Clay Cross

Street Map

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Clay Cross is a former mining town and civil parish in the North East Derbyshire district of Derbyshire, England, about six miles south of Chesterfield. It is directly on the A61, the former Roman road Ryknield Street. Surrounding settlements include North Wingfield, Tupton, Pilsley and Ashove.

Until the early nineteenth century, Clay Cross was a small village, but increasing demand for coal and other minerals trebled the population by 1840. While driving the tunnel for the North Midland Railway, George Stephenson discovered both coal and iron, which together with the demand for limestone, caused him to move into Tapton Hall, near Chesterfield, and set a business as George Stephenson and Co. Stephenson’s workers’ houses were of high quality for their time, having four rooms compared to the normal two, and a school was provided. By 1850 there were three chapels, a church and an institute – but no constable. When he died in 1848 his son, Robert, took over, leaving the company in 1852 when it took the name of the Clay Cross Company. Although the company had been formed to mine coal and manufacture coke from the railway, the supplies from Durham were preferred, and the works turned to iron working and brick making. For many years, the company was the towns major employer. In 1985, Biwater took it over. In 2000 Biwater sold the site to French company, Saint-Gobain. Some months later, it was closed down with the loss of around 750 jobs. Demolition of the vast Biwater site began in late 2008.

The town was an urban district until 1974, when it was merged into the North East Derbyshire district under the Local Government Act 1972. In the 1970s the council achieved brief notoriety due to its refusal to implement the Housing Finance Act 1972 in increasing the rents of council housing: by law the rents should have increased by £1 a week from October 1972. The council was one of several to show defiance against the Act and of three to be ordered to comply by the Department of the Environment in November 1972 (the others being Eccles and Halstead). Clay Cross UDC was threatened with an audit in December 1972. The constituency Labour party barred the eleven councillors from its list of approved candidates. The District Auditor ordered the eleven Labour Party councillors to pay a surcharge of £635 each in January 1973, finding them “guilty of negligence and misconduct”. Conisbrough UDC faced a similar audit on 19 January 1973.

The UDC made an appeal in the case to the High Court. Clydebank and Cumbernauld abandoned similar actions in March 1973. The surcharge was upheld by the High Court on 30 July 1973, which also added a further £2,000 legal costs to their bill, as well as barring them from public office for five years. The council further defied authority (the Pay Board) in August, when they decided to increase council workers’ earnings. This provoked a further dispute with NALGO. Ultimately, the dispute became moot with the replacement of Clay Cross Urban District Council with the North East Derbyshire District Council from 1 April 1974. The councillors were made bankrupt in 1975. A book on the dispute between the council and the government, The Story of Clay Cross, was written by one of the councillors, David Skinner, and the journalist Julia Langdon. The book was published by Spokesman Books in 1974.

Clay Cross has a large modern business park called Coney Green Business Park and is located between Egstow and Danesmoor. There is the Sharley Park Leisure Centre on the A6175 Market Street towards North Wingfield. Next door is the community hospital. The Danesmoor Industrial Estate is on the site of the Parkhouse Colliery (correction – the colliery was situated on the eastern side of the railway lines; the industrial estate is situated on the western side) and is home to a Worcester BOSCH site. The towns library is on Holmgate Road. Clay Cross town centre is currently undergoing a £22m redevelopment which has so far included a new supermarket, new bus station and new relief road. The second phase of this is due to start which will see a new parade of shops plus a new medical centre. Eventually the site of the former Junior and Infant schools which is located in the town centre will be redeveloped. M1 junction 29 is 5 miles away. Nearest rail stations are Chesterfield (6 miles) and Alfreton (Clay Cross railway station closed under the Beeching Axe). A passenger rail line runs in a tunnel under the town without stopping. In 2009 ATOC (Train Operators) announced proposals for reopening a station on the edge of town, to be called ‘Clay Cross and North Wingfield’.

The area has many local attractions and places of special interest. In addition to the stunning peak district scenery other places people enjoy visiting include Hardwick Hall, Bolsover Castle, Chatsworth House, and The National Tramway Museum at Crich.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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