About this image
This large Victorian villa stood on the south side of Main Street in Kimberley with access from Orchard Street; this view shows the northern elevation of the house and is looking south-west.
The Firs was constructed in 1874 for William Hardy who with his brother Thomas had established the local brewing firm of W & T Hardy in 1857. Their enterprise proved to be very successful and in 1861 a large new tower brewery was erected at Kimberley. By 1895 the business was worth £400,000, eventually becoming Hardy & Hanson in 1930. Beer production continued at Kimberley until closure of the brewery in 2009, three years after the firm had been sold to Greene King.
William himself retired in 1875 and around this time the Great Northern Railway constructed its Derbyshire Extension line from Colwick (Nottingham) towards Pinxton and ultimately Ilkeston, Derby and Burton upon Trent. This involved the demolition of two cottages owned by Hardy who reputedly negotiated with the GNR to build him The Firs in compensation. However, such a turn of events would be highly unusual and it is perhaps more likely that Hardy used money raised by the sale of land he owned to the railway company to finance the building of his new house ready for his retirement.
Be that as it may, The Firs was noteworthy in having central heating conducted via ducts in its cavity walls, while the southern elevation featured a large stained glass window depicting 'The Four Ages of Man'. The window was in fact secondhand, having been retrieved from Kimberley's British School on Chapel Street. Ancillary buildings included a coach house, stables and a conservatory.
It remained William Hardy's home until his death in 1893 and his widow continued to reside there until her own demise in 1910. Latterly accommodating a private nursery school, The Firs survived until 1988 when it was demolished to make way for an elderly persons housing development called Maple Court. However, the stable block and coach house were retained and converted to residential use, while the stained glass window was saved and relocated to Kimberley Parish Hall.