Updated 27 Nov 2011

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 609


F Waltham House - front.

A Waltham House - front onto St John Street.

C Waltham House - front onto St John Street.

E Waltham House - front.

G Railway Wagon Label, consigned to G.H.Wheatcroft.

Photo taken: 
Source: John Palmer

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Waltham House, Wirksworth

Waltham House is on the West side of St John St, near the centre of Wirksworth. Built in the early 1800s, it became the home of the mill owner George Hanson Wheatcroft in 1881, 1891 and 1901. In 1927 it became the new Cottage Hospital and later a Maternity hospital, then a medical centre..

A Tony Holmes writes:
"On the West side of St John St was Waltham House, the home of George Hanson Wheatcroft. He owned Haarlem and Speedwell Mills. The house was purchased for 1,000, together with the adjacent cottage for 350, in 1927 for use as a Cottage Hospital. This Hospital was to replace the existing hospital - Babington House on Greenhill. A further 800 was needed to outfit the hospital making a total of 2,150. 1,972 had been raised from legacies and donations and this left a deficit of nearly 200. A carnival was held during Wakes week in September 1927 to raise in excess of this sum. The local community funded hospitals at this time"

B Tony Holmes writes:
"A photograph taken soon after the opening of the hospital in 1928 showing the architecture at the rear of the building. Considerable alterations were carried out when the maternity hospital was converted to the present medical centre. The right-hand bay windows and building have been demolished to make an entrance to the car park, which has now covered the old gardens"

C Denis Eardley writes:
"Waltham House, in this picture taken about 1930, was built in the early 1800s. The Wheatcroft family, who produced tape at Haarlem and Speedwell Mills, occupied it for many years. It became a cottage hospital in 1928 and is now a medical centre".

Bertram Haworth (1904-1998) writes (in the 1970s):
"The house is almost as it was in the early 1900s. The Wheatcrofts, as you know, were tape manufacturers. They owned The Harlem Mill, The Speedwell Mill, and the Bleach Mill (Wash Green) and were one of the largest employers of labour. The family was 4 sons and one daughter. Two sons were casualties of the 1914-18 war. It is hard to imagine what sway this family had over many families in Wirksworth. The family were strong Congregationalists, and if any of their employees had not been to service on Sunday an explanation was required. How different today. They also owned Millers Green (then a separate village) and the farm (Wards) - The Barrell - and succeeded in closing it after purchase. They also owned Stonebridge Farm (which our grandfather was tenant - until after the war when it was purchased). They kept a full staff of servants who all had a good training in their particular spheres. Later, the war and the depression broke the business and, after the death of the parents Wheatcrofts, the sons carried on the mill with diminishing success. Now that family has died out and Wirksworth is not quite the same.
The Mill, now under new management, makes many more lines for many uses. Fashion has changed and dictates the need for a large range of narrow fabrics. So, prosperity has come again and the employees are now well paid, and indeed there is a shortage of staff. The House was left vacant after the elder Wheatcroft's death. The sons had, of course, their own establishments and so we all got together and the house was purchased to become the New Cottage Hospital, replacing the old one up in Babington House, Greenhill.

B Waltham House - rear

D Waltham House - rear.


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