Bolsover District is fortunate in possessing a nucleus of parishes that contain small towns and villages with considerable character and history, parts of which have been designated as conservation areas to ensure they remain unspoilt by inappropriate development. This chapter is a gazetteer of some of these places.

Ault Hucknall

This is a scattered rural parish of 4,428 acres lying 5.5 miles north west of Mansfield and 7.5 miles north east of Chesterfield, and comprising the villages of Ault Hucknall, Stainsby, Hardwick, Astwith, Bramley Vale and Doe Lea and having a population of 820. Hardwick Hall (see Treasures of Bolsover District) is situated in this parish. The Authority has carried out major housing development at the village of Doe Lea, replacing most of the former terraced cottages with modern houses and bungalows.

St. John's Church  - Click to expandAult is from "haut' meaning high. St. John's Church (left) has many interesting features from Norman and earlier times, including a carving of a dragon on the west wall and a Norman tympanum (door frame). Thomas Hobbes, the noted philosopher and a man of letters, who was tutor to Charles II, is buried here. Hobbes is world famous for his book "Leviathan", foundation of the British liberal constitution.

 

The lost village of Blingsby was close to Stainsby Mill and the Blingsby Gate entrance to Hardwick Hall. The village was probably abandoned during the "Black Death" (mid 14th century) where survivors moved to bigger settlements to replace depleted populations.

Stainsby & Stainsby Mill

Stainsby Mill originates from the 13th century, and was built to provide flour for the Hardwick Estate. It was closed in 1955 but reopened to the public in 1993 as a working mill. The Stainsby manor was acquired by the Sauvages of Steynsbei in 1198.

Stainsby Mill - Click to expandIn Elizabethan times the Sauvages were implicated in the Babbington plot to assassinate Elizabeth and put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne. The name Stainsby is derived from the Danish Lord Steinulf who paid a rent for the manor in spices and game birds. In the 19th century, Stainsby was the centre of the bowler hat industry. These were dyed with damsons from hedgerows.

 

The Stockley Trail is built on the former Doe Lea branch line, which opened in 1886. The Midland railway refused to transport colliers wearing working clothes in their carriages so the "Paddy Mail' developed here in which miners travelled between Staveley and Glapwell pits in open trucks in all weathers.

Doe Lea Nature Reserve

The land for the nature reserve has been reclaimed from Glapwell colliery (closed 1974) and has recently been improved as a habitat for Buntings, Reed and Sedge Warblers.

Astwith & Astwith Dumbles

Astwith (meaning East Meadow) and Astwith Dumbles are small hillocks around the village left by glaciation.

Barlborough

The village of Barlborough, which has a population of 2,630, is situated on the District border with South Yorkshire. An attractive residential area, it is within easy commuting distance of Sheffield and other larger centres of population. Here stands the Elizabethan Barlborough Hall (see Treasures of Bolsover District), and a 13th century church, containing early stone work and the tomb of Lady Joan Furnival who was originally buried at Worksop Priory in 1395.

War Memorial, Barlborough - Click to expandMajor housing, recreational and industrial developments have taken place at the Barlborough Links site and a nine hole municipal golf course is open.

A parish of considerable character, Barlborough also has a number of picturesque country pubs that prove popular with visitors.

Blackwell

Blackwell village is part of the ancient parish of Blackwell, situated in the upper Erewash valley that includes the villages of Hilcote, Newton and Westhouses.

Coal mining on a small scale had been carried on since medieval times with references to disputes between interested parties dating back to the 16th century. The population of the parish was 467 in 1851. By 1891 it had grown to 3104 and by 1921 there were over 5000 people living here. This sudden influx was mainly due to the sinking of deep coal shafts in Blackwell and Hilcote between 1870 and 1890.

Rows of houses were built for the workers and the Blackwell Colliery Company also built a school at Primrose Hill in 1873, supplementing the earlier endowed school. It had to be enlarged several times before a new school was built in the 1890's.

Around 1900, a coke oven and a coke by product plant was built next to the colliery producing tar, coke and various chemicals. 'The fumes and smoke from the plant were horrendous, destroying hedgerows, grass and crops in the vicinity. It was impossible to have doors open or windows open when the wind blew the fumes in the direction of the houses.' The plant was closed down around 1960.

St Werburgh's Church, Blackwell - Click to expandIn the churchyard of St Werburgh's Church sits the remains of an Anglo Saxon cross. The church itself was built in 1827-28 and rebuilt except for the tower in 1878-79. It probably stands on the site of some pre-Christian enclosure.

 

Old Newton Hall, now a farmhouse, was built around 1690 and occupied by the Richardson family for many years who frequently acted as baliffs for Lord Sheffield's Blackwell estates. Jedediah Strutt of Belper (see Famous People of Bolsover District), is said to have worked on his stocking frame at the hall.

Work at coal mines was extremely dangerous in the early days. Lighting was by candles only, until the invention of the Davy lamp. An explosion occurred in the Low Main seam on 11th Nov 1895 killing 7 men.

The coal mines have gone and the area is predominantly residential. The present population of the parish is around 4500.

One former miner from Blackwell colliery was a Percy Topliss (see Famous People of Bolsover District) who had been called to the forces during WW1. He turned up at the colliery wearing a Captains uniform and inspected a parade of Territorials, but after he had left it was discovered that he had been involved in a mutiny, and was shot whilst being pursued by the police.

Blackwell, as at Wirkswirth had an old custom of Clipping the Church. It took place on the Sunday nearest 21st June, which is the birthday of St Werburgh. Parishioners 'embraced' the parish church by parading around it, the intention being to mark out the bounds of the church and bring in the flock.

Blackwell was also originally the home ground of Derbyshire County Cricket, in 1910 J. Chapman and A. Warren broke the world record for the highest 9th wicket stand in a match between Derbyshire and Warwickshire. A plaque commemorating this feat has now been erected at Blackwell Village Hall.

Newton

Newton is situated about 8 miles south east of Chesterfield, close to the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire border. There is little recorded for Newton until the 16th century, but it had been a coal mining area for many centuries. One of the former mine owners was a Ralph Richardson, of Newton Old Hall. In one of the five cottages that existed in the 1700's, about where the old folk's bungalows are now in Main Street, lived Jedediah Strutt in 1754, who invented the 'Derby Rib' machine and built the first Belper cotton mills.

An old building adjoining the Hall was used as an inn. This was rebuilt in 1916 as a station hotel, it being accepted at the time that the LNER railway which was to be brought from Nottingham to Sheffield would provide a station at the railway bridge in Alfreton Road. The station was in fact eventually built at Tibshelf. The George and Dragon then became a white elephant until about 1920, when a cinema which had been built in Hall Lane started to have variety shows and drama sketches. The artistes who were travellers stayed at the hotel.

Farmhouse, Newton - Click to expandA colliery sunk at Tibshelf in about 1880 and known as 'Bottom Pit' brought a considerable expansion in the Newton development. Houses were built in Bamford Street and New Street and Sherwood Street to house the influx of miners. In addition there was a brick works and coke ovens.

The closing of the local collieries in the 1930s brought some decline to Newton. Opening of industrial sites in adjoining areas has assisted and during the 1950s expansion of new buildings with an estate of council houses and in 1970s with a private estate, has almost doubled the Newton population.

The LNER railway and Newton station were closed under the Beeching axe but the Newton-Sutton line was retained as a single mineral line.

Bolsover

Bolsover is an ancient market town with an interesting history. A good deal of its history is naturally bound up with two important buildings which constitute the chief interest of the town, namely the Castle and the Parish Church.

The parish today has a population of approximately 11,400 and covers an area of seven square miles of distinct settlements with a good proportion of farming land between. Bolsover, unlike larger settlements of population has not changed significantly since its early development.

Bolsover became a market town at a very early period, as is shown by an entry on the Close Roll of King Henry III's tenth year of reign (1225/6), but it appears the market was only authorised until 1228.

The original village of Bolsover is situated on the western edge of the magnesian limestone escarpment. The town's early development followed the building of William Peveril's 12th Century Castle, making it, along with Castleton, one of only two planned towns in Derbyshire.

Bolsover Castle - Click to expandThis early period of growth as a prestigious settlement built around its Castle stronghold was brought about by its strategically important position. Predominantly agricultural in character, some industrial activity did take place through stone quarrying, pottery and the manufacture of buckles and spurs. The Domesday Book contains the following entry for Bolsover: "In Belesovre (Bolsover) Lenric had three carucates of land to be taxed. Land to four ploughs. There are now two ploughs in the demense, and fourteen villanes and bordars having four ploughs and eight acres of meadow. Wood pasture two miles long and one broad. Value in King Edward's (i.e. Edward the Confessor's) time, 40/-, now 60/-. Robert holds it"

Oxcroft, another local estate, which had belonged to the Peverels, was in the reign of King Henry III owned by the Heriz family. Later on it was held by the Rhodes family, who sold it in 1599 to the Countess of Shrewsbury, and it was then passed to the famous Hardwick and other estates to the Duke of Devonshire.

Bolsover was formerly celebrated for its manufacture of buckles, and the Bolsover Buckle was as widely known as the Banbury cake or Sheffield knives. The old buckle industry has long since passed and with the exception of the manufacture of tobacco pipes, agriculture and quarrying were the only local industries down to comparatively recent times when coal mining was introduced.

The Castle building by Charles and later by William Cavendish (Earl of Newcastle) the 17th Century mansion we see today, did not really involve significant change to the town.

By the early 19th Century the population remained fairly static at 1,300 until the Duke of Portland granted leases to the newly formed Bolsover Colliery Company Ltd. to sink its network of pits in the area. The population grew tenfold, through importing labour from Wales, Lancashire, Staffordshire and Durham to work at the coal mines. The Colliery company constructed the Model Village, a fine example of colliery village architecture, which is now listed and attracts visitors from around the globe.

The company created a network of mineral and passenger railway lines down the valley and dug clay holes for brickworks that ensured the Duke of Portland became one of the richest men in the country. The old town on top of the hill grew with miners welfares, red brick terraces, schools and an Urban District Council was formed that gradually created the sense of community that remains today.

The physical appearance of the town centre remained intact until the 1960's with only minor changes to buildings. The central area compromising of Cotton Street, Market Place, High Street and Castle Street included a network of cottages, small shops, courtyards and ginnels (alleyways), but many were demolished because there was little choice, however, the Urban District Council did ensure that their replacement buildings were kept in character with what remained.

The outskirts of Bolsover have been given to housing estates, private and council and the cut off point to the east is obvious in that high grade agricultural land prevents too much urban development, while to the west Carr Vale and New Bolsover are linked to Bolsover through a number of housing developments.

Breaking the Mould - Click to expandThe demise of the towns main industry, coal mining in 1993 saw its communities faced with an uncertain future having to change its economic and social infrastructure. Business parks have been established on the redundant colliery sites, creating new employment opportunities and the western fringes of the town have been given a facelift with new walkways, environmental improvements and the establishment of a wetland habitat.

New and existing developments are being pursued by various partnerships who are all working together to ensure Bolsover remains the thriving market town it once was.

Clowne

Clowne is in the north of the district and has a population of approximately 7,600. During the Roman period, Clowne was the site of a fort guarding an important road, which ran north to south. It was to the east of this road that the early settlement lay. Just south of the site of the Roman fort lies Markland and Hollinhill Grips, which have been recognised as the site of a Bronze Age fortification, so in early times, the area must have been strategically important. It is in fact one of the highest points in this part of Britain and would have been a fine vantage point.

Little is said in the Domesday Book about Clowne (Clune) though the reference does lead to certain conclusions.

We know that Clowne was not merely a manor, parts being in the manors of Barleburg (Barlbourough) and part in Witewelle (Whitwell). So Clowne itself was an identifiable community apart from the manor.

There was no church in the entry for Clowne but in less than a century (1135-1154) there was one built that could hold a fair sized congregation.

William Inskip, rector of Clowne 1528-1582, founded the first school in the village, although schools at Staveley and Chesterfield existed. It was rare that a village of Clowne's size should possess such a facility. It is indeed likely that this school did not survive, there appears to be no records of one until the 1700's. The really important event that shook the community to the core occurred in 1586, when what became known as "The Great Plague of Chesterfield", began. The outbreak reached its peak in June 1587, when 54 people died, the following month a further 52 died. These figures should be viewed against the normal mortality rate of the period of 3 deaths a month. The whole area, including Clowne, was effected. The dead from this plague were so numerous that they were not buried in the churchyard, but were interred in an area to the north of the village, that would be known as, Monument Field, or as generations of Clowne children would know them, "The Monnies".

Despite such set backs, the century ended optimistically for the villagers of Clowne, along with a new school, much work was done to the parish church and people generally became wealthier.

During the 18th century the population of Clowne increased from 400 in 1700 to 480 in 1801. At the turn of the century Clowne was still a peaceful rural community, but the new century would soon alter this state beyond all recognition.

Harlesthorpe Dam, Clowne - Click to expandThe beginning of the century saw little real change in the lot of the village, by 1831, the population had increased by only around 150 people, the actual figure given being, 637, dwelling in 134 houses. Roughly half the population worked on the land, whilst the remainder were employed in supportive trades, shop workers, small businesses etc.

The school, established in the previous century, continued to educate the young of Clowne, throughout the century, until it came under state auspices in the 1870's. There was also an active Sunday school.

Major families at this time included the Hill family of Romely Hall, (now no longer existing) and The Bowden family of Southgate House, (now a hotel and Garden Centre). Southgate House itself, having a chequered history, besides being the home of the Bowden family, it was also the site of Clowne's first Roman Catholic Church (built originally as the private chapel for its Catholic owners), it was later used as barracks for cavalry, a POW camp and finally a hotel.

By the 1870's the mining industry had arrived in Clowne, the population almost trebled by 1901 a mere thirty years after the sinking of the first shaft, the population had increased to 3,896. Clowne now boasted two major collieries, two railway stations, two schools, and a regular postal service.

Its commercial section was no less impressive comprising of amongst others, 4 Inns, 4 Ale Houses 8 other business that sold wine and beer, 8 butchers, 2 pork butchers, 3 greengrocers, 13 other grocers, 5 tailors, 4 shoe shops and many other tradesmen including joiners, hairdressers, watchmaker, etc. Until the 1890's a hat-manufacturing firm existed, along with a mineral water business.

Although a substantial industry had transformed the village, farming continued in the area. At the turn of the century in 1900, there were over 20 farmers recorded in the parish, one of whom had his own flour mill.

It was obviously a thriving community that saw in the new century, yet certain things had not changed over a very long time. The Old Cross still stood as it had for the previous 800 years in the centre of the village. Close by stood the village pump and the village's unique stone stocks. It was only in the latter part of the century that the stocks were removed to a local garden and the site of the pump covered over.

The local pit, which had begun its life in 1875, turned its last coal in 1929. At its heyday the 1000ft deep mine, had employed 400 men and produced 600 tons of coal per day! Local miners moved to nearby pits, but their home was firmly Clowne. Two colliery disasters, the first in 1938 claimed the lives of 79 men, 4 of whom came from Clowne and the second to hit the village came in September 1950, when 80 men died in the Creswell Disaster. Very few families in Clowne were not touched by these losses.

New housing developments have added to the population and community spirit and new and exciting initiatives and opportunities are being pursued by various partnerships who are all working to ensure that Clowne remains a thriving and bustling town.

Elmton-with-Creswell

The parish of Elmton-with-Creswell has a population of 4,900. The village of Elmton is said to have at one time possessed the finest elm trees in the country.

Although there is now no trace of these, Elmton remains an extremely attractive and peaceful country village where property is highly desirable and sought after. The occupation of the Creswell area has been almost continuous for around 40,000 years.

Elmton-Helmetune-Fann of the Elms Elmton Village was an Anglo-Saxon settlement in an area of settlement dating back to the last Ice Age. To avoid raiders, Elmton like other settlements, was built a short distance away from the ridge road, a prehistoric route along the edge of the magnesium limestone ridge from Skegby to Rotherham travelling north through Clowne.

The ownership of the manor can be traced from the time of the conquest and has been owned by De Aincurts Cromwell Lovells, Sauages, Rhodes, Heathcotes, Reastons, Bentincks to the present owner the Duke of Devonshire.

Elmton was a nucleated village consisting of a main street with farms built along it and farm land surrounding the village.

In 1874 the population of Elmton increased from 211 to 213, whilst the population of Creswell increased from 222 to 300, this being the reason the Duke of Portland built a school at Creswell.

By 1895 the railway had arrived and Bolsover Colliery Company were sinking shafts at Creswell.

Elmton changed from its form as a nucleated village to an area of scattered farms as it is today.

Most of the village farms have gone, but a few remain like Elmtree Farm. This farm is shown on a 17th century map and was being farmed until 1975.

The Elmtree Inn is a 17th century local Coaching Inn, originally called the Plough and Dove. In 1845 it was owned by the blacksmith and re-named the Elmtree. The church is the second to be built on this site. The first, a much larger structure mentioned in the Domesday Records of 1086, fell into a state of disrepair and was demolished around 1750. The present church was finished in 1771 and cost 1,200.

Some relics from the first church can be seen built into the outside wall of the Elmtree Inn, these are in the shape of carved heads. There is also the remains of an unusual semi-circular pinfold (pinfolds are usually rectangular) used for inpounding stray animals, and a fine was paid to the manor or church for their release.

The name Creswell could have come from the Romans (a good supply of watercress and watercress wells). Early records stated in 1175 that the Baron De Aincurt gave the hamlet of Creswell to the White Cannons of Welbeck Abbey, and the land has been owned by Welbeck Estate from this date. The hamlet of scattered farms grew along the river between Markland Grips and Creswell Crags, (see Treasures of Bolsover District) where a mill and a few cottages had been built.

Elmton - Click to expandBetween 1854 and 1879 the mill closed and the cottages near the Crags became the homes of quarry workers employed by the 5th Duke of Portland and were involved in his building programme.

At this time Creswell main street (now Sheffield & Mansfield Road) had several shops, a school, two pubs, blacksmith shop, post office and several cottages can still be seen along this road.

In 1875 the Midland Railway Company had completed the line from Mansfield to Worksop and had built a station that is now Elmton Road.

In 1895 the Bolsover Colliery Company started sinking the shafts for Creswell Colliery whilst at the same time building homes for the miners. The 281 high quality houses were arranged in a double oval around a central green known as the Model Village. The Model contained a co-operative store, institute, areas for football, cricket, tennis, bowls and on the central green a children's recreation ground and bandstand.

1900 saw 1,400 workers employed at the colliery and more houses were being built but not to the same standard as the Model Village. The second railway station was built on Elmton Road on the Lancashire/ Derbyshire and East Coast Railway's branch line from Langwith Junction to Beighton.

In 1907 Elmton Road became Main Street with more shops, new post office, bank, and by 1910 Creswell looked more or less as it does today. After the Second World War, council houses were built and British Coal built an estate just off Skinner Street to house miners from Whitwell and Creswell. On September 26th 1950 an underground fire at Creswell Colliery killed 80 men. The Creswell Colliery closed in September 1991.

Creswell Crags - Click to expandCreswell depended on the colliery as its main employer, and now all the local collieries have closed, employment must be sought elsewhere. The council and its partners have been active in the redevelopment and regeneration of the village since the colliery closed and the redundant colliery buildings have been transformed into industrial units with new units also being built adjacent to the colliery to help create new employment opportunities, although these cannot employ the number of workers the coal mine did.

Buildings remaining along Sheffield and Mansfield Road are several stone houses, blacksmith shop, and the Dukes cottages. The former Portland Hotel stands on what was the village green.

Creswell remains the larger of the two villages but the area is still known as Elmton-with-Creswell.

Glapwell

This is a small parish covering only 774 acres and with a population of 1,550. A pleasant residential area, lying three miles south of Bolsover, seven miles south of Chesterfield on the main A617 Chesterfield to Mansfield Road, with easy access to the M1, it is within easy commuting distance of Nottingham, Sheffield and other main centres of population.

The once busy Glapwell Colliery has now closed, been demolished, and the spoil heaps and surrounding areas have been successfully landscaped to blend in with the countryside.

Glapwell and its surroundings have been here for a very long time. It wasn't always filled with houses and gardens or bisected by metalled roads, but it was here nevertheless.

Historical evidence concerning its Ice Age and subsequent development can be found all round the area. A fascinating record is maintained in the Sites and Monuments Records of Derbyshire County Council and the rewritten 'History of Glapwell'. The first residential settlers have left an abundance of tool records and their conquerors, the Romans, have done the same. Green Lane on the eastern boundary of the parish, for example, was part of the safe Ridgeway of high ground, probably used by the Brigantes Britons travelling from south to north. It subsequently became a section of Roman Road into South Yorkshire.

Romano/British settlements dotted the route, paralleling the ancient high road through Skegby along Glapwell Terrace to Palterton and onwards through Bolsover.

After the incursions of later conquerors, local names reflect the interest of Angles as well as Saxons although this region is traditionally thought to have been settled by the latter.

Later, Norsemen resided on all sides of Glapwell, evidenced with village names ending in 'by' and 'ton'. Perhaps they paused for a few decades to live off this land.

Written history and surviving buildings started later with Normans and the Domesday Book. 'Glapewelle' (sic) in 1086 is recorded as part of the vast East Midlands property given to William of Peveril, a knight who fought with William the Conqueror at Hastings. He sub-let the area together with other property to one of his tenants, a knight named Serlo who held Glapwell, Pleasley and adjacent areas. Ownership of Glapwell Manor was passed through a number of families, Rearsby, Bec, Willoughby, Woolhouse, Hallowes and finally Jackson. Its relationship to Darley Abbey in the thirteenth century established a small house of rest tended by four monks. Unmapped, rarely visited except by local builders, the ruins sitting high on Glapwell Terrace wood are there today. Abandoned, it was converted into a hunting lodge. The medieval manor house of Glapwell was demolished and only shadows remain on the football pitch in dry weather. Parts of its boundary remain however and an old 'bothy' house stands in the grounds of the latest owners, Glapwell Garden Centre.

The ancient village of Glapewelle Griff, referred to in 1209 documents, vanished at the end of the 14th century, probably wiped out during the black plague of around 1330 to 1370.

Rowthorne Trail - Click to expandIts memory is conserved in the name of Griff Wood part of the Civil Parish of Ault Hucknall and adjacent to the Norman church. Glapwell formed a part of its ecclesiastic parish before the existence of Doe Lea and Bramley Vale. In the grounds of Rose Cottage next to the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, which stands in full view of Hardwick Hall, an ancient well has been discovered. It is yet to be recorded on local maps.

 

A map giving a circular walk through and around Glapwell and touching upon places and subjects of interest can be acquired from the Heritage Centre.

Credit: K Gordon Jackson

Pinxton

Situated on the eastern side of the county, Pinxton was in Anglo Saxon times, a tiny and purely agricultural settlement which it remained for centuries. Circumstancial evidence points to its having been the unidentified manor of Esnotrewic or Snodeswic belonging in 1086 to William Peveril, five of whose 13 Derbyshire manors lay on the eastern border, including South Normanton and Shirland. Under him the manor was held by Drogo Fitz Ponce, who seems to have changed its name to Ponceston from which it evolved to Penekeston by 1208 and eventually to Pinxton.

Coal has been mined on a small scale on land leased from the the great landowners from Tudor times but with the arrival of a branch of the Cromford Canal in the 1790's a miniature industrial revolution began. Within a decade or so of the canal's arrival there sprang up, close to its terminal wharf, several deep coal pits, four lime kilns and a china works. John Coke built the china factory and was joined by William Billingsley, a famous painter from the Derby works and together they produced a much sought after product. At its busiest the workforce totalled 50 but the factory closed altogether in 1812 and the buildings were converted into colliers dwellings.

The early 19th century saw the building of a railway line from Pinxton Wharf to Mansfield. It was horse drawn until 1849 when it became linked to the Erewash valley railway. The population expanded from 463 in 1801 to 868 in 1831 with new housing being built in the wharf district which became known as New Pinxton.

John King (see Famous People of Bolsover district) who lived in Pinxton invented the mine cage safety detaching hook which became world famous and his old workshop was converted into a small commemorative museum. In a single room it displays through photographs, documents, artifacts and models a revealing insight into the economic and social history of Pinxton and its neighbourhood. A John King Memorial Headgear stands opposite the Greyhound Inn in the village.

The Coke family who owned much of the village lived at the Elizabethan Brookhill Hall. The last of the male Cokes was the composer Roger Sacheverill Coke who lived at the hall until his death in 1972. He was a personal friend of Rachmaninov by whose style he was much influenced. The house was in a poor state by the time of his death and its splendid grounds had run wild but both have been restored since its return to private ownership after a period as a home for drug addicts and it forms a charming green oasis between the M1 and the Erewash Valley.

Pinxton Wharf - Click to expandThe church of St Helen partly dates from medieval times and possibly on the site of a small castle that once existed here. Only the west tower and west end of the old church survived a massive rebuilding in 1750 when a new much larger church was built on to it at right angles, converting them into a south tower and transcept and making the whole building look rather odd. A new porch and north aisle were added in 1939. The village also had several methodist chapels built in the 19th century and a new Wesley church was built around 1900 near to the junction of Wharf Road and Victoria Road.

The village has had a variety of recreational facilities in its time with the Miners Welfare providing all manner of sports facilities. There was a billiards hall until the 1950's and numerous clubs and societies once existed. A modern industrial estate now sits on the site of the former Brookhall Colliery and coke ovens. New housing estates have sprung up and though the older terraces of colliers houses have gone along with the headstocks and other detritus of mining, Pinxton still looks like a mining village with a community spirit still fostered by a common interest in the coal industry of old.

Pleasley

The parish of Pleasley (population 2,200) which includes New Houghton and Stony Houghton is separated from Pleasley Hill by the River Meden. On the bank of the river used to stand open air swimming baths and the land which rises at the north of the parish to 550 feet above sea level, covers nearly three square miles.

Pleasley derives its name from the Old English and probably means Pleasa's Clearing; it is also said that it belonged to the family of Sevio de Pleasley who died in 1203. The 1086 Domesday Survey does not mention Pleasley (New Houghton is recorded as Holtune) probably because it came under the manor of Glapwell.

Pleasley Vale - Click to expandClose by, the still picturesque nature reserve of Pleasley Vale is recovering from the recent closure of William Hollin's famous cotton mills which date from 1785. In 1650, there was a forge here making saws and swords. The rock face in the Vale at the Mansfield Woodhouse end is still known today as Little Matlock.

In 1889 the benevolent William Hollins built good quality stone terrace houses and a school for the 500 workers and their families plus baths and reading and recreation rooms. Gas lighting had been installed in the village in 1876.

Pleasley used to have two railways, the LNER and LMS lines and remains of the stone viaducts can still be seen. They were dynamited and the stone used in the building of the M1 Motorway. The completion of the bypass at the side of the village changed its shape forever in 1976.

Pleasley Colliery was the second in the North Derbyshire Coalfield and finally closed in 1987 after 110 years of production.

The colliery was the first in the country to install electric lighting underground although candles were apparently still used long after its installation. In 1925, the pit was the second only to have a medical surgery at the pithead. The famous Colliery Band was formed in 1897 and the pit was always receptive to new ideas and techniques even in recent times when a new type of rubber- wheeled truck was used underground. Production was 2,000 tonnes per day in the early 1950's and averaged 16,500 tonnes during the 1960's.

Mineral works were owned by William Edward Nightingale, father of the celebrated Crimean War heroine, Florence Nightingale. Roman remains have been found in Pleasley Vale and it is recorded that a Roman legion was there in AD138.

St Michaels Church - Click to expandLater, Pleasley became part of the Kingdom of Mercia and was part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Sherwood. The King's Forest Officers had a regular checkpoint at Moorhaigh Bridge on the Meden which stood on the Great Road of Bolsover to Mansfield. The London to York road passed through the village and was allegedly used by Dick Turpin, the highwayman.

 

In 1284, Pleasley received a royal charter for a weekly market and two annual fairs in May and October. Fat and lean cattle were sold at the front of the church, sheep at the Market Cross (dating from late 13th century) and horses in Teversal Road.

Much later at the Market Cross stood a cottage housing the public weighbridge. Pleasley Vale can claim to be the birthplace of palaeontology and fossils were found there in 1880. Ancient earthworks were also found in the woodland known as Pleasley Park.

The church, dedicated to St. Michael dates from 1160 and the registers from 1553. The tower, late 14th century, was considerably damaged by an earthquake on Sunday 17th March 1816. The vestry was added in the 1840's and the tower and nave repaired in 1893. In 1969 the Pyddock room was built to commemorate Rev. W. Pyddock, rector from 1918-1937. Having obtained a pilot's licence, he was known as the Flying Parson. Methodism in the village dates from 1830, although currently Methodists have to worship in Pleasley Hill, albeit now at St. Barnabus Church. Two of the former Methodist Chapels have been re-used for industrial purposes.

Pleasley was one of the first in Derbyshire to have about 1,000 acres of common land enclosed under the 1748 Enclosure Acts - previously the land had been farmed on the Saxon 3 strip cultivation system.

The village pinfold was near the church and the stocks were also near the old Market Cross.

Florence Nightingale used to frequently visit her sister, Lady Frances Verney at Verney Cottage on Newboundmill Lane. Frances was the second wife of Sir Harry Verney, Lord of the Manor from 1858 until 1894. A much earlier Lord of the Manor was Anthony Beck (b1240) a soldier, courtier, lawyer, statesman, King of the Isle of Man, and close friend of Edward I. He was Bishop of Durham in 1283 and Patriot of Jerusalem in 1295.

The flour mill and chimney on Meden Square was for centuries a landmark and was the last outpost in Nottinghamshire. In very cold winters, skaters used to revel on the frozen dam. The mill formerly owned by another of the Verney family (Fred Verney, younger son of Sir Harry) was grinding corn until 1957, when floods in the village brought down silt into Pleasley dam and prevented the wheel from turning. The mill had a standby steam engine for emergency use when the water level fell too low. The chimney was demolished in the early 1960's.

Credit: L K Amatt

Scarcliffe

A large parish with a population of 5,430. Scarcliffe is predominantly rural in character and includes the attractive village of Scarcliffe and the hamlets of Hillstown, Palterton, Upper Langwith and Whaley Thoms. It is easily accessible, having two main roads passing through it, the A618 Mansfield to Rotherham road and the A632 from Chesterfield to the eastern part of the county, as well as from Palterton to the M1 Motorway. The source of the River Poulter is in this parish. Scarcliffe (Scardeclif in the Domesday Book) gains it name from the escarpment of magnesium limestone which outcrops from Hardwick Hall to the east, and on which the village stands. On a fine night from Scarcliffe you can see the lights of Lincoln Cathedral.

The parish church at Scarcliffe is dedicated to St. Leonard and is a stone building in the Early English and decorated styles. It contains the alabaster tomb of Lady Constantina. Legends of this Lady's wanderings with her small daughter, in the woods that once abounded here, is perpetuated in the annual ringing of the curfew bell at Christmas time. An annual flower festival is also held.

Palterton

Farm on Back Lane, Palterton - Click to expandPalterton (Paltretun in the DomesBook) is named after the River Poulter which now runs underground. Palterton is still an agricultural settlement and has a fine school, many old farm buildings, pretty cottages but perhaps the most impressive is the 18th century Old Hall looking out across the valley to Sutton Scarsdale building.

 

Hillstown

Hillstown was dedicated after the Reverend C Hills a former curate of Scarcliffe and vicar of Bolsover, first Chairman of Bolsover Urban District Council. The first three streets in Hillstown were named after his children - Selwyn, Nesbit and Victoria.

During the industrial revolution great change came to the parish. A coal mine was sunk at Langwith, large numbers of houses were needed and the railways came. Housing began to spread outwards from the centre of the village. The Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway came through the parish cutting a path through previously agricultural land and digging a tunnel between Scarcliffe and Bolsover, an undertaking which was very labour intensive. The navvies lived in a wooden hut on site and the area is now known as Gang Lane. The manager of this grand enterprise lived in splendour in a house very near the tunnel which became the Scarcliffe Vicarage up until 1980 when it was sold privately. The Langwith Colliery closed in 1978 and the railway has long gone.

Upper Langwith sits on the side of a valley by the River Poulter. Langwith is said to mean either 'long willow' or 'long ford' known locally as 'Langwith Bassett', relating to the Bassett family.

River Poulter, Langwith - Click to expandScarcliffe Park, 14 acres of private woodland forming part of the boundary with Whaley Thorns and Langwith has yielded some surprising archaeological evidence from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Roman dwellings. A Roman coin hoard was found near the village in 1876 and perhaps the most important find was the 'Langwith Cranium' - a human skull, now in the Natural History Museum, London. Scarcliffe Parish is steeped in history, and folk have lived here for around 30,000 years. It has many scenic walks and fine views and the recently completed Poulter Country Park, which was a million pound programme of environmental improvements to the old colliery spoil heaps, is sure to further enhance the parish's natural beauty.

Credit: Mr P West

Shirebrook

Shirebrook covers an area of only 1,713 acres, but is quite densely populated (9,220).

First mentioned in the 12th century as "Shirebrook", and in the "Scir" and "broc", and has two possible meanings. S.O. Kay, in his "Coronation Handbook" of 1937, opted for "bright, or shining stream", but Kenneth Cameron in his "Place Names of Derbyshire" prefers "boundary brook".

Access to water clearly attracted the Anglian settlers, and there is evidence of earlier occupation, mostly on the eastern side of the modern village. A Stone Age flint tool and Romano British coin hoards and pottery have been found in past years at Thickley Bank and Stubbin Wood, while tile remnants suggest a Roman kiln at nearby Sookholme.

There is also a well - known story of ancient human bones being discovered in a cave in the Rocks off Main Street in Victorian times, but sadly the evidence disappeared, sold by children to a passing rag and bone man!

Shirebrook can only have been a small settlement, and after the Angles and the Danes were followed by the conquering Normans, it did not get a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086, but is believed to have been a part of the Glapwell manor. Later on, when Pleasley broke away to form a manor of its own, Shirebrook became part of Pleasley manor, and afterwards Pleasley parish. At this time it consisted of a few scattered dwellings surrounded by four large fields, and probably half a dozen tracks or roads which were to become Main Street, Carter Lane, Stinting Lane, Wood Lane, Thickley Bank and the Church Way leading to Pleasley.

The main local families appear to have been the Stuffyns and the de Sherbrookes; Stuffynwood Farm, to the south of Shirebrook, has recently been dated back to the 1470s, while it is thought the de Sherbrookes may possibly have been the occupants of a large moated homestead lying to the east of Portland Road, which would have been held by a sub-tenant on behalf of the Lord of the Manor at Pleasley.

When Ashbourne Grammar School bought the land in 1613, the building was in decay, and a farm was built there in 1705 which became Ashbourne Farm. Even so, traces of the old moat remained long after the farm was sold in 1916, and could still be seen in the 1960's. By then the de Sherbrookes had long since left the village, while John Stuffyn, who planted Stuffynwood, died in 1695 as the last of his line.

The founding of a textile mill at Pleasley by William Hollins in 1784 provided an additional means of employment, and many Shirebrook people worked there until the mills closed in the 1980s.

There had been a church of some kind at Shirebrook from the Middle Ages onwards, though not a parish church (this was at Pleasley). A drawing made by the Rev. Guy Brian in 1816 shows a building which appears to have been erected in the 14th century. By 1650 it had fallen into disrepair, and in spite of expensive renovations a century later, it decayed once more and was finally demolished. It was replaced in 1843 by Holy Trinity Church, which was consecrated that September. Soon afterwards, in 1849, Shirebrook became its own ecclesiastical parish, though still part of the civil parish of Pleasley.

This new independence was reflected in a spate of building work - the old Dame School was replaced by a National School (the present Old School Restaurant) in 1852, a vicarage was built in 1855, and in 1858 Stuffynwood Hall was constructed for the local squire, Joseph Paget. With the other main landowners like the Duke of Devonshire and the Nicholson family, Paget supervised the day-to-day life of what was still a small farming hamlet of agricultural labourers and related craftsmen such as millers, wheelwrights and blacksmiths. In 1801, Shirebrook had 156 inhabitants and 31 houses, in 1891 it had risen to only 576.

The arrival of the Midland Railway, whose line bypassed the village to the east in 1875, was a foretaste of the future. The railway navvies working on the cuttings and embankments camped in the fields now occupied by Kissingate Leisure Centre, in huts which they left behind for future occupation. Their drunken brawls in what had previously been a quiet country hamlet probably began the "Wild West boom town" image with which Shirebrook was saddled at the turn of the century.

The real transformation came twenty years later, in March 1896, when sinking operations began on No.1 shaft of Shirebrook Colliery, and the village was invaded by thousands of newcomers from other parts of the country - Nottinghamshire, the West Midlands, even Cornwall - in search of a home and a job at the new pit. Work had already commenced on the building of a Model Village for the colliery workers, but it was impossible to keep pace with the massive influx of people. By 1901 Shirebrook's population had leapt from less than 600 to nearly 7,000, a tenfold increase in barely five years! With large numbers occupying tents and the old navvies' huts in the open fields, a major and hurried building programme was carried out in the main village by Messrs. F. R. and J. W. Moore. Hastily erected, and just as hastily occupied, these houses were prey to sanitation and hygiene problems and must have contributed to the terrible typhoid outbreak of the late 1890s that killed 150 young children in four years.

The churchyard was filled, extended, filled again, and became a health hazard. At last, in 1899, it was closed, and a new cemetery opened on the Pleasley Road (Common Lane). Inevitably such a startling change to the village brought violence, rowdiness and squalor, but that is only half the story. There was also progress, improvement and civic pride. The 1890s also saw the founding of the Carter Lane Board Schools, the setting up of the Shirebrook Gas Company, and the merging with Pleasley and other parishes as part of Blackwell R.D.C.

Piped water systems were established, with the "shire brook" now running underground, and sewers and street lighting gradually installed. In 1904 Shirebrook at last became an independent civil parish, and under the leadership of such entrepreneurs as the Moores and Thomas Moorley embarked on further provision of schools and social amenities. The Catholic and Nonconformist churches, the Model Village schools and later the Central School on Langwith Road, are but a few examples of many.

Shirebrook's first council houses were built in the Park Road area in the 1920's and further housing developments took place to the west and at Langwith Junction within the next fifteen years. By 1937 Shirebrook boasted four recreation grounds, two cinemas and two dance halls, and its population had risen to 11,000. With coal at a premium, the colliery continued operations throughout the war, and at its peak employed 2,000 men.

The post-war period saw the nationalisation of the coal industry, and further housing and educational development. The 1960s saw the building of the Pear Tree Estate off Recreation Road, and the erection of a prestigious new comprehensive school, while in the 1970s many of the old terraced streets in the centre of Shirebrook were demolished, to be replaced by modern bungalows and shops. In the local government reorganisation of 1974 Shirebrook left the Blackwell R.D.C. and became part of the new Bolsover District Council. In 1961 its population peaked at 11,635; in the thirty years that followed it has suffered a gradual decline, with the 1991 census standing at 9,149. The "980s saw the development of the Kissingate Sports Complex, but also an increase in unemployment, and a reducation of work at the colliery. Shirebrook Colliery was finally closed in August 1994, and 98 years as a mining village came to an end.

The industrial aspect of Shirebrook is now being expanded to meet the requirements of the population, and the need for industrial developments. Shirebrook is now faced with the task of finding a new role in the new millennium.

Credit: Geoff Sadler

South Normanton

South Normanton is a large, busy village situated 2 miles east of Alfreton with a population of approximately 8,600.

Normanton, meaning the farm of the north men or 'Northwegans' was a small holding belonging to William Peveril at the time of Domesday. It was a purely agricultural settlement but added tanning as a secondary industry during medieval times, using the bark of the oak and birch, both plentiful in the area. The hamlets of Upper and Lower Birchwood are South Normanton's southerly neighbours today.

In the 18th and 19th century there was a middle class consisting of farmers, the rector and the Squire, and 2 groups of manual workers, framework knitters and miners. Each of the groups had its own traditions and culture, mixing rarely with the other group and even less with the farmers. The knitters, or shiners as they were known from the state of their trouser seats after a 14 hour day sitting at their machines, tended to live in certain areas around the Dog Pool, along Water Lane and particularly up the narrow alleys around the Old Market Place.

South Normanton took on its existing character after the opening of 'A Winning' colliery in 1871 and 'B Winning' in 1875, by the Blackwell Colliery Company. By the 1881's 'A Winning' had the largest output of coal in Derbyshire and employed around 500 men. Streets of terraced houses were built to accommodate the growing population, which saw an increase from 1,812 in 1871 to 3,205 in 1881 and this trend continued until the 1930's. It was the Blackwell Colliery Company's paternalistic gestures that guaranteed a steadily expanding workforce for the pits.

A colliery institute was built with a reading room, library, tennis courts and playing fields were established along with a cottage hospital. Many people came to South Normanton from depressed agricultural areas and this migration was helped by the Erewash Valley railway extension, which reached Alfreton in 1865.

Almost every adult male worked in the pits, the boys sent to the mines as soon as they were of age. Women generally stayed at home as wages were relatively quite high in the new collieries. A family centred environment was created infused with the ethics of Nonconformist chapels and institutions like the Co-ops, friendly societies and the pubs. Mining was dangerous work. Apart from the life expectancy of a miner being shorter than in other occupations, men were killed in mines. Five died in an explosion in A Winning in 1895 and 8 were killed by another explosion in 1937 at South Normanton Colliery. South Normanton Colliery closed in 1952, B Winning in 1964 and A Winning in 1969.

St Michael's Church dates from around the 13th century but most of the present building is from the 19th. It contains a monument to a Robert Ravel who lived at the nearby Carnfield Hall, an early 17th century stone mansion built by the Revell family. The Ravells died out in 1797 and of their successors, the Radfords, who were in occupation in the last quarter of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th, seem to be remembered with affection in the village and at Carnfield because they introduced mains water in 1913. At one period since WW2, the Hall was used for training engineering apprentices but is now in private hands again and is listed Grade II building.

The old linear shape of the village has been lost over the years. Its former centre, around the old market place has moved to a new market area and a mass of housing covers the site of Jedediah Strutt's birthplace next to the Shoulder of Mutton pub. Despite the unemployment caused by the closing of the coal mines, life continues and so does the old community spirit, helped by the recent building of a magnificent new village hall.

Tibshelf

Tibshelf is a southern parish in Bolsover District and a former coal mining village with a population of around 3,400.

Its coal mining industry goes back over 650 years and ended just 70 years ago when the 2 longest surviving pits, Long Pit and Bottom Pit were closed. In 1891 over 2,000 men had been employed in the village mines.

The village stretches for about a mile along a main street that was once part of the Mansfield-Matlock turnpike road. There are fine views all round. Westwards you look across to the hills around Ashover with Crich Stand on the horizon. Eastwards, to what is left of Sherwood Forest and a couple miles northwards, Hardwick Hall sits grandly on its own hilltop.

IAgriculture has always played an important part in the economy of Tibshelf and also, during the 18th and 19th centuries, many of the villagers were employed in the framework knitting of cotton hose in their own homes, and the noise of the frames could be heard throughout the village. A few new industries have sprung up recently varying from the manufacture of textiles to aluminium extrusions.

Tibshelf ponds - Click to expandThroughout the centuries, local farms and land belonged to only a handful of families. In 1553 the Tibshelf estate was given to the Crown as a source of revenue for the newly built St Thomas's Hospital in London, and this unusual landlord continued until the arrival of the NHS in 1946. All the properties were then sold off, mainly to sitting tenants.

 

In recent years British Coal and the local council have co-operated in reclaiming the old colliery spoil heaps and unused railway land, creating a network of footpaths and country parkland between Tibshelf and neighbouring villages.

There has been considerable housing development in recent years to serve the needs of the nearby cities of Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield but a friendly village atmosphere has been preserved. Tibshelf has many modern facilities including schools for children up to the age of 16, health centres, shops, old peoples clubs, youth centres, 2 Methodist chapels and a church. The church of St John the Baptist has been well restored over the centuries but it still retains an impressive 14th century tower. It used to look over a mining scenery, but no more.

Hardstoft & Hardstoft Oil Well

This is the site of Britain's first "inland" oil well. Oil was prospected in the North Derbyshire coalfield area because of the possible threat to oil supplies created by the First World War. Colliery digging had revealed traces of oil in the area and oil was reached on 27th May 1919 at 3,077 feet and continued in production until 1945. A storage tank still remains behind the oil well nursery.

Whitwell

Whitwell has a population of approximately 4,750 and is situated in an agricultural area, in the north east corner of the district.

Part of the world famous Creswell Crags (see Treasures of Bolsover District) are within the Whitwell boundary. The caves were a home to early man, hunters who followed the great herds. There are rich remains of animals such as the mammoth, sabre-toothed tiger, and a prehistoric hyena much larger than the present species.

Welbeck Abbey, founded by the French Premonstratensian canons, flourished for about 400 years, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1593 the Abbey came into the Cavendish family, and the future Dukes of Portland greatly influenced the area. Their large estate provides employment to the present day.

The Old Hall became a residence and a school, and in 1853 a son was born to the headmaster. Charles Edward Wilson grew up to be a notable artist, and 40 of his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Several of his studies of Victorian village life are still popular as greetings cards.

The village church of St Lawrence, with its Saxon font and grey stone tower, is central to the village. It dates back as far as 1150 and registers from 1672. It contains a memorial to Sir Roger Manners who died in 1632 and had lived at Whitwell manor. Two miles away in the hamlet of Steetley the perfect little Norman church featured in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe stands in a truly rural setting.

The well in the Square, with its pump, and another on the green, supplied the best drinking water. It used to be taken round the village by horse-drawn water tank, and sold for a halfpenny a bucket. Although many properties had their own cistern, the water from the wells was preferred, and some people carried it all the way up to the moor. Several farms were situated within the village, and people remember the cows being herded along the roads for milking time. Peartree cottage stood in the centre of the Square; the site of the present war memorial. A turnpike road ran from the Half Moon inn to the George inn, where the old mounting steps remain. This road lost its importance when the new road was made in 1890, linking the Half Moon inn and the Dale inn, on Whitwell Common.

An old mill sank into dereliction. The grindstone is now an ornamental feature in the Mill Lane housing estate. The old brewery provided winter quarters for travelling folk.

Whitwell Wood - Click to expandImmediately after the closure of the pit the superstructure was dismantled, and the winding wheel embedded in what was once the school playground, now the parking area of the community centre. The tall chimney of the processing plant of the dolomite quarry represents continuing industry. The dolomite material is crushed and burned, to provide the fireproof lining for blast furnaces.

Despite the changes the village has retained its character, absorbing generations of change and newcomers. The old stone houses, farmhouses and more humble abodes, are now desirable residences. Their occupants do not now go to the well for water, but help at the annual Well Dressing, which takes place in July.