Clay Cross Co
Until the early nineteenth century, Clay Cross was a small village, but increasing demand for coal and other minerals trebled the population by 1840.
1837 While driving a tunnel for the North Midland Railway, George Stephenson discovered both coal and iron, which together with the demand for limestone, caused him to move into Tapton Hall, near Chesterfield, and set up a business as George Stephenson and Co.
Stephenson's workers' houses were of high quality for their time, having four rooms compared to the normal two, and a school was provided. By 1850 there were three chapels, a church and an institute - but no constable.
Clay Cross Coal and Iron Works were started by George and Robert Stephenson in connection with Lord Wolverton, George Hudson, Joshua Walmsley, Morton Peto, and others. Gradually all their interests were acquired by William Jackson.
When George Stephenson died in 1848 his son, Robert, took over
1852 Robert left the company which took the name Clay Cross Company.
Although the company had been formed to mine coal and manufacture coke, the supplies from Durham were preferred, and the works turned to iron working and brick making.
1908 Clay Cross Economiser Co exhibited economisers at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition
The company owned Morton Colliery
1922 Manufactured: "C.X.C." pig iron, fuel economisers for utilizing the waste heat from steam boilers, gas and water pipes, cast-iron tanks, tubing, best Derbyshire pig iron, house, steam and gas coal, lime, coke and bricks
By 1927 the company was still owned by the Jackson family
1927 See Aberconway Chapter II for information on the company and its history
1971 Owned several minerals companies as well as Clay Cross (Iron Founders) Ltd
The Clay Cross company began as George Stephenson and Co in 1837. Stephenson was driving a railway from Leeds to Derby and five miles from Chesterfield came to Clay Cross Hill with scattered homesteads and a collection of stone houses grouped at a cross roads on the Derby to Sheffield Turnpike road, now the A61, in Norman, Saxon and Norman times called Rycknield Street. This street ran from Burton, through Derby, northwards and is traceable through Ambergate, Pentrich, South Wingfield, Higham, Clay Cross to Chesterfield, and on to Templeborough near Sheffield in Yorkshire.
The driving and completion of the tunnel through Clay Cross Hill began the growth and development of Clay Cross. Work commenced on 2nd February 1837 and six shafts were sunk along the route where the few houses were situated, providing twelve faces for the labourers to tunnel, in addition to the two ends. Boring through a hill full of wet coal measures provided a vast drain for the water which had to be pumped away, and at each shaft huge fires were kept blazing to provide ventilation and enable hundreds of workers to work at night.
The oil and ironstone measures discovered whilst driving the tunnel prompted George Stephenson to found a company in 1837, and George Stephenson and Company built houses for the tunnel navvies and later, as they sank colliery workings, for the miners and their families. Some 400 houses were built, and by 1846 the population of the area had reached 1,478; an ironworks with steam engines for blowing, pumping and hauling kept some 600 men employed.
As the company prospered so did the town grow, listing by 1857 some 2,278 inhabitants. Schools were provided by the Company, also shops, chapels and a church. A Mechanics Institute was one of the features of educational interest by the Company. On 12th August 1848 George Stephenson died at Tapton House Chesterfield, and on his death his son Robert succeeded to his father's position, later severing his connection with the Company, which then became Clay Cross Company, taking its name from the developing township of Clay Cross. During these early days of development the growing town was virtually governed by the Company, and the area was known as Clay Lane; a Local Board took over the administration in 1878. By 1894 Clay Cross Urban District Council was established.
Clay Cross stands some 12 miles south of Sheffield and 5 miles south of Chesterfield. Southwards from the town is Alfreton about 6 miles, whilst the city of Derby is 18 miles away. 12 miles to the east is Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. The administrative centre of North East Derbyshire is situated at Matlock 6 miles to the west of Clay Cross.
Now the largest settlement and centre for the south of the area, the town, with its busy shops and Saturday market, has new social and educational centres, library, sports amenitites, including a swimming pool and sports complex with both indoor and outdoor facilities at Sharley Park.
Sources of Information
- The Times, Jun 25, 1971
- The Times, Feb 14, 1974