which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell.

Whatstandwell Coffee House and Reading Rooms

Thanks largely to the efforts of the Crich doctor, Dr Dunn, and Florence Nightingale Whatstandwell had a Coffee House and Reading Rooms. Its main purpose was to combat the hard drinking that was taking place, especially at the 'Wheatsheaf'.

What follows is correspondence from Florence to Dr Dunn regarding the setting up of the Coffee house.

photo of whatstandwwell reading rooms site
What was once Whatstandwell Coffee House and Reading Rooms: Now a private dwelling

Whatstandwelltearooms 1921

Postcard dated 1921 Shaw's Coffee Rooms
The building left with the notice board was the Wheatsheaf Inn

The business was eventually 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.

Correspondence on the Coffee House

Lea Hurst
Sep 26/80
My dear Sir
After initial enquiry I am waiting for Mr Shore Smith’s return to urge forward the Whatstandwell Coffee House affair, if possible: which you have so kindly set on foot
yours most faithfully
F Nightingale
CBN Dunn Esq

Lea Hurst
Nov 23/80
My dear Sir
Mr & Mrs Shore Smith desire me to say: would you kindly come here to luncheon tomorrow (Wednesday) at one to talk over with them the proposed Coffee room at Whatstandwell?
Or could you be so good as to come anytime after 11.30, if not to luncheon (tomorrow Wednesday)?
I am in great hopes that it may be settled now with your kind help

Lea Hurst
Nov 27/80
Coffee room: Whatstandwell
My dear Sir
Mr Shore Smith informed me of the conversation which you & he had had this afternoon on the proposed Coffee rooms at Whatstandwell & showed me Miss Hurt’s kind letter.
Mt Shore Smith & I agree. I am afraid that the buying up of the “Wheatsheaf” scarcely offers enough inducement to balance the costs.
To buy the licence would probably take money enough to build three coffee rooms: would it not? And who is to secure us against another licence being obtained & another ‘public’ being set up in the “Wheatsheaf’s” place?
To start with the smallest in place of the largest outlay would seem wise in an undertaking of which we cannot guarantee the success.
You mention to Mr Shore Smith a small piece of land belonging to Mr Hurt (& let? to a cottage) on the left of the spot where the quarry road comes upon the Crich Carr road just above the the steep descent to Whatstandwell & below the “Wheatsheaf”
Would you kindly enquire after looking at this piece of ground if you think it suitable whether, if it is not? let on lease. Mr Hurt might possibly let it for such a purpose as this – the trying the experiment of a Coffee room & Pay Office for the quarry men?
Perhaps you would be so good as to mention it to Miss Hurt.
Mr Shore Smith thinks that we might get a Corrugated Iron building, such as are made for School rooms & containing possible a bedroom for a manager to put up on this ground. And this would be trying under the best circumstances in our power. What can be at first an experiment without a large & discouraging outlay.
What do you think?
We bid you ‘God speed’ on your high errand & wait anxiously for the results, which we hope to hear perhaps in a day or two.
Pray believe me
ever yours faithfully
Florence Nightingale

CBN Dunn Esq
I return Miss Hurt’s letter with thanks

Lea Hurst
Dec 1/80
My Dear Sir
Thank you for your kind note about the Coffee room

Could you come over here this afternoon to talk to Mr Shore Smith about it. And he has expressed a wish to consult you professionally.
Pray come: if possible
Most ffully yours
F Nightingale
CBN Dunn Esq

Lea Hurst
Dec 2/80
My Dear Sir
I have so much to apologize to you for in bringing you out such a wet afternoon – not in vain, because the proposed Coffee room was advanced by it – but in main for your Patient, as I heard with dismay this morning.
It cannot be accounted for, except perhaps indeed thro nervousness as he says himself.
The one page which I conveyed to you by letter, was conveyed to me by his wife herself. Will you execute it?
I hope to see you soon & also to hear more about the Whatstandwell project from you.
Perhaps you will kindly appoint a time
& believe me
Yours very excuse-fully
F Nightingale

Lea Hurst
Dec 14/80
My Dear Sir
I have not answered your kind note about the proposed Whatstandwell affair because I was waiting to hear from Mr Shore Smith with regard to the site.. He asks whether you have been so good as to communicate with any one about the Midland Co.’s ground with regard to obtaining a site or an entrance thro’ it, or whether it is so apparent that it would not do, that you have not thought any steps desirable of this kind.
He is making enquiries as to a wooden building in London. Mr Yeomans is coming to me this evening with estimates of both Corrugated iron & wooden buildings.
Perhaps you will think it hardly necessary for us to advertise for a second-hand room till this information comes in.
But I will tell Mr Shore Smith what Miss Hurt & you say. And doubtless Miss Hurt’s further enquiries are worth waiting for, as you suggest with regard to “letting out” a room.
I was sorry to send to you so unceremoniously for Nisbet’s prescription. She is fine today: & I have given it her. Are there ant precautions to be observed, such as not going on with it for more than a certain time?
Mrs Thompson’s daughter complains of swelled legs. Would you be so good as to see her some time?

I am obliged & return to London on Monday, I fear.
Do you think badly of poor Bratby?
I am afraid that poor Mrs Limb is kept on a very dirty state by her daughter in law’s own account. But the said d. in law is so perfectly self-satisfied that it is difficult to say anything [How I wish I had one of our District Nursing ladies here to show her]
Mrs Limb is complaining of a sore knee. I fear she will have bed sores.
Poor Mrs Broomhead seems in a very suffering state: so much pain which she calls rheumatic between her shoulders.
I should be very sorry not to see you again. Today, Thursday & Friday I am overwhelmed. I could see you on Wednesday or Sunday at 3.30 for a few minutes if that would suit you
Yrs sincerely
F Nightingale

10 South St
Park lane W

My dear Sir
Thank you for your kind note about the stone building for the proposed Whatstandwell Coffee Room & for the answers to your Advt. – all of which I have transmitted to Mr Shore Smith.
{Some comments about patients}
I am glad you saw Mr Yeomans. He gladly accepts the office of treasurer to the Whatstandwell Coffee room and proposes that young Mr Sims should be added to the committee.

Part of undated letter
I beg to give you joy & the Miss Hurts of the good prospect of the Whatstandwell Coffee room. And I look forward to the day that is near when Adam Prince will be found sitting there instead of being fished out of a Crich public house by his poor old mother after 3 days drinking as he was last winter

10 South St W
April 26/84
My dear Sir
We are always glad to hear of the Whatstandwell Coffee room. But if you think the “men do not like our wares” could you suggest anything else, any other foods, drinks or amusements, that they would like better, with which they could be supplied?
We used the receipts very satisfactory – are they less so? I am afraid you think them less so. The thing perhaps is no so much to “keep men out of the public house (‘swept & garnished & 7 devils, worse than before’ occurs to one) as to find them the means to keep out of the public house
Are the quarry and labouring men corrupt? – not so much as Londoners – not so much as mill people – are they?

10 South St
Park lane W

Dec 11/84
My dear Sir
We are rejoiced that the Whatstandwell Coffee room prospers

Part of undated latter
I am very sorry about Adam Prince. I wrote to him on Miss Mochler’s death. He answered & sent some little sum to his mother – at the same time saying to me how much had been spent in drinks!!! I think there may still be hopes of him.
Poor Lyddy Prince has been helped this winter – it is a difficulty about this, knowing that what helps her goes to supply Adam with drinks.
She is now on the parish in Holloway – without any one living with her – I am glad she went to you.
Whatstandwell Coffee-rooms – It rejoices me that you think they prosper – I am sending them some more books for their lending library

Letter transcribed by permission from original documents in Derbyshire Record Office, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3AG (Ref: D2546/1-88)

From one of books Florence gave to the Reading Rooms (courtesy of Miss E Bunting)

title page of coffee room book

florence nightingale note in book title page to coffee room book

Derby Mercury Wednesday August 2, 1882
OPENING OF A CAFE – On Wednesday a café was opened near to the railway station at Whatstandwell. A committee of ladies and gentlemen residing in the locality have rented a house belonging to Mr. A. F. Hurt, of Alderwasley Hall, at mere achnowledgement, which has been fitted with every requisite for the supply of refreshments at a cost of about £150. In connection is a reading room, and it intended to add a room for games which will be provided. Dr. Dunn of Crich, is president, and a committee of 18 members, elected annually, transact all business. About £80 is promised as annual contributions already. Miss Florence Nightingale has forwarded £5 for the working men around to have tea gratuously.

Derby Mercury Wednesday January 23, 1884
READING AND COFFEE ROOM – On Tuesday the annual members' meeting was held, at which over thirty were present. An excellent supper, provided by the managers, Mr. and Mrs. French, having been partaken of, the guests were entertained by several members with songs &c. Games and amusements were also provided, and a most enjoyable evening was spent. Mr. J. H. Barnes, the schoolmaster of Fritchley, and Mr. Price presided at the pianoforte.

Derby Mercury Wednesday July 9, 1884
Situations Vacant
WANTED an Attendant for the Whatstandwell Coffee and Reading Rooms. A man and wife would be required, one having other employment during the day. A small wage will be paid and board and all found for both, or arrangements made for payments by profits. – Immediate application, with good references or testimonials, to be sent to the HONORARY SECRETARY, Whatstandwell, near Derby.

Derby Mercury Wednesday January 21, 1885
ALMANACK SHOW – On Saturday afternoon an almanack show was opened at the Working Men's Reading Room, Whatstandwell, in the interests of the funds of the institution.

From Bulmer's Directory of 1895:

The Whatstandwell Coffee and Reading Booms were established in 1882. Subsequently the business was taken over by Mr. Peacock. Members pay 6d. per quarter towards the reading-room, and 9d. per quarter towards the billiard-room. There is a lending library of about 1,000 volumes, many of which were presented by Miss Florence Nightingale.

The Coffee House was included in the sale of the Hurt Estate of July 1920.

LOT 78 (Coloured Yellow on Plan No. 2).

A Capital Village Occupation

known as

The Whatstandwell Coffee Rooms

situated in Crich Parish, close to Whatstandwell Station and Bridge, and extending to about

26 Poles

The House

is substantially built of stone and tiled and contains Two Bed Rooms, Sitting Room, Shop, Large Refreshment Room and Billiard Room, with concrete Floor. Pleasant Garden.

Being Ord. No. Pt. 839 in Crich Parish and let to Mr. William Peacock on lease expiring 25th March, 1921, at £31 per annum.

Apportioned Outgoings:
Land Tax, 2s. 2d.

Hurst sale map of 1920

Plot 78 was the Coffee House.

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