The earliest map of the site found to date is a survey of the land drawn up in 1849. Field names were recorded on a schedule and the owners and tenants of the lands were listed. So far the ancient field names have been identified and marked on the plan. Look at the map and observe where, adjoining the site, there was a field with the unusual name of Twisted Ash - is this the origin of the name Ashfield?
The origin of the field name Primrose Greave is less clear. The writer suggests an Old English origin, 'graefe' meaning thicket, brushwood or 'grafe' meaning grove or wood. Two examples are taken from Gelling , Youlgreave drawing attention to colour and Boxgrove referring to vegetation. She writes that a 'grove' was a wood of limited size and had a striking visual feature, in Hasland this may have been the Primroses. She suggests that naming the grove indicated its economic importance to local people and further that there was probably not much Wildwood left when the name was formed. The close proximity of a Twisted Ash field name adds support to this view.
On the map together with the green outline of the Ashfield site the writer has added black dotted lines to mark ancient hedge boundaries, some of which have survived and are still visible on the site today if you look carefully. Move forwards fifty years and land for allotments was in demand by working men. Many areas of land around Chesterfield were being allocated to families for a small rent. A typical advertisement was this one which appeared in the local paper in 1917 during the dark years of WW1;
ALLOTMENTS. THE CHESTERFIELD CORPORATION INVITE OFFERS of LAND suitable for ALLOTMENT GARDENS. Owing to the conditions now prevailing it is very desirable that all available land should be cultivated for the production of food.
[Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald 22 December 1917]
Over time the fields adjoining the Ashfield site were altered. The population of Hasland expanded and parts of Seven Lands and Long Close were used for housing, with Ashfield Road, Hoole and Meakin Streets put in to provide access. Changes took place on the far side of the future allotment site when the Thirteen Acres field was split in two by the construction of the Chesterfield loop of the Great Central Railway and then more recently by the dual carriageway; the surviving pieces of the enchantingly named Primrose Greave became a housing estate.
Yet the higher part of Twisted Ash together with the Ashfield Road Allotment site remain untouched by this development. Now 170 years after that survey of 1849 was taken the land continues in cultivation by the Members of Ashfield Road Allotment Society.
Gelling, Margaret, Place-Names in the Landscape, London, Dent 1984, 1924.
Do you know anything of the history of our allotment site? Could you add to this? Or do you have any old photos of the site and of its allotment holders? Let us know.
Click on the photos below to see how the local area changed over the years.