History on Alfreton in the county of Derbyshire

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Some history of Alfreton

I have enjoyed a drink or two in Alfreton's pubs over the years - before and after Wetherspoon's! We have even used the latter on one occasion when we meandered on our bicycles on a touring ride/pub crawl from Derby and few other places had anything to eat, unless it was chips! Talking of which, many years ago I delivered some frozen food to the Kwik Save and was puzzled why the manager had ordered so many chips - a whole pallet of the things. He told me that Alfreton folk loved their chips. And as I pulled the truck out of the service yard and turned right along the High Street, I noticed a huge queue outside one of the shops - I turned to see what exciting offers the retail outlet was selling to attract such a crowd and laughed when I noticed it was a chippy!

I suppose in the 1980s and 1990s there was an air of post-industrial and post-mining gloom about the place but I still liked visiting Alfreton. The people were generally friendly and you could still find beauty in certain pockets of the town. When it was improved, the A38 took traffic away from the place that was once an important crossroads between Derby and Chesterfield. Improved transport communications led to the development of industrial estates on former coal mining territory close to the dual carriageway and this remains an important part of the local economy.

Map of Alfreton [1900]

Wind the clock back to Edwardian times and Alfreton was a large market town and head of a petty sessional division and county court district and, if including the outlying villages, was an extensive parish. Trade directories of the period described the town as "pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill." The Church of Saint Martin was described as an "edifice of stone consisting of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, south porch, vestry and a western tower containing a clock and eight bells, dating from 1627 to 1901.

Church of Saint Martin at Alfreton [1958]

The oldest portions of the church is the arch opening from the tower to the nave, which may certainly be attributed to the commencement of the Early English period; the only other memorial of that period is a slab, incised with the head of a sepulchral cross; it was found beneath the pavement of the chancel and, in 1894, was fixed in the chancel wall and protected in front by a sheet of plate glass. The nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of five arches of the Decorated period on circular columns with octagonal bases, erected about 1320, the eastern-most arches being added in 1868, when the chancel was extended. To this period also belongs the south doorway.

The tower is a fair specimen of Early Perpendicular, and was probably built at the beginning of the 15th century. The windows of the south aisle are Perpendicular; of the same period is the vestry, which is boldly vaulted with stone and rubble. Built into the north wall of the chancel is a large slab of grit stone, with brass shield of arms and Latin inscription to John Ormond esq. [1503] and Joan his wife, daughter and heiress of Sir William Chatworth [1507]. In the north aisle are monuments to Anthony Morewood, gentleman [1636], and others of that name. There is a reredos of Derbyshire alabaster, into which has been skilfully worked a large slab of alabaster formerly on the chancel floor. There are also seven memorial windows, that at the east end being a memorial to Charles R. Palmer-Morewood esq. of Alfreton Hall, who died in 1873."

Interior of the Church of Saint Martin at Alfreton [c.1910]

Church of Saint Martin at Alfreton [2003]

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Alfreton in Trade Directories
From Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire [1899]

"Alfreton is a market town and head of a petty sessional division and county court district, and [including several outlying villages] is an extensive parish, 91 miles east-by-north from Wirksworth, 14 north-north-east from Derby, 139 from London by road and 132 by railway, 2¼ east from South Wingfield station, 24 from Loughborough, 38 from Leicester, 22 from Sheffield, 16 from Nottingham and 1 mile west from Alfreton station on the Erewash Valley section of the Midland railway, in the mid-division of the county, Scarsdale hundred, Belper union, rural deanery of Alfreton archdeaconry of Derby and diocese of Southwell : a branch of the Midland Railway connects this town with Mansfield, via Teversal. Alfreton is pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill, and is well paved and lighted with gas from works in King Street, the property of the Alfreton Gas Co. The water supply for the town and the various wards below mentioned is derived from extensive works and reservoirs at Butterley and Lindway, in the parish of Ashover and at Brackenfield in the parish of Morton, constructed in 1877, at a cost of nearly £;50,000, and having a storage capacity of 27,000,000 gallons. The waterworks are the property of and are managed by the Urban District Council. The town was governed by a Local Board until the "Local Government Act, 1894," established an Urban District Council; it is divided into the following wards : 1, Alfreton ward; 2, Somercotes and Riddings ward; 3, Swanwick ward; 4, Ironville ward. By Local Government Board Order, in 1888, the Urban District was extended to include the entire civil parish.

The Vicarage at Alfreton [c.1910]

The church of St. Martin is an edifice of stone consisting of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, south porch, vestry and a western tower containing a clock and 6 bells, dating from 1627 to 1897, and a small sanctus bell: one of the oldest portions of the church is the arch opening from the tower to the nave, which may certainly be attributed to the commencement of the Early English period; the only other memorial of that period is a slab, incised with the head of a sepulchral cross; it was found beneath the pavement of the chancel, and in 1894 was fixed in the chancel wall, and protected in front by a sheet of plate glass : the nave is separated from the aisles by arcades of five arches of the Decorated period, on circular columns with octagonal bases, erected about 1320, the eastern-most arches being added in 1868, when the chancel was extended: to this period also belongs the south doorway. The tower is a fair specimen of Early Perpendicular and was probably built at the beginning of the 15th century. The windows of the south aisle are Perpendicular; of the same period is the vestry, which is boldly vaulted with stone and rubble. Built into the north wall of the chancel is a large slab of gritstone, with brass shield of arms and Latin inscription to John Ormond esq. [1503] and Joan his wife, daughter and heiress of William Chaworth kt. [1507]: in the north aisle are monuments to Anthony Morewood, gentleman [1636], and others of that name. There is a reredos of Derbyshire alabaster, into which has been skilfully worked a large slab of alabaster formerly on the chancel floor. There are also seven memorial windows, that at the east end being a memorial to Charles R. Palmer-Morewood esq. of Alfreton Hall, who died in 1873. In the vestry is a memorial window, erected in 1890 by Mrs. Lee, to her son, the Rev. James Percy Lee, a former curate of this parish. There is also a window, erected by the parishioners in 1884, to the wife of the Rev. William Henry Draper M.A., then vicar of this parish; and in 1894 a stained window was also erected to the memory off Tom Herring Bingham, son of Dr. Bingham, who was drowned at Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, on Friday, 12th August 1892, while attempting to save the life of Cecilie Barber, aged 5 years, who had fallen off a steam launch at Lamb's close. In 1895 a memorial window was placed by Mr. Wm. Wilson, of The Bank, Alfreton, to Lucy, his wife: in 1844, two carved oak reading desks were placed in the church, by subscription; and in 1885 a brass lectern was given by the Hon. Mrs. Palmer-Morewood. The church plate was given in the last century by various members of the Turner family of Swanwick Hall. In 1868-9 the church was thoroughly restored and considerably enlarged, at a cost of £3,200. There are 500 sittings. There are no registers earlier that the year 1706. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £326, with residence and 72 acres of glebe, 66 acres being at Ab Kettleby, in Leicestershire, in the Charles Rowland Palmer-Morewood esq. and held since 1897 by the Rev. Arthur Curtis Beckton M.A. of market of New College. Oxford, and rural dean of Alfreton. The churchyard is kept in very good condition during the summer months, a special fund being raised for the purpose. A new vicarage house was erected in 1891. at a cost of £2.040.

The Mission Room, on the Mansfield Road, is an iron structure, and there is another at the south end of the town, erected in 1894, with accommodation for 100 persons. Children's services are held on Sundays. The Catholic Church. in Park Street, dedicated to Saint Mary, is served from Clay Cross by the Ref. Daniel Meenagh, priest, and there are places of worship for Wesleyans, Congregationalists, Primitive Methodists and United Methodist Free Church. A cemetery of 2 acres in Roger Lane, was opened in 1891; it is managed by a Burial Board of six members, representing the Alfreton ward.

The new premises of Messrs. Crompton and Evans' Union Bank Limited, erected in 1892, are in the Market Place, and form a handsome addition to the architecture of the town. The Savings Bank is open every Friday, from 2.30 to 3.30pm. Morewood's Charity of £170 yearly, derived from 28 acres and invested funds, is distributed in pensions and moieties in money and kind respectively among the poor of the mother parish of Alfreton and of Riddings, Swanwick, Ironville and Somercotes; Gisborne's Charity of £6 12s. 11d. yearly, left in 1818 by the Rev. Francis Gisborne, some time rector of Staveley, and Hunter's of £10, left in 1735, are distributed in flannel among the poor of the parishes of Alfreton, Riddings, Swanwick, Ironville and Somercotes; Adam Parker's of £5 5s. yearly, for 20 poor widows or poor men, and Tanner's Charity, amounting to £1, for 20 poor people, are given away the first week in January at the discretion of the Urban District Council.

The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the collieries and iron works in the neighbourhood. The Market Hall is the property of the Urban District Council, and is a plain brick building. The weekly market is held on Friday; a general market is held on Saturday. Fairs are held on July 31st [which is very large, for cattle and horses], October 7th and November 24th. The Midland Agricultural Society holds an annual show in September, in Alfreton Park.

The Blackwell Colliery Co. Limited opened a new pit here in 1887, which gives employment to about 500 hands. Swanwick Collieries, the property of C. R. Palmer-Morewood esq. D.L., J.P. employs about 700 hands.

Alfreton Park [1750], the seat of Charles Rowland Palmer-Morewood esq., D.L., J.P. is situated near the town; the mansion is a large and handsome residence of stone, standing on an elevated and beautiful site surrounded by park and grass land, much improved by the late possessor, William Palmer-Morewood esq.; the interior is spacious and well arranged; the dining and drawing rooms contain some good pictures and portraits by Romney and Wright, a landscape by Gainsborough and a very fine Canaletti, representing the Great Court of the Doge's Palace at Venice.

Riddings House near Alfreton [c.1910]

The landowners are Charles Rowland Palmer-Morewood esq. who is lord of the manor, Thomas H. Oakes esq. J.P. of Riddings House, Miss Mary Anne Hall, of the Manor House, Ashford Carbonell, Sir Charles Seely bart. J.P. of Sherwood Lodge, Arnold, Christopher Wood esq. J.P. of Swanwick Hall, William Wilson esq. Joseph George Wilson esq. and others.

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The soil and subsoil are chiefly clay and loam; the area is 4,586 acres of land and 40 of water, and of the ecclesiastical parish, 1,537 acres; rateable value for the entire parish, £51,458. The population of the urban district and parish in 1891 was 15,355. Sleet Moor is partly in this district and partly in that of Swanwick. Parish Clerk and Sexton, William Burnham.

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1876 Post Office Directory

Allen Mescach, The Plough
Bradford Charles, Beer Retailer, Park Street
Bramfield Henry, Beer Retailer, Carnfield Lane
Clarke Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Cupit, Henry, George Hotel, Market Place
Dooley Henry, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Gibson James, Queen's Head, High Street
Hawkins Thomas, Red Lion, High Street
Hughes Owen, Swan and Salmon, Colliery Road
Jeffery William, Four Horse Shoe, King Street
Jepson George, Angel, 149 King Street
Ling George, Royal Oak, King Street
Matthews Noah, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Merriman Samuel, Beer Retailer and Greengrocer, High Street
Moore William, Beer Retailer and Boot Maker, Nottingham Road
Radford Edmund, Railway Tavern and Shopkeeper, 118 King Street
Roberts Mrs. Elizabeth, Blue Bell, High Street
Sims Thomas, Beer Retailer, 18 King Street
Townsend, Daniel, Castle, High Street
Webster Francis, King's Head Hotel, King Street

1881 Kelly's Directory

Allen Mrs. Elizabeth, The Plough
Allen Thomas, Angel, 149 King Street
Bonnington Samuel, Queen's Hotel, Derby Road
Buxton Charles, Beer Retailer, King Street
Clarke Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Cupit, Henry, George Hotel, Market Place
Hawkins Mrs. Hannah, Red Lion, High Street
Hughes Owen, Swan and Salmon, Colliery Road
Ling George, Royal Oak, King Street
Machin Anthony, Farmer and Beer Retailer, Carnfield Lane
Marsh Benjamin, Beer Retailer, Park Street
Matthews Noah, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Merriman Samuel, Beer Retailer and Greengrocer, 40 High Street
Miles Walter, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Moore William, Beer Retailer and Boot Maker, Nottingham Road
Radford Edmund, Railway Tavern and Shopkeeper, 118 King Street
Roberts Mrs. Elizabeth, Blue Bell, High Street
Sims Thomas, Beer Retailer, 18 King Street
Smedley William, Four Horse Shoes, King Street
Townsend, Daniel, Castle, High Street
Webster Francis, King's Head Hotel, King Street

1895 Kelly's Directory

Annable William, Angel Hotel, King Street
Barber Frank, Castle Inn, High Street
Bentley Joseph, Royal Oak, King Street
Bonnington Samuel, Queen's Hotel, Derby Road
Bradley Robert, Swan and Salmon, Derby Road
Brewer Charles Allen, Four Horse Shoes, King Street
Burnham John, The Plough, Nottingham Road
Buxton Charles, Beer Retailer and Fruiterer, King Street
Cartwright John, Blue Bell, High Street
Clarke Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Earnshaw Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Fletcher Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Hawkins Mrs. Hannah, Red Lion, High Street
Marshal John, Beer Retailer, Mansfield Road
Matthews Noah, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Mycroft Herbert, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Painter Thomas, Railway Inn, King Street
Schofield Alfred, George Hotel, Market Place
Sims Thomas, Beer Retailer, 18 King Street
Webster Francis, King's Head Hotel, King Street
Williamson James Chamberlain, Beer Retailer, King Street

1899 Kelly's Directory

Barber Frank, Castle Inn, High Street
Bonnington Samuel, Queen's Hotel, Derby Road
Bradley Robert, Swan and Salmon, Derby Road
Brewer Charles Allen, Four Horse Shoes, King Street
Brown Samuel, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Burnham John, The Plough, Nottingham Road
Cartwright John, Blue Bell, High Street
Clark Ernest, King's Head, King Street
Clarke Joseph, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Fell Charles, Red Lion, High Street
Fletcher John, Victoria Inn, Nottingham Road
Hawkins Mrs. Hannah, Red Lion, High Street
Marshall John, Station, Mansfield Road
Morton William, Beer Retailer and Shopkeeper, 40 High Street
Mycroft Herbert, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Ord Samuel, Angel, King Street
Painter Thomas, Railway Inn, King Street
Schofield Mrs., George Hotel, Market Place
Shaw George, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Winterbottom George, Beer Retailer, King Street
Webster Francis, King's Head Hotel, King Street

1912 Kelly's Directory

Bestwick Thomas, Railway Inn, King Street
Cartwright Elizabeth [Mrs.], Blue Bell, High Street
Charlton John Nail, King's Head, King Street
Clarke John Walter, Four Horse Shoes, King Street
Davies George H. The Plough, Nottingham Road
Dooley Henry, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Dykes Bertram J. Angel Inn, King Street
England James, Queen's Head, Derby Road
Fletcher William, Castle Inn, High Street
Jones Richard Bromley, Beer Retailer, Park Street
Lane John, Beer Retailer, 40 High Street
Linacre William, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Marriott William, Swan and Salmon, Derby Road
Marshal John, Station Hotel, Mansfield Road
Marshal Tom, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Sankey Henry, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Shearman Joseph, Beer Retailer, King Street
Smith John, Red Lion, High Street
Truman Herbert H., George Hotel, Market Place

1925 Kelly's Directory

Ball Mrs. Ellen, Beer Retailer, Sleet Moor
Bentley Arthur, Blue Ball, High Street
Booth Alfred, Queen's Head, Derby Road
Clarke John Walter, Four Horse Shoes, 11 King Street
Dennis Stephen, Swan and Salmon, Colliery Road
Ellis Alfred, Alfred Inn, King Street
England James, Red Lion, High Street
Fearn James, George Hotel, Market Place
Fletcher William, Castle Hotel, High Street
Holmes George Frederick, Railway Inn, King Street
Lane John, Beer Retailer, 42 High Street
Linacre William, Beer Retailer, 64 Nottingham Road
Marshal Tom, Wagon and Horses, King Street
Morgan William, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Parkin Mrs. Mary, Station Hotel, Mansfield Road
Syson Reuben, Beer Retailer, Park Street
Whiteman Robert, Beer Retailer, 87 Nottingham Road
Williams Francis William, The Plough, Nottingham Road

1932 Kelly's Directory

Beaumont Herbert E., Castle Hotel, High Street
Buckley Mrs. Sarah, Blue Bell, High Street
Burrows Arthur, Beer Retailer, 87 Nottingham Road
Clay Frederick Arthur, Beer Retailer, King Street
Dennis Stephen, Swan and Salmon, Colliery Road
Dooley Albert Edward, Beer Retailer, 42 High Street
Hall Henry, Railway Inn, 105 King Street
Hazelby Harold, Railway Hotel, Mansfield Road
Hopkinson Joseph, Angel Inn, King Street
Linacre William, Beer Retailer, 64 Nottingham Road
Lomas Richard W., Wagon and Horses, King Street
Morgan William, Beer Retailer, Nottingham Road
Redfern Frederick William, Four Horse Shoes, 11 King Street
Rhodes Gladwin, Beer Retailer, Park Street
Rodwell Benjamin Hunter, George Hotel, Market Place
Shipley Frederick, Queen's Head, Derby Road
Sills Charles, Red Lion, High Street
Williams Francis William, The Plough, Nottingham Road

1941 Kelly's Directory

Angel Hotel [Joseph Hopkinson], King Street
Blue Bell [Mrs. Sarah Buckley], High Street
Castle Hotel [Clarence Bamforth], High Street
Devonshire Arms [Frederick Arthur Clay], King Street
Four Horse Shoes [Joseph Kent], 11 King Street
Gate Inn [Harold Rowe], 87 Nottingham Road
George Hotel [Stretton's Derby Brewery Ltd.], Market Place
King Alfred Hotel [Roland Leslie Parsons], High Street
Miners' Arms [Charles H. Sills], Park Street
Plough Inn [Francis William Williams], Nottingham Road
Queen's Head [Frederick Shipley], Derby Road
Railway Inn [Roland Jarman], 105 King Street
Red Lion [Thomas W. Marston], High Street
Station Hotel [Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Cosford], Mansfield Road
Swan and Salmon [Stephen Dennis], Colliery Road
Victoria Inn [William Linacre], 64 Nottingham Road
Wagon and Horses [Arthur Burrows], King Street

The High Street at Alfreton [c.1948]

Bell Inn
Castle Hotel
Coach and Horses
Devonshire Arms
Elephant and Castle
Four Horse Shoes
Gables
Gate Inn
George Hotel
George and Dragon
Golden Fleece
King Alfred Hotel
King's Head
Lower George
Miners' Arms
Nag's Head
New Inn
Plough Inn
Queen's Head
Railway Hotel
Red Lion
Robin Hood
Royal Oak
Station Hotel
Swan and Salmon
Victoria Inn
Wagon and Horses

Genealogy Connections

If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Alfreton area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Derbyshire Genealogy.

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Quotation

The Mail Coach by John Frederick Herring

"At each Inn on the road I a welcome could find; At the Fleece I'd my skin full of ale; The Two Jolly Brewers were just to my mind; At the Dolphin I drink like a wheale. Tom Tun at the Hogshead sold pretty good stuff; They'd capital flip at the Boar; And when at the Angel I'd tippled enough, I went to the Devil for more."
Mail Coach Guard

Newspaper Articles

"The Alfreton Bench of magistrates had a very serious case before them last Friday, when John Sweeting, an Alfreton man, was charged with assaulting P.C. Turner of Alfreton, on the 18th October. P.C. Turner said that on the day in question, about 9 p.m., he was on duty in King Street, Alfreton, when he saw Sweeting, drunk. His language was obscene, and witness asked him to cease, refused, and without the least warning he kicked him with full force in the stomach. He followed that up with a further assault. By Supt. Eyre : Witness was ill for a short time. The bystanders took the defendant home. Sweeting said he should not go home for witness, and he threatened to kill him. Samuel Webster, of Alfreton, gave corroborative evidence of seeing Sweeting kick the constable. Albert Taylor saw the occurrence. Mr Slack, of Clay Cross, said he had advised his client to plead guilty, and he was not answerable to his action. He had borne a good character, and he expressed his sorrow for what he had done. He hoped the Bench would take a lenient view of the case. In fact, The Chairman said they took a serious view of the case. In fact, they could not look upon it in any other light than a serious assault, seeing the nature of the kick. The constable might have been crippled for life. He only spoke for the benefit of the defendant, and was but doing his duty. Sweeting would have to go to prison for month, with hard labour."
"Alfreton Man Gets Drunk and Kicks a Constable"
Derbyshire Times : October 30th 1897 Page 3.

"By imposing heavy penalties, the Alfreton magistrates on Wednesday emphasised their intention of stopping the growing tendency of stealing glasses from public houses. George Henry Dyke, his wife, Clara Dyke, and a woman named Florrie Boot, all of South Normanton, were charged with stealing two glasses, valued at 1s.6d. each, the property of Arthur Bentley of the Blue Bell, Alfreton. Mrs Dyke pleaded guilty to stealing one but her husband said he was too drunk to know anything. Bentley stated that the defendants came to his house for drink at a busy time on Saturday night. He was sure that Dyke was sober. Dyke and his wife were ordered to pay £3.13s.3d. between them, and Florrie Boot was fined £2.8s.6d. including costs."
"Costly Glasses"
Derby Courier : August 27th 1921 Page 1.

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