News and Events

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Buxton Crescent

Background to the Crescent by Mike Wilde

Buxton Crescent was built to take advantage of a natural thermal spring by William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire. The Duke wanted to establish Buxton as a fashionable Georgian spa town. His architect was John Carr from York who undertook the work between 1780 -1789.
Over the years St. Ann's Hotel at the western end of the Crescent and the Great Hotel at the eastern end, took over the 6 lodging houses in the center of the building.
St. Ann’s Hotel continued in use as a hotel until the mid-1980s when it closed due to the high cost of necessary repairs and kitchen alterations to comply with Health & Safety and modern hygiene regulations. The eastern end became council offices, a library and a clinic until the whole building was closed when major structural problems were discovered and by 1992 it was unoccupied. In 1993 High Peak Borough Council purchased the building with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to act as caretaker until a suitable buyer could be found. A further £1.5 million from English Heritage was used to make the building weathertight to prevent further deterioration.
Over the next 8 years, attempts to find a suitably viable scheme to preserve the building’s heritage were unsuccessful. In December 2000 the Heritage Lottery Fund was approached by the joint councils (HPBC & DCC) to help finance plans to restore the Crescent as a hotel and to restore spa facilities. Funding was eventually agreed in July 2003. A tender to redevelop and manage the building as a hotel and spa was won in December of that year by a partnership of the Trevor Osborne Property Group Limited and CP Holdings Limited, (owners of Danubius hotels). This plan was due to cost £23m and be finished in 2007. The project was dogged by a succession of technical and legal issues relating to the supply of water for bottling by Nestle. As resolving these issues took time, the costs of the project increased and that led to funding issues. These were not resolved until April 2012 when an agreement between the joint councils and the developer was signed. The first part of the job to secure the continuous water supply for Nestle to bottle was started and is now complete, however, yet more funding problems delayed the main part of project further with costs increasing as the UK came out of recession and put greater demands on our building contractors. Eventually, an additional grant of £11.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund was secured in 2014, with D2N2 supplying the final £2 million for the project in January.
Work is due to begin in earnest in the spring of 2016 and be finished in 2018.

Buxton Diamonds

Illustrated Talk to Friends of Buxton Museum - 25th September

Members may be interested in a forthcoming illustrated talk to the Friends of Buxton Museum, at 7pm on Friday 25th September, at the Museum.

The theme of the talk is “Buxton Diamonds”, which were mentioned in our Autumn 2014 Newsletter (see photo above). The talk is being given by Roy Starkey who has been researching the history of these interesting crystals over the past five years and a paper describing his findings will be published in the Journal of the Russell Society at the end of this year.

The talk will review the fascinating history, geological context and mineralogy of the crystals, illustrated with surviving specimens from museum and private collections.

There is a small charge of £3 for non-members, and refreshments are served after the talk.


Mike Wilde (Chair of Membership and Communities Committee) Alan Roberts and Simon Fussell took a display of our latest projects into Town on 20th June as part of the Nationwide Civic Day celebrations.

The display generated a lot of interest, especially the Spring Garden canopies project. You can get an update on our projects by downloading our June Newsletter. See Link below.

Project updates

Old Fairfield an illustrated talk by Chris Simpson

Over 40 members and guests of BCA attended the talk on Old Fairfield

Members of Buxton Civic Association were treated to a fascinating talk on “Old Fairfield” by Chris Simpson, at Poole’s Cavern visitor centre. It is largely forgotten that Fairfield was originally a town in its own right, with a town council and a town hall that can still be seen on Waterswallows Road. The 1831 Census returns recorded a population of 482 which was equal in size to Buxton.

The talk was illustrated with some wonderful original photographs and postcards. Particularly poignant were the pictures of the territorials on exercise on Hindlow in 1910. During the 1914-18 Great War, as well as being a centre for training which included trench building, Canadian troops were stationed at Buxton and underwent training and military exercises in the area. The 1914 -18 war was in part responsible for the decline in the hotel trade, and the major employer for the town became the quarries.
Chris went onto talk about two iconic houses, Pictor Hall which still stands, and the seat of Samuel Swan Brittain, Orient Lodge. Orient lodge has now been demolished but in its day was probably the largest house in the immediate locality. Samuel Brittain whose fortune was made in quarries, lost it all when his investment in a large consignment of tea was sunk in a shipping accident in the 1850’s. The house fell into decline and eventually was taken over by the Binghams before being demolished.

Fairfield was also famous for the quality of its horse breeding, being particularly well known for the quality of its hunters. There was a race course on the common with a Grandstand and an annual programme of horse racing which it was hoped would rival Cheltenham. The races were attended by people from as far afield as Ireland. A painting by Harry Kingsley entitled Fairfield Race course Derbyshire 1825 showing the course and the Grandstand can be seen in the Buxton Museum. It was decided to put an end to the racing after a mass riot and fight broke out in 1830. The race course was abandoned and the grandstand pulled down, and the wooden beams reused to form part of the Methodist Church on the market.

Buxton Crescent Project Update

We understand that Buxton Crescent is to receive an additional grant of £11m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) making a total of £23m in total awarded to the project. This still leaves a shortfall of around £2m to secure the future of the project. D2N2 the Local Economic Partnership for the region has been approached to provide this.

Civic Day 20th June 2015

It may seen along way off but by the time Christmas and the New Year is over Civic Day will only be 5 months away.

Civic Day is a national celebration of civic pride. Its a chance for communities across the country to express their pride in the place in which they live. The first civic day was organised in 2011 by Civic Voice, it will be held again in 2015 and, it has the potential to become one of England’s most popular voluntary cultural events. The event is a unique opportunity to stimulate new interest and generate a renewed sense of civic pride for communities across the country.

Although the coordinating work is done by Civic Voice, what really makes this event happen is the fantastic effort of thousands of volunteers. Its the guided tours , the exhibitions, street parties and the competitions that help the visitors understand the area they live in just a little bit more.

BCA is planning to hold an event or a series of events to mark the day. If anyone has any suggestions drop us an email at

National Community Design Award Launched

Civic Voice the National Association for Civic Societies, is calling on communities across England to nominate buildings and schemes for projects they consider make a significant contribution to the quality of their built environment, whether village, town or city.

Griff Rhys Jones, President of Civic Voice said: “It will not be the usual sort of design award where professionals give an award to the work of other professionals. Instead, the nominations will be made and supported by local communities across the country”.

The Civic Voice Community Design Award was launched in Canterbury at the AGM of Civic Voice. The awards will be distinctive in that nominations can only be made by local communities.

Nominations for projects will be considered that are examples of:
• New buildings
• Historic buildings that have been reused or refurbished
• Public realm schemes such as street works, conservation area improvements, parks, improvements and enhancements of the civic realm.

The judges will be looking for excellence in terms of:
• Quality in design and construction
• Appropriateness
• Community participation and engagement
• Promoting pride of place.

Nominations can be made by community groups and organisations including:
• Civic Societies
• Residents Associations
• Building Preservation Trusts
• Neighbourhood Forums
• Development Tusts
• Local History Societies
• Community Arts Groups
• Other community based voluntary organisations.

Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice said “We are introducing the award with the aim of demonstrating that communities are prepared to accept new development – when the development responds to local needs and is of a high standard of design. The civic society movement is focused on delivering high quality places and these awards are a great way to do that while encouraging collaboration between communities and developers on a local level.”
Communities can enter online at with a closing date of 31 March 2015

Civic Voice – talking civic sense PRESS RELEASE


Griff Rhys Jones, campaigner and Civic Voice President will claim that there is a crisis in civic engagement when he launches the manifesto of the civic movement at its annual convention in Canterbury on Friday 24 October.

Griff will say “We face a crisis of civic engagement. This is a symptom of the frustration people feel as power is taken away from communities and they are subject to tokenistic consultation. We need to give all citizens opportunities to actively shape the future of their place and to give communities the powers they need to enable their town and city centres to prosper”.

To achieve “Localism for Real”, the Civic Voice manifesto will be calling on future Government’s to:

• Make improving the quality of the public realm in our cities, towns and villages a priority
• Give all citizens opportunities to actively shape the future of their place
• Give local communities the powers they need to enable their town and city centres to prosper

Griff will add “If the Government is serious about Localism, they have to listen to the concerns coming forward from civic groups, resident associations and local councils. The Civic Movement agree with the Government that getting the economy moving is essential, but the myriad of proposals coming forward are clearly not the answer.”

Chair of Civic Voice, Freddie Gick said: ”We believe the manifesto, “Localism for Real” puts power back into the hands of communities. We look forward to debating this with politicians and communities over the next 6 months”.

The manifesto will be available to download from the Civic Voice website on Friday 24th October.