A new era in the Crescent’s fascinating history was marked with the launch of the Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa Heritage Trust in a celebratory event in the Pump Room. Over 80 guests joined the Trust’s Patron the Duke of Devonshire and the Duchess, the Trust Chair James Berresford and Trustees on 20th June in the Grade 2 Victorian Pump Room which has recently been restored.

The Heritage Trust has been established to preserve the stunning Crescent buildings and to create an inspiring visitor experience in The Pump Room and a suite of rooms in The Crescent.  The Trust will be run by people who are passionate about the Crescent, its heritage and the town. As a charitable organisation The Trust will receive start up and development funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund, High Peak Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council, but will not receive regular funding in the future, so will be launching a fundraising campaign to deliver it’s aims and to develop an exceptional asset for the town and area,

James Berresford, Chair of the newly formed Trust commented that “The Visitor Experience and year round programme of events in the Assembly Rooms will allow the community and visitors to ‘step’ into the history of the Crescent and Pump Rooms and learn about the fascinating stories of our spa heritage, the Crescent and its restoration, the town and the characters that made it all happen. The Experience will complement Buxton’s and the area’s other attractions. ”

The Friends of Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa was also launched at the event in the Pump Room. The Friend’s support will help the Trust deliver their aims. Benefits of membership include invitations to events in the Pump Room, an opportunity to get involved with the project and events and discounts and offers once the Crescent Visitor Experience opens in 2019.

The Duke of Devonshire, Patron of the Trust commented that, “my ancestor the 5th Duke of Devonshire had the vision to build the Crescent and I look forward to playing a part in the next chapter of this remarkable building. Surrounded by the hills of the Peak District this spa, university and market town is entering a renaissance. I invite and encourage you to support the great work and plans of the Trust and become a Friend”

 For further details on the Trust, Friends scheme, volunteering and events planned for 2017 please visit www.buxtoncrescent.com or email lmackenzie@buxtoncrescent.com.

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The interpretation boards on the Crescent hoardings were the product of concerted research at the Chatsworth Archive, the Derbyshire Records office, other county archives and numerous publications that delve into the well-researched history of the Buxton and the Crescent. The following notes aim to enrich and clarify some of the information on the information boards. Click on each image of the boards to enlarge


The total cost of the work enacted by John Carr of York for the Duke of Devonshire is actually higher than the total cited on the hoardings. This is because it includes on such buildings as the Crescent Stables (now the Devonshire Dome) that are not part of the restoration. This total can be found in Chatsworth Archives where John Carr’s bills for the work are held. In the bills, dated 1790, the total charged for all the work, and including Carr’s fee, was  £63,212, 1s, 8d.

The expenses of the Crescent’s construction are listed in the bills submitted to the 5th Duke of Devonshire by John Carr in 1790. They are now held at Chatsworth Archive. Though far from comprehensive or entirely complete, these bills and their accompanying logbooks offer a detailed incite in to the working practices and costs of the ten-year enterprise. The comparative cost of constructing the Crescent and outbuilding was calculated using the website https://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ This website demonstrates the different methods that the comparison can be made and the different values that can result. For the comparison of the construction cost the price of labour costs was compared which was determined against the historical retail price index.
Numerous accounts describe the difficult ride to Buxton and the bleak nature of the countryside in the late 18thcentury. One such account written by Elizabeth Hervey in 1793 who recalls the road to Buxton from Chatsworth: “From this place to Buxton you pass through the most horrid country I ever saw – Immense cragged rocks, black heaths, very long steep hills, no prospect whatever but walls built of loose stone, some pasturage, no arable land and not a single tree…”  (1793 Journal of Elizabeth Hervey (formerly March)  – Recalling a visit to the Crescent and Buxton Baths. Stafford Archives – D6584/C/57)


The construction of the Crescent was part of a series of buildings and constructions including numerous outhouses, offices and most notable (aside from the Crescent) the Great Stables. However, for comparison only the time spent on the Crescent itself was counted, determined again by the use of the bills submitted in 1790. This was calculated as 1779 when plans began to be drawn up to 1788 when the final internal work was completed. The Crescent was open prior to this final date, but it is clear work continued despite public entering the building. Logbooks, retained at Chatsworth archive, demonstrated the wide variety of roles undertaken by individuals building the Crescent. They served to demonstrate that individuals downed tools for the winter months and were then employed to protect and secure the building over the colder period. Other information the logbooks demonstrated included various volumes of materials as well as the names of individual labourers and their pay rates.



The precise numbers of guests the Crescent held along with the exact layout of the building remains disputed. The amount recited in the comparison (200 plus servants) is taken from the research of Brian Wragg, later published as The Life and Works of John Carr of York (2000). No exact number can realistically be settled on and similar contention surrounds the nature and uses of the lodging houses in the centre of the building. These rooms were gradually subsumed by the hotels, but were certainly built with the intention of housing the most important guests, though accounts vary about their use (or not) by the Devonshire family.



The numbers and names of individuals who made up the workforce were taken from the archival documents held at Chatsworth. 1784 held the most complete accounts for the years, as it was the only year that included the Mason’s logbook. It was in this particular document that the quarrymen, specifically enlisted by Carr, were noted. As the construction developed and bespoke and specialist work inside the Crescent began specialist joiners and carpenters were contracted from such Cities as Sheffield and York, tasked with specific creations such as the dramatic curved staircase that led to the Assembly Room. VINCI will employ approximately 2000 individuals per year during the course of the restoration, though only around 200 are on site at any one time.

For further details on this project or if you are interested in getting involved or volunteering on future research projects, please email lmackenzie@buxtoncrescent.com

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VisitEngland’s former Chief Executive James Berresford has been appointed Chair of the Buxton Crescent and Thermal Sa Heritage Trust. The three-year role will see Mr Berresford lead the Trust which will:

 Protect the Crescent and spa buildings for future generations

  • Establish and manage the associated visitor attractions focussing on the town’s unique spa heritage

The £50 million project to restore the famous Georgian Crescent to full use as a thermal spa and 5-star hotel and heritage centre is being funded by a £23.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, alongside funding from High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, Historic England, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and developer Buxton Crescent Hotel and Thermal Spa Co Ltd. With the main construction contract now underway, establishing the Trust is a vital part of the next stage of the project.

Mr Berresford has dedicated his working life to tourism becoming the first Chief Executive of the national tourist board VisitEngland where he delivered the first national tourism strategy for England. Prior to that he was Director of Tourism at the NorthWest Development Agency for eight years and has managed major cultural programmes and multi-million pound business development and marketing initiatives. He said: “I’m both thrilled and honoured to have been appointed Chair of the Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa Heritage Trust. The project is one of national, if not international, standing and its success will help drive the continued resurgence of Buxton and the wider Peak District as leading visitor destinations. “I was born in Derbyshire and this position, along with my recent appointment to the Board of local leisure firm Pinelog Ltd, will hopefully allow me to make a real contribution to the county I love.”

Councillor Tony Kemp, Executive Councillor for Regeneration and Tourism at the Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to have James on board. He has the demonstrable expertise and experience to guide this important element of the Crescent regeneration project. “We are all very much looking forward to working with him to consolidate Buxton’s position as England’s leading spa town. I have every confidence that under his leadership we’ll establish a strong Trust which is able to deliver heritage and spa experiences for both residents and visitors that keep people coming back to Buxton time and time again.”

Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, Derbyshire County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Buxton Crescent Trustee, added: “Appointing James is a major step for the Crescent and we look forward to harnessing his knowledge in taking the project forward, especially in ensuring that local people are kept fully engaged and informed. “We’re confident the Crescent development will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Buxton and the High Peak, boosting the local economy and providing another fantastic reason to visit Derbyshire.” Trustees will represent the varied aspects of the scheme including heritage and architecuture, tourism and cultural services, skills and training and local business.

 Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands said: “This appointment is great news for the project. James has a strong track record in leadership roles and I’m delighted that he will be dedicating all his knowledge and expertise to ensuring the flagship project at Buxton Crescent is a success.”

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