History on the village of Woodville in the county of Derbyshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Background Information
Woodville was once known as Wooden Box, a fairly isolated place on the old turnpike road connecting Burton-on-Trent and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Indeed, the so-called 'wooden box' was a toll booth for those travelling along the highway.

Burton Road at Woodville [2007]

During the height of the coaching period, those who looked out of the window of their carriages would have seen open fields tended by farmers and agricultural labourers - until, that is, a farmer named James Onions discovered that what lay underground was more lucrative than anything produced on the top soil. It is acknowledged that, around 1790, he established the first pottery in the locale in order to exploit the rich clay deposits in the ground.

Woodville High Street [2007]

In the early 19th century the works of James Onions followed the relatively recent innovation of ironstone china. The enterprise was successful and more pottery factories followed, many of which concentrated on the sanitary earthenware trade. Pigot's trade directory of 1835 listed a number of ironstone china and course earthenware manufacturers including William and Thomas Brunt, John Eardley, Hall & Davenport, Harrison and Cash, George Simpson Read and Joseph Thompson. Some of these men were also running public houses in what was still known as Wooden Box.

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The growth of industry resulted in Wooden Box evolving into a large hamlet, then a small village, increasing to become a widespread parish. For those seeking family historical connections, in the 1840's Wooden Box was still divided by the highway with one side being in the parish of Ashby, and the houses on the opposite side being in the parish of Hartshorne.

Woodville High Street during Winter [c.1940's]

Where there's clay there's coal. Consequently, Wooden Box also saw the sinking of mines in the locality. Many supporting industries sprang up in Wooden Box which was developing into a focal point of local industrial enterprise. The five ways became a busy road junction with finished goods being taken by waggons in all directions.

Church of Saint Stephen the Martyr at Woodville [2007]

It was in the mid-1840's that the name of the settlement was changed to Woodville. The construction of a new church acted as the catalyst for local dignitaries to resolve that the growing settlement was worthy of a more 'euphonious' appellation. The population at this time had risen to 700.

A committee met to discuss the erection of a new church on Saint Stephen’s day in 1843 so the question of the dedication was quickly sorted. The foundation stone of the Norman-style building was laid by Earl Howe on November 7th, 1845. The first vicar was the  Rev. J. B. Sweet, a man instrumental in raising the funds for the church.

Woodville Wesleyan Church [c.1905]

The local Wesleyans boasted a fine edifice at Woodville until it was demolished due to a dwindling congregation. The locale's first chapel was erected in 1816 but replaced in 1862. With the growth of Woodville in the latter part of Queen Victoria's reign, a larger building was erected. The foundation stone of this building was laid in July 1893. The handsome structure of red brick and terracotta, was designed by Mr. Greenwood, of Woodville, and afforded accommodation for over 800 people. The estimated cost of the building was projected at £2,975 and the contractor was Mr. Ernest Clarke, of Melton Mowbray.

Woodville Railway Station [c.1930]

In Slater's Directory of Derbyshire published in 1850 it was stated that a "branch railway from the tunnel near Gresley, is now in the course of being laid down." The history of the railway in Woodville can be traced back to the Leicester and Swannington Railway which opened in 1832. The Midland Railway took over the line in 1845 and six years later opened the Burton and Ashby-de-la-Zouch branch line to Swadlincote and Wooden Box. In 1883-4 the Midland Railway built an extension to the Swadlincote branch to Woodville, which required the excavation of the Woodville tunnel to form the Swadlincote Loop.

Former Bottling Store of Brunt, Bucknall and Company [2012]

Woodville once had two significant brewery concerns, the largest being Brunt, Bucknall and Company, bought out by Thomas Salt and Co. Ltd. of Burton-on-Trent in 1913, and ultimately closed in 1927 when acquired by Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"On Friday the 7th November. the usually dull and somewhat uninviting hamlet of Wooden Box. presented a scene of activity, cheerfulness and interest, well beffting the occasion which called them forth - that of laying the corner stone of a New Church in a district, whose inhabitants, to the number of 600, [principally Potters and Colliers], have until now, been virtually deprived of the privileges of public worship, in consequence of their great distance from their respective parish Churches. Notices of this undertaking have, from time to time, appeared in our columns, and it has given us unfeigned pleasure to know, that the master Potters of the Hamlet have been amongst its most zealous supporters. By half-past 10 o'clock, many the Clergy and chief Laity of the neighbourhood, with their Ladies, and a large number of the most respectable yeomen and tradesmen had arrived at the Nelson Inn and New Inn, for the purpose of forming a procession to accompany the Earl Howe to the site. His Lordship, with his customary punctuality, arrived a few minutes before the appointed hour, bringing with him his distinguished Bride, with her Mother Lady Gore, and the Hon. Captain Curzon, R.N. Several hundred school children, from the parent parishes of Ashby and Hartshorne, accompanied by their teachers, headed by an excellent Band, and the Royal Adelaide and other Lodges of Odd Fellows, who were desirous of doing honour to their noble brother, almost immediately led the way to the Site, and were followed by the Ashby Choir two and two; the Ladies [headed by Lady Howe, and Lady Gore], two and two; the Architect, Contractors, and others connected with the Building, two and two, hearing the silver trowel and other instruments of the ceremonial.] The layer of the Stone, the Earl Howe, the Hon. Capt. Curzon, and the Rev. Marmaduke Vavasour, Vicar of Ashby - the Clergy, Gentry, and Inhabitants in a long line, which more than reached from the New Inn, to the foundation of the Church. The arrangements here were admirable, protection being provided for the visitors from the cold winds, and the children and others having all an opportunity afforded them of seeing the interesting ceremony. The utmost order satisfaction and stillness prevailed throughout. A hymn having been sung, and the brass plate with an appropriate inscription laid upon the cavity of the under stone, in which were deposited several coins of the present reign, His Lordship spread the mortar in a way which fully convinced us that this was not the first time he had exercised his Masonic skill on similar occasions, and declared the large block which was then lowered upon it, to be laid in the most sacred faith of Jesus Christ, and in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The several forms were then gone through, and his Lordship took occasion to express the great gratification he himself experienced in the progress of this work, both as a neighbour, and more especially as a guardian to the young Marquis of Hastings, to whom almost the whole district belongs. Prayers were then offered supplicating a divine blessing on the work, and an excellent address, which we deeply regret our inability to furnish, was given by the respected Vicar of Ashby. Mr. Johnson, [manager of the Ashby Bank] then approached Lord Howe, with those members of the committee who reside in the Hamlet, and presented to his Lordship, as a grateful offering from those gentlemen and their friends, the elegant silver Trowel, which had been provided for the purpose. In the course of his observations, Mr. Johnson alluded to the origin of the name "Wooden Box," which up to this day has marked the Hamlet, viz - a single Wooden Toll House, which about thirty years ago, was the only habitation where long lines of Cottages now form the street. This name, he said, had now become inappropriate, and this day being the commencement of a new era to the place, the inhabitants having come to the determination of changing it, for the more euphonious title of "Woodville," which accordingly was the name inscribed upon the trowel then presented, and by which in future the Hamlet would be known. His Lordship feelingly acknowledged the admirable remarks which had fallen from the Rev. Vicar and Mr. Johnson, and cordially thanking the committee for their kindness, expressed his fervent hope, that the work in which it was only his duty with all others to take the liveliest interest, might be prospered of God, and be a source of blessings to this and future generations. The Doxology was then sung. [the Ashby Choir leading in a very effective manner,] and the Benediction having been pronounced by the Vicar, the ceremony was concluded. Fifty-seven pounds were collected at the Gate on quitting the Site - we wish we could say that no more is wanted to complete the, but unhappily, the funds are still deficient some £700. We may add that the Church, of which a beautiful drawing was presented by the Architect, Mr. H. Stevens, of Derby, to Lord Howe, will contain 350 sittings, and will present somewhat of the solid appearance peculiar to the Norman style. The stone which is of the very best quality, and remarkably handsome, is obtained near the spot. The children and workmen were duly regaled after ceremony, and the Odd Fellows, and many of the visitors dined at the various inns .but all seemed mindful of the sacred character of the occasion, and the proceedings of the day were throughout satisfactory and pleasing."
"New Church of St. Stephen's at Woodville"
Leicester Journal : November 21st 1845 Page 7.
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List of Pubs
Granville Arms
Joiners' Arms
Masons' Arms
Nelson Inn
New Inn
Potters' Arms
Prince of Wales
Queen Adelaide
Rising Sun Inn
Small Thorns

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

Worthington's Pale Ale in a Bottle

Newspaper Articles
"At the Derby Borough Police Court this morning, before Mr. W. G. Norman, Mr. Frost, and Ald. Grundv, the youth Ernest Braybrook, of Station Road, Woodville, Burton-on-Trent, was again brought charged with assaulting Elsie Dazeley, a dressmaker's apprentice, 16 years of age, who lives in Spring Street, whilst in St. Mary's Gate, Derby, on Monday evening. The prisoner, it will be remembered, had committed an unprovoked assault upon the girl, whom he had never seen before, hitting her with a heavy stick and thumping her with his fists. When he was arrested he said did not know how he came Derby, nor why; nor did he know he had assaulted the girl. He had been remanded for medical examination. Dr. C. A. Greaves, the medical officer at the prison, now reported that he had examined the lad Braybrook, but could find no reason to doubt his sanity. He had stated with perfect candour that he remembered nothing from leaving home till he found himself in custody. He complained of no illness, except that he was subject to headaches; Dr. Greaves added that he was inclined to believe that this was one of those curious cases which occur occasionally of temporary mental obscuration in cases of great excitement. He appeared to have been worried by a love affair. The Chief Constable said he had made inquiries Woodville, and found it was true that he had quarrelled with his girl, who worked with him, and she had declined to have anything more to do with him. He had evidently been much affected, and had come to Derby, where he assaulted the first girl he met. and an entire stranger. Then he had a shoemaker's knife in his pocket which he did not use in his business, and the inference was that he bought it. The prisoner said it was true that he bought it at Woodville, and that he wanted it to cut his food with at work. The prisoner added that he did not know why he did it, and that he still suffered from a headache. The Bench retired for some time, and eventually they fined him 20s. and costs, or one month's imprisonment with hard labour."
"The Woodville Love Affair"
Derby Daily Telegraph : January 21st 1909

"A drama which was almost a tragedy was enacted in a well at Woodville last night. Alfred Street [15], Station Road, Cyril Worledge, and another boy were playing with two railway sleepers placed over a well, 100 feet deep, at Heath's Pottery, when Street fell in. Worledge at once ran across the field to Street's home, and Alec Street [21], a butcher's assistant, and a neighbour, Mr. J. Evans, obtained a ladder and clothes line and went to the rescue. First they lowered a cycle lamp. Then Alec Street was tied to the ladder and the ladder was lowered into the well. Halfway down the well the ladder rested on iron girders at about the level of the water. Alfred Street was found clinging to the girders in a very distressed condition. Alec Street untied himself from the ladder, then tied his brother to it. When the boy had been drawn to the top, were Mr. W. G. Love was waiting to give assistance, the ladder was lowered again for Alec Street. Alfred Street was sent to the Burton Infirmary, where he is receiving treatment for injuries to his ribs, legs, and head. He is stated to be going on satisfactorily."
"Boy Saved in Woodville Well Drama"
Derby Daily Telegraph
February 14th 1934

Links to other Websites
St.Stephen's Parish Page

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

John Smith's Milk Maid Stout

Tetley's Special Ale

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Offiler's Nut Brown Ale

That's Worth a Worthington

Trade Directories
1874 Wright's Directory
Adcock Charles : Woodville Co.'s Brick Yard
Adcock, Henry : Hearne House
Ball, William & Son, Woodville Brewery
Ball, Wm. Lawrence, Ball and Son
Barnett, James : Joyce, Ward, & Co.
Beech, Edward
Beech, Mrs. Susan : School
Betteridge, Thomas : Earthenware Manufacturer
Betterton Henry Inman : Joyce, Ward, & Co.
Brown, Charles : Gardener and Greengrocer
Brunt, Bucknall, Ratcliff, and Betterton: Brewers
Cash, Wm. & Son : Ironstone and Caneware
Cash, Thomas : Cash & Son
Cotterill Wm. Derbyshire Ironstone, Caneware
Dooley, Thomas :Smith, D., & Co.
Drakefield, John : Station Master
Eardley, James : Music  Seller
Ensor, Henry : Gentleman, The Shrubbery
Farmer, John : Painter and Plumber
Foster, Joseph : Blacksmith
Godfrey, John : Bricklayer and Builder
Heape, Robert : Crate Maker
Jebbs, Thomas : Crate Maker
Johnson, John & Co, Bricklayers and Builders
Joyce, Ward, & Co, Brick Manufacturers
Joyce, John Hall : J. Ward & Co.
Jones, Joseph : Draper and Herbalist
Kirby, Thomas : Master of National School
Knowles, Henry : Tugby & Kn.
Knowles, John & Co. Ltd. Fire Brick, Crucible and
Terracotta Manufacturers, Mount Pleasant Works
Mansfield, Thomas : Crate Maker
Morley, Mrs. Hannah : Brick and Pipe Manufacturer
Muggleston, James : Wheelwright
Nadin, Thomas : Earthenware Manufacturer and
Victualler : Joiners' Arms
Newbold, John : Newsagent and Herbalist
Robinson, William : Hairdresser
Rowley, Joseph Benson : Derbyshire Ironstone
Sharpe, John : Superintendent Police Station
Slater, John, Bricklayer and Builder
Smith, George : Derbyshire Caneware
Thompson Bros. Glazed Pipe, Earthenware and
Terracotta Manufacturers
Thompson, Mrs. Ellen
Thompson, Mrs. Jane
Thompson, Richard. : Thompson Bros.
Thompson Willoughby, of Thompson Bros.
Toft, William : Hosier and Haberdasher
Tugby, [Hosea] & Knowles, Terracotta and
Earthenware Manufacturers, Albion Works
Villiers, William Taylor : T. and J. Villiers
Ward, John : Joyce, Ward, & Co.
Wilmhurst, Rev. Alfred Thomas M.A. Vicar
Wright, John  Rope Maker

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Newspaper Articles
"On Monday, in the City of London Court, before Mr. Macrae Moir, deputy judge, the case of Causton and Sons v. Thompson was heard. The plaintiffs, Sir Joseph Causton and Sons, the well-known stationers and printers, of Eastcheap, in the City, sought to recover from the defendant, Mr. T. W. Thompson, of the Wooden Box Brewery, Woodville, near Burton-on-Trent, and also the proprietor a tavern in Birmingham, the sum of £16. 8s. for designing and drawing in four colours iron tablets of the dimensions of 14½ in. by 8¼ in. as show cards. Mr. W. Price, the plaintiffs' traveller, said that he was on his journeys in the Midland Counties in December, 1876, and received the order from the junior partner of the firm, who suggested that he should like a deer and stag and two fawns as the trade mark. He was, however, reminded by Mr. Price that a brewer in the neighbourhood of Birmingham had already assumed these emblems. Several designs were thereupon recommended, amongst others a wooden box as being most appropriate for a brewery which was already known by that name. The defendant objected that a wooden box was rather vulgar, and several other designs were then spoken of, but it happened that each of them was already in use by rival brewers in the neighbourhood of Burton, Derby, and Birmingham, and that in consequence the registrar of trade marks would not accept them. Eventually a design of a stag was designed and lithographed. The proofs were submitted to the defendant, who approved of them. Defendant's connection with the brewery subsequently ceased, but within the last few months he repurchased his interest in the concern, and the present proceedings were taken. Mr. Safford, barrister, for the defendant, contended that there was breach of contract by plaintiffs, who undertook to have a certain trade mark suggested by defendant duly registered, but they had failed to carry it out. His Honour was of opinion that £8 8s. would compensate the plaintiffs, and accordingly gave a verdict for that amount."
"Action Against a Brewer"
Derby Daily Telegraph : September 9th 1880

Worthington's Pale Ale in a Bottle

"Thomas Deakin Shipton, a 62 year-old miner, of 139, Moira Road, Woodville, accused at Swadlincote today of attempting to strangle his wife with intent to murder her, was alleged by Mrs. Shipton to have knocked her down and knelt with his hand on her throat, saying "I'll strangle you." After retiring for three minutes the magistrates dismissed the charge and also one of inflicting grievous bodily harm on his wife. Mrs. Shipton said that since last July, her husband had been off work suffering from neurasthenia, and had received medical treatment. On March 19th the doctor said her husband could take up light work for a local builder on March 26th, but did not. On March 31st, Mrs. Shipton said, she got up about 7.30am and asked her husband, who was still in bed, whether he was going to work. He said, "No, I don't think I shall bother this morning." He stayed in bed until just before nine o'clock and then went downstairs and had breakfast. "I went up to the bedroom about 9.30 and brought down a blanket from the bed and said something to him about a mess on the blanket." At that time, she added, her husband was standing in the kitchen and she was kneeling on the floor cleaning the blanket." He knocked me down and said 'I'll strangle you,' " said Mrs. Shipton. "He was kneeling on the floor, had hold of my throat, pressing with his thumb. I called out and struggled to get away." Mrs. Shipton added that she got away, went outside and called to her neighbour. Asked by Mr. J. Kauntze. defending. Staley said he did not see any marks on Mrs. Shipton's throat. "I don't think I looked," he said. "She did not ask me to look any marks on her throat." Replying to further questions, he said he had lived next door the Shipton's for about four years, and as far as he knew they had always been happy. She said that the pressure on her throat was not great and that her husband did not try to get hold of her again after she had got away." We have lived happily all our married life," Mrs. Shipton said. In replying to Superintendent Hutchinson, for the prosecution, Mrs. Shipton said her husband had never before threatened her. After giving evidence, Mrs. Shipton said, "I would like medical evidence to be given." The Magistrates' Clerk [Mr. T. W. Timms] replied that such evidence probably would be given. Walter Staley, kiln fireman, of 137, Moira Road, Woodville, said that about 9.30 a.m. on March 31st, he heard Mrs. Shipton shout "Walter." He went to the back door and saw her standing outside. He did not see Shipton, but Mrs. Shipton was upset. Mrs. Edith May Archer, of 11 Chapel Street, Woodville, said she saw Mrs. Shipton at the house of Mrs. Shuttleworth, and she was distressed. Police-constable F. C Allen saw Shipton on March 31st and told him that he had received a complaint that he had tried to strangle his wife. "I cautioned him," Police-constable Allen said, "and he replied 'I laid hold of her and was to strangle her. She had hid my boots, and took my money. It's nerves.' "  Police-constable Allen added that when he saw Mrs. Shipton she had a red mark on her neck and three small marks on the right side of her jaw. "They were semi-circular," Police-constable Allen said, "and had apparently been caused by finger nails, skin was broken very slightly and there was a little blood. There were also abrasions on the left elbow. When he arrested Shipton and charged him with attempting to strangle his wife, Shipton, said "That's right, I did attempt to do it." Mr. Kauntze then submitted that the evidence brought by the prosecution was not enough to prove attempted strangulation. "This man," he said, "had been suffering from neurasthenia for some considerable time, and I can put in a medical report. On this charge I say there has been no prima facie case made out." After retiring, the chairman [Mr. F. T Emery] said: "There is no case for the accused to answer on the evidence submitted. The case is dismissed." At the end of the case, Mrs. Shipton broke down and wept. Her husband left the court with her."
"Miner Cleared of Attempt to Strangle Wife"
Derby Evening Telegraph : April 12th 1849

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