TREVOR GILMAN, SPEAKER ON BUXTON HISTORY
For many years, Trevor Gilman has given talks on a variety of subjects relating to Buxton’s history. These talks last typically one hour usually including time for a few questions. Many of these talks have been given to the Buxton Local History Society, Buxton Civic Association, Womens’ Institute, U3A, Probus and many other local groups. Trevor Gilman is currently chairman of the Buxton Local History Society.
Buxton Opera House – its history
Buxton’s Opera House was designed by Frank Matcham at the height of his career and at the peak of the vogue for elaborate and ornate theatres design. Only forty or so of Matcham’s masterpieces have survived and Buxton’s is arguably one of his best. This talk looks at the Opera House in the context of Edwardian social attitudes, advances in technology and the frequent devastating theatre fires, as well as explaining how a small provincial town attracted one of the country’s top theatre architects.
The History of the Theatre
Entertainment, in the form of comedy, music or drama, has always been a cornerstone of human civilisation. This talk follows the story of the theatre from the natural amphitheatres of ancient Greece through the opulence of the Victorian heyday, twentieth century decline, then to today’s innovative stages. Included are examples from all eras, with, wherever possible, photographs from my travels around Europe.
Buxton – a very brief history
The first human presence in Buxton was more than seven thousand years ago and is one of the earliest recorded settlements in the country. It was abandoned more than three thousand years before the arrival of the Romans who established the first baths. This talk – very briefly (!) -tells how the town reached a peak in development over a century ago, then declined. Over the past decades Buxton has been enjoying a revival.
Buxton in Old Postcards
Postcards were the emails of the Edwardian age, when there were several collections and deliveries every day. They are still popular as a souvenir of your outings. Postcards also provide a series of historic snapshots of the town. Trevor Gilman is indebted to Joanne Hibbert for amassing a large and fascinating collection over many years, and to David Morten for his patience in making the collection available in digital form.
The Story of Buxton’s Crescent
The Crescent may be smaller than that at Bath, on which it is modelled, but it is arguably more coherent architecturally, especially when viewed from the rear. It was built by the fifth Duke of Devonshire as the focal point of his aims of developing Buxton as a northern rival to Bath. Did he succeed? And what of the future?
Roman Buxton, the Evidence
There is no doubt that the Romans had a substantial presence in Buxton and would have taken full advantage of its warm water. But, what evidence is there to support this? Over the years there has been much speculation about the size of the town, and much wishful thinking about the existence of a defensive fort, a temple and all of the other features of a major settlement. This talk takes a hard look at the evidence and tries to put the speculation into perspective, coming to conclusions that some will find uncomfortable.
Cowdale Quarry, Scheduled Monument
Limestone has been used in building construction and in agriculture since mediaeval times and was quarried locally in many small pits. It took on a new importance with the onset of the industrial revolution in the late 1700s. Uses for limestone were found in purifying metals, making glass and in the developing chemical industry. The best stone was found around Buxton, and this led to the development of the quarry industry we have today. Cowdale Quarry, just east of Buxton, is a surviving example of stone extraction in the days before mechanisation and health and safety legislation. It is now a Scheduled Monument.
Decorative Ironwork and its place in Buxton’s history
Cast Iron reached its decorative peak at the height of the Victorian era with what many see as an overabundance of ornament! Buxton managed to retain several excellent examples which formed the basis over the past fifty years for a resurgence and restoration. Buxton firms laid the foundations for this resurgence by making replica products available for a growing market for conservation.
Buxton Architecture and Architects
With successive Dukes of Devonshire at the helm, Buxton has attracted the best of the country’s architects, and some of the finest of their architecture. Hear how John Carr came here towards the end of his career, bringing with him a wealth of experience, and how Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin honed their craft here and went on to influence a century of urban design.
Buxton Buildings at Risk
Much of Buxton is protected by Conservation Areas. More than one hundred of its buildings and other structures have been given even greater protection by the process of ‘listing’ buildings. Even so, there are many examples around the town where we “could do better”. It is hoped that, by focusing attention on some of the problems, that custodians will become more sympathetic to the ideas of conservation and preservation.
Fountains and Water Features
Water has always been essential to life. The talk looks at the celebration of water from the adornment of ancient springs to today’s animated displays, and asks why, in a town whose very existence is down to its spa water, do we do so little to celebrate it.
Arts and Crafts Architecture
The Arts and Crafts movement had its origins in the working and living conditions endured at the start of the industrial revolution. The movement gave its name to a style of architecture that continues to influences design. Central to the popularity of Arts and Crafts architecture was the partnership of Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, who established their office in Buxton in the 1890s.
Other local talks at various stages of preparation include-
Entertaining Buxton, the story of Buxton’s theatres.
Frank Matcham, theatre architect.
Buxton’s Myths, Misunderstandings, Mistakes and Might-have-beens.
The role of the Buxton area in the development of friction materials.
Canals and canal railways of the Peak District.
General interest talks at various stages of preparation include-
Paradise and Power – the story of the private garden.
Royal Parks to peoples’ parks.
The road to the Garden City.
The story of Architecture.
The story of Buildings.
Ship Canals and Waterways.
Gutenberg, Printing and the Renaissance.
The Christmas Nativity scene and its depiction.