Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Where was the Area known as ‘Dog Kennels’ ?

Compiled by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2000
from information provided by Various Contributors

Towns and Cities can change very quickly in the modern world. Chesterfield, and nearby Sheffield have changed enormously, even within my lifetime, and areas which were once well known, may be lost from memory.

One such area in Chesterfield was known as ‘Dog Kennels’. Early 19th century maps of Chesterfield show a 'Subscription Dog Kennel' on a footpath near the River Hipper between the Silk Mill and Wheeldon Lane. Was this the forerunner of today's Animal Shelter? Images of the Dog Pound in Disney, or ‘Tom and Jerry’ Cartoons also spring to mind! Later in the 19th century, after this building had disappeared, the old yards in this area lying between Low Pavement and the River Hipper became known as the Dog Kennels. Some of the houses in the area were centuries old, circa 1750 being amongst the most recent. In later years they housed mainly the Irish population of the town, becoming overcrowded and insanitary dwellings.

The main housing consisted of a series of north-south streets, with Beetwell Street running through them in an east-west direction, and the River Hipper to the south - rough, run-down back-to-back housing, as could be seen in many towns at that time. Street names include Browns Yard, Castle Yard, Bradshaw Place and Wilckocksons Yard. Castle Yard still shows on modern maps. South Street was one of the more substantial streets, and in 1900 had many shops - “a busy place at that time with a microcosm of the town's trade able to exist on the custom afforded by so much housing in the nearby Dog Kennels. Almost all necessary suppliers were here, from barbers to confectioners, butchers to watchmakers, not to mention the two public houses, the Commercial Hotel and the Bricklayers Arms. Some of these properties have been carefully restored and survive to the present day.” [Ref: Photographs of Chesterfield; Roy Thompson]

As the name suggests it wasn't a very pleasant area; it was, according to one contemporary commentator, Pendleton, ‘the scene of riot and wild debauchery’. A further quote from Roy Thompson's Photographs of Chesterfield states: “This part of Chesterfield consisted of some 200 crowded old properties housing up to 600 residents, mainly Irishmen working on the railways or at Staveley Works and using workmen's train (the ‘Paddy Mail’) to get there.” A branch railway line from nearby Chesterfield station still skirts the area to the south even today, apparently serving what is now a modern Industrial Estate (Bryan Donkin, et al., although I noticed last time I was passing, October 2001, the latter had closed down).

Most of the buildings in the Dog Kennels were demolished in 1912 when Markham Road (the A619, Chesterfield bypass to the south) was built, and the others were removed in 1914 when Tontine Road was built between Low Pavement and the Cattle Market. Clearance of the area was desired so vehemently by the then Mayor, Charles P. Markham, that he provided funds himself, said to be around £10,000 for the project - for which, obviously, for his pains the road was named in his favour.


This article has been compiled by Rosemary Lockie, with grateful thanks to the following contributors:

Sheila Cadman, Rita Effnert, Angela Madin, Liz Newbery and Sandie Rollinson, via Rootsweb DERBYSGEN Mailing List for the initial contact.

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