Ashfield

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The Ashfield District is located on the western side of Nottinghamshire with the majority of the population - together with associated housing, jobs and services - concentrated within the three main towns of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Hucknall and Kirkby-in-Ashfield, together with 3 large villages in the substantial rural area. Ashfield has a strong industrial and literary heritage and is proud of its mining background.

Sutton-in-Ashfield is a market town, hosting the largest sundial in Europe (see image right). It is located in the middle of Portland Square, adjacent to the Idlewells Shopping Centre and Sutton Centre Community College. If you are in the area during August you can visit the Ashfield Show, held on Sutton Lawn, which includes everything from fairground rides, local businesses and services showing their presence, live music, classic cars and steam engines and much more.
Another local attraction stands on the former site of Silverhill Colliery close to the scenic village of Teversal on the north-west edge of Sutton. The area has been transformed from the colliery to a woodland, which features several walks for all abilities and also features the highest point in Nottinghamshire. At the highest point stands a monument to all the miners who have worked in the area's coalfields.

Contrary to popular and widespread belief among townsfolk, the Kings Mill reservoir lies within Sutton In Ashfield itself, and not in the neighbouring parish of Mansfield. Alongside the water reservoir is the Mill Adventure Base with sailing activities. This is one of three Nottinghamshire adventure bases, with the other two at Holme Pierrepont (Lakeside) and Worksop (Sandhill), all of which are available for people aged 11–19. The sailing club has used the reservoir since 1959. Kings Mill received its name from a mill on the north-east of the reservoir, once owned by John Cockle and his wife, who gave Henry II of England a night's lodgings and breakfast during his reign. To the west is the 250 acres (100 ha) Brierley Forest Park, built on the site of Sutton Colliery, also known as Brierley Colliery, which was named due to many of the miners coming from Brierley Hill. It is a nature reserve, opened in 1999, and holds the Green Flag Award.

Kirkby-in-Ashfield or Kirkby as it is locally known, was originally a Danish settlement (Kirk-by translates as 'Church Town' in Danish) and is a collection of small villages including Old Kirkby, The Folly (East Kirkby), Nuncargate and Kirkby Woodhouse. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has two main churches, St Wilfrid's, a Norman church, which was gutted by fire 6 January 1907 but quickly re-built to its former glory and St Thomas's built in the early 1910s in neo-gothic style.
Kirkby-in-Ashfield was once an important centre for coal mining and railways in west Nottinghamshire, with three active coal mines and a several railway junctions, now reduced to one single station on the Robin Hood train route. The town's most famous resident is Harold Larwood, the England cricketer who was born in Nuncargate in 1904. Best known for his 'fast leg theory' in the Ashes Test series of 1932-33.

The area around St Wilfrid's Church is designated a conservation area, and consists of former farm buildings built from local stone, some of which are listed. In the conservation area, at the junction of Church Street, Chapel Street and Sutton Road, is Kirkby Cross. This is the remains of a thirteenth century village cross in dressed stone, and is a listed structure and is a designated ancient monument. It is thought the cross has been in place since 1218, some years before the village was granted a market and fair. It was nearly demolished by an articulated lorry in early December 1987, but has been restored.
On the edge of Kirkby is Portland Park (known to local people as "the quarries", a mixture of woodland and grassland areas which, together with a number of small ponds and streams, are home to a wide variety of wildlife. The visitor centre there was opened in October 1994, and is an environmentally friendly building and a centre of excellence for energy conservation.

Hucknall was historically a centre for framework knitting and then for mining, but is now a focus for other industries as well as providing housing for workers in Nottingham. From 1295 until 1915, the town was known as Hucknall Torkard, taken from Torkard, the name of a dominant landowning family. Signs of the old name can still be seen on some of the older buildings. The town is surrounded by farmland, parkland and villages. To the north-west lie Misk Hills and Annesley. To the north-east of the town are the villages of Linby  and Papplewick and beyond these two is Newstead Abbey and its grounds, once the residence of Lord Byron. To the west lies Eastwood,  birthplace of D.H. Lawrence and the inspiration for many of his novels. To the east of the town is Bestwood Country Park.

The town is notable as the site where Rolls Royce made the first demonstration of the vertical take-off  known as the Flying Bedstead (right). Rolls Royce also developed and built the Merlin engine used in operational aircraft for the military such as the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. More Merlin engines were subsequently built to accommodate the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.The Merlin engine was superceded by its larger stablemate the Rolls Royce Griffon for military use.

Hucknall is a thriving market town. Its focal point is the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, next to the town's market square. The church was built by the Anglo-Saxons and completed after the Norman Conquest, though much of it has been restored during the Victorian era. The medieval church consisted only of a chancel, nave, north aisle and tower but it was considerably enlarged in the Victorian period. In 1872 the south aisle was added and the unusually long transepts in 1887, while the rest of the building apart from the tower was thoroughly restored. The top stage of the tower is 14th century as is the south porch. There are 25 fine stained-glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe, which were added mostly in the 1880s.

It is also the final resting place of Lord Byron and his estranged daughter, the mathematician Ada Lovelace. Within the church you will find the memorial to Lord Byron and a statue of the Poet overlooks the adjacent Market place.
In the cemetery within the Church grounds you will also find the final resting place of one of England’s finest pugilists -  Ben Caunt, a bare knuckle fighter who became England’s Heavyweight champion in May 1841. He is said to have had such a booming voice that another booming sound is named after him – Big Ben.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, coal was discovered and mined heavily throughout the Leen Valley, which includes Hucknall. This brought increased wealth to the town along with the construction of three railway lines. The first and only surviving railway line to be built was the Midland Railway (later part of the LMS) line from Nottingham to Mansfield and Worksop, closed to passengers on 12 October 1964 though partly retained as a freight route serving collieries at Hucknall, Linby and Annesley. The Hucknall station on this line was known as "Hucknall Byron" in its latter years. In the 1990s this line was reopened to passengers as the Robin Hood Line, with a new station on the site of the old "Byron", though simply called "Hucknall". Our latest transport link is the NET tram line, running from the train station directly into the centre of Nottingham and on to the main Nottingham Train Station making easy work for travellers.

A recent addition to the town is a BMX track site in the West of the town within the outer grounds of Annie Holgate School which was opened in 2013, and is very popular with the local youngsters.
On Thursday evenings the Flea market and the Friday market are bustling, and the nearby John Godber Community Centre regular hosts a monthly Jumble Sale (run by volunteers from the Jumblers) on the first Friday every month,  with Beer Festivals, Farmers Markets, Plays by the Lovelace Theatre Group and Festivities taking place throughout the year, so why not pay us a visit, after all we are one of the safest areas in Nottinghamshire to work, live and play.


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