I first visited this bygone boozer back in 1980, soon after I moved to Derbyshire. It was one of the first hostelries I visited in the area. The Roebuck in Potter Street, Melbourne was being run by Pat, the step-mother of one of my new work colleagues, and she served me my first pint of Draught Burton Ale - a bygone booze. (Yes, I know that Burton Bridge brew a replica but...)
Dating from the early nineteenth century, this Grade II listed building, is listed in Glover's 1829 directory with a Joseph Brooks as innkeeper at the Roe Buck. Joseph continues to be there up to the 1870s, his name appearing in various census returns and directories, sometimes with a letter 'e' and sometimes without whilst the pub's name alternates regularly between the Roe Buck and the Roebuck. I think it could be a good bet that he's obtaining his beer from the Brookes' brewery next door.
Unlike Joseph, the pub may have had a major name change as the 1851 census has James Brooks, no 'e', at the White Hart Inn in Potter Street. What's the chance that the enumerator just looked at the pub sign and made a guess at its name and that the pub was the Roebuck (or Roe Buck) all along?
Anyway, on the 5th September 1871 Joseph was buried in the churchyard in Melbourne and the pub taken on by his unmarried daughter, Sarah. Both Wright's 1874 Directory of South Derbyshire and the 1881 census have her there - both with an 'e'. Sarah joined him in the churchyard in January 1882 when it seems that the Brooke's hold on the pub ceased.
When it was sold in 2008 the new owners had the stated intention of converting it to residential use. It finally shut its doors in January 2011. There are some details of its conversion here. Its front elevation does seem to have gained/regained a window.
Three years after that first pint in the Roebuck, in the summer of 1983, I found myself heading in the direction of Chesterfield to attend the marriage of the aforementioned work colleague to my erstwhile housemate. Having a bit of time to kill I thought it'd be nice to have a pint and soon found myself in the Old Feathers in Lordsmill Street with a pint of Home Ale's bitter in front of me - just like DBA, another bygone booze.
Halfway through my beer the door to the private quarters opened and into the bar came a lady dressed as if she were headed for a wedding. She turned around and it was Pat, off to the self-same wedding as me. I hadn't known that she was now at the Feathers. Of all the pubs that I could have chosen!
The first reference to the Feathers that I can find is in the 1835 edition of Pigot's directory. William Burkitts is the proprietor. He's still living there in 1851 according to the census return. Retired, whilst son-in-law William Heath is running the shop. Somebody should have told the researcher for Freebody's 1852 directory, for the publication still has William B. in charge. William H. remains there for at least another thirty years.
During WW1 Lordsmill Street was widened which resulted in the 're-erection' of the Feathers. The local press recorded some of the detail.
From the Derbyshire Courier of Tuesday 20th July 1915 “There is now some prospect of the widening scheme in Lordsmill Street being proceeded with in the near future. Negotiations have been in progress between the Corporation and the Home Brewery Company with reference to the Old Feathers Inn; which is on the existing line of property to be removed. The Brewery Co, intimated that if the Corporation would erect new premises on a site fronting the new thoroughfare the Company would take a lease for the term of ten years at the same rent as is now paid in respect of the present inn. A plan of the proposed inn and two shops adjoining has been presented to the Estates and Development Committee, and on their recommendation, the Town Council, on Tuesday, decided to erect the licensed premises at a cost of £1,600. The question of the two shops was deferred."
And the Sheffield Evening Telegraph of 6th March 1916
“At the adjourned Licensing Sessions for Chesterfield Borough today, Mrs. Harriet Maddocks, licensee of the Old Feathers Inn, Lordsmill Street, applied for a provisional grant authorising the removal of the license to premises to be constructed on land adjoining. The premises are owned by the Home Brewery Company, [Notts.], and Mr. W. E. Wakerley, who supported the application, explained that Lordsmill Street was being widened at this point, and the public house in question would be re-erected after the allowance had been made for the improvement of the thoroughfare, and the neighbourhood. The magistrates – the Mayor (Alderman F. Shentall), Mr. Theo. Pearson, and Mr W. Jacques – sanctioned the proposed removal of the license.” So, two pubs. (Should that really be three?) Two pubs run at one time by Pat but which are now bygone boozers. Their fates on closure were somewhat different. The Feathers didn't fare as well as the Roebuck. Whilst the Roebuck still stands on Potter Street as Roebuck House, the Old Feathers was flattened in 2003. If you fancy a pizza after your pint there's a Domino's outlet on the site today.
Dawn Rhodes has a blog on old Chesterfield from which I have to admit acquiring some of the above info.