Little Chester/Chester Green Conservation Area Summary

The now rejected plans the Council drew up for the Aida/Prestige/Union Foundry (the set of four that all had residential on the ground floor) actually had a very nice summary of the area, which I’m reproducing here! These plans were rejected as they all had dwellings on the ground floor (and family houses didn’t have gardens either!), but it was actually a nicely put together document (the photos are mine, not taken from their document!)

CONSERVATION AREA APPRAISAL
“Little Chester was designated a Conservation Area in September 1991 in recognition of its historic character and townscape value. The area was incorporated into the Borough of Derby in the 1550’s but has an even older history.

The origins of Little Chester can be traced back to the period of the Roman occupation, when a settlement called Derventio was established as early as AD69-76. Considerable remains from this period have been found in the area. The remains of stone walls can be seen amongst the modern houses off Marcus Street; these mark the location of the commercial and administrative core, but the settlement itself extended well beyond this.

In the Middle Ages, Little Chester was held by the Collegiate Church of All Saints, with the seven farms in the area providing income for the Dean and six Canons. Two of these farms are still visible on Old Chester Road: Derwent House and Stone House Prebend (School Farmhouse). Both are listed, although they have been altered over the centuries.

By the late 18th century, industry began to establish itself along the river bank. This was on a small scale until the Union Foundry was established by William Peach in the late 1840’s on City Road. This was taken over and expanded by Alfred Haslam in 1865 who also built the Workers’ Recreation Rooms on St Paul’s Road. The Great Northern Railway Line was built across the area in 1876- 77 bisecting the Roman Camp area from the southern development. The river was crossed by a bridge built by the eminent local firm of Handyside and Company and such is its quality that this structure is now Grade II listed. The remainder of the housing, to the north of Chester Green Road and the east of Mansfield Road, was built between 1886 and 1900. This created a pleasing open space in the middle of Little Chester, which was laid out as a park by the Borough Council who acquired the site in 1886.”

DERBY CITY COUNCIL’S LOCAL LIST
In 1993, Derby City Council published a list of locally important buildings and assets in Derby. The Aida Bliss / Former Union Foundry was included in this list.

“CITY ROAD
Haslam’s Works
1865 Factory with impressive red brick facade comprising a series of double storey multi-paned cast iron arch headed windows. Arches in blue brick with stone keyblocks and sills. Blue brick banding and plinth, dentil decoration to eaves. Formed part of the larger Union Works to the south. Formerly graced by a clock tower, which was demolished in the 1960’s for the current office block. Built for Sir Alfred Haslam, this was the site of the earliest refrigeration manufactory in Great Britain.”

However, the 1993 Local List was then replaced by a 2010 revision, and the Former Union Foundry was removed from the list. The revision explains why: “It does not include locally important buildings that are located within any of the 15 conservation areas in Derby, as these buildings are afforded greater protection through the planning control process.”

It is still clear that the building is of local historic importance, due to its industrial heritage, connection to the River Derwent and former Great Northern Railway, and its location within the Little Chester Conservation Area and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.

AIDA BLISS FACTORY SITE TIMELINE

1822 – Union Iron Foundry established by Peach and Falconer
1844 – William Peach took over the Union Foundry
1858 – Fox brothers bought the site, for the manufacture of lace machinery
1865 – Site bought and expanded by Alfred Haslam for the manufacture of refrigeration equipment
1873 – Fire destroyed the foundry
1876 – Great Northern Railway Line built north of site
1877 – Iron Foundry built by Haslam on site of previous foundry, Haslam Foundry and Engineering Company ltd
1891 – Extension of foundry to north
1906 – Tin can manufacture
1939 – E.W.Bliss bought factory, hydraulic press manufacture
1996 – Site bought by Aida Bliss (Europe) Ltd for the manufacture of stamping machines for car body parts
2004 – Site closed, derelict
2004 – Miller homes applied for planning for 147 flats, 15 homes in factory, appeal
2005 – Aida Bliss became Aida Engineering Ltd
2008 – Aida Engineering applied for planning for 156 houses and flats, flood defence issues

The council’s own conservation area documents be can be found at: https://www.derby.gov.uk/media/derbycitycouncil/contentassets/documents/conservationareas/DerbyCityCouncil-LittleChesterConservationArea.pdf

The council’s design guide for the Little Chester Conservation Area (and Strutts Park) can be found at: https://www.derby.gov.uk/media/derbycitycouncil/contentassets/documents/leisure/DerbyCityCouncil-LCSP-Conservation-guide-February-2014.pdf

Other interesting links:

https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MDR9738&resourceID=1023

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Haslam_Foundry_and_Engineering_Co

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Seale_Haslam

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/22cd7e05-62fb-4d20-b9a3-55bf53a30f9f