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Buxton facts for kids

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Buxton scene, autumn (geograph 3191760).jpg
Buxton town centre
Buxton is located in Derbyshire
Population 22,215 (2011)
OS grid reference SK059735
  • High Peak
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BUXTON
Postcode district SK17
Dialling code 01298
Police Derbyshire
Fire Derbyshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament
  • High Peak
List of places
53°15′32″N 1°54′40″W / 53.259°N 1.911°W / 53.259; -1.911

Buxton is a spa town in the Borough of High Peak, Derbyshire, England. It is England's highest market town at some 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level. It lies close to Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south on the edge of the Peak District National Park. The municipal borough merged in 1974 with places that included Glossop to form the local government district and borough of High Peak. The town population was 22,115 at the 2011 Census. Sights include Poole's Cavern, a limestone cavern, St Ann's Well, fed by a geothermal spring bottled by Buxton Mineral Water Company, and Georgian buildings round John Carr's restored Buxton Crescent, including Buxton Baths. Also notable is Frank Matcham's Buxton Opera House. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby occupies historic premises. Buxton is twinned with Oignies, France, and Bad Nauheim, Germany.


Roman settlement

The Romans developed a settlement known as Aquae Arnemetiae (or the spa of the goddess of the grove). The discovery of coins indicates that the Romans were in Buxton throughout their occupation. The origins of the town's name are uncertain. It may be derived from the Old English for Buck Stone or for Rocking Stone. The town grew in importance in the late 18th century when it was developed by the Dukes of Devonshire, with a resurgence a century later as the Victorians were drawn to the reputed healing properties of the waters.

Spa town boom

055383 st anns well
People filling up bottles with water at St Ann's Well
Buxton wells
Buxton Wells, from a 1610 map

Built on the River Wye, and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor, Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann's Well (a shrine to St. Anne since medieval times) opposite the Crescent near the town centre.

The Dukes of Devonshire have been closely involved with Buxton since 1780, when the 5th Duke used the profits from his copper mines to develop the town as a spa in the style of Bath. Their ancestor Bess of Hardwick had taken one of her four husbands, the Earl of Shrewsbury, to "take the waters" at Buxton shortly after he became the gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569, and they took Mary there in 1573. She called Buxton "La Fontagne de Bogsby", and stayed at the site of the Old Hall Hotel. The area features in the poetry of W. H. Auden and the novels of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë.

Instrumental in the popularity of Buxton was the recommendation by Erasmus Darwin of the waters at Buxton and Matlock to Josiah Wedgwood I. The Wedgwood family often went to Buxton on holiday and recommended the area to their friends. Two of Charles Darwin's half-cousins, Edward Levett Darwin and Reginald Darwin, settled there. The arrival of the railway in 1863 stimulated the town's growth: the population of 1,800 in 1861 had grown to over 6,000 by 1881.

Each summer the wells are decorated according to the local tradition of well dressing. The well dressing weekend has developed into a town carnival with live music and funfair. In 2013, the Academy of Urbanism named Buxton as one of the three most attractive towns in Britain.

Buxton Spring Gardens, 1965
A thriving Buxton in 1965 with shoppers and tourists filling Spring Gardens

Geography and geology

Built on the boundary of the Lower Carboniferous limestone and the Upper Carboniferous shale, sandstone and gritstone, the early settlement (of which only the parish church of St Anne, built in 1625, remains) was largely of limestone construction

At the southern edge of the town the River Wye has carved an extensive limestone cavern, known as Poole's Cavern. More than 330 yards (300 metres) of its chambers are open to the public. The cavern contains Derbyshire's largest stalactite and there are unique 'poached egg' stalagmites. A notorious local highwayman called Poole gave the cavern its name.


At about 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England. Due to this relatively high elevation, Buxton tends to be cooler than surrounding towns, with daytime temperature typically around 2 °C lower than Manchester. A Met Office weather station has collected climate date for the town since 1908, with digitized data from 1959 available online. In June 1975, the town was hit by a freak snowstorm that stopped play during a cricket match.

Climate data for Buxton, elevation: 289m (1981-2010) Extremes (1959 - present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
Average high °C (°F) 5.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.9
Average low °C (°F) 0.5
Record low °C (°F) −14.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 136.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17.0 13.6 15.5 12.6 11.9 12.6 12.7 13.5 12.7 16.2 16.3 16.4 171.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 41.2 63.1 93.8 140.2 180.2 166.4 178.5 167.6 123.8 91.4 51.0 37.7 1,334.8
Source 1: Met Office
Source 2: KNMI

Notable architecture

Buxton Town Hall designed by William Pollard
Buxton Town Hall (on the right)

The many visitors to Buxton for its thermal waters, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, led to several new buildings to provide hospitality facilities.

The Old Hall Hotel is one of the town's oldest buildings. It was owned by George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who with his wife, Bess of Hardwick, acted as the "gaolers" of Mary, Queen of Scots. She came to Buxton several times to take the waters, the last time in 1584. The present building dates from 1670 and has a five-bay front with a Tuscan doorway.

Buxton Crescent and St Ann's Well

The Grade I listed Crescent was built in 1780–1784 for the 5th Duke of Devonshire, as part of his effort to turn Buxton into a fashionable spa town. Modelled on Bath's Royal Crescent, it was designed by architect John Carr, along with the neighbouring irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. These were completed in 1789, but in 1859 largely converted to a charity hospital for the "sick poor" by the 7th Duke of Devonshire's architect Henry Currey, who also worked on St Thomas' Hospital in London. It became known as the Devonshire Royal Hospital in 1934. Later phases of conversion after 1881 were by local architect Robert Rippon Duke, including his design for The Devonshire Dome as the world's largest unsupported dome, with a diameter of 144 feet (44 m) – larger than the Pantheon at 141 feet (43 m), St Peter's Basilica at 138 feet (42 m) in Rome, and St Paul's Cathedral at 112 feet (34 m). The record was surpassed only by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (840 feet (260 m)). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are now part of the University of Derby.

Nocturnal view of the Cavendish Arcade's stained glass by Brian Clarke at Buxton Thermal Baths
Nocturnal view of the restored Buxton Thermal Baths, and Brian Clarke's modern stained glass canopy over the Cavendish Arcade

Currey also designed the Grade II listed Buxton Baths, comprising the Natural Mineral Baths to the west of The Crescent and Buxton Thermal Baths to the east, which opened in 1854 on the site of the original Roman baths, together with the 1884 Pump Room opposite. The Thermal Baths, closed in 1963 and at risk of demolition, were restored and converted into a shopping arcade by conservation architects Derek Latham and Company. Architectural artist Brian Clarke contributed to the refurbishment; his scheme, designed in 1984 and completed in 1987, was for a landmark modern artwork, a barrel-vaulted modern stained glass ceiling to enclose the former baths — at the time the largest stained glass window in the British Isles — creating an atrial space for what became the Cavendish Arcade. Visitors could "take the waters" at The Pump Room until 1981. Between 1981 and 1995 the building housed the Buxton Micrarium Exhibition, an interactive display with 50 remote-controlled microscopes. The building was refurbished as part of the National Lottery-funded Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa re-development. Beside it, added in 1940, is St Ann's Well. In October 2020 Ensana reopened the Crescent as a 5-star spa hotel, after a 17-year refurbishment.

Nearby stands the imposing monument to Samuel Turner (1805–1878), treasurer of the Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity, built in 1879 and accidentally lost for the latter part of the 20th century during construction work, before being found and restored in 1994.

When the railways arrived in Buxton in 1863, Buxton railway station had been designed by Joseph Paxton, previously gardener and architect to William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. Paxton also contributed the layout of the Park Road circular estate. He is perhaps known best for his design of the Crystal Palace in London. Buxton Town Hall, designed by William Pollard, was completed in 1889.

View from Hall Bank to Corbar
Corbar Hill and the Dome

Other architecture

Buxton Opera House, designed by Frank Matcham in 1903, is the highest opera-house site in the country. Matcham, a theatre architect, was responsible for several London theatres, including the London Palladium, the London Coliseum and the Hackney Empire. Opposite is an original Penfold octagonal post box. The opera house is attached to the Pavilion Gardens, Octagonal Hall (built in 1875) and the smaller Pavilion Arts Centre (previously The Hippodrome and the Playhouse Theatre.). Buxton Pavilion Gardens, designed by Edward Milner, contain 93,000 m2 of gardens and ponds and were opened in 1871. These form a Grade II* listed public park of Special Historic Interest. Milner's design was a development of Joseph Paxton's landscape for the Serpentine Walks in the 1830s.

Palace Hotel 201307 042
Palace Hotel

The 122-room Palace Hotel, also designed by Currey and built in 1868, is a prominent feature of the Buxton skyline on the hill above the railway station.

Corbar Cross Buxton 2008
Corbar Cross

Many pubs and inns in Buxton are listed buildings reflecting the historic character of the town, although many buildings have been demolished. Lost buildings of Buxton include grand spa hotels, the Midland Railway station, the Picture House cinema and Cavendish Girls' Grammar School.


Opera House, Buxton

Cultural events include the annual Buxton Festival, among other festivals and performances held in the Buxton Opera House, with shows running at other venues alongside this. Buxton Museum & Art Gallery offers year-round exhibitions.

Buxton Festival

The Buxton Festival, founded in 1979, is an opera and arts festival that runs for about three weeks in July at various venues including the Opera House. The programme includes literary events in the mornings, concerts and recitals in the afternoon, and operas, many of them rarely performed, in the evenings. There has been an increase in the quality of the operatic programme in recent years, after decades when, according to critic Rupert Christiansen, the festival featured "work of such mediocre quality that I just longed for someone to put it out of its misery." Running alongside it is the Buxton Festival Fringe, known as a warm-up for the Edinburgh Fringe. The Buxton fringe features drama, music, dance, comedy, poetry, art exhibitions and films in various venues around the town. In 2014 there were nearly 600 events from over 150 entrants.

Other festivals

The week-long Four Four Time music festival is held every February and features a variety of rock, pop, folk, blues, jazz and world music. The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, a three-week theatre festival from the end of July through most of August, was held in Buxton from 1994 to 2013; it moved to Harrogate in 2014. By June 2013, 25,000 tickets had been sold for the 2013 events.

The Opera House has a year-long programme of drama, concerts, comedy and other events. In September 2010, following a £2.5 million reconstruction, the former Paxton Suite in the Pavilion Gardens re-opened as a performance venue called the Pavilion Arts Centre. The centre, located behind the Opera House, includes a 369-seat auditorium. The stage area can be converted into a separate 93-seat studio theatre.

Buxton Museum & Art Gallery has a permanent collection of local artefacts, geological and archaeological samples (including the William Boyd Dawkins collection) and 19th- and 20th-century paintings, including works by Brangwyn, Chagall, Chahine and their contemporaries. There are also regular exhibitions by local and regional artists and various other events. The Pavilion Gardens hosts regular arts, crafts, antiques and jewellery fairs.


According to local folklore, a farm three miles to the north-east of Buxton possesses a screaming skull called Dickie.

Public transport

Buxton railway station, served by Northern, has frequent trains to Stockport and Manchester. The journey to Manchester Piccadilly takes just under an hour. Buxton had three railway stations, two under the LNWR (Buxton and Higher Buxton; the latter was next to Clifton Road and closed in 1951) plus the Buxton railway station (Midland Railway) next to the LNWR terminus. The Midland Railway station, closed on 6 March 1967, became the site for the Spring Gardens shopping centre. The trackbed of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway has in part been used as a walk and cycleway called the Monsal Trail. Peak Rail, a heritage railway group, has restored the section from Rowsley to Matlock and intends to reopen it to Buxton.

The town has bus services into the Peak District National Park. Other routes run to the nearby towns of Whaley Bridge, Chapel en le Frith, New Mills, Glossop and Ashbourne. The High Peak "Transpeak" service offers an hourly link southwards to Taddington, Bakewell, Matlock, Belper and Derby. There is also a High Peak bus direct to Manchester Airport. Other services link Buxton with Macclesfield, Leek, Stoke-on-Trent, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Meadowhall.

The nearest airports are Manchester Airport (22 miles), Liverpool John Lennon Airport (48 miles), and East Midlands Airport (52 miles).


Buxton's economy covers tourism, retail, quarrying, scientific research, light industry and mineral water bottling. The University of Derby is a noted employer. Surrounded by the Peak District National Park, it offers a range of cultural events; tourism is a major industry, with over a million visitors to Buxton each year. Buxton is the main centre for overnight accommodation in the Peak District, with over 64 per cent of the park's visitor bed space.

The Buxton Mineral Water Company, owned by Nestlé, extracts and bottles mineral waters. The Buxton Advertiser appears weekly. Potters of Buxton is the town's oldest department store, founded in 1860.


The Buxton lime industry has shaped the town's development and landscape since its 17th-century beginnings. Buxton Lime Firms (BLF) was formed by 13 quarry owners in 1891. BLF became part of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1926 and Buxton was the headquarters for I.C.I. Lime Division until the 1970s. Several limestone quarries lie close, including the "Tunstead Superquarry", the largest producer of high-purity industrial limestone in Europe, employing 400. The quarrying sector also provides jobs in limestone processing and distribution. Other industrial employers include the Health & Safety Laboratory, which engages in health and safety research and incident investigations and maintains over 350 staff locally.


In the 2011 census, Buxton was 98.3% white, 0.6% Asian, 0.2% black, and 0.8% mixed/multiple.

Sport and civic organisations

Buxton Raceway in Derbyshire, August 2021
Buxton Raceway

The land above the town holds two small speedway stadiums. Buxton Raceway (formerly High Edge Raceway), off the A53 Buxton to Leek road, is a motor sports circuit set up in 1974, hosting banger and stock car racing, as well as drifting events. It was home to the speedway team Buxton High Edge Hitmen in the mid-1990s before the team moved to a custom-built track to the north of the original one. The original track at High Edge Raceway was among the longest and trickiest in the UK. The new track is more conventional, with regular improvements being made. Buxton have been competitors in the Conference League. Buxton Raceway was due to hold a floodlit 2019 BriSCA F2 World Final.

Buxton's football club, Buxton F.C., plays at Silverlands and Buxton Cricket Club at the Park Road ground. Other team clubs are Buxton Rugby Union and Buxton Hockey Club. There are also four Hope Valley League football clubs: Buxton Town, Peak Dale and Buxton Christians play at the Fairfield Centre and Blazing Rag at the Kents Bank Recreation Ground.

Buxton has two 18-hole golf courses. Cavendish Golf Club ranked among the top 100 in England. It was designed by the renowned Alister MacKenzie and dates from 1925. At Fairfield is Buxton & High Peak Golf Club. Founded in 1887 on the site of Buxton Racecourse, it is the oldest in Derbyshire.

Buxton View From Peakdistrict
View of Buxton from Solomon's Temple

The hillside round Solomon's Temple is a popular local bouldering venue with many small outcrops giving problems mainly in the lower grades. These are described in the 2003 guidebook High over Buxton: A Boulderer's Guide. Hoffman Quarry at Harpur Hill, sitting prominently above Buxton, is a local venue for sport climbing.

Youth groups include the Kaleidoscope Youth Theatre at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton Squadron Air Cadets, Derbyshire Army Cadet Force and the Sea Cadet Corps, in addition to units of the Scouts & Guide Association.

Buxton has three Masonic Lodges and a Royal Arch Chapter, which meets at the Masonic Hall, George Street. Phoenix Lodge of Saint Ann No. 1235 was consecrated in 1865, Buxton Lodge No. 1688 in 1877, and High Peak Lodge No. 1952 in 1881. The Royal Arch Chapter is attached to Phoenix Lodge of Saint Ann, and bears the same name and number, it being consecrated in 1872.


The town hosts a University of Derby campus at the site of the former Devonshire Royal Hospital, as well as the Buxton & Leek College formed by the August 2012 merger of the university with Leek College.

Secondary schools include Buxton Community School, at the former College Road site of Buxton College, and St. Thomas More Catholic School. Others include Buxton Junior School, St Anne's Catholic Primary, Harpur Hill Primary School, Buxton Infant School, John Duncan School, Fairfield Infant & Nursery, Burbage Primary, Dove Holes CE Primary, Fairfield Endowed Junior, Peak Dale Primary, Leek College, Old Sams Farm Independent School, Hollinsclough CE Primary, Flash CE Primary, Earl Sterndale CE Primary, Peak Forest CE Primary and Combs Infant School.

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See also

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