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Swadlincote Heritage Trail

As part of Swadlincote Townscape we will be creating a Heritage Trail around the Swadlincote area. Research has been funded through the Swadlincote Townscape grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the main focus of the trail will be on the Townscape area within Swadlincote town centre.

Swadlincote Townscape Heritage Scheme, Heritage Lottery Funded, map of conservation area

The trail will include some plaques out and about in the town but most of the information will be online and in leaflets. Local secondary school pupils are working on ideas for an app so that we can include archive photographs and video clips plus interviews about the people and places included in the trail.

We are fundraising now to make the vision for the trail a reality.

Look at the Swadlincote Townscape Facebook page for the most up to date plans, pictures and information about the Heritage Trail and Swadlincote Townscape.

We will keep the Facebook page up to date with suggestions we receive by email and submitted online.

If you know of any organisations that might be interested in sponsoring the trail please ask them to contact us as it would enable us to create more plaques or pay for extra leaflets to be printed or extend the geographical extent of the trail.

We would like to thank the Magic Attic and Jeffery Parrans for their help with research so far and with sourcing photographs.

If you have any photographs to share related to the Trail people and places (and which you are happy to be made public) please email them to: with any credit which you want to appear with them.

People and places to be included in the Heritage Trail

Alexandra Rink (on the site of Connexions, Rink Drive)

The Alexandra Rink Dance Hall started in 1909 as a roller skating rink. Later, lots of well-known dance bands appeared there and it was a place that everybody loved. Ernie Hall, 'The Law of the Floor', ran the rink for a long time and brought in many acts.

Helen Allingham

Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson (Allingham) was born in a house on the High Street on 26 September 1848. She was the eldest of seven children born to Alexander Henry Paterson, a rural doctor, and Mary Chance Herford. She became known for her watercolour paintings of the countryside, flower gardens, her children and especially picturesque old country cottages.

Salt Brothers stores

In the 1890s, brothers Enoch, Joseph and Hezekiah Salt opened their first shop in Swadlincote on the High Street. Eventually, this extended to three stores which included a haberdashery and menswear shops and, in the late 1920s, a hardware store. Salt Brothers finally closed all its shops in 1982, after almost a century of trading.

The Nag’s Head

The Nag’s Head was a large public house which stood on the corner of The Delph until the 1960s. The England football caps worn by Ben Warren, the first husband of the landlady, Mrs Hall were displayed behind the bar. There are recollections of the pub being packed to capacity, especially on nights when big dance bands attended the rink.

Tram sheds

In 1906, a tramway system linking the Burton railway station with Ashby and Castle Gresley, along with the villages in between. The tram sheds were next to Eureka park. The trams could not compete with the more flexible bus system and the last tram pulled into the Swadlincote sheds on 19 February 1927.

John Avery

John Avery - The Bear Inn 1927-2016

John Avery was born in 1927 at the Bear Inn, West Street, Swadlincote, which was managed by his parents. He served as both a Bevin Boy and a welder at Church Gresley Colliery during the war, before working at the Empire Cinema and the Majestic Theatre in Swadlincote in the 1950s. In 1974, he was appointed general manager of the London Palladium, where he worked until his retirement in 1992. He died on 11 May 2016, aged 89.

Picture credit: Eric and Olwyn Hardy.

The Snooker Hall - birthplace of the Magic Attic

The snooker hall at the back of the Leisure Centre originally belonged to the Sharpe family farmstead (The Grove, which was demolished in 1972). The raised brick coped gables are typical of buildings from the 18th century. Later, the building became the birthplace of The Magic Attic, Swadlincote’s very own local history group, started in 1987. The Magic Attic are now situated within Sharpe’s Pottery.

Eddie Hardy

Local boy Eddie Hardy had a long, distinguished career in athletics. As a member of the Derby and County Athletic Club, he gained international honours for his cross country running. He won the Derbyshire Senior mile event seven years in a row before retiring due to injuries in 1956.

Jack Bodell

Jack Bodell 1940-1916

Possibly South Derbyshire’s most favourite sporting hero. The ‘Gentle Giant’ was born in Newhall, worked as a miner and took up the sport of boxing quite late. He became a light-heavyweight champion, fighting 243 amateur fights and losing only five! Bodell represented his country in the European Championships winning a bronze medal.

George Newbury

George Newbury made his living as a blacksmith at a local pottery but was well known for being part of the ‘Swadlincote Wheelers’ cycling club. At the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952, he captained the British 4,000 metres pursuit team to win a bronze medal.

Timothy Sabine

Sabine was a blacksmith who lived in Swadlincote and invented the extrusion machine for sockets used by the pipe manufacturer, Thomas Wragg. The family home and business was on High Street and Belmont Street.

Joe Jackson

Born in Burton Upon Trent in 1954, Joe Jackson lived on Coronation Street in Newhall. He later moved to New York and became well known as a singer and songwriter. He recorded 19 studio albums and received five Grammy Award nominations during his career. His first hit, named 'Is she really going out with him?' made him an overnight success in 1979.

Moses Cartwright's Colliery, Midland Road

In 1880, Moses Cartwright’s Colliery was developed. It was known locally as the 'Owd Shoddy' pit because of the poor working conditions and badly faulted coal seams. There were problems with flooding and one of the two shafts collapsed. It closed in the early 1900s.

John Hurt

The renowned actor, John Hurt, moved to Woodville when he was five years old, when his father became vicar of St Stephen’s Church. Alongside two Academy Award nominations, Hurt has received many awards throughout his career, including the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement for outstanding contribution to British cinema.

Hill Street Baptist Church

Founded in 1867, Hill Street Baptist Church has been home to a growing group of Christians for nearly 150 years. Since its establishment, the building has been extended and modernised. The church hosts regular concerts using a spectacular pipe organ, alongside a varied programme of other events.

New Empire - cinema and theatre on West Street

In December 1912, The Empire Picture Palace opened, presenting ‘Pictures and Varieties’ to a hall seating 500 people on one level. In the 1930s, this building was demolished and replaced by the New Empire Cinema, seating 716 people. The cinema closed in the early 1960s and the building is now home to a bar and restaurant called The Empire.

Majestic Cinema, Alexandra Road

This well-loved venue, now demolished, launched the career of John Avery before he moved on to the London Palladium

TG Green

T G Green, Church Gresley

T.G. Green & Co Ltd operated in Church Gresley from 1864 until 2007.

At its peak it employed 1000 local people making pottery for the international market. There's no country in the world that doesn't have its famous Cornish Ware stripes in a kitchen, something for Swadlincote to be proud of.

The remaining four Grade II* listed bottle kilns and stable block are a significant reminder of the area's importance within the pottery industry.

Text courtesy of T G Green Archives / Dr Iain Hambling. Picture credit: T G Green Archives.

Mason Cash will also be included here.

Springfield Junior School, Springfield Road - completed in 1936

Designed by Architect George Widdows. Widdows designed school buildings which maximised natural light and allowed air to circulate. This was a new direction for school buildings. In an article on provincial school building in 1913, ‘The Builder’ stated that his work "constitutes a revolution in the planning and arrangement of school buildings. A real advance which places English school architecture without a rival in any European country or the United States."

Diana Memorial Garden, Grove Street

Amongst other things this garden was once the site of a clay hearth, part of Sharpe’s Pottery. The memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales is also here as she visited the garden.

The garden is being restored as part of the Swadlincote Townscape Project.

Autoquip Building on West Street

The shop frontage is semi-circular in shape as the original building here was one of Sharpe’s bottle kilns.

Eureka Park

The park has a rich history linked to mining including ‘Owd Shoddy’ pit and the ‘Eureka’ coal seam. It is also an important focus of commemoration for lives lost during the Great War and the Second World War.

Edmund Sharpe c1811-1894

Edmund was the youngest and most influential brother at Sharpe’s Pottery on West St (established 1821). Sharpe’s Pottery and Edmund’s enterprising personality were driving factors behind Swadlincote’s growth from a small hamlet to a bustling town.

Bretby Art Pottery 1951

Bretby Art Pottery, Swadlincote Road, Woodville

Bretby Art Pottery ran in Woodville from 1883 to 1996 under the company Tooth & Co. The pottery was internationally famous - winning awards for its Art Nouveau designs which are found throughout the world. The showroom, a grade II listed building is all that remains of this important industrial past.

Text courtesy of Bretby Archives / John Somers. Picture credit: Bretby Archives.

Paramount Cars

This British Company produced cars from 1950 to 1956 and was based in Swadlincote on the High Street before moving to Melbourne.

Jean Hanson

Emmeline Jean Hanson 1919-1973

Jean Hanson was a well-known and respected biophysicist and zoologist born in Newhall and a forerunner in the discipline of sports science.

Picture credit: Kings College Collection.

Rene Cutforth 1909-1984

Rene was born in Woodville and became a well-known broadcaster working on international projects for the BBC.

Hannah Mitchell

A well-known suffragette and political activist, Hannah lived in Newhall for most of her married life and her husband worked at Salts. Her autobiography was published by her grandson in 1968.

Anne Beverley (McDonald)

Anne’s son, Sid Vicious is her main claim to fame and it is said his ashes were scattered on the Delph.

Other venues and people approved for the trail in principle and being researched

Swadlincote Market Hall / Swadlincote Town Hall - local court and the inspiration for Chrissie Hynde’s song ‘Time the Avenger’.

Richard Holden, armourer to King James II.

Ben Warren, international footballer.

Charlie Hextall, early film actor (and local character).

Related documents

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