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Newspapers Derbyshire Life Parish Magazine

Newspapers - 1900s - King Coal, Page 2

Derby Evening Telegraph Centenery Supplement 1879 - 1979

Beeches In The Market

There have been many other changes, too.

A century ago Ilkeston was a closely knit community, but it was to grow rapidly because of the expansion of the coal, lace and hosiery industries. By 1881 the population was 14,119 and by 1899 this had jumped to 25,000.

Heanor appears not to have grown or developed as fast A century ago, says Phillip Eggleshaw, Heanor was a series of hamlets, which had fascinating names.

There were Bogard Town, Peacock Town, Hard Meadow and King's Town, to name but a few.

Mrs Lizzie Brentnall, of John Street, Heanor, told me earlier this year on her 100th birthday that as a girl she remembers Heanor being "a lovely big country village" and that many of today's streets were just fields.

She recalled the present Market Place being open fields and trees — "I used to get beech nuts off the trees where the market place now stands."

She also remembers starting work at 14 at Morley's, Heanor, and stitching 48 buttons on men's nightshirts for a penny.

A Miner and his faithful pit pony.  The sixties saw the end
of a long partnership as machines took over from horses in local mines


The Market Place was opened in 1894 and was formerly part of the Heanor Hall Park Estate. Mr Eggleshaw comments: "In my time you could see sheep and cattle grazing within a minute's walk of the Market Place."

What was happening in the area a hundred years ago? Ilkeston at that time was noted for its spa water and Kelly's Directory remarks that the town's water "was rising into great repute."

The spa baths were at the Rutland Arms Inn and Railway Hotel (now the Rutland Hotel) and gave Bath Street its name.
People in those days were governed by a Local Board. But at Ilkeston all that was soon to change. After 800 years of recorded history the town attained self government when on January 31, 1887, Queen Victoria granted a charter making Ilkeston a municipal borough.

Local historian Cyril Hargreaves, records in his book, Ilkeston as a Borough, that it was a time of great rejoicing. A general holiday was declared and a crowd estimated at between 13,000 and 14,000 was in the Market Place to hear the new charter read.

And the banquet held to mark the historic occasion makes modern-day council junketting look like a mere snack!
The Borough Council continued until local government reorganisation in 1974 when Ilkeston became part of Erewash Borough. The local board at Heanor was succeeded by an urban council and in 1974 the district became part of Amber Valley.


But many people in both towns would like to see a return to their former councils, complaining that the new authorities are too remote and cover too large an area.

At Ilkeston the feeling is strong. For years, since from as far back as a century ago, Ilkeston was called by its people The Queen of the Erewash Valley.

These days some folks would say she is now the Cinderella — in tatters. For there are many areas of dereliction, where property has been demolished and nothing put in its place and this is one of the biggest jobs which the new Erewash authority has to tackle.

The old councils made great strides in improving the lot of their peoples, particularly in the fields of housing and health.


Realistic judgment on the new authorities is something for future historians, but their arrival has certainly not been met with universal rejoicing locally.

At Ilkeston after the 1914-18 war, the first council houses were built at Church Street Later, after changes, in 1903 Ilkeston became its own education authority, a power it lost to Derbyshire County Council in 1944. Two years ago the town went comprehensive.

At one time, in Gladstone Street School, Ilkeston, there was a pupil-teacher centre and among those attending was D. H. Lawrence, who was to become the Erewash Valley's most famous literary son.


At Heanor, the old hall was a ladies school in 1890 and five years later became a technical school. On the same site was to be built the town's grammar school.

In 1964 came the first of two major changes in education at Heanor. The grammar school became the upper school in a two-tier system, with pupils transferring from Aldcercar School and Heanor Gate School at the age of 13 or 14.

Ten years later the grammar school merged with the South East Derbyshire College to form a new tertiary college — a change which has been hailed as a great success.

Transport has changed, too. The railways, which superseded the canals, came . . . and went.

At one time Ilkeston had three stations and Heanor several. Now neither has one.

One of the first bus companies in Heanor was Cope's — they're still in business — and you could travel in their buses to Ilkeston for 3d return.


The local entertainment scene has also greatly altered; Ilkeston at one time had its own music hall, theatre and Palace of Varieties with names on the bills of people who were to become national stars. Among them were Charlie Chaplin and Grade Fields.

Recently on his television programme Larry Grayson recalled performing in pantomime at Ilkeston.

The films came and the town ended up with four cinemas. Now there is one.

At Heanor, Fred Buxton, who later went to the Isle of Man and developed the music hall industry there, showed silent films in the town hall in 1910. Mr Buxton was obviously fond of his home town — he named his house in Douglas Heanorville.
There was also the Empire Variety Theatre which after the 1914-18 war became a cinema and still is. The town's other cinema, the Cosy, built in 1921, has ended up as a bingo hall.


Ilkeston these days is not exactly lacking in public houses, but over the years a number have disappeared.

Local dialect authors, Richard Scollins and John Titford, in one of their books, recall the demise of such pubs as The Brunswick, The Prince of Wales and The Royal Oak, famous for its rat worrying contests.

No look back over the past century would be complete without mention of the change which has taken place in the landscape of the area, ugly pit tips being transformed into green hills.


Probably the most graphic has been at Shipley, between the two towns, where in recent years, Derbyshire County Council in partnership with the National Coal Board have created a huge country park largely out of the spoil heaps and scars of three centuries of mining.

And it is here where the most fitting monument to the past 100 years of Ilkeston and Heanor history can be found.

At the entrance to the park, standing stark, strong and defiant are the colliery deadstocks of the old Woodside Colliery, the last visible trace of mining there.

They act as a memorial to those thousands of men who in many cases spent their entire working lives deep in the bowels of the earth: they are a reminder to people today and to future generations of the vital part which mining played in the development of two towns.

Kindly submitted by Mrs Shirley Pegg

Closing of Coppice Colliery


Robert Claytor in the bucket with his father William Claytor (Colliery Manager), 
Mother Jessica Claytor and Brother (top left)

The picture is probably of the Mickley Shaft at Coppice Colliery, as was. The shaft was completed in the late 1920s. My father, Ray Wyles, was a blacksmith and shaftman at Coppice so would have been used to riding the shaft on top of the cage during shaft examinations.

Regards Phil Wyles

A PIT died yesterday and the chairman of the East Midlands Division of the National Coal Board, Mr. Wilfrid Miron, was there to perform the last rites. Speaking at the last pit consultative committee meeting at Coppice No. 1 Colliery near Heanor, he paid tribute to the men who had worked at the colliery during its 91 year history.

Mr. Miron, who himself worked at Coppice before nationalisation, commented, "If the men throughout British industry worked as hard as these men, and if the same qualities of leadership were shown, then this country would not be facing its present economic ills. " Mr. Miron was associated with Coppice when it was owned by the former Shipley Colliery Co. Which also owned Woodside Colliery, near by, which closed last August.


Two old-timers who retired from the pit a few years ago returned yesterday to see the last shifts run out.

They were Mr. W. E. Isam and Mr . Arthur Bowen, who. between them had more than 100 years in mining.

'Mr. Isam, of Ilkeston Road, Marlpool, who is secretary of Heanor Independent Socialist Party, holds a unique record throughout his 52 years all Coppice he always had to work on the day shift, which started at 6 a.rn.

"I was never late and I am very proud of that record," Mr. Isam said.

Seams exhausted

The colliery, which once employed 1,500 men, has been closed because its seams have been exhausted.

The number of men has fallen in the past year. There were only 350 when the pit's life ended yesterday.

Of these, about half, will remain on for salvage operations and the remainder are being transferred to other collieries in the East Midlands Division.

There has been about 20 persons made redundant at Coppice. The men concerned were mainly nearing their retirement age, and did not feel that a move to another pit would benefit them.

But the pit manager, Mr William Bridges, who has been at Coppice for the past months, said: "Every able-bodied man who wanted a job in mining has been found one."

The first lump of coal to be hewn from Coppice was dedicated at a service held at the pithead.

Probably the last lump to be hewn will, for the next few months, stand outside the Black Horse public house at Mapperley, near Ilkeston.

The lump is a gift from the National Coal Board to the village, which next year is celebrating its 700th anniversary.

Nine feet high, five feet wide and three feet thick, the lump will stand outside the public house until the fair festivities start next summer.


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