the natural fall is towards the River Derwent, which lies below the railway some hundred yards away. Should work fail there is believed to be no alternative but to lay another set of rails on the other side of the valley of the Derwent, out of reach of the Crich Hill, which is always been a source of danger, although this slipping has hitherto been more observable at the summit of the 800 feet hill than the base. The occurrence has caused thousands of visitors to assemble, from far and near, consequent on the alarming report which have got abroad. Even as late as Sunday there was more movement observed. It is a noteworthy fact that the sliding is only a mile or so from the scene of the calamitous landslip at Crich Stand a few years ago, when the entire side of a hill slipped away doing grave damage.

7. The Wheatsheaf Inn, now a private house was once a very popular public house.

What eas once the Wheatsheaf Inn at Whatstandwell

The old pub sign bracket can still be seen.

This was the public house that Florence Nightingale considered purchasing to convert into a coffee house and reading rooms. In the 1880s all-night drinking sessions were not uncommon and this was one of the reasons Florence Nightingale wanted to open a coffee house, to offer an alternative to alcohol for the working man.

Photo Eric Bowmer

Wheatsheaf Inn at Whatstandwell

For many years it was a popular refreshment centre for the quarry workers at Duke's Quarry and Dawbarns joinery works. It also was the host to football and darts teams as well being a social centre for the local community.

8. Crich Carr C of E Primary School.


Crich Carr Primary School

The school was built on land donated by The Duke of Devonshire and was opened in October 1884 by Reverend William Acraman, vicar of Crich Parish to which Whatstandwell belongs. At this time there was great conflict between the church and the National Schools Educational Boards which were being set up to control the education of children. Acraman was untiring in his determination to maintain church control over the schools in this parish. He was a divisive figure in the community. However, he was successful in keeping Crich Carr C of E Primary, Fritchley C of E Primary and what is now Crich C of E Infant School under church control. In one of his many battles with the community the Baptists of Crich formed a break-away school and built what is now Crich Junior School. It is thanks to Revd Acraman that Crich Parish has four schools serving the community. As one of the most colourful of vicars for Whatstandwell, Crich and Fritchley he ended his tenure serving two years hard labour in Derby Gaol.

Old postcard of Crich Carr School

Old postcard of the school
Note the water pump to the right of the gate.

Evidence of the old watr pump at Crich Carr School

The base of the water pump remains outside the school gates

In reports about the school is was usually referred to in the plural – as the Crich Carr Schools.

9. The first Post Office

First Whatstandwell post office

No 17 Main Road, on the corner of Hindersitch Lane, was where the first of the three Post Offices the village had over the years was sited.

The first Whatstandwell post office

Postcard of th first village Post Office

The first mention of a Post Office was in a Directory of 1864 when Isaac Ollerenshaw was the sub-postmaster. He was also a shopkeeper and stonemason. The mail arrived from Derby at 7.45am and the last post was at 7.20pm.

10. Derelict Primitive Methodist Chapel.

Remains of a Primitive Methodist Chapel

Turning up Hindersitch Lane beside the school you come to a derelict Primitive Methodist Chapel – on the left opposite Middle Lane. It was built c 1845 and held about 100 worshippers. A Sabbath School was taught here. In 1884 it was decided to build a larger chapel to cater for the larger congregations. Subsequently a replacement was built on Top Lane.

Derbyshire Courier 22 July 1837
Crich Carr-on Sunday last the 16th instant, the Sunday School Sermons for the Primitive Methodist school, at Crich Carr, near Cromford, were preached in the open air (the chapel being far too small for the occasion) to very large audiences, by the Rev W Stokes, of Burton upon Trent. The collections exceeded those of former occasions, and testified the attachment of the people to the increasing schools of that picturesque village.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal 13 August 1847
Crich Carr – on Monday last, the children belonging to the Primitive Methodist Sunday school were regaled by their teachers and friends with tea and plumcake, in the newly erected chapel belonging to that society of Christians.

11. The Hurt sisters private school.

The Hurts sisters private school at Crich Carr

Allerton House, once a private school

On the right, just before the road leading to Glen Road, is Allerton House. This used to be a private school, attended by over 70 pupils, owned by the Misses Hurt of Chase Cliffe. It was referred to in a newspaper report of 1883. In 1884 is was reported that it was well attended (conducted by Miss Griffiths). This compared favourably with the five scholars attending the new Crich Carr C of E School.

Derbyshire Courier 29 March 1884
Educational matters at Crich – the educational difficulties that have so long disturbed the parish of Crich are likely to be settled by the enlargement of the parochial schools at Crich Carr, and the erection of an entirely new set of school buildings at Crich by the British School Committee. New arrangements had been made in connection with the private school at Crich Carr – conducted by Miss Griffith – which is well attended, and will be continued notwithstanding the additional school commendation now be provided. The plan for their new premises have been submitted by the British School Committee to the education department and have received general approval, and negotiations are proceeding respecting the proposed site.

12. Iron Grates ale house.

Iron Grates ale house at Crich Carr

This private house was once an ale house recorded as "Iron Grates"

On Glen Road, there was once an ale house known Iron Grates, now a private house. The photograph shows the iron grate covered by a wooden panel. This where the beer barrels were lowered in to the cellar.
In times past there were several ale houses in the parish, many brewing their own ale for sale. They were unlicensed as they did not sell spirits. Other similar Ale Houses were on Chadwicknick Lane, Plaistow Green, Wakebridge and on the Common, Crich.

13. Site of Market Garden and hair treatments

Site of market garden centre Crich Carr

old bottle of hair restorer

This site has had an interesting history. After WW1 when Frederick Godfrey owned it he had green houses there and a market gardening operation. Also, he created a world famous hair treatment range of products (labelled Renuklor) which made him renowned. His adverts stretched from New Zealand to America. He made many scientific claims as to the efficiency of his products which were called into doubt in a widely reported American court case.
During WW2 the site buildings were used to make barrage balloons. Local ladies who were employed there found the off-cut silk material most useful.

14. Site of Burton's windmill

site of Burton's windmill at Coddington

Pass the road to Top Lane and a little way along on the right is Stone House. You are in Coddington. The grounds are the site of Burton’s windmill which was destroyed by fire in February 1849. A tragic accident occurred here in 1842 when nine-year-old William Mather was struck by the windmill sails and killed. This was one of two local windmills. The other was sited at what in now Penrose on the main road into Crich.

15a. Coddington Hall Farm

Google maps

Google view of Coddington Hall farm

Coddington Hall Farm, opposite Stone House, was part of the estate owned by William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick. In 1700 the tenant was Thomas Lowe. In 1916 it was owned by the Sims family and in 1923 George Ludlam Gregory took over ownership.
In 1885 the Duke of Devonshire paid Walter Yates to allow water to be piped from a spring on the Duke's land across Walter’s land to supply Coddington Farm.

15. Seven Trent Water Board Pump House

Seven Trent Waterboard pump house at Coddington


Carry on walking past Coddington Hall Farm, which has recently undergone extensive development, and on your right is a Water Board building. This is of interest because it is the first time water from the Derwent Dams “sees the light of day”.
Crich area did not have piped water until 1906.Until then wells and stand pipes had to be used, some of which were privately owned and the general public were not allowed to use them.

16. Coddington seat

Seat at Coddington


A short way along the road past the watherboard building is Coddington seat – which has one of the very best views in Derbyshire with stunning views over the valley to Holloway.
Memorial plaque on Coddington seatOn the back of the seat is a WW1 plaque in memory of E.G and J.G, killed in the Great War. These were John Gough and Ernest Gregory (both of whom are remembered on Crich Parish Roll of Honour). Click on the links to see their records. John Gough served with the Royal Field Artillery and was killed on 4 May 1917 aged seventeen. Ernest Gregory served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers and was killed 1 October 1918 aged twenty-three.

17. Broom-maker's shop

Broom makers shop at Coddington

Returning back down towards Hindersitch Lane, passing Stone Cottage, you will see what was once a broom-makers shop.

The road off to the left leads to Bent Hill Farm. For several generations it was in the ownership of the Bryan family. Bryan is one of the oldest family names in the parish. The name is recorded in documents dating from the late 1500s.

18. Primitive Methodist Chapel.

Primitive Methodist Chapel on Top Lane

Built to replace the one on Hindersitch Lane. Now a private house

The chapel was built in 1877 with stone donated from a local quarry by John Sims who also provided the site and £100 towards the cost. There was a race on with the Crich Baptists to see who could finish their chapel first. The Crich Carr Methodists claimed a moral victory.

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 27 April 1878
Opening of a new chapel at Crich Carr near Belper
A new chapel in connection with the primitive Methodist body, was opened for Divine worship at Crich Carr, in the Belper circuit, last week. For nearly 40 years the primitive Methodists have conducted a public worship, and taught a Sabbath school, at Crich Carr, in the year 1845 they erected a small chapel, which will seat about 100 persons. This chapel has been made to serve for all purposes until the present time. It has however been long been inadequate for the accommodation of the congregation and the Sabbath school. It was therefore resolved some 18 months ago to make an effort to raise new and better premises. While deliberating on the matter, the society found a friend in Mr John Sims, of Crich Carr, who kindly offered to give an eligible site of land on which to erect a new chapel and schoolroom, the stone required, in the erection and £100 towards the cost thereof.

19a. Steps down to Glen Road

steps from Top Lane to Glen Road at Crich Carr

On the right, a short way past the Primitive Methodist Chapel, are some narrow steps which lead down to Glen Road. These, along with Bryan’s steps which are nearly opposite, form part of an old pathway from the lower village to St Mary’s Church, Crich. They form almost a direct line to the church – which is useful when a coffin was being carried for burial.

19. Bryan's Steps

Bryan's Steps off Top Lane, Crich Carr


Nearly opposite the steps down to Glen Road are Bryan’s Steps (between two cottages), so called because they lead up past Bent Hill Farm owned by the Bryan family for several generations. Eventually the path leads to Crich at Stoney Way and Wheatsheaf Lane to come out just below the church on the opposite side of the road.

Railings on the roof of what was Green's Tea garden

A little way up the steps, on the right-hand side, there used to be access to the roof of Green’s house, who had the Edwardian Tea Gardens. Safety rails can still be seen on the roof.

20. Green's Edwardian Tea Gardens

What was once Green's tea gardens

Just below Bryan’s Steps you will come to what was once the famous Green’s Edwardian Tea Gardens of the early 1900s.

Photo courtesy Mark Smith

Old brochure of Green's tea gargens

View of the side of the house from an old brochure date unknown

Postcard of Whatstandwell Bridge area

The large billboard top centre is advertising Green’s Tea Garden
The Derwent Hotel is at the bottom left corner

Postcard courtesy Mark Haslam

Advert for Green's tae grdens

Postcard showing the entrance to the Tea Gardens off Top Lane

21. General Store

Site of a general store in Whatstandwell

Opposite the site of the Tea Gardens is a modern looking house with an extension built out at the side. During the 1960s this extension housed a small general store.

22. Sweet Shop

What was once a sweeet shop in Whatstandwell

A short distance along the lane on the left is a cottage, with large double garage doors below. At one time this was two cottages. In the early 1930s the Moore sisters lived in one of the cottages and sold sweets there.

23. Dames School on Shaws Hill

Carr Cottage, Whatstandwell

Carr Cottage, once a DamesSchool

Along Top Lane and down onto Shaws Hill (no apostrophe) passing the large house called Eden Bank which was built in 1900 for the Bunting family you come to Carr Cottage on the right hand side half-way down Shaws Hill.
In the early 1800s this was a Dames School – these were private schools at the lowest end of the spectrum. In 1818 Crich Parish had four Dame Schools, each with about 30 pupils. The establishments were quite varied — some functioned primarily as day care facilities overseen by illiterate women, while others provided their pupils with a good foundation in basic education. A report of 1838 found nearly half of all pupils surveyed were only taught spelling, with a negligible number being taught mathematics and grammar.
Note evidence of the original door into the property on the gable end. Like most early properties in the area it was part of the Hurt Estate.

Shaws Hill

Matthew and Eliza Shaw

Matthew and Eliza Shaw

The photograph shows Matthew and Eliza Shaw who lived at Carr Cottage in the 1880s. It is thought Shaws Hill was named after him as there were few properties on the hill then. Matthew Shaw was a brick maker – probably owning the brick kilns on Longway Bank.

A brick made by Matthew Shaw

One of Matthew Shaw's bricks in the wall of a property om Top Lane

Brick Kiln

Brick kiln at Longway Bank

Breakstone on Shaws Hill

Ancient stone in a wall of Shaws Hill

This very old stone on Shaws Hill, just below Carr Cottage, has been described as a “breakstone”. The hill was part of an old drovers way down from Coddington via Shaws Hill and Thirlow Booth to the River Derwent where cattle could be watered. A breakstone was thought to be where a wagon could be temporarily backed onto to take the weight off the horses shoulders on the uphill journey. Another theory is that it was just there to protect the boundary wall.

24. Millstones at Chasecliffe farm

Millstone at Chasecliffe farm Millstone at Chasecliffe farm

Millstones at Chasecliffe Farm

Walk down Shaws Hill to the main road and turn left, then walk uphill towards Crich. Opposite Chase Cliffe is Chasecliffe Farm. In the chicken run are two old mill stones shown in the photographs. It is thought that these came from Crich Windmill which was just above the farm at the site of what is now Penrose house. The windmill burnt down between 1845 and 1900.

25. Chase Cliffe

Gate house to Chase Cliffe House

Opposite the farm is Chase Cliffe House. At the entrance to this splendid house is the gate-house with the familiar figure of a hart on its gable end.

Chase Cliffe was built in 1859 for Emma, Elizabeth and Selina, the three spinster sisters of Francis Hurt of Alderwasley who was landowner to most of area (he build Crich Stand).

Chase Cliffe House

An old postcard of Chase Cliffe

Before Chase Cliffe was built Francis Hurt, the sisters’ father, had a rather grand house called Oakhurst built for them (the remains of which stand in the grounds of what was the Johnson and Nephew wireworks). They refused to live there owing to its closeness to a foundry so went to live with their mother’s family, the Arkwrights, at Rock House, Cromford. Eventually they had this house built for them. The sisters were extremely kind and benevolent to the needy villagers of Crich and Crich Carr. It is recorded that they paid for petticoats and boots as well as allowing purchases against their own account at the village store. Along with their nephew, Albert, they were generous benefactors to the local community. There is a memorial window to the sisters in St Mary’s Church, Crich.

26. Corner cottages at the bottom of Shaws Hill

Cottages at the bottom of Shaws Hill

Two cottages at the bottom of Shaws Hill

Above the door to the left hand cottage is a WW1 Sherwood Foresters memorial plaque.

Sherwood Forester WW1 plaque

It is to the memory of George Parkinson Smith, a Corporal with the 1/5th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. Before enlistment he was a sawyer at Dawbarns in Whatstandwell. He was killed in an attack on Lens in July 1917 aged twenty-nine and is remembered on the Arras Memorial.

27. Bramble Tor

Bramble Tor, Whatstandwell

Bramble Tor, once a resting point for coaches

Continuing downhill the next property on your right is called Bramble Tor. In the 1800s mail coaches and horse drawn wagons used this road en route to Crich and beyond. There used to be many horse troughs on route but sadly many of these have disappeared through development. Bramble Tor was used as a stopping off point where the horses could rest and the driver have refreshment.

Old photo Bramble Tor, Whatstandwell

old photograph of Bramble Tor


28. Steps to Middle Lane

Steps to Middle Lane, Whatstandwell

Just past Bramble Tor are a set of steps that lead up to Middle Lane. It is believed that these were developed by Joseph Bunting the owner of Eden Bank. He caught the train to Derby each day and this was a short cut through his grounds to Middle Lane then down these steps to the main road and onward to the footpath to the station.

29. Broom Cottage

Broom Cottage, Whatstandwell

Broom Cottage on Main Road, Whatstandwell

Further down the hill you come to Broom Cottage which is the site of what was once a broom-making workshop.

30. Second village Post Office


Site of the second village post office

Further down the hill at 35 Main Road is The Elms, . This is a much changed cottage of where the second post office once stood. Gone is the front addition which is seen on old postcards of the building.

Postcard of the second Whatstandwell post office

Whatstandwell street view

The post office can be seen towards to top of the scene

31. Whatstandwell Railway Station

Sign to Whatstandwell railway station

Direction to Whatstandwell railway station

The footpath to Whatstandwell railway station is opposite the school. Follow the path, cross over the Cromford Canal then over the ornate railway bridge built by Andrew Handysides of Derby. Discussions over creating this footpath to the station began in 1895 but there was quite a bit of difficulty in obtaining the necessary permissions. The Revd Acraman, vicar of the parish until 1900, was particularly difficult. Initially giving permission for part of his land to be used (when he was vicar) but then refusing on his release from prison after he changed his name by deed poll to Revd Monteagle. Agreement to build bridges over the canal and railway lines was reached in 1901.

Photo Alan Heardman

Bridge over Cromford canal

Bridge over Cromford Canal to the station

Bridge at Whatstandwell station

Bridge from the footpath down to the station

The station was opened in 1894 replacing the earlier 1853 station which was behind what is now The Family Tree.
There have been a great many changes since the original was built. There is now only a single line and one platform. The original buildings have been demolished and the station master’s house is a private dwelling.

railway bridge at Whatstandwell station

Once there were two lines and two platforms

Whatstandwell railway station

Main building and ticket office

Demolition of Whatstandwell station

Demolition of the station c 1970

Photo courtesy Maureen Griffiths

Whatstandwell railay station

It beacme single-lined in 1969

Whatstandwell station became an unstaffed halt on 1st January 1968 following the installation of electric lights.

32. Third Post Office

Third village post office ay Whatstandwell

Towards the bottom of the hill on the left hand side stands what was the village general stores and post office from 1920.
Over the years this was the third post office in the village. Known past sub-postmasters and mistresses between 1876 and 1967 were: George Wheatcroft, Timothy Martin, John Bowmer, Mary Cooke, Mr Litchfield, Charles Freeman and J J Bell.

Whatstandwell WI

Old Whatstandwell post office

Mary Cooke's Post Office

On the opposite side of the road is a semi detached cottage.

site of a cigarette shop

In the 1940s the cottages on the left sold cigarettes and sweets from its front room. After WW2 there were several “informal” businesses run from private properties. This was one such enterprise.

33. Harris's sweet shop

Site of a Whatstandwell sweet shop

Just below what was the third post office is a row of cottages. In the 1940s number 8 was Harris’s sweet shop. It used to have steps leading up to an "upstairs" door which has been since removed.

34. Cromford Canal

Cromford Canal bridge

Canal Bridge opposite the Robin Hood road

The Act to build the canal was passed in 1789 and William Jessop was appointed chief engineer with Benjamin Outram as superintendent of works. It was used to transport coal, limestone, gritstone, lead and ironware. Collapses of the tunnel at Butterley severed the canal in 1900, with local traffic continuing till the 1930s.
For an interesting short walk along the canal – cross the road, through the car-park and walk towards Cromford until you come to Sims Bridge which crosses the canal.

Sims bridge over Cromford Canal

Sim's Bridge over Cromford Canal

This used to be part of the route from Duke’s Quarries to carry stone across the canal to be loaded onto railway wagons. The railway was just to the left running parallel to the canal. If you cross the canal and use the uneven footpath you will reach the site of Duke’s Quarries, which is opposite where the path meets the Robin Hood Road.

Walking under the bridge a short distance along on the opposite side is the hamlet of Robin Hood. On this site was a stone saw mill to process the stone from Duke’s Quarries.

Photo courtesy Frank Priestly

Robin Hood hamlet at Whatstandwell

Approaching Robin Hood hamlet

35. Yelverton Dawbarns factory

Site of Dawbarns factory at Whatstandwell

Site of Dawbarns factory at Whatstandwell

Site of the Dawbarns factory in 2017

A history of Whatstandwell would be incomplete without mentioning the site of Yelverton Dawbarns (Yelverton was the forename of the original Dawbarns owner). They were a manufacturer of staircases, doors, window frames and other joinery items and one of the largest employers in the area. It was sited along the narrow road below the Family Tree past their overflow car park on the road leading to Ebeniste Furniture.

In 1909 Dawbarns factory was destroyed by fire which caused £10,000 damage at the time. Lea Mills Fire Brigade attended. The factory was rebuilt.

Dawbarns fire in 1909

Dawbarns factory at Whatstandwell

Dawbarns steamworks before 1935

In June 1935 the factory was again destroyed by fire and 120 men lost their livelihood.

Dawbarns fire in 1925

The fire was well reported in the local press

After the fire, in the 1940s, Kirk & Taylor has a small factory for a short while. This was taken over by a foundry owned by Mr Heatherington. The foundry closed in 2015.

36. Boundary stone

Whatstandwell boundary stone

Boundary stone betwwen Crich Parish and Aldrwasley (which has been moved)

In conclusion to this journey through the history of Whatstandwell and Crich Carr and Coddington we revisit Whatstandwell Bridge. The River Derwent at this point acts as the parish boundary with Alderwasley Parish and Crich Parish. At one time a boundary stone stood in the centre of the bridge but at a time unknown it was removed for safety reasons and was placed at the triangle over the bridge near the telephone kiosk.

Acknowledgements and References
Eric Bowmer for his local knowledge
Mark Haslam for access to his postcard collection and local memorabilia
Glynn Waite for railway history information and photographs
Hugh Potter for information on Cromford Canal

“A Walkers Guide to the Cromford Canal” by Friends of the Cromford Canal (ISBN 0-9544482-0-0)
“The Cromford Canal” by Hugh Potter (Tempus ISBN 0-7523-2802-0)
“The Derbyshire Village Book” compiled by the Derbyshire Federation of Women’s Institutes (Countryside books ISBN 1-85306-133-6)
“Parish life with a troubled vicar” by Peter Patilla (CACN ISBN 978-0-9562271-0-2)
“Postal History of Matlock and District” by Harold S. Wilson (Derbyshire Postal History Society

For further information on the area please visit: