Dryhurst House, the Shaw family, a patent dynamite fuze, exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and two charities all briefly feature in this blog.
Dryhurst House sits to the left of the entrance to Chesterfield Royal Hospital, off the A632. It’s now used as a nursery and actually historically sits in Tapton – the boundary running close by. For some years the Shaw family was associated with the house, but we knew very little about them until local history group member Paul Freeman became interested in both the house and the family.
Now Paul is writing an article on Dryhurst and its occupants for our journal Brimington and Tapton Miscellany, which should appear in 2022.
Lewis Shaw was born at Brimington (in 1819) and very likely at Brimington Lodge (the former Lodge Farm, Brimington Common). His father, John, was tenant there in 1827. Interestingly, Lewis’s son Oliver Cromwell Shaw, a doctor, also named his house (in Moseley, Birmingham) Brimington Lodge.
Lewis was a grocer at 22 Holywell Cross, Chesterfield. This was on the corner with the east side of Cavendish Street. You can see a Victorian photograph of the premises on Picture the Past. He advertised his grocery business very regularly in the Chesterfield newspapers. The first reference we’ve found to him as a grocer was in the Derbyshire Courier in December 1848. Before then, in February 1848, Lewis placed an advert for ‘Gunpowder, Fuze, etc,’ from ‘Lewis Shaw’s Magazine, Holywell Cross’. Then in 1852 he advertised that he was ‘agent for the sale of W. Brunton and Co.’s Patent Safety Fuze, which obtained the prize at the Exhibition’.
Brunton, (of Penhellick Safety-Fuse Works, near Camborne and of Cambrian Fuse Works, Lodge, Wrexham), did indeed exhibit a patent safety fuze in the mining section at the Great Exhibition (of 1851), but Paul hasn’t yet found Brunton in the list of prize winners. Apparently, there were over 17,000 exhibitors with over 2,900 prizes awarded. However, according to the ‘Text Book of Ammunition’, published by HMSO in 1936, (page 270), in 1851 ‘… Messrs. Statham and Brunton invented ‘Statham’s fuze’, an apparatus depending for its action upon a spark passing through priming material, instead of an incandescent wire. This fuze was originally intended to be fired by low tension …’ (low voltage). The book also records that Brunton (1817-1881) invented a fuse-making machine to improve the quality of manufacture. He didn’t patent the machine but kept it secret. Never-the-less its introduction reduced the selling price of fuze by 75 per cent.
Given that Lewis Shaw was selling groceries and gunpowder etc. at the same time, the thought came into Paul’s head that it was to be hoped that Lewis did not get confused between gunpowder and gunpowder tea. Then, amazingly, Paul found an article in the Derbyshire Courier where that was supposed to have happened (in Eyam), albeit some years earlier and without connection to Lewis.
The Dryhurst connection
On the Dryhurst connection; Lewis Shaw owned the property between 1868 (when he inherited it from his brother, Charles) and 1891 (when he died). Lewis never appears to have lived at Dryhurst, preferring Cobden House, Cobden Road, Chesterfield. He probably didn’t want to get his hands dirty in the farming, which was undertaken from Dryhurst.
In Brimington, in 1886, Lewis Shaw gave £100 of Midland Railway stock, the dividends of which were to be equally divided between four poor people of the parish. This was in memory of his brothers Charles and Thomas Shaw. A plaque in Brimington Parish Church records this, interestingly giving the address as Dryhurst, not Cobden Road. This, ‘The Charity of Charles Shaw’ is still registered with the Charity Commission but appears to receive little or no income and recently has made no grants. There is second Charles Shaw Charity operating in Brampton, Chesterfield, which receives a small income of around £200. A deed of April 1885 set up this charity. Both charities are ‘ecclesiastical’ – they are administered by the church.
Lewis Shaw’s extensive property portfolio at his death did not include any land other than the 16 acres attached to Dryhurst.
Given Lewis was a grocer, we wonder if one of his sons – Charles Garibaldi – was named after the eponymous biscuit rather than the Italian freedom fighter (although the biscuit was in fact named after the Italian). This son set up a solicitor’s practice in Reading, and his one-time home on Southcote Road in that town was called Dryhurst.
Lewis also had a son called George Washington Shaw, but he did not survive into adulthood. Maybe his sons’ names must reveal who Lewis’s role models were.
Paul Freeman has previously written about another family at Dryhurst House – the Smiths. They appear at Dryhurst from the 1890s until the 1940s. During the First World War members of the family contributed to Red Cross work in the area. (‘Local Red Cross helpers in the First World War’ Brimington and Tapton Miscellany 11 (2019)).