Updated 10 Jul 2011

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Harrison Drive, Wirksworth

The Day they let the Wind in.

Great for trucks and cars. Not so good for people. What would we do today? Seventy years ago, Wirksworth Council decided to build a new road into the heart of the town, and name it after the chairman of the council - Harrison Drive.

  1. The Old Market Place.
  2. The New Road
  3. What was there before the road?
  4. Why was the road built?
  5. When was the road built?
  6. Building the New Road
  7. Snags
  1. Who was Harrison?
  2. Emails on the subject
  3. Harrison Family
  4. Harrison Pedigree
  5. Hubert Harrison writes
  6. Compulsory Purchase Orders

The Old Market Place

A cosy place for holding big meetings, surrounded by high buildings like a walled garden. Then the New Road let the North wind and the traffic in.
The buildings that vanished - Doxey's tearooms and Watts' taxis - are on the far right of the photos.

The New Road

Designed to help the quarry trucks get through Wirksworth.
Symonds House - Doxey's tearooms - Watts' taxis - Red Lion Hotel
Symonds House - Harrison Drive - Red Lion Hotel

What was there before the road?

  • The big house with 14 windows, No 15 Market Place (dating from c1740), is called Symonds House after Christopher Symonds, a solicitor from Lincolnshire.
  • Right of that are Nellie Doxey's tea-rooms and newsagent.
  • Right again, a charabanc is parked in front of Watt's wireless dealer and taxi firm.
  • Extreme right, The Red Lion is an old coaching and posting inn rebuilt about 1770, but may well date back to medieval times.
  • The agricultural equipment on the pavement belonged to Marsden the Hardware.
  • The market, dating from 1306, was held in the area facing where the road now runs and is known as the Old Market Place. This area was almost halved in size by the building of the new road, and the market was displaced to around the corner at the foot of West End, where it is held today.

Other voices:
"Before the New Road (Harrison Drive) was constructed, the entrance to the road was occupied by two shops. The first was a small sweet shop which also sold biscuits and tried at a later date to branch out as a tea shop. This failed because both Miss Doxey and her brother William were eccentrics. The other shop stood empty for some time and was then taken as a second-hand furniture shop by some people from Manchester called Watts. The sons later started a motor and taxi business."
Bertram Haworth 1904-1998

"The ghost of a coachman is said to haunt the [Red Lion] premises. He was attempting to manoeuvre his coach through the archway, when the horses suddenly took fright and dashed forward. Unable to move his head in time he was decapitated. Ever since then the dark figure of a headless man has haunted the Red Lion."
Dennis Eardley - Discover Derbyshire.

"In early days [the Red Lion] was a noted coaching inn and has extensive stabling up the yard. At the top of the yard was the bowling green which was one of Wirksworth's "better class" affairs. Alas this was destroyed when the new road cut straight through - and so Wirksworth lost another amenity".
Bertram Haworth 1904-1998

"As lead mining declined, the limestone quarries provided work for the people who lived in the area. The arrival of the railway in Wirksworth, in 1867, which linked the town with Derby and the rapidly expanding railway network beyond, opened the way for the easy distribution of limestone which was in great demand. The situation was improved still further twelve years later when a railway tunnel was built below the town centre linking Dale Quarry, known locally as the "Big Hole", with the station. This was a big improvement in transportation as previously the stone had to be moved from the quarry by horse drawn vehicle down the Dale and through the centre of the town centre to the railway. Arched openings in the quarry face, which acted as ventilation shafts for the railway, can still be seen in the garden of a house on the Dale."
"The great upheaval came in 1925-26 with the re-opening of Dale Quarry, when mechanisation was introduced and a stone crusher installed in a hole between 200 and 300 feet deep. Inevitably the whole of this densely populated area declined and the town was badly affected by the dust, dirt and noise. Many of the people who could afford to do so reluctantly left, along with business and commerce. Buildings fell into disrepair, frequently being left empty to decay, and what had been one of Derbyshire's most important towns was left blighted with the residents who remained despairing that improvements would ever take place. The seriousness of the situation was recognised by the West Derbyshire District Council in 1978 when a large area in the centre of the town including part of the market place, was declared a General Improvement Area."
"ARTHUR HARWOOD - It was Arthur HARWOOD the quarry owner who had the tunnel under Wirksworth built. Unfortunately one of the consequences of the expansion that followed was that his house and garden fell into the quarry!"

Dennis Eardley - Discover Derbyshire.

BEFORE: Wirksworth centre in 1922.
The tunnel linked Dale Quarry and the railway station.
AFTER: Wirksworth centre in 1957.
The footbridge maintained right-of-way for the old footpath.

Why was the road built?

The New Road was built to ease the flow of quarry traffic through the town. Just North of Wirksworth were several large quarries: Baileycroft, Stonecroft and Middlepeak. To get South of the town, the trucks carrying limestone had to navigate two narrow old roads, North End and Coldwell street. The New Road acted as a bypass, enabling quarry trucks to get direct access to St John Street and then head South towards Derby.

When was the road built?

Construction began in 1938, and was finished in 1940

Building the New Road

Working on the footbridge over the new road.

Workmen digging out the new road by pick and shovel.
Junior school is in centre, George Guise was headmaster

Photo credit: Herbert Brooks.
The official opening ceremony of the new road.
Beneath the bridge on the right was the War Memorial.

Photo credit: Herbert Brooks.

The first horse and cart to travel down the road.

Photo credit: Herbert Brooks.

About 1940, view North from Market Place to the footbridge.

Photo credit: Herbert Brooks.


The New Road points almost due North, and lets cold winter winds into the heart of the town, like a wind tunnel. The cosy Old Market Place, surrounded by high buildings like a walled garden, had to be moved South to its present position. Quarry traffic became intolerable, and threatened to shake many old houses to pieces. Today, quarry trucks have been replaced by private cars, but walking the narrow pavements is still risky and not as pleasant as before 1938.

Who was Harrison?

Harrison Drive was named after William John Harrison, Chairman of Wirksworth Urban District Council in the 1930s. He was a joiner born in Wirksworth in 1863 and married Sarah Jane Gamble in 1886. William was eldest son of James Harrison and Mahala Buckley, who married in Wirksworth 1862. James was born in Borrowash and moved to Steeple Grange just before marriage, working as a staionary engine driver. He moved to Derby around 1870 then back to Bolehill in 1875. William's son Norman Harrison was a Labour Councillor on Wirksworth U.D.C. and also a Deacon at Middleton Congregational Church.
See Census: 1901, 1891, 1881 and 1861 and Harrison family and Harrison tree and Emails

Emails on the subject

    Stuart Flint writes:
    As you rightly state, Harrison Drive was built to replace the only other route through Wirksworth - Cromford which was North End a narrow road built only for the days of coach and horse and not for the motor vehicle or the heavier transport of the 1930s - 40s which were lorries plying between the quarries and Wirksworth Railway Station.. The Harrison family are dare I say it, of my allied kin.. William John Harrison was Chairman of Wirksworth U.D.C. when my father Harry Sprake Flint was a Councillor ..W.J.Harrison's son Norman Harrison married Lillian Petts daughter of John James Petts of Middleton Monumental Mason with his brother Bertram Petts Bertram Petts's Grandson today carries on the family business..

    Lillians sister Ada married my Uncle John Samuel Flint Dad's brother .whilst way back in the 1850s Harrisons were of my kin via Brookes and Land of Bolehill.. Norman Harrison also became a Labour Councillor on Wirksworth U.D.C. he and my father fellow Deacons at Middleton Congregational Church as was Bertram Petts..In the 1970s I was also a Deacon at the church with Norman Harrison and Lillian his wife Norman Harrison was a Plumber in his own business at Steeplegrange, the house now a Dental Surgery

    The Harrison family are also related to the Sims family, Sims also of my own distant kin ..having a connection via marriage to Sir John Plowright Houfton who was a founding Manager at Bolsover Colliery when it was first sunk His cousin Percy Bond Houfton was the Architect who was responsible for the Model Villages being built at Clipstone Rufford Bolsover and Cresswell Collieries ..Members of my family were Pit Deputies and miners at Clipstone and Bolsover Collieries...Sir John Plowright Houfton was also M.P. for Nottingham East and a J.P. knighted 1929 the year of his demise

    Harrison Drive was driven through Baileycroft Quarry once owned by my kinsman George Colledge (his Aunt was my 3XGrandmother Elizabeth Flint nee Colledge) his Grandaughter Sarah Matilda Britten daughter of Thomas and Mary Britten nee Colledge married Alfred Fox (senior clerk Wirksworth Railway Station) son of my wife's 3XUncle Luke Fox Station Master, Lukes brother George Fox a building Contractor / Monumental Mason my wife's Gr Gr Grandfather ( via Blackham Street Fox Hall Evans and Steube.). Thomas Britten was a Mining Engineer from Birmingham who owned Manystones Quarry Longcliffe near Brassington his manager my wife's 3XUncle William Thomas Needham Slack of Brassington. Thomas Britten assisted his father in law to build an underground tramway from Baileycroft Quarry under North End into Wirksworth Railway Yard, to take his stone product onto the main line, in recent years uncovered at the exit in the railway yard by The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway Association work force and now being made a feature...

    RegardsStuart G Flint


    Stuart Flint writes:
    The following is the Harrison Pedigree

    Thomas Harrison born at Ockbrook near Derby.. I believe this Thomas Harrison was one time in the employ of the Gell family at Hopton Hall.. He had a son Thomas who married Sarah Sims of Bolehill. Thomas is recorded as a Factory Worker at Derby

    Children of Thomas and Sarah Harrison nee Sims

  • 1.Herbert Harrison born at Ockbrook 1836 married Ellen Land daughter of George and Anne Land nee Brookes of Bolehill..Herbert became a Lead Miner at The Bage Mine Bolehill where my Flint Fore bares were Agents .. I have recorded history of Herbert Harrison and my kinsman Mark Flint in the 1890s still working at The Bage Mine when the Agent was Herbert Flint. George Land was sister to Hannah Land who married James Smith, James and Hannah my Gr Gr Grandparents on my mother's Cauldwell-Walker side of the family ..George and Hannah Land were children of George and Elizabeth Land nee Hoades they my 3XGrandparents Elizabeth daughter of Isaac and Anne Hoades nee Shaw my 4XGrandparents
  • 2.James Harrison born 1839 at Derby married Mahala Buckley daughter of George and Millicent Buckley ..Millicent George's 2nd wife widow of John Butler nee Brookes she daughter of Thomas and Mary Brookes nee Hoades. Thomas and Mary of my fore bare kin ..John Butler was of my wife and my kin via Hoades and Shaw (Shaws by the 1880s owned Quarries which ran cartage transport on North End the quarry known as Middle Peak Bowne & Shaw working through to the 1950s hence the building of Harrison Drive in the 1930s). George Buckley was married to Martha Street as his first wife..Martha my wife's 4XAunt. George Buckley's brother Benjamin Buckley married Lydia Lowrie widow of James Lowrie of Manchester Coal Miner nee Flint Lydia daughter of my 4XUncle Joseph Flint Mining Agent at The Bage Mine Bolehill
  • 3.Anne Harrison married Edward Brookes son of Edward Brookes..Edwards brother Isaac Brookes married Mary Walker my Gr Gr Aunt
  • 4.Charles Harrison Railway Engineer living at Litchurch Derby married Selina Keeling ..For a time their niece Mary Sims lived with them whose heir married into the Houfton family of Mansfield who became Directors of Coal Mines in the Bolsover district

    Children of James and Mahala Harrison

  • 1.William John Harrison born 1863 married Sarah Jane Gamble daughter of William Gamble Cordwainer / Shoe Maker. I believe his shop was where today Westons Electrical Retail outlet is (top shop one time owned in my youth by Ray Buxton of Cromford Boot and Shoe Retailer Ian Buxton noted Derbyshire Cricketer is his son). W.J.Harrison was Chairman of Wirksworth Urban District Council when the new road driven through Baileycroft Quarry in the 1930s was built to bye pass North End ..the road named after him.
  • 2.Millicent Harrison born 1873 School Teacher married John Benyon son of John Benyon one time Butler to Nicholas and Agnes Price - Wood at Wirksworth Hall Coldwell Street. Agnes daughter of Rev Nathan Hubbersty related to Hurts of Alderwasley Hall..John Benyon senior became the first Labour Party Agent for West Derbyshire he founding Wirksworth Labour Party Benyons married into allied kin of mine via Flint Dickinson Bunting Swift and Eaton of Cromford
  • 3.Isaac George Harrison born 1867 Monumental Mason
  • 4.James Harrison born 1870 Plumber
  • 5.Mahala Harrison born 1875

    Children of William and Sarah Harrison

  • 1.Hubert Harrison born 1890s University Scholar / Engineer. I remember meeting him in old age when visiting his brother Norman
  • 2.Florence Harrison
  • 3.Norman Harrison born 1901 married Lillian Petts daughter of John James and Lydia Petts nee Brookes. John James Petts a Monumental Mason of Middleton.. Lydia's sister Ellen married Thomas Flint of my kin, Thomas son of Joseph and Mary Anne Flint nee Brookes (Joseph Flint played Cricket for Derbyshire 1870s see Roy Pierce book re Wirksworth Cricket Club).. Thomas and Ellen son Joseph Flint was my Landlord 1970s when my wife and I lived in his house on Cromford Road. Joseph's wife was related to both Harrisons and Benyons.. His sister Doris Flint married Roger Hanson Verger at St Mary the Virgin Church Wirksworth.. When I attended school at Wirksworth in the 1950s, I had my dinner with the Hansons on St Mary's Gate (Vergers House).

    The Brookes family lived in a house at The Hall Middleton next door to my wife's Slack family...Lydia and Ellen daughters of Thomas and Sarah Matilda Brookes nee Doxey dau of Thomas Doxey Engineer.. Thomas Brookes son of Samuel and Anne Brookes nee Buckley of Middleton (Thomas Brookes can be seen in John Palmer's Old Photo's )

    Norman Harrison's wife Lillian was sister to my Aunt Ada Flint (married John Samuel Flint my father's brother..Uncle Jack a Steam Engine Driver Main Line lived near Crewe )

    When John James Petts died his widow Lydia married George Slack of Middleton Green This Slack family both my wife and my kin...

    Footnote You may not wish to add this if you wish to add the above at all anyway ..Just for your own interest

    Norman and Lillian Harrison were Deacons at Middleton Congregational Church from their early marriage ..firstly with my Father Harry S Flint who was also Sunday School Superintendent and then were senior Deacons when I became a Deacon and took over the Sunday School leadership in the 1960s on my father's demise. Our fellow Deacons in the 1960s - were Mary Housely widow of Douglas Slack who was a former Deacon and friend of my father..(Douglas managed my father's Drapery Shop at Wirksworth and then purchased the shop from Dad in the late 1930s .. He died in his early 40s his Uncle Herbert Leonard Doxey a Newsagent in Wirksworth Market Place taking over the shop ..H.L..Doxey's wife was Ada Botham cousin to my Uncle Arthur Botham Pit Deputy Clipstone Colliery.. Mary nee Stone daughter of Joseph Stone Quarry Owner Ridgeway Quarry Heage Stones still own a Building Supplies at The Old Cinema Wirksworth also Building Contractors Mary's nephew now Director). Heather Smith dau of Douglas and Mary Slack nee Stone . (Heather and I were inducted as Deacons at the same service replacing our father's) .Monica Marshal nee Batterley her mother a Slack, George Slack son of Daniel Slack, Elizabeth Brace, and a lady of the Birley family whose name escapes me...

    Regards Stuart G Flint

HARRISON pedigree

        Thomas     1829    Sarah
        1843         |
        |        |       |     |
       1836     1839
       Herbert  James   Anne  Charles
                1839               1839
                James      1862    Mahala
 |        |      |      |          |
1863     1867   1870   1873       1875
William  Isaac  James  Millicent  Mahala
1863               1864
William            Sarah
John       1886    Jane
 |       |         |
1888    1900      1901
Hubert  Florence  Norman

From Hubert Harrison, 2 Newburgh House, Highworth, Swindon, Wilts.
[written about 1971. Hubert Harrison was born 1888.
Extracted from http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/images/Harrison%20memoirs%20part%201_tcm9-16994.pdf]

The homecoming of Wirksworth soldiers from the South African War impressed my boyish mind as each one was given an official welcome and was made the central figure of a torchlight procession, headed by the town brass band, with flags and garlands across the streets. These events were all separate occasions as the men were demobilised. In all about twelve men from the town served in the war and all returned, I believe. Among the names I remember were Isaac walker, Harry Lenton, Corbett (Cob) Bartlett, Richard Casterton, Bertram Arkwright (son of the Vicar, Rev H Arkwright), all volunteers; also two regular soldiers, Albert Goodwin (R.A.M.C.), and Anthony Maskrey ("Rev Tant"), also Harry Gell, of Hopton Hall. The principal organiser of these processions deserves mention not only for this but for his efforts for the youth of the town over many years, as he ran the Church Lads' Brigade, with its own drum and fife band, its meeting place in a gymnasium near the railway station, where there were horizontal and parallel bars, weight lifting apparatus, trapezes, boxing gloves, etc., largely provided by Charlie Wright, who took the boys to camp and recruited gymnastic instructors for them. All this was before the Boy Scouts were formed by Baden Powell of the defence of Mafeking fame. Mr Wright was the son of Charles Wright, head of the wines and spirits business, and after he retired he lived first on the French Riviera, then at Fort House, Bolehill. Charlie Wright died at Scarborough aged about 90, largely forgotten in Wirksworth as he had been so long absent from the town. As I remembered his many services for youth I wrote my tribute to his memory for the local papers, cuttings from them being pasted in many scrapbooks of townspeople who had known him, especially the lads of the Brigade long grown to Manhood. The Brigade Room, also used by the St John Ambulance Corps for instruction classes in first-aid was destroyed in a disastrous fire many years ago. Dr A.E.Broster was the first-aid instructor and it was not until the doctor died that I learned that he had served as a surgeon with the Turkish Army during the siege of Plevna and decorated by the Turkish Govt for his work there. Very few people ever knew that the face of a saint or an angel in the stained glass memorial window of the Wrights in Wirksworth church is an actual photograph of Charlie Wright's mother, much respected by everybody who knew her. The family lived at Yokecliff, West End, Wirksworth, in considerable style.
[signed] Hubert Harrison

Herbert Brooks writes: Please find enclosed some further paper work you may find interesting linked to Harrison Drive. My grandad H.Brooks was one of the people involved, If you do add to the site please just mention forward by Herbert Brooks. Kind regards, Herbert (Ruep) Brooks

Deciphered, transcribed, compiled, indexed, formatted and copyright © 2007, . All Rights Reserved.