Buxton

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Coordinates: 53°15′32″N 1°54′40″W / 53.259°N 1.911°W / 53.259; -1.911

Buxton
Buxtontown.jpg
Buxton town centre
Buxton is located in Derbyshire
Buxton
Buxton
 Buxton shown within Derbyshire
Population 20,836 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference SK059735
District High Peak
Shire county Derbyshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BUXTON
Postcode district SK17
Dialling code 01298
Police Derbyshire
Fire Derbyshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament High Peak
List of places
UK
England
Derbyshire

Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation of any market town in England.[1][2] Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as "the gateway to the Peak District National Park".[1] A municipal borough until 1974, Buxton was then merged with other localities lying primarily to the north, including Glossop, to form the local government district and borough of High Peak within the county of Derbyshire. Economically, Buxton is within the sphere of influence of Greater Manchester.

Buxton is home to Poole's Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann's Well, fed by the geothermal spring bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House, which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town's historic buildings.

Buxton is twinned with two other towns: Oignies in France and Bad Nauheim in Germany.[3]

History[edit]

People filling up bottles with water at St Ann's Well

The Romans developed a settlement known as Aquae Arnemetiae[1] (or the spa of the goddess of the grove). The discovery of coins indicates that the Romans were in Buxton throughout their occupation.[4] The origins of the town's name are uncertain. It may be derived from the Old English for Buck Stone or for Rocking Stone.[5] The town grew in importance in the late 18th century when it was developed by the Dukes of Devonshire, with a resurgence a century later as the Victorians were drawn to the reputed healing properties of the waters.[citation needed]

Built on the River Wye, and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor, Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring[6] which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann's Well (a shrine to St. Anne since medieval times) opposite the Crescent near the town centre.[7]

The Dukes of Devonshire have been closely involved with Buxton since 1780, when the 5th Duke used the profits from his copper mines to develop the town as a spa in the style of Bath. Their ancestor Bess of Hardwick had taken one of her four husbands, the Earl of Shrewsbury, to "take the waters" at Buxton shortly after he became the gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569, and they took Mary there in 1573.[citation needed] She called Buxton "La Fontagne de Bogsby", and stayed at the site of the Old Hall Hotel. The area features in the poetry of W. H. Auden and the novels of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë.[6]

Instrumental in the popularity of Buxton was the recommendation by Dr Erasmus Darwin of the waters at Buxton and Matlock to Josiah Wedgwood I. The Wedgwood family often went to Buxton on holiday and recommended the area to their friends.[citation needed] Two of Charles Darwin's half-cousins, Edward Levett Darwin and Reginald Darwin, settled there.[8] The arrival of the railway in 1863 stimulated the town's growth: the population of 1,800 in 1861 had grown to over 6,000 by 1881.[9]

Each summer the wells are decorated according to the local tradition of well dressing. The well dressing weekend has developed into a town carnival with live music and funfair.[10] In 2013, the Academy of Urbanism named Buxton as one of the three most attractive towns in Britain.[11]

Geology[edit]

Built on the boundary of the Lower Carboniferous limestone and the Upper Carboniferous shale, sandstone and gritstone, the early settlement (of which only the parish church of St Anne, built in 1625, remains) was largely of limestone construction[citation needed]. The present buildings, of locally quarried sandstone, mostly date from the late 18th century.[citation needed]

At the southern edge of the town the River Wye has carved an extensive limestone cavern, known as Poole's Cavern. More than 300 metres of its chambers are open to the public. The cavern contains Derbyshire's largest stalactite and there are unique 'poached egg' stalagmites. A notorious local highwayman called Poole gave the cavern its name.[12]

Notable architecture[edit]

Corbar Hill and the Dome
  • The Crescent (1780–1784) was modelled on Bath's Royal Crescent by John Carr along with the neighbouring irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. The Crescent features a grand assembly room with a fine painted ceiling. Nearby stands the elegant and imposing monument to Samuel Turner (1805–1878), treasurer of the Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity, built in 1879 and accidentally lost for the latter part of the 20th century during construction work before being found and restored in 1994. The Crescent has been unoccupied for many years, but plans are in place for it to be converted into a hotel.[13]
  • Buxton Opera House was designed by Frank Matcham in 1903 and is the highest opera house in the country. Matcham was a prolific theatrical architect who designed several London theatres, including the London Palladium, the London Coliseum and the Hackney Empire. The opera house is attached to the Pavilion Gardens, Octagonal Hall (built in 1875) and the smaller Pavilion Arts Centre (see below). The Pavilion Gardens, designed by Edward Milner, contain 93,000 m² of gardens and ponds and were opened in 1871. Opposite is an original Penfold octagonal post box.
Buxton Crescent and St Ann's Well
Buxton Wells
  • The Natural Baths, by Henry Currey, are on the site of the original Roman baths. The building was opened in 1854 and re-developed as an arcade in 1987, featuring a barrel vaulted stained glass canopy — the largest stained glass window in Britain — designed by Brian Clarke.[14]
  • The Pump Room, also by Currey, was built in 1884 opposite the Crescent. Visitors could 'take the waters' until 1981. Between 1981 and 1995 the building housed the unique Micrarium Exhibition.[15] The building is being refurbished as part of the National Lottery-funded Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa re-development. Beside it, added in 1940, is St Ann's Well.
  • The 122-room Palace Hotel, built in 1868, is a prominent feature of the Buxton skyline on the hill above the railway station. It was also designed by Currey.[16]
  • The Old Hall Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Buxton. It was owned by the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot. He and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, were the "gaolers" of Mary, Queen of Scots. She came to Buxton several times to take the waters, the last time in 1584. The present building dates from 1670 and has a five-bay front with a Tuscan doorway.[17]
  • The town is overlooked by two landmarks. Atop Grinlow Hill, 1,441 feet (439 m) above sea level, is Grinlow Tower (locally also called "Solomon's Temple"), a two-storey granite, crooked, crenelated folly built in 1834 by Solomon Mycock to provide work for the town's unemployed and restored in 1996 after a lengthy closure to the public. In the other direction, on Corbar Hill, 1,433 feet (437 m) above sea level, is Corbar Cross, a tall, wooden cross. Originally given to the Roman Catholic Church by the Duke of Devonshire in 1950 to commemorate Holy Year, it was replaced in the 1980s. In 2010, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK, it was cut down as a protest against a long history of child abuse at the Catholic St Williams School in Market Weighton, Yorkshire.[18] The Buxton ecumenical group Churches Together organised several benefactors who replaced the cross with a smaller cross in May 2011.[19]

Culture[edit]

Cultural events include the annual Buxton Festival among other festivals and performances held in the Opera House and other venues. The Buxton Museum & Art Gallery offers year-round exhibitions.

The Buxton Festival, founded in 1979, is an opera and arts festival that runs for about three weeks in July at various venues including the Opera House.[20] The programme includes literary events in the mornings, concerts and recitals in the afternoon, and operas, many of them rarely performed, in the evenings.[21] There has been an increase in the quality of the operatic programme in recent years, after decades when, according to critic Rupert Christiansen, the festival featured "work of such mediocre quality that I just longed for someone to put it out of its misery."[22][23] Running alongside it is the Buxton Festival Fringe, known as a warm-up for the Edinburgh Fringe. The Buxton fringe features drama, music, dance, comedy, music, poetry, art exhibitions and films in various venues around the town. In 2009 there were over 500 events from over 140 entrants.[24]

The week-long Four Four Time music festival is held every February and features a variety of rock, pop, folk, blues, jazz and world music.[25] The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, a three-week theatre festival from the end of July through most of August, was held in Buxton from 1994 to 2013; it moved to Harrogate in 2014.[26] By June 2013, 25,000 tickets had been sold for the 2013 events.[27]

The Opera House has a year-long programme of drama, concerts, comedy and other events.[28] In September 2010, following a £2.5 million reconstruction, the former Paxton Suite in the Pavilion Gardens re-opened as a performance venue called the Pavilion Arts Centre. The centre, located behind the Opera House, includes a 369-seat auditorium. The stage area can be converted into a separate 93-seat studio theatre.[29][30]

The Buxton Museum & Art Gallery has a permanent collection of local artefacts, geological and archaeological samples (including the William Boyd Dawkins collection) and 19th- and 20th-century paintings, including works by Brangwyn, Chagall, Chahine and their contemporaries. There are also regular exhibitions by local and regional artists and various other events.[31] The Pavilion Gardens hosts regular arts, crafts, antiques and jewellery fairs.[32]

According to local folklore, a farm three miles to the north-east of Buxton possesses a screaming skull called Dickie.[33]

Economy[edit]

Buxton has a mixed economy including tourism, retail, quarrying, scientific research, light industry and mineral water bottling. The University of Derby is a significant employer.[citation needed] The town is surrounded by the Peak District National Park and offers a range of cultural events; tourism is a major industry, with more than a million visitors to Buxton each year. Buxton is the main centre for overnight accommodation within the Peak District, with over 64% of the Park's visitor bed space.[34]

Several Limestone quarries are located close to Buxton,[35] including the "Tunstead Superquarry", the largest producer of high-purity industrial limestone in Europe, which employs 400 people.[36] The quarrying sector also provides employment in limestone processing[37] and distribution.[38] Other industrial employers include the Health & Safety Laboratory, which engages in health and safety research and incident investigations and maintains over 350 staff locally.[34][39][40]

The Buxton Mineral Water Company (owned by Nestle) extracts and bottles mineral waters in Buxton.[41] A local newspaper, the Buxton Advertiser, is published weekly.

Education[edit]

Secondary schools in the town include Buxton Community School and St. Thomas More Catholic School.[42] Other nearby schools include Buxton Junior School,[43] St. Anne's Catholic Primary School,[44] Harpur Hill Primary School,[45] Buxton Infant School,[46] John Duncan School, Fairfield Infant & Nursery School, Burbage Primary School, Dove Holes C. E. Primary School, Fairfield Endowed Junior School, Peak Dale Primary School, Leek College, Old Sams Farm Independent School, Hollinsclough C.E Primary School, Flash C.E. Primary School, Earl Sterndale C of E Primary School, Peak Forest C of E Primary School, and Combs Infant School.[47]

Sport and civic organisations[edit]

Corbar Cross[19][48]

In the high land above the town there are two small speedway stadia. The High Edge Raceway was the original home of the speedway team Buxton High Edge Hitmen in the mid-1990s before the team moved to the custom-built track immediately to the north of the original circuit. The original track in the High Edge Raceway[49] was amongst the shortest and trickiest tracks in the UK. The custom-built track is of a more conventional shape and length. Buxton have been regular competitors in the Conference League.[50][51]

Buxton has a football club Buxton F.C., who play at the Silverlands; a cricket club, Buxton Cricket Club; a Buxton Rugby Union club;[52] and a hockey club, Buxton Hockey Club. In addition, four Hope Valley League football clubs are based in Buxton: Buxton Town, Peak Dale and Buxton Christians play at the Fairfield Centre, with Blazing Rag playing at the Kents Bank Recreation Ground.[citation needed]

There are two 18-hole golf courses in Buxton. In the eastern suburb of Fairfield is the Buxton & High Peak club. Founded in 1887 it is the oldest in Derbyshire.[53] On the western edge of the town is the Cavendish Club (1925), designed by the renowned course architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie.[54]

The hillside around Solomon's Temple is a popular local bouldering venue with many small outcrops giving problems mainly in the lower grades. These are described in the 2003 guidebook High over Buxton: A Boulderer's Guide.[55] Hoffman Quarry at Harpur Hill, sitting prominently above Buxton, is a local venue for sport climbing.[56]

Youth groups include The Kaleidoscope Youth Theatre at the Pavilion Arts Centre,[57] Buxton Squadron Air Cadets,[58] Derbyshire Army Cadet Force and the Sea Cadet Corps, in addition to units from the Scouts & Guide Association.[citation needed]

Buxton is home to three Masonic Lodges, and one Royal Arch Chapter, which meet at the Masonic Hall in George Street. Phoenix Lodge of Saint Ann No.1235 was consecrated in 1865; Buxton Lodge No.1688 was consecrated in 1877 and High Peak Lodge No.1952 was consecrated in 1881. The Royal Arch Chapter is attached to Phoenix Lodge of Saint Ann, and bears the same name and number, it being consecrated in 1872.[59]

Climate[edit]

At 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England.[2] Due to this relatively high elevation, Buxton tends to be cooler than surrounding towns, with daytime temperature typically around 2°C lower than Manchester. A Met Office weather station has collected climate date for the town since 1908, with digitized data from 1959 available online. In June 1975, the town was hit by a freak snowstorm that stopped play during a cricket match.[60]

Climate data for Buxton 307m asl, 1971–2000, Extremes 1959-
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
(55.4)
15.3
(59.5)
20.0
(68)
23.9
(75)
25.2
(77.4)
29.0
(84.2)
31.0
(87.8)
32.7
(90.9)
25.5
(77.9)
21.1
(70)
15.7
(60.3)
12.8
(55)
32.7
(90.9)
Average high °C (°F) 4.9
(40.8)
5.0
(41)
7.4
(45.3)
9.9
(49.8)
13.8
(56.8)
16.4
(61.5)
18.6
(65.5)
18.1
(64.6)
14.9
(58.8)
11.0
(51.8)
7.4
(45.3)
5.7
(42.3)
11.09
(51.96)
Average low °C (°F) −0.1
(31.8)
−0.1
(31.8)
1.4
(34.5)
2.8
(37)
5.5
(41.9)
8.6
(47.5)
10.7
(51.3)
10.4
(50.7)
8.3
(46.9)
5.3
(41.5)
2.3
(36.1)
0.8
(33.4)
4.66
(40.37)
Record low °C (°F) −14.4
(6.1)
−13.3
(8.1)
−11.1
(12)
−8
(18)
−2.9
(26.8)
−0.4
(31.3)
2.2
(36)
2.5
(36.5)
−0.6
(30.9)
−6.2
(20.8)
−9.3
(15.3)
−14
(7)
−14.4
(6.1)
Precipitation mm (inches) 139.15
(5.4783)
100.97
(3.9752)
119.48
(4.7039)
84.64
(3.3323)
73.75
(2.9035)
90.3
(3.555)
76.66
(3.0181)
93.29
(3.6728)
101.87
(4.0106)
137.88
(5.4283)
135.83
(5.3476)
145.91
(5.7445)
1,299.73
(51.1701)
Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI[61]

Public transport[edit]

Buxton railway station is served by the former L&NWR and LMS line via Whaley Bridge. It has frequent trains to Stockport and the nearby city of Manchester. The journey from Buxton to Manchester Piccadilly takes just under an hour. Buxton had two stations, but the Midland Railway station was closed on 6 March 1967, later becoming the site for the Spring Gardens shopping centre. The trackbed of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway has in part been used as a walk and cycleway called the Monsal Trail. Peak Rail, a heritage railway group, have restored the section from Rowsley to Matlock, with the long-term objective of re-opening it back to Buxton.

The town's buses include services into the Peak District National Park. Other buses run to the nearby towns of Whaley Bridge, Chapel en le Frith, New Mills and Glossop, and the High Peak 'Transpeak' service offers an hourly link southwards to Taddington, Matlock, Derby and Nottingham and northwards to Stockport and Manchester. There is also a High Peak bus directly from Manchester Airport to Buxton. Other buses provide roughly two-hourly services linking Buxton with Macclesfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Sheffield.[62] There are also taxi services based in the town.

View of Buxton from Solomon's Temple

Famous Buxtonians[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Buxton – in pictures", BBC Radio Derby, March 2008, accessed 3 June 2013
  2. ^ a b Alston, Cumbria also makes this claim but lacks a regular market.
  3. ^ Town Twinning website
  4. ^ About Buxton, History of Buxton, accessed June 2009
  5. ^ Buxton, Key to English Place Names, Institute for Name Studies, University of Nottingham, accessed 12 May 2011
  6. ^ a b Dunn, Paul. "Great British Weekend: Buxton", The Sunday Times, 17 April 2010, accessed 20 September 2011
  7. ^ English Heritage. "The Slopes, Buxton (1001456)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Darwin, Charles, Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith. The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985 ISBN 0-521-25587-2
  9. ^ Railways of the Peak District, Blakemore & Mosley, 2003 ISBN 1-902827-09-0
  10. ^ "Crowds flock to biggest Buxton Carnival for years", Buxton Advertiser, 14 July 2008, accessed 20 September 2011
  11. ^ "Top towns in the British Isles include Buxton, in Derbyshire", BBC News Derby, 17 June 2013
  12. ^ Oldham, T. "History of Poole's Cavern", Showcaves.com (2002)
  13. ^ "Historic agreement paves way for Crescent development", High Peak Borough Council, 2 April 2012
  14. ^ "Natural Mineral Baths, Buxton", BritishListedBuildings.co.uk, accessed 4 May 2012
  15. ^ Micrarium Enterprises
  16. ^ The Palace Hotel's website
  17. ^ Information about Buxton buildings
  18. ^ Symbol of Suffering. Buxton Advertiser, 23 September 2010
  19. ^ a b Corbar cross rises again. Buxton Advertiser, 20 May 2011
  20. ^ Buxton Festival 2010 Programme Buxton Festival Website, September 2010
  21. ^ Buxton Festival Buxton Opera House Website, Sept 2010
  22. ^ Christiansen, Rupert. "The Buxton Festival: aiming for peak performance". Telegraph Online, July 2010
  23. ^ Canning, Hugh. Buxton Festival,Times Online, July 2008
  24. ^ About Us. Buxton Festival Fringe
  25. ^ "Four four time". Buxton Opera House website, September 2010
  26. ^ Chalmers, Graham. "Harrogate wins topsy-turvy battle over G&S Festival", Wetherby News, June 5, 2014
  27. ^ "Gilbert and Sullivan festival quits Buxton for Harrogate", BBC News Derby, 19 June 2013
  28. ^ Whats On. Buxton Opera House, September 2010
  29. ^ "The Pavilion Arts Centre". Pavilion Gardens website, September 2010
  30. ^ Woolman, Natalie. "Buxton Opera House to open new Pavilion arts venue". The Stage, 7 September 2010
  31. ^ "Buxton Museum and Art Gallery". Derbyshire County Council
  32. ^ "Fairs & Events". Pavilion Gardens website
  33. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 398. ISBN 9780340165973. 
  34. ^ a b High Peak Profile, High Peak Borough Council, September 2010
  35. ^ Quarries visible as large white areas in satellite image, Google Maps, September 2010
  36. ^ Superquarries: Tunstead, British Geological Survey website, September 2010
  37. ^ "Buxton Lime", Tarmac company website, September 2010
  38. ^ Hailstone, Laura. "Lomas Distribution consolidates sites with new depot", Commercialmotor.com, 1 July 2008, accessed 29 August 2012
  39. ^ About HSL, HSL Website, Sept 2010
  40. ^ Health & Safety Laboratory, Northern Defence Industries Website
  41. ^ "Buxton Water", official website, March 2012
  42. ^ "St. Thomas More Catholic School", accessed 4 February 2014
  43. ^ "Buxton Junior School", accessed 4 February 2014
  44. ^ "St. Anne's Catholic Primary School", accessed 4 February 2014
  45. ^ "Harpur Hill Primary School", accessed 4 February 2014
  46. ^ "Buxton Infant School", accessed 4 February 2014
  47. ^ "Schools and Colleges Near Buxton, Derbyshire", accessed 4 February 2014
  48. ^ This is a photo of the cross before it was cut down in 2010. It has since been restored.
  49. ^ "About Us", Buxton Raceway website
  50. ^ "Speedway in Derbyshire", You and Yesterday, accessed on 16 December 2007
  51. ^ Hubbert, Neil. "Victory for the Hitmen", Buxton Advertiser, 2 August 2007
  52. ^ Buxton Rugby Club, accessed 10 December 2011
  53. ^ Buxton & High Peak Golf Club website
  54. ^ Cavendish Golf Club website
  55. ^ Warren, Daniel and Graham Warren. High over Buxton: A Boulderer's Guide, Raven Rock Books (2003) ISBN 0-9530352-1-2
  56. ^ Gibson, Gary. From Horseshoe to Harpur Hill, BMC (2004) ISBN 0-903908-72-7
  57. ^ "Kaleidoscope", Buxton Opera House, accessed 12 May 2011
  58. ^ Buxton Air Cadets
  59. ^ United Grand Lodge of England (2006) Directory of Lodges and Chapters London
  60. ^ Francis, Tony. "June Snow", The Telegraph, 22 June 2005
  61. ^ "Buxton Climate", KNMI, accessed 8 November 2011
  62. ^ "Timetable Information", High Peak Buses, accessed 1 July 2012
  63. ^ "Carl Mason", Player biographies, The PGA European Tour, accessed 1 July 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • W. Bemrose. Guide to Buxton and Neighbourhood, Bemrose & Sons (London, 1869).
  • Black's Guide to Buxton and the Peak country of Derbyshire, A. and C. Black, 1898
  • Aitken, Tom. One Hundred & One Beautiful Towns in Great Britain, Rizzoli, 2008

External links[edit]