Buxton Town Centre
Buxton shown within Derbyshire
|Population||20,836 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
|UK Parliament||High Peak|
Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation of any market town in England. Located 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". A municipal borough until 1974, Buxton was then merged with other localities including Glossop, lying primarily to the north, to form the local government district and borough of High Peak within the county of Derbyshire. Buxton is within the sphere of influence of Greater Manchester due to its close proximity to the area.
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.
The Romans developed a settlement known as Aquae Arnemetiae (or the spa of the goddess of the grove). The discovery of coins indicates that the Romans were in Buxton throughout their occupation. The origins of the town's name are uncertain. It may be derived from the Old English for Buck Stone or for Rocking Stone. 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.
Built on the River Wye, and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor, Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring 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.
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. 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.
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. Two of Charles Darwin's half-cousins, Edward Levett Darwin and Reginald Darwin, settled there. 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.
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. In 2013, the Academy of Urbanism named Buxton as one of the three most attractive towns in Britain.
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. The present buildings, of locally quarried sandstone, mostly date from the late 18th century.
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.
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- 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.
- The Devonshire Dome (1780–1789) was created from the Great Stables, converted in 1859 by Henry Currey, architect to the 7th Duke of Devonshire. It became the Devonshire Royal Hospital (now the Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby). Later phases of the conversion were by local architect Robert Rippon Duke including his design for what was the world's largest unsupported dome with a diameter of 44 m (144.356 ft), larger than the Pantheon (43 metres (141 ft)) and St Peter's Basilica 42 m (137.794 ft) in Rome, and St Paul's Cathedral (34 metres (112 ft)). The record was surpassed by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (256 metres (840 ft)). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are part of the University of Derby. Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire was appointed Chancellor of the university in October 2008, a five-year appointment.
- 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 railway station was designed by Joseph Paxton, who designed the layout of the Park Road circular estate. He is perhaps more famous for his design of the Crystal Palace in London.
- The Pavilion Gardens, by Jeffry Wyattville.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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. The Buxton ecumenical group Churches Together organised several benefactors who replaced the cross with a smaller cross in May 2011.
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. The programme includes literary events in the mornings, concerts and recitals in the afternoon, and operas, many of them rarely-performed, in the evenings. 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." 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.
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. 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, after which it is scheduled to move to Harrogate. By 19 June 2013, 25,000 tickets had been sold for the 2013 events. The festival is an adjudicated competition that was held in the Opera House each year, comprising over a dozen amateur G&S troupes, while professional performances are given on the weekends. There were dozens of fringe events in the adjoining Pavilion Arts Centre, and in nearby venues, during the daytime and as an alternative to the evening operas in the Opera House.
The Opera House has a year-long programme of drama, concerts, comedy and other events. 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.
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. The Pavilion Gardens hosts regular arts, crafts, antiques and jewellery fairs.
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. 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.
Several Limestone quarries are located close to Buxton, including the "Tunstead Superquarry", the largest producer of high-purity industrial limestone in Europe, which employs 400 people. The quarrying sector also provides employment in limestone processing and distribution. Other industrial employers include the Health & Safety Laboratory, which engages in health and safety research and incident investigations and maintains over 350 staff locally.
Sport and civic organisations
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 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.
Buxton has a football club Buxton F.C., who play at the Silverlands; a cricket club, Buxton Cricket Club; a Buxton Rugby Union club; 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.
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. On the western edge of the town is the Cavendish Club (1925), designed by the renowned course architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie.
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. Hoffman Quarry at Harpur Hill, sitting prominently above Buxton, is a local venue for sport climbing.
Youth groups include The Kaleidoscope Youth Theatre at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton Squadron Air Cadets, Derbyshire Army Cadet Force and the Sea Cadet Corps, in addition to units from the Scouts & Guide Association.
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.
At 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England. 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.
|Climate data for Buxton 307m asl, 1971–2000, Extremes 1959-|
|Record high °C (°F)||13.0
|Average high °C (°F)||4.9
|Average low °C (°F)||−0.1
|Record low °C (°F)||−14.4
|Precipitation mm (inches)||139.15
|Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
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. There are also taxi services based in the town.
||Whaley Bridge, Manchester||Chapel-en-le-Frith, Glossop||Castleton, Sheffield|
|Macclesfield, Congleton||Chesterfield, Baslow|
|Leek, Stoke-on-Trent||Ashbourne, Derby||Bakewell, Matlock|
- Vera Brittain (1893–1970): author of Testament of Youth and mother of Shirley Williams
- Tim Brooke-Taylor: comedy actor and one of the Goodies
- Lloyd Cole: musician and songwriter, frontman of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
- Henry Guppy (1861–1948): librarian
- Mark Higgins: former Everton and Manchester United footballer
- John Pilkington Hudson (1910–2007), horticultural scientist and bomb disposal expert, born in Buxton
- Bruno Langley: actor in Coronation Street
- Carl Mason: professional golfer.
- Elizabeth Spriggs (1929–2008): actress
- Robert Stevenson (1905–1986): director of many Disney films including Mary Poppins
- Dave Lee Travis: former BBC Radio 1 DJ
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- Alston, Cumbria also makes this claim but lacks a regular market.
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- Information about Buxton buildings
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- Quarries visible as large white areas in satellite image, Google Maps, September 2010
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- About HSL, HSL Website, Sept 2010
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- This is a photo of the cross before it was cut down in 2010. It has since been restored.
- "About Us", Buxton Raceway website
- "Speedway in Derbyshire", You and Yesterday, accessed on 16 December 2007
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- Buxton Rugby Club, accessed 10 December 2011
- Buxton & High Peak Golf Club website
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- Warren, Daniel and Graham Warren. High over Buxton: A Boulderer's Guide, Raven Rock Books (2003) ISBN 0-9530352-1-2
- Gibson, Gary. From Horseshoe to Harpur Hill, BMC (2004) ISBN 0-903908-72-7
- "Kaleidoscope", Buxton Opera House, accessed 12 May 2011
- Buxton Air Cadets
- United Grand Lodge of England (2006) Directory of Lodges and Chapters London
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- Aitken, Tom. One Hundred & One Beautiful Towns in Great Britain, Rizzoli, 2008
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Buxton.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Buxton.|