The Hotel

The Barrow Hill Hotel was built during the latter phase of Richard Barrow’s model village, along with the Dining Hall and the three manager’s villas known as the Terrace. When the Staveley Coal and Iron Company was incorporated, in July 1863, the Hotel was still being built but it was certainly open for business by 16th March 1864 when an inquest was held there into the death of a young miner who had been killed at the Hollingwood Pit.

In keeping with the rest of the model village, the frontage of the Hotel was built of stone with brick walls to the rear. It cost £1,271 [1]  to build and, in addition to the accommodation provided for visitors, the Hotel had a public bar, a large concert room and stables.

BH Hotel drawing wm

On 10th September, 1864, the Derbyshire Times reported that an application for a new licence had been granted to Mr Henry Todd at the Barrow Hill Hotel which was advertised as “First Class Accommodation for Commercial and other Gentlemen.” It’s location, opposite what was then named “Staveley Station,” was ideal for visitors to the works.

Newspaper advert

Todd was described in the Derbyshire Times as the “spirited landlord” of the Hotel and his entertainment and catering were frequently described as “First Class.”  Alongside accounts of workmen’s dinners and sporting fixtures are the many coroner’s inquests on sudden local deaths and those caused by accidents at the works and on the railway. There were also several less commendable incidents of unruly behaviour.

BH Hotel Cutting 24.12.1864

Henry died on April 23rd, 1868, aged 30, leaving a widow and four young daughters. The license was transferred to his 33 year old widow, Jane Todd, in July 1868 and she continued to run the business with the assistance of her sisters, brother-in-law and a hostler who was employed to look after the horses.

Coroner’s inquests continued to be held at the hotel and it was not unusual for bodies to be taken there, following accidental deaths, to await examination by the Staveley Works doctor. One such case, in February 1870, was the death of three young lads who had fallen though thin ice on the old works dam and drowned. Following a serious collision on the railway line near the station in May 1870, Mrs Todd was commended for “the prompt manner in which she provided refreshments for the workmen” who cleared the line. The inquests often resulted in such verdicts as “Accidently killed by a railway truck” or “Found killed on the railway.”

By the mid-1870’s, the Todd family had left and Edwin Williamson was the new landlord. Cricket matches were regularly reported between teams from Staveley Works and the Midland Railway with “capital” lunches served afterwards at the hotel. One of several wedding breakfasts hosted at the hotel was that of Williamson’s own daughter in 1879.

BH Hotel Williamson 1882

Williamson’s wife Fanny was the landlady of the Hotel and sometimes enjoyed the hospitality a little more than was wise. In 1883, she was convicted of being drunk and disorderly. The court heard that “she had been convicted of similar offenses several times, and her conduct was a disgrace to the neighbourhood.”

After almost twenty years as landlord, alongside local newspaper reports of property auctions, meetings of the “Staveley Works Club and election meetings, Williamson placed a series of adverts for honest and industrious general servants of “good character” suggesting that he was short of help to run the hotel. Shortly afterwards, the following notices appeared in local newspapers.

BH Hotel to let 6.6.1891

BH Hotel debts 3.10.1891

BH Hotel George BakerGeorge Baker was a former deputy at Barlboro’ Colliery but had been working alongside his father at the Albert Inn, Woodthorpe, for two years when he took over the Barrow Hill Hotel. He was to be the landlord for the next 18 years.

The Hotel became the headquarters of the local Buffalo Lodge and sports other than cricket began to be reported with billiards handicaps and local football matches becoming more prominent.

1904 Hotel team wm

Baker was the tenant for the Chesterfield Brewery, who rented the Hotel from the Staveley Company. To the surprise of many, and to the annoyance of the Chesterfield Brewery,  the Staveley Company sold it to Ind Coope and Co in 1898 for £22,000.

A charity event organised by Baker, in 1898, was in “aid of miners unavoidably thrown out of employment through a breakage of machinery at the Hartington Colliery” during which he was “unhesitatingly declared the best friend the Hartington men had” – and his “goodness in matters of this sort” was commented upon.  A “smoking concert” was held in 1900 for the benefit of 16 year old Reuben Stevenson who had lost two fingers in an accident at Staveley Works and, in 1901, a dinner and concert was held “for the purpose of “a presentation to two crippled boys.” Other events supported those who had been off work through illness and, in 1904, the Barrow Hill Charity Committee organised a public dance at the Hotel in aid of Mr Kirk who had sustained heavy losses when his post office burned down at Cavendish Place.

Accounts of annual dinners and fundraising concerts in the early 1900’s included those organised by the newly formed Staveley Works Fire Brigade, the Staveley Works Ambulance Class and the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) known as the Buffs to members. (The Hotel was the headquarters of the local lodge). Unionist meetings were held and a presentation of a Humane Society Award was made to John William Brown who had rescued a drowning child. (John William was killed in WW1 and his name is inscribed on the village war memorial).

John and Annie Hinchcliffe took over as landlord and landlady when George Baker left. In 1911, Hinchcliffe was charged with allowing betting on the premises and his short tenancy had ended by 1912 when Edward (Teddy) Williamson was recorded in local directories as the new landlord. Teddy was the son of previous landlord Edwin Williamson and had worked at the Hotel for George Baker.

It would appear that, like his mother, Fanny, Teddy enjoyed a drink. In January 1913, his licence was endorsed and he was fined £1 for causing a car accident with a milk float whilst drunk. The driver of the milk float was John Henry Belfitt who was later killed in WW1. Teddy himself was excused army service, conditional upon him assisting on a local farm.

Local groups, societies and teams continued to use the Hotel during Williamson’s tenancy. He leased Foxton Dam with its fishing rights for the local fishing club and hosted the Barrow Hill Cottage Garden Society’s annual flower and vegetable exhibition in the Hotel Clubroom.

Arthur Fox wrote that “As children, our playground was the “slack heap” which later in or about 1921 was levelled by younger men on strike and older boys from the school under the supervision of Mr Ben Marson, the mining engineer. The play area then became known as the “Blue Fly.” At a later date, a bowling green was laid and charge of the whole was committed by the Chairman and Managing Director of Staveley Company, Mr C.P.Markham, to Mr Teddy Williamson at the Barrow Hill Hotel.” In later years, the Hotel fielded a football team  in the Chesterfield Saturday and Sunday leagues, playing their home games on the Blue Fly .

In 1923, Ind Coope and Co applied to magistrates for permission to make alterations to the Hotel but these were initially refused.

BH Hotel alterations refused 13.12.1924

BH Hotel drawing wm

Permission for the alterations was finally granted in 1928.  The building of more recent memory bore little resemblance to the original,  although evidence of the earlier structure remained as can be seen in the photograph below.

BH Hotel closed wm

During the 1930’s, with Williamson still in charge, events held at the Hotel included wedding receptions in the club room, an indoor games league, meetings of the Barrow Hill Death and Dividing Club (a type of insurance), charity dinners and annual old folk’s teas with concert parties and a pianist providing the entertainment. After WW2, meetings of the Old Comrades of “A” Company, Home Guard were held “to keep alive the spirit of the war years.” Many years later, the Hotel was still sometimes referred to as “Teddy’s.”

BH Hotel Parade wm

Tommy Rowland had taken over as landlord by 1950 and he and his mother, Florrie, became well known over the years for providing live entertainment.

BH Hotel entertainment 1950

In the 1960’s, Rowland’s enthusiasm for Blues and RnB music led to live bands playing several times each week. The hotel was a small, cramped venue for bands and the Staveley Company power supply  was on a different cycle to that needed for the band’s gear. “They used to run the power from the public toilets just outside.” Well known local groups such as The Rondos, Frank White, Mickey’s Monkeys, Roadrunners, Cobwebs and Shape of the Rain appeared regularly. Although Tommy wasn’t able to pay the bands a fortune, the “regulars” were so enthusiastic and loyal that he continued to have bands on weekly. Most famously, a regular weekly booking was that of Joe Cocker who, when he became famous, sent a telegram to the landlord and regulars of the Hotel thanking them for supporting and encouraging him during the hard times.

BH Hotel Florrie and Tommy Rowlands wm BH Hotel Florrie Rowlands wm

Known to many as “Teddy’s” or ‘Barrow Hill Bottom,’ the Hotel underwent several changes of name and nickname in its final years. These included “The Treadle,” “The Cat,” and “The Barrow.”

BH Hotel open

Derelict for some years, permission was given in 2008 for the Hotel to be demolished. Now the site of the Barrow Court apartments, the original stones from the Hotel have been re-used to build the surrounding walls.

©Barrow Court

© Ann Lucas

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[1] Barrow Hill and a Load of Bricks : Cliff Williams