George Stephenson and Tapton House (find out more and for free!)

If you are interested in George Stephenson, or Tapton House, you are in for a treat, in a publication we have made available, for free, on our website.

George Stephenson – an engraving taken from Samuel Smiles’ ‘Lives of the Great Engineers…’

We’ve just collaborated with the North East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology Society (NEDIAS) and the Chesterfield & District Local History Society on a publication devoted to George Stephenson, Tapton House, Trinity Church (where he and his second wife are buried) and the ambitious events commemorating the centenary of his death, held in Chesterfield in 1948.

Four of the articles have previously been published, one is revised and extended, but it’s the first time they have all been brought together in one publication.

The full line-up is:

Download this free publication to find out more about George Stephenson and Tapton House.
  • ‘George Stephenson– “Father of the Railways”’, David Wilmot. First published in the NEDIAS Newsletter, No 20 – November 2005.
  • ‘A Short History of Tapton House’, Philip Riden and Philip Cousins.  A revised and extended article to that originally published as Philip Riden’s guest editorial in BackTrack, February 2020 and in the NEDIAS Newsletter, Issue 78, May 2020.
  • ‘George Stephenson’s Third Wife’, Elizabeth Pemberton and Philip Cousins. Originally published in the local history group’s Brimington and Tapton Miscellany 6 (2014).
  • ‘Holy Trinity Church in Chesterfield’, Maeve Hawkins.  First published in The Cestrefeld Journal issue No 3 (Chesterfield & District Local History Society), April 2014.
  • ‘The George Stephenson Centenary Commemorative Events in Chesterfield [of 1948]’ – Philip Cousins. First published in NEDIAS Newsletter No 55, August 2014; No 56, November 2014; No 57, February 2015 and No 59 – August 2015.

One of the facts discussed in the publication is that Tapton House was originally a three by five bay property, until extended in the early years of the 19th century. This accounts for the south facing room (in school days the headmaster’s study) which was the original entrance. At first glance Tapton House looks like one unified building, but if you look carefully you can see the join. See the illustrations below.

There is no date for this engraving of Tapton House (not ‘Hall’ as the caption has it), but it predates the later extensions. Here is the original extent of the house – five bays by three. The original entrance is seen facing south. The stable block to the left was presumably demolished when new stables, which were built next to the house extension, were themselves constructed around the same time that the house was extended and remodelled.

You can also discover about George Stephenson’s third wife – his housekeeper at Tapton – whom he married in January 1848 (the year of his death). Little has been written about her until this account.

As the ground slopes away from the former south entrance of Tapton House, it is difficult to obtain the same view, as that shown in the engraving above, particularly due to the growth of trees and shrubs. Near to the centre of this early March 2021 photograph, through the trees, is the present entrance and extension to the original house, of a further five bays. The original entrance can be seen, to the right. The hall behind this entrance was converted into a room. This eventually became the headmaster’s study when the building was used as an academic secondary school.
The east elevation in 2020. The join between the original and later buildings can be discerned between the third and fourth bays, to the left of the door. A similar join can be discerned on the west elevation, where the entrance pediment has been added to mask the join.

Plus, you can find out more about Stephenson and of the church in which he is buried – Holy Trinity on Newbold Road.

Finally, four articles look at the Stephenson centenary in Chesterfield. Held in 1948, those that can remember the series of events generally particularly refer to the railway exhibition at the old Chesterfield Market Place railway station (now demolished but it was next to the Portland Hotel). But there were lots of other activities – all explored in these articles.

With thanks to our friends at NEDIAS and the Chesterfield & District Local History Society.

We hope you’ll enjoy this 28 page, fully illustrated publication. It’s available from the downloads section of our website. Scroll down the page and look for the heading ‘George Stephenson and Tapton House publication’. Then click-on the download button.

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