Local Historians

Miss Shirley Edwards

Taking liberty to reproduce this essay was aimed at giving full credit to an unknown author. My thanks do now extend to Mrs Shirley Ward in New Zealand for personally confirming this had been her sixth form project. The typed sheets dating from 1967 were thereafter first point of historic reference found in our library. This was well read, and being based on earlier historians similarly managed to generally satisfy public curiosity covering Hucknall understandings. Far broader learnings have been aided by 21st century technology, so such passed down beliefs will seem rather misguided when updating our historic accuracy.

A young Miss Edwards factually noted recognised 20th century advancements. That can now include family relating an Edwardian Confectionery Company or a fondly known Huthwaite Toffee Factory.

Huthwaite - A Short History (Dated 1967)

Let us go back some 1000 years and visit the densely forested “Shirewood” of Nottingham. Imagine the primitive settlements scattered here and there and midst the miles of greenery; and somewhere to the North west of the huge forest, picture, if you can, the sight of the village which is now our own little Huthwaite.

... It is commonly believed that Huthwaite was a later established settlement which didn't really begin until the 19th century. However, there is a faint shred of hope for history lovers that Huthwaite could quite well have been found at around the year 900 ad. Let us look at the facts: Hucca, an Anglo-Saxon or Norse personal name has always been associated from past reference as a component of the word Huthwaite. It is my own theory that these Saxons and Vikings, who sailed the seas and looted our island and penetrated much further up the river Thames that most people realised, raided even further up into the north of the country, and a small party of them, or perhaps even just the one man ‘Hucca’ decided to make his home here. It is almost certain that the village of Huthwaite was formerly a settlement containing or belonging to these foreigners. We can tell this by a Scandinavian component "thwaite" which means a clearing or piece of land.

As you can see, the ‘Hucca’ part still remains - say to yourself "Huccathwaite" and Huthwaite and you'll notice how similar they sound. And for such a small place, if we look back into the records we will find that the village had a comparatively enormous list of names, ranging from Huthwaite 1208, Hokenhale Houthwayt 1330, Hukenall under Hocthwot alias Dirti Huconall 1519, and eventually Hucknall-under-Huthwaite. These names are invariably a compound of ‘hon’, meaning hill-spur, and ‘Hviet’. Hence, we assume it took meaning - clearing on a hill - and if we look at a contour map, we would find this quite correct. The surface area of the surrounding countryside is of a gently undulating character and the highest point of Nottinghamshire is here at Huthwaite, indicated at 657 ft above sea level.

In medieval times, the county of Nottinghamshire was divided into sections called ‘hundreds’ or ‘Wapentakes’. The Broxtowe hundred lies in the very northwestern parts of Nottinghamshire and it is here that a Huthwaite is situated, on the very borders of Derbyshire. On the outskirts of the Shirewood or Sherwood Forest with its legendary Robin Hood, Huthwaite must have seen many of the travellers passing to and fro to the great castle at Nottingham, with its colourful bands of noblemen and ladies beautifully adorned. Whilst there must also have been bands of robbers and thieves resting in the village inns before they set off for their work in the forest.

Now there is comparatively little of the forest left at all because by the 18th Century large grants were being given (most probably by the greedy Sheriff of Nottingham) for the northern area to be made into parks. Mostly, however, the decrease in the forest was due to the Enclosure Acts. For between 1789 and 1796, inclusive acts were passed for the enclosure of many parishes surrounding and including the parish of Sutton-in-Ashfield, to which Huthwaite then belonged and was a township. By the 1794 act it was said that: “All enclosures should be freehold and discharged from all suites, services, memorial rights and incumbrance. The result being that all land in Sutton-in-Ashfield and Hucknall-under-Huthwaite is title free. Also according to Doctor Robert Thoroton: Sutton-in-Ashfield and Hucknall were a whole villa”, and not guildable, being of ancient demesne of the crown, except the fourth part, which Jordan de Sutton held from the king by ancient tenure – holding two bovates of this land in Huthwaite.

The Forest book also mentioned many enclosures made in the old, decayed, wooded area call Fullwood, which became a great common, as belonging to Hucknall Hawthwayt.

Approximately fourteen miles distance from Nottingham, the county town, lies the market town of Mansfield. The parish of Sutton-in-Ashfield extends from three to five miles west of this town, and in the 1830’s contained about 5,734 acres of land. Of this area, Huckenall-under-Huthwaite contained a mere 1,000 acres, it being the second township of the parish of Sutton-in-Ashfield, rural deanery and county court district of the manor of Mansfield.

One mile and a half west north west of Sutton, on the Derbyshire border, stands the village, commanding magnificent scenery of all sides. There are breath-taking views of the Derbyshire Hills, Crich Stand, High Tor and the Heights of Abraham at Matlock. Also within sight and easy walking distance from the beautiful, old residence of Bess of Hardwick, a well-known landmark and place of interest.

Although early records show that the village only had 929 original inhabitants, because it was healthy and clean it soon began to improve. By the Enclosures of 1798, the Duke of Portland was allotted 1,100 acres of surrounding land, in heir of rhetorical titles and became chief landowner of the whole area, and lord over the parish of Sutton-in-Ashfield.

During the Napoleonic wars of this time, the Industrial Revolution was taking place in England, and whilst the statesmen were redrawing the frontiers of the new Europe at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, underneath the surface smouldered a hatred and discontent by the people. The conditions they lived in were appalling and the new factories and industry only bred injury, disease and overcrowding, with long hours for insignificant pay. This led to a wave of ‘Chartism’ in the 1830’s of which ‘King Nedd Ludd’ of Nottinghamshire and his cronies, stormed around breaking factory machines. Even so near as Sutton, a man called Jeremiah Brandreth led some of these raids and riots, but he was put to death for his pains. Huthwaite, too, must have had its troubles and clamoured like the rest for a new government. Everyone was sick and tired of the Tory harshness and dread of any kind of reform. Hence, during the Whig government of 1831-40 the workhouse was built at Mansfield after the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in 1834 and this is now known as the Victoria Hospital. Our village was also affected and had its own ‘poor rates’ system. The poor were left £3 yearly from the bequest of Abraham Haslam and also 8 shilling yearly pursuant to the wills of William Day. Later in 1869, Anne Mason of Fennybank* Close left 4 guineas yearly for the education of poor children. When work was scant the able-bodied were afraid of being sent to the workhouse where the aged, infirmed, demented, orphaned and literally anyone with no money, work or anywhere to go were flung. Once inside it was as hard to get out of as the ‘Bastille’!

However, Huthwaite was not so severely affected as were many villages, for here the farmers were still prosperous and hadn’t been turned off their land so much by the Enclosures. The clay soil in the area provided good pasture land for cattle and sheep and the chief crops were wheat, oats and barley. Hence, we can see that most of the village inhabitants were either farmers or landowners and this accounts for the scanty population and premature retarded growth of Huthwaite. The manufacture of cotton and woollen hose was the principle industrial trade of the village and most of the men became framework knitters. However, the factories and conditions were nothing like those in the big towns which were rapidly growing up, for in the village a lot of industry was done domestically in the people’s own homes.

By the 1870’s, Hucknall-under-Huthwaite had become a separate parish, in no way connected with Sutton, except formerly in Church matters. The parishioners acquired rights to burial and marriage at Sutton they now elected their own parish offices. Then in July 1873, the township of Huthwaite adopted a Local Government, which had been passed in 1858, and Huthwaite became controlled by a Local Board. After this separation, Huthwaite became the last parish in this direction of the county of Nottinghamshire.

“Oh, you come from Dirty Hucknall do you?” much to their embarrassment, people from Huthwaite are still often confronted with this statement, although it is regarded more as a joke nowadays. But it has caused a great deal of controversy as to how the village acquired this rather formidable nickname and unflattering title (Huckenell Under Huthweit alias Dirti Huckenall 1519). A highly amusing explanation suggests that the inhabitants themselves were once dirty people, but this was strongly denied by the villagers!

The most probable reason is because there were coalmines in the nearby vicinity and as the cart tracks through Huthwaite were used incessantly for coal traffic, the dirt and dust from the roads blackened the houses. It has been proved that the roads were in such a terrible state, that toll bars had to be set up about the parish to collect money to pay for road repairs. And yet – were there coalmines as early as 1519? This is very doubtful, but the village had acquired the name already, and so it still remains a mystery unsolved.

We couldn’t carry on much further without the inevitable mentioning of the word ‘coal’, and Huthwaite, like so many other villages in Nottinghamshire has played its part towards earning for us our industrious coal-mining fame. Even in the 1860’s, the many beds of excellent, local coal had caused shafts to be sunk in all directions. A colliery was set up at Blackwell, and then shafts were sunk nearby in the Hucknall Breeks. Many privately owned mines were being worked at this time and to the extreme north of the village two of ‘Old Mullinock’s Shafts are still visible but have been filled in. In 1878, the new Hucknall Colliery was opened on the Huthwaite common and the coal field was extensively developed by the executors of the late William Muschamp Esquire, late Mayor of Gateshead-on-Tyne. The report said, that local seams, commencing with the top, hard layer of Barnsley bed, were of superior quality and thickness and were at an easy depth from the surface, and also that the complicatedness of the tenure was marvellous.

The negotiations of the leasing of the colliery were entrusted to Mr. JT Boot, mining engineer, and it took him upwards of eleven years to complete them. The results were most encouraging and the output and quality of the coal was found to be fully equal to anticipation. New Hucknall Colliery gave employment for upwards of 1,550 hands, so we can already see what an influence the collieries had in the immediate neighbourhood. This new employment naturally caused a great increase of population in Huthwaite itself and new houses and recreational facilities were needed for the mines. In 1893, the working men’s institute and reading room was erected, inaugurated by Mr. S. Watson, at a cost to the colliery company of over £1,000.

A kind of ‘theatre-playhouse’ was also erected before the turn of the century, known as the ‘Gem’, on Main Street. Here the miners and their families would sit on hard wooden benches, enthralled by performances of ‘Maria in the Red Barn’ and other such terrifying anecdotes! But as the miners mostly had to make their own entertainment it was such games as skittles, and tossing the horseshoe which occupied most of their spare time. Dog racing was also a favourites pastime, and on Herod’s Hill, to the north of the village, on a race track known commonly was ‘Monte-Carlo’ or ‘Monte’ near the White Lion Inn. Dogs from all over the country were raced, and Huthwaite became quite famed for it.

By 1867, it was considered that the children of the village needed some sort of education, so the National School was erected. It was a neat, stone, commodious building, built with the help of the late Rev. Charles Bellairs, Vicar of Sutton-in-Ashfield. The Dowager Countess of Carnarvon, also a chief landowner in the area, presented the land on which the school was built, and also donated £450 towards the £1,700 costs. Mr R.M.E. Dodsley also helped with the cost of the master’s residence, which was added too.

Because yet, Huthwaite had no church of its own, divine service was formerly held twice every Sunday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm in the National School, which was licensed for the purpose. Service was conducted by the clergy of Sutton parish, afternoon service being taken by the vicar or one of the curates, and in the evening Mr C.B. Beecroft, lay-reader of Sutton Parish Church officiated. The Parish Church of St. Mary’s at Sutton was used to serve both townships at this time, its north isle being called ‘Hucknall-Huthwaite Aisle’. In 1891 another school was erected with further accommodation for 300 boys and even later, a Council member, Mr John Davies, gave his name to a large primary-junior where most of the village children are now educated. In 1960, Huthwaite was fortunate enough to have a new, modern Secondary school, built on Herod’s Hill, which now takes in all the leavers from the John Davies and more besides. This conveniently saves the village children from having to travel to Sutton to the nearest Secondary school, and also gives them better facilities.

There was an early tradition amongst villagers that a church was once started, but never finished, on the site of an old mill in Huthwaite. Nowadays, there are no traces of either mill or church to be seen, but perhaps the tradition holds some truth, because even today there is a street which runs down the side of a track past the cemetery, called Mill Lane, and on top of the hill there was a large house built and belonging to Mr S. Watson of New Hucknall Colliery, which he called Mill House for no apparent reason. Perhaps this was the site of the Old Mill and Church.

In 1873, a sum of money was raised through the liberality of the Countess of Carnarvon, the Hon. C.L. Lyttleton, Lord Roberts, Mr W.B. Gladstone, and others, for the purpose of providing a much-needed curate for the village. From the Rev. George Boydes, B.A. from Durham University, became curate in charge at Huthwaite. The Rev. J.S. Hyde of Sutton-in-Ashfield had already said that he deemed Huthwaite as being worthy of its own Parish Church, for religion at this time played a most important part in everyone’s life. Even today, you can still see five places of worship in the village, which is a considerable quantity for such a small community.

A building scheme was soon after initiated by Rev. Hyde and rock for the church was even taken by the miners from the ‘deephard’ seam of the New Hucknall Colliery. The commodious Church was dressed with Mansfield stone, although probably some of it was from the small quarry by Mill Lane, which is no longer to be seen. The church was decorated in the Early English style of architecture and on Saturday, 22nd November 1902; the foundation stone of the sacred edifice was laid by her grace, the Duchess of Portland, accompanied by the Duke who had donated £500 to the building. On Saturday, 12th December 1903, the Church was opened and dedicated to All Saints by the Lord Bishop of Southwell, Doctor Ridding. Then on November 4th, 1905, the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Derby, Doctor Were.

In 1906, Huthwaite became a district chapelry and in July of that year, the Rev. M.N. Bestwick, who had come to Huthwaite in 1900 to take over its patronage, was instituted ‘vicar of Huthwaite’ by Doctor Were. The Primitive Methodists and United Free and Assemblies of God also had places of worship in Huthwaite. The Wesleyan Chapel had been built in 1815 by the late Mr. Eleazer Boot and it was restored in 1869 by his descendants, who had Mr Boot interred in the chapel yard.

By the Local Government Act of 1894, Huthwaite came controlled by it’s first ‘Urban District Council’ of nine members, who met on the third Wednesday of each month and had their offices built at the top of Columbia Street. These buildings are no longer standing however. The council took over control of the new cemetery, which had been opened in 1889. It contained 2.5 acres of land with a mortuary chapel, and had a frontage to the Mansfield turnpike road. Clerk to the Burial Board was George Hudson Hibbert, and the first cemetery keeper was William Pickaver Hardy.

Around this time, epidemics of smallpox and scarlet fever were raging throughout the largely over-populated, new towns and Huthwaite had relatively few casualties. But all the same, there were two small buildings set up for the purpose of isolating people with the germ, known as the ‘smallpox hospital’ on Chesterfield Road and the ‘scarlet fever hospital’ on Strawberry Bank.

At the turn of the 19th Century Huthwaite had made a name for itself on the map and was a thriving little concern. The area of the village now totalled about 1,900 acres, having spread considerably and the population had risen from its original 929 inhabitants to over 3,000 people. Because of this great increase in population, changes had to be made according to conditions. Better facilities were needed for the miners and their families to live in. In 1873, a gasworks had been opened on Blackwell Road and for the better supply of water to the village, water-works were erected and opened in 1899. New roads were needed for transportation and in about 1903 the public tramway service began to run from Mansfield through Sutton and on to Huthwaite. The tram-terminus was outside the Wesleyan Chapel and this is where the chapel’s nickname ‘terminus’ originates.

New railways were also a necessity as Huthwaite stood three miles Northwest from Sutton’s station (on the Nottingham, Mansfield and Erewash valley branches of the Midland Railway). The coal had to be transported somehow, and rail was the cheapest means, so in 1900, a station was erected one-mile Northwest of the village on the Teversal branch of the Midland Railway. This was called ‘Whiteboro Station’ and served as a passenger service, 2.5 miles west of Sutton station. The Mansfield and District Light Railways Company opened the Huthwaite section of the track on February 17th, 1906.

After 1907, ‘Hucknall-under-Huthwaite’ had its name shortened to Huthwaite only, and in the same year the holding of the first week in September. ‘Wakes’ and fairground people would bring their stalls and set them up on the open market at Huthwaite. ‘Proctor’s’ well-known amusements would hypnotise the villagers and lure them to spend their pennies. When the fair moved on, the old market stalls would replace the gaily-painted swing-boats and things would revert to normal. Now, however the new ‘picturehouse’ known as the ‘Lyric’ was opened about 1914 and provided further entertainment for the villagers.

After 1898, the Public Libraries’ Act was adopted by Sutton-in-Ashfield, and the library service included two branches from the central library; one of these at Stanton Hill, and the other one at Huthwaite. Like Mansfield Central Library and many others built at this time the money for Huthwaite Library was given by the kind permission of Mr Andrew Carnegie In 1912, and our library was built near to the Council Offices and the new Miners’ Welfare grounds opened in the 1920’s.

All letters and mail sent to Huthwaite arrived from Sutton, which had the nearest money order and telegraph office. Mail arrived early in the morning and was despatched in the evenings on carrier ponies to Mansfield, our post-town. Samuel Lowe was Huthwaite’s first sub-postmaster and the first post-office was situated in New Fall Street. The Office was then moved on the main road through the village, and then onto Market Street. This last post-office has now been demolished, and a new post-office is situated on the Market Place.

During the first world war, quite a few of our men folk died fighting for their country, and a memorial was set up in the cemetery in remembrance of them. If the men were not troubled with war, it was strikes in the coal-mines and so just like any other village in the area, the men spent a good deal of time just like any other village in the area, the men spent a good deal of time in the taverns and inns. At one time there was an enclosed piece of land near to the Peacock Inn, in the garden the large house which stands behind it, where the bodies of several people were interred. Under the will of the late Jeremiah Burrow, a private burial ground was set out, where he had several relatives interred, so this is probably the same site. This land was then passed on the Mr Boot, but by an Act of Parliament the burying was stopped and the land was soon disused. It is also said that several people have been interred in a garden or field opposite the National School.

As the village begun to become more industrious, the Co-Operative Wholesale Society decided to build one of their large factories in the village. This was finished about 1907, and still stands and employs many villagers today. About this time a small, dingy cobbler’s shop stood on the corner of New Street and Main Street, owned by a Mr Betts. After a time, he joined in partnership with a Mr Broughton and they started their own shoe-making business together. This was carried on by Mr Broughton’s son, who had a big, new factory built after the first war and this has expanded and developed enormously. Now, their shoes have become extremely popular and people come from miles around to buy.

The Mansfield Traction Company buses replaced the tram-service to Huthwaite in 1932 and even to this day, the village has a remarkable ten-minute service, which is much improved since the days of horse-carriages and walking through snow and fog to Sutton. The village had a relatively peaceful time throughout the second world war too, although it was said that from the top of Herod’s Hill you could see the bombs lighting up the city of Sheffield with fire and confusion.

Since the end of the second war living conditions, communications and recreations facilities have improved tremendously. The maze of farmers’ fields surrounding the village is gradually being transformed into vast housing estates, and recently a great deal of our old, terraced ‘pit’ houses have been demolished and replaced by new flats and bungalows.

The once-deplorable roads through Huthwaite have now been widened and made fit for the steady stream of traffic, which passes through. (This will be an even more vital factor now that the Motorway passes within a mile and a half from our village. Already Sutton-in-Ashfield is prepared for this.

The New Hucknall Colliery is still working, but will be closing down in the not too distant future. Faun Foundations Ltd was established in Huthwaite in 1957, and these premises have now become the knitting factory. The company distributes ‘Faun’ brand girdle throughout the wholesale trade to Mail Order houses. The Edwardian Confectionery Company was also established in Huthwaite in about 1947. This thriving little sweet factory has progressed enormously in output since it began. It now turns out well over a ton of sweets per week, which are sent mostly to the north country.

Oxley’s brick-yard, which no longer exists, stood where the recreational park lies now, near to Roolley Lane or the ‘Roolley Bottoms’, as this lane is nick-named, leading to Silverhill Colliery and Stanton Hill. The Huthwaite Miners Welfare Grounds also provide a playground for the youngsters and there are facilities for tennis, putting and bowls. There is also a bandroom and bandstand where the Huthwaite Prize Band practise and give their concerts. The band is noted as being the best in the district.

The C.W.S. Sports Ground, which stands on the borders of Huthwaite and Sutton, and was once a cornfield near to the ‘Wharf’ where coal was tipped, provides facilities for football and cricket. Practically every colliery works and factory in the district has its own cricket or football club. New Hucknall Colliery runs teams for both, and also a Huthwaite C.W.S. cricket team. In 1947-48 season, Huthwaite were the winners of the C.W.S. Inter-Depot Cup football competition. Several local bowls players have achieved distinction in county and international competitions, and of our local clubs three include, New Hucknall Colliery, Huthwaite, and Huthwaite C.W.S. For the tennis enthusiasts the New Hucknall Colliery along with Teversal, run mixed and men’s doubles teams in the Collieries’ Alliance. Indoor sports such as billiards and darts are adequately provided for at the New Hucknall Colliery Institute and the Huthwaite C.W.S also have a table tennis team in the local league. Good athletics, swimming and boating are all available nearby at Sutton.

Dancing is held most weeks in the All Saints Church Hall, which has only recently been built, and there are Youth Clubs with various activities such as dancing, trampoline and sports for the teenagers. Evening classes for dressmaking, tailoring, cooking etc, are also held at the Huthwaite Secondary Modern School.

I am pleased to say that there is still a certain amount of tradition in the village. A garden party is held each year and May Day celebration and there is an annual procession of witness by the religious orders. In olden days, the village held carnivals and feasts on all large and important occasions, and as a little girl, I can vaguely remember the flags and festivities and street parties in 1952 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Gardening has always been well loved by the men folk of Huthwaite who are renowned for miles around for the quality of their celery growing, and the size and beauty of their chrysanthemums. Allotments are scattered all over the village and even to this day an annual ‘Huthwaite Show’ is held, where the keen gardeners exhibit their vegetable produce and flowers, which are competitively judged. There is always keen competition on this day down at the Colliery Institute.

At one time in addition, when the men of Huthwaite were mostly farmers the village was renowned for its butchers and high-class quality of meat.

The Huthwaite Amateur Dramatic Society is rapidly gaining support, and drama is becoming much more popular in the village, especially from younger enthusiasts and the quality of their production have made their mark upon many an occasion.

Although only a mere speck on the map, Huthwaite is literally in the heart of England, with reasonable access to either the east or west coast, Scotland, Wales or London and the south. We are fortunate enough to have a contented village community and yet still be near to either our county town of Nottingham and its stir of civilisation, or we have to walk for but a few minutes and we can be quite alone amidst the peace and quite of the countryside. It seems that we at least, can have our cake and eat it, and I wonder how many other places can claim this?

Later Hand Written Notes

The Colliery has now gone; C.W.S. factory has changed hands. We once had seven chip shops, now we have two. The Lyric is no more. Joe Lindur ran its first hackney community vehicles from Huthwaite to Sutton. The name Pratts was conceived with early busses, (Leahs came later). Outcropping * for, miners * on strike in the 1926 strike took place near Herod’s hill. The source of the river Maun was in the valley below Herod’s Hill. The hillside overlooking the valley was a pre-historic fort. Many of the old yards and cottages have gone – one name- “Pudding Bag Yard” stands out in ones memory. We no longer have a Parish Council (Alas) and the bus service to Mansfield has deteriorated to such an extent as to be farcical!


Written 1967 Revised 20 Apr 17 © by Gary Elliott