Belper, a market and union town a chapelry, and a parish in Derbyshire. The town stands in a pleasant situation on the river Derwent and on the Midland Railway, 7½ miles N of Derby. It has a post office with money order and telegraph departments, a railway station, two banks, and two hotels, and is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place. It was an inconsiderable village till 1777, but has risen to importance by means of its manufactures. It comprises several regular streets, and contains some interesting buildings. A handsome bridge of three arches spans the river. The town is well lighted, and governed by a local board. An old chapel, dedicated to St John the Baptist, built about 1250, in the Early English style, was partly restored in 1866, and is used for divine service on week days. The head church, erected in 1824, at a cost of £12,600, is a fine edifice in the Decorated style, with a high tower, surmounted by pinnacles. Christ Church, in Bridge Street, was erected in 1849. A cemetery, with entrance offices and two chapels in the Late Decorated style, was opened in 1859. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist, Primitive, Methodist, United Free Methodist, Friends, and Unitarian chapels. There are also almshouses and a workhouse, the latter in the Tudor style, and erected at a cost of £7580. The town has a public hall, erected in 1882, with subscription library, reading-room, &c. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on 28 January, 5 May, and 31 October. Cotton works, belonging to the Messrs. Strutt, employ upwards of 1000 persons. Hosiery work and nail-making also are carried on, and an extensive pottery and coal works are in the neighbourhood. Bridge-Hill House and Green Hall are fine mansions. The town gives the title of Baron, created in 1856, to the elder branch of the family of Strutt. It is divided into two districts for ecclesiastical purposes, viz. St Peter's and Christ Church, Bridge-hill. Both are vicarages in the diocese of Southwell, value of the former, £280; of the latter, £350. The parish comprises an area of 3183 acres; population of the civil parish, 10,420; of the ecclesiastical, 6941.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Poor Law union||Belper|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The Cemetery, opened in 1859, about three-quarters of a mile from the north end of the town, on an acclivity overlooking the Derwent, contains about 15 acres of land, with two mortuary chapels, connected by a square tower with lofty spire: it was acquired by the Urban District Council in 1895.
The register of baptisms for St. Peter and the old chapel of St. John the Baptist date from 1783, of burials from 1794 and of marriages from 1847.
The registers of Christ Church date from the year 1845.
Church of England
Christ Church, Bridge Hill (parish church)
Christ Church, Bridge Hill, is an ecclesiastical parish, formed 3 Sept. 1845, out of Duffield parish. The church, erected in 1849, is a building of local stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, vestry added in 1904, and a belfry containing 3 bells: all the windows are stained: in October, 1898, a memorial window was erected to the Rev. Edward Augustus Hillyard B.A. vicar 1876-98; and there are others to the Rev. James Ellerton Hatton, vicar 1898-1900, and to Mother Ellen and Mother Katherine, of the Anglican Sisterhood here: the church was restored in 1876 at a cost of £2,000, and affords 600 sittings.
St. Faith's Mission Church, Lane End
St. John the Baptist, Bridge Hill
The old chapel of St. John the Baptist, probably founded about 1250 by Edmund Crouchback, second son of Henry III. is a building in the Early English Lancet style, consisting of chancel and nave under a single roof, south porch, and a bell-cote on the western gable, containing one bell, inscribed, "God save his church, 1699:" the font is an octagonal basin, on a similarly shaped shaft and base: in the south wall of the chancel are the remains of a sedile and a piscina in a small pointed niche: the ancient stone altar, still fixed beneath the east window, is supported by brackets: the chapel was partly restored in 1866 by the Late Rev. Robert Hey M.A. vicar of Belper 1845-85, and in 1877 a stone reredos was erected by the Rev. Herbert Monk M.A. vicar of St. Peter's, Newton-in-Makerfield, in memory of his father: a new chancel screen has since been erected and the floor repaved with encaustic tiles: opposite the porch remains the base of an old cross, restored in 1880: the ground was not consecrated for burials till 1793.
St. Mark's Mission Church, Openwood Gate
St. Mark's Mission church, Openwood gate, attached to the church of St. Peter, and erected in 1891, at a cost of £1,443, is a small building of stone, and has 250 sittings: in 1898 a Sunday school was built at a cost of £700.
St. Peter (parish church)
The church of St. Peter, erected in 1824, is an edifice of local stone, in the Decorated style, consisting of nave and a western tower with pinnacles, containing a clock and 6 bells, dating from 1861; the ground stage of the tower forms a porch; the east window is stained; the church was restored in 1884, at a cost of £1,627, and there are 1,500 sittings.
Baptist Chapel, Bridge Street
The Baptist chapel, Bridge Street, built in 1818 and rebuilt in 1893, will seat 500.
Congregational Chapel, Market Street Lane
The Congregational chapel, in Market Street lane, erected in 1872, at a cost of about £5,000, in place of an older chapel, erected in 1790, is a building in the Early English style and seats 600 persons; the chapel was founded in 1790.
Congregational Chapel, Green Lane
The Congregational chapel, Green Lane, has 700 sittings.
Congregational Chapel, Green Bank
The Congregational chapel, Green Bank, erected in 1822, has 100 sittings.
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Field Head
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Field Head, will seat 600.
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Cow Hill
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Cow Hill, will seat 200.
United Methodist (Salem) Chapel, Green Lane
The United Methodist (Salem) Chapel, Green Lane, will seat 600.
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Chapel Street
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Chapel Street, will seat 700.
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Pottery
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Pottery, will seat 300.
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Lane End
The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Lane End, will seat 180.
Society of Friends
Friends' Meeting House, Green Lane
The Friends' Meeting House, Green Lane, will seat 110.
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, King Street
Unitarian Chapel, Field Row
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Belper from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Belper)
Online maps of Belper are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Derbyshire papers online: