Jonathan Dodds

Multimedia journalist and content editor for Johnston Press in Derbyshire. Titles include Buxton Advertiser, Matlock Mercury, Belper News and associated websites.

New deal means no Buxton return for G&S festival

The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival will not be making a return to Buxton, its organisers have confirmed. The festival has struck up a three-year deal to keep the event in Harrogate, which has been its home since its acrimonious departure from Buxton at the end of the 2013 season. High Peak Theatre Trust, which runs Buxton Opera House and the Pavilion Arts Centre, expressed disappointment that its “detailed, fair and equitable” rival proposal had failed to entice the festival back to...

Developer back to the drawing board as proposed £35m Station Road scheme is put on hold

The developer behind the £35 million redevelopment of the former Nestle Waters bottling site in Buxton is going back to the drawing board following the surprise withdrawal of its controversial plans for a supermarket, hotel and shops. Cheshire-based Consolidated Property Group (CPG), who have been chosen by Nestle to develop the vacant Station Road site, withdrew their application for planning permission last week. The proposed scheme had included the construction of a single-storey supermarket...

Prince Charles letters: decaying state of High Peak mill “makes me weep”

Newly-released correspondence from Prince Charles have revealed his concern for the future of historic listed buildings, such as the derelict Torr Vale Mill in New Mills. Among letters written by The Prince of Wales to government ministers is one from March 2008 to the then housing and planning minister Caroline Flint MP, in which he states how the decaying state of the Grade II* listed former cotton mill “makes me weep”.

The Buxton hotel that ran out of time

It was once one of Buxton’s grandest hotels, but the Empire never had an opportunity to live up to its name and ultimately fell victim to changing times. Built by railway buffet catering firm Spiers & Pond, the Empire Hotel opened its doors to much acclaim in 1903. The colossal structure, which stood proudly within extensive manicured grounds off Park Road, was a dominant feature of the Buxton skyline. Renowned for its luxurious accommodation, it could provide for up to 300 guests.

The arrival of ‘down the road’ television

Here’s a look back to when the BBC made headlines in Buxton. August 1980 heralded the long-awaited switch-over which provided 24,000 BBC viewers in and around Buxton with regional programmes from the North West instead of the remote Midlands. It was the first time Buxton residents were able to pick up the Beeb’s regional news magazine Look North West, and to mark the occasion the Buxton Advertiser went behind the scenes at their Manchester newsroom.

Rams man Sam’s story in print for the first time

The story of a farmer’s boy from Chapel-en-le-Frith who lifted his beloved Derby County into the top echelon of English football has been told for the first time in his own words. Sam’s Story is the newly-published autobiography of Sam Longson OBE, the renowned Derby County director, chairman and honorary president who presided over the most successful decade in the Derbyshire club’s history during the late 1960s and 70s. Having a life-long association with the Rams until his death in 1989, Mr

Paralympic star's golden success Storey

Sporting superstar Sarah Storey has paid a golden tribute to her supporters who have helped the Disley cyclist take her place in Paralympic history. Sarah stormed to gold in four events at this summer’s Paralympic Games in London to overtake former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian. The 34-year-old swimmer-turned-cyclist entered the record books after victory in the road race, adding to her golds in the road time trial, and in the velo

Whaley Bridge gymnast “on top of the world” after Olympic experience

Proud Whaley Bridge gymnast Jennifer Pinches is “on top of the world” after achieving her life’s goal of representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics. Pinches, making her debut on sport’s biggest stage, was a member of the Team GB squad which finished sixth in Tuesday’s final of the artistic gymnastics team competition - their best post-war performance at the Games. The 18-year-old put in a truly gutsy performance at London’s North Greenwich Arena, recovering from a fall on the beam

More to Belgium than Bruges and booze

THINK of Belgium, and beer and chocolate immediately spring to mind. Yes, this popular European territory is famed for its variety of lip-smacking fine ales and delicious sugary treats, with seemingly a chocolate shop at every turn! But this only scratches the surface. Delve deeper and your eyes are instantly opened to an abundance of cultural sights waiting to be explored, where old and contemporary collide. From the hustle and bustle of the industrious capital Brussels to the time-locked Fle

I’m all shut up, says Buxton barber ‘Elvis’

David ‘Elvis’ Fawkes has left the building! The 70-year-old Buxton barber this week retired after nearly half a century of cutting hair at the Waldorf traditional barber shop. David is famous as a former Elvis convention singer - and memorabilia to the late King of rock ‘n’ roll adorned the walls of his Market Street barbers. A hairdresser for some 55 years, David has spent 45 of those at the Waldorf - taking over the business...

REVIEW: Yes, Prime Minister at Buxton Opera House

Who knew politics could be this much fun! The hilarious hit stage version of the TV classic Yes, Prime Minister opened at Buxton Opera House on Tuesday night and offered some light relief in a time of growing economic uncertainty. The plot is bang up to date: a Prime Minister leading a coalition government as the country faces financial crisis. A refreshing change... well, at least we can all laugh this time!

Fjord-geous Norway!

IT’S a bleary-eyed 6.30am in the morning. The air outside is clean and cool, the wind brisk, the scenery intoxicating... and, no, it’s not a dream! Norway’s coastal landscape is nothing less than stunning; sparkling blue waters dwarfed by an endless rolling backdrop of dramatic hillsides and stunning Lord of the Rings-esque valleys and rocky mountains. I’m only a few hours into a voyage through Norway’s breathtaking fjords and, standing here on deck, it’s easy to see why this is considered to

Dickie Bird recalls when SNOW stopped play in Buxton

IT IS etched into cricket folklore. Derbyshire versus Lancashire, 1975. An unbelievable game which saw play halted by snow — in June! Few remember the three-day match at The Park, between Derbyshire and Lancashire, for being one of the biggest defeats in County Championship history, instead for the unseasonal and unexpected influx of the dreaded white stuff. And it’s one experience that certainly sticks in the mind of retired English international cricket umpire Harold Dennis Bird, MBE

Buxton cave in the spotlight

New lights have been installed at a Buxton tourist attraction – big deal, I hear you cry… Well actually it is, when the attraction is a two million year old, natural limestone cave running 120 feet underground! Exploring the vast rocky caverns and being able to see how crystal stalactites and stalagmites have lined the chambers over millions of years is the most important part of the visitor experience at Poole’s Cavern, the so-called ‘Wonder of the Peak’.

From the Cold War to the Antarctic wastes

And this has certainly been the case for veteran British adventurer and author Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE, whose persistence in the face of great adversity has seen him become known as arguably the world's greatest living explorer. "Sometimes the expeditions have succeeded, other times things have gone wrong and we might have done five expeditions on one occasion or seven on another to achieve our target," explained the 66-year-old cousin of actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes.

Stockholm: the town where time stands still

THERE'S no doubt that Stockholm, the so-called 'Venice of the North', has some of the same endearing qualities of a beautiful woman... It displays Scandinavian flair, elegance and character, coupled with an immense physical attraction which draws millions of visitors each year. It's one of the finest cities in the world, epitomised for its gorgeous architecture, green spaces and open waters. It also gives your wallet a bit of a hammering as well!
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