As mining in the area became more intensive and the influence of the Oakes family increased, the population of Somercotes began to rise. With this sharp growth in the workforce came the need for new housing and all of the attendant infrastructure. As well as the miners and ironworkers, there were, by 1904, eight butchers, four fried fish dealers, seven farmers and one pawnbroker all listed in the various trade directories.
1. THE EARLY 1900’s
By the early 1900’s, Somercotes had begun to grow into the village that is seen today, with much of Nottingham Road and the High Street being developed. However, the increase in population and the necessary infrastructure to house everyone began to have serious consequences which were often raised at meetings of the Urban District Council.
To illustrate some of the issues, a transcription of an article published in the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald on 10 March 1900 follows: “A DISGRACEFUL WATER SUPPLY – Regarding the water question in the district, Mr Beastall rose and complained about the distribution of water in Somercotes, which was constantly short of water. It was on his proposition in committee that the Council decided not to seek any further loans for the more adequate supply of water, and his contention was that the water could be distributed without recourse to such proposals. It was unfair for one part of the district to continually have water while Somercotes had to take their luck, as it were. He advocated the turning off of taps in some portions of the district, so that Somercotes could get a chance. Something must be done”.
The meeting continued and it was agreed that all necessary steps should be taken to secure an adequate water supply. Such problems were occurring due to the rapid increase in house building. By this time, the population of Somercotes and Leabrooks was outstripping that of Alfreton.
Properties were in great demand as workers travelled from far afield to settle in the area. This was emphasised by many estate agents selling both land and property. An advert dated June 1900 for Messrs William Watson & Son, a well-known Alfreton auctioneers read “SOMERCOTES – FREEHOLD MESSUAGES… All those seven freehold messuages or dwelling houses with Gardens and Appurtenances thereto belonging, situate and being in Cinder Road, Somercotes… producing an annual rental of £43 17s 6d. The property is in the midst of Collieries and Ironworks where houses are in great demand…”
The increase in the population, together with inadequate basic supplies brought insanitary conditions to the area, and disease often spread quickly. An outbreak of diphtheria took hold in 1906, reported by the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald on 10 November that year: “DIPHTHERIA AT SOMERCOTES – Serious Outbreak – The Medical Officer’s report showed that there were no signs of an abatement of diphtheria. There had been three fatal cases. The centre of infection was the Somercotes district where there had been 31 out of 37, and others came from Jacksdale. The disease was now of a malignant type and if it developed the question of the closing of schools must be considered. He recommended that those responsible for keeping a register of attendances at the various schools in the district be requested to send home children who returned to school from infected families before the period of three weeks had elapsed since the commencement of illness in such families as shown on the register…”. By December 1906, new cases of diphtheria were less prevalent, but it took much longer for the disease to completely disappear. Other infectious diseases were also relatively common. In October 1912, the Medical Officer reported twelve cases of Scarlet Fever in Somercotes, six in Alfreton and one in Leabrooks. In December 1915, an outbreak of Scarlet Fever was so bad that the infant school was closed. Infant mortality was common.
Despite the obvious privations, the influx of families continued, driven by the need for steady, reasonably paid work. The coal and ironmasters continued their support of the community, and slowly the conditions improved and the villages began to flourish.
PHOTO: Nottingham Road, Somercotes, 1906
2. THE WAR YEARS, 1914
The outbreak of war in August 1914 would eventually bring with it its own misery to the villagers of Somercotes and beyond. In a scenario repeated all over the country, many men left their jobs and enlisted in the army or navy, leaving behind their parents, siblings and spouses. As the war progressed, the steady trickle of official telegrams informing the next-of-kin that their loved ones had died, slowly increased. The War Memorial at Somercotes, unveiled in 1927 is testimony to the grief felt by the local population. On it are listed several sets of brothers, a father and son, and many close friends. On 1st July 1916 alone, during the first day of the Somme offensive, seven Somercotes Parish soldiers were killed in action. The last soldier to be killed during the war lost his life on 4 November 1918, just seven days before the Armistice, although several more are known to have died after this as a direct consequence of the war.
On 1 January 1916, conscription was introduced. Many local workers would spend the war in the collieries and at the ironworks, but so many miners and ironworkers had already enlisted that these jobs, which were critical to the war effort, had to be filled by other volunteers or by men who were chosen by tribunals to work in the collieries instead of the army or navy. Women too started to play their part in the war effort. Although it was illegal for women to work underground, many found employment in agriculture and more specifically at the Riddings Ironworks. With this came a new found freedom for women, and although the work was hard, the pay was reasonable and the independence it gave was important. On the census return of 1911, many young women were described as “domestic servants”, but within a few short years, the war would radically change this.
At the wars end, the soldiers began to slowly return. By the end of 1919, most had returned home. Those lucky enough would find their old jobs waiting for them, but for some it was a hard struggle.
[Further information, especially on the servicemen, can be found in the “War Years” tab]
3. THE GENERAL STRIKE, 1926
Although the relationship between the workers and the wealthy industrialists had never been easy, there had, in the past, been a respect amongst the parties involved. The Seely family and the Oakes family had freely supported both the physical and moral welfare of their workers, donating land and funds for schools, cricket grounds and both the Churches of St. James and St. Thomas, as well as other institutions. After the war though, things were to change.
The Oakes family sold the Riddings Ironworks in 1920 to the Stanton Ironworks Ltd of Ilkeston. With the sale, no doubt, came uncertainty about the future. Many of the collieries by this time had closed, or had been absorbed into larger complexes. In 1920, only the deep mines of Cotes Park, New Birchwood [Shady], Lower Birchwood and the Swanwick Collieries were still open within the parish.
The 1920’s saw a decline in the economy throughout the country, and Somercotes and its environs were not to escape. The miners had been on strike many times before over pay and working conditions, including a major strike in the area in 1912. They went on strike again in 1921, and joined the General Strike of 1926.
During the strike of 1926, a large proportion of the population of Somercotes and the surrounding villages found themselves without work. At the ironworks, the blast furnaces were shut down, never to restart. Although the strike was initially solid many employees drifted back to work, and the Dundee Evening Telegraph of 11 May 1926 summed up the mood at the time “LESS ENTHUSIAM FOR STRIKE… Stanton Ironworks, Derbyshire, where four thousand men are employed, resumed work this morning. Alfreton Ironworks, belonging to the same company, are also working, though not at full strength.” The general strike continued officially until 13 May 1926, when it was deemed that support among the workers was not sufficient to carry on.
The Ripley & Heanor News was just one local newspaper that ran reports on the lasting effects of the strike. Their paper, published on Friday 4 June 1926, ran the following article: FEEDING THE CHILDREN – SOMERCOTES – The ‘Feed the Children’ efforts which are being made in Somercotes and Leabrooks districts have received considerable help from outside. Ripley Co-operative Society has allocated £18 value in goods. Rev. W H Mason, pastor of London Wesleyan Church, and a native of the district has forwarded £5, the result of a collection amongst his congregation. Four meals were provided to nearly 1,000 children last week, seven public buildings being utilised as feeding stations. House to house collections, donations from tradesmen and ‘rings’ have helped to swell the total…”
Although the General Strike had ended, further disputes, however, did persist, especially with the colliery workers, who walked out of the collieries again in September the same year. The hardships caused friction amongst families and friends alike, and the newspapers reported daily occurrences of intimidation and violence. Coal picking too, although illegal, was also prevalent. As late as 30 December 1926, the Derby Daily Telegraph reported: “OUTCROPPING AT ALFRETON – Henry Edward Parker, a joiner of Lower Somercotes, was charged at Alfreton Police Court on Wednesday with doing damage to a property belonging to Miss Wing, of whom he was a tenant. The complaint against the defendant was that he engaged in outcropping during the strike on land near his house without authority. It was stated that much coal had been taken out of the shaft, which was about 30 feet deep… Parker was fined £1. 1s. and he was ordered to pay £5 damages and costs £2 7s. or in default one month’s imprisonment ”
Perhaps the distress caused during this period is best reflected in the following extract from the Somercotes Parish Magazine dated September 1928. “It is with sincere gratitude that we have noted slight improvement in the industrial conditions in the parish. We hope that they will continue to improve and we shall have a season of prosperity in succession to the years of adversity, which we have had for some time”.
PHOTO: The Ironworks in 1923
4. THE PARISH IN THE 1930’s
After the privations of the previous decade, the 1930’s were, by contrast, a decade of prosperity and stability. The small hamlets to the south of Alfreton had all grown, but Somercotes had now become the dominant village in terms of its size and population. The hamlets of Birchwood, Pennytown and Muckram had virtually all been absorbed by their bigger neighbour, and due to the expansion in building over the previous years, the boundaries between Somercotes and Leabrooks had become blurred. Pye Bridge, at the time within the parish of Riddings, would have looked essentially as it does today. The hamlet of Greenhill had become part of Riddings [with a small portion in Leabrooks].
For over a century the majority of the working population had found work in the heavy industries of the collieries and the Riddings foundry. In the 1930’s, most were miners, employed in the local collieries of Cotes Park, New Birchwood and the Swanwick Collieries, although some also worked at Pye Hill Colliery, Selston and Alfreton Colliery. There was also the foundry, the gas works and the chemical plant, all at Pye Bridge, together with numerous small associated businesses. The textile industry was also beginning to play a small but significant role in the employment of women.
The scale of expansion slowed during the 1930’s, with only a small number of houses being built, but the continued improvement in many of the local facilities contributed to an increase in the physical and mental wellbeing of the population. Mining, however, was still heavy, dangerous work. Despite the increasing number of regulations introduced over the years for safety reasons, the local newspapers are testament to the dangers that miners faced on every shift. Just a few articles are transcribed in part, below:
Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald, 30 January 1932 – “SOMERCOTES MINER TRAPPED BY A FALL OF COAL – A verdict of ‘accidental death’ with a rider that no blame attached to anyone was returned at the inquest at Derby on Friday on Samuel Dooley, of Seely Terrace, Somercotes, a miner at Cotes Park Colliery…”
Ripley & Heanor News, 11 March 1932 – “SOMERCOTES – Edwin Frogg , married, a Stallman of Langley Avenue, Somercotes, was trapped byb a fall of caol while working at Birchwood Colliery on Wednesday. He received a broken leg and minor injuries, and was carried nearly two miles, on a stretcher, to the pit head, and then taken to Derby Royal Infirmary”
Derby Daily Telegraph, 12 November 1935 – “SWANWICK COLLIERY ACCIDENT – Edward Rossington  of 35, Somercotes Hill. Near Alfreton, was admitted to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary last night with an injured leg. He is a miner employed at Swanwick Colliery, and was knocked down by some tubs while down the pit”
Ripley & Heanor News, 10 December 1937 – “SOMERCOTES MINER KILLED – There was a serious fall of roof in the low main seam of Swanwick Colliery, belonging to Mr R C A Palmer-Morewood of Alfreton Park, early on Wednesday morning, involving the death of one miner, while two others had narrow escapes. The victim was Leonard Ainsworth, of Coupland Place, Somercotes, married with three children…”
Ripley & Heanor News, 18 August 1939 – “SOMERCOTES MINER INJURED – Frederick J Bacon , of Seely Terrace, Somercotes is in Derbyshire Royal Infirmary with back and rib injuries received at Birchwood Colliery, Somercotes last Friday night, when he was hit by a piece of bind, measuring one foot by two feet, which fell on him from the roof…”
Derby Daily Telegraph, 20 March 1939 – “SOMERCOTES MINER HURT – Edward Langton  of 62, Nottingham Road, Somercotes was detained in Derbyshire Royal Infirmary on Saturday with an injured leg, suffered when he was trapped by a fall of bind at Alfreton Colliery.”
In 1930, the Government made changes to the Housing Act, removing previous grants and subsidies to local councils except for new houses built to replace slum clearance. Despite much of the old housing stock requiring modernisation or clearance, the Alfreton Urban District Council was not able to finance wholesale demolition or replacement dwellings. A few privately funded houses were built in the district, but overall the number of houses constructed was much lower than in the preceding decades.
5. THE SECOND WORLD WAR, 1939
The declaration of war against Germany on 3 September 1939 no doubt came as no surprise to most of the population. Such was the resignation of local newspapers that it hardly made a mention in any of the editions published in the following days. Unlike the Great War of 1914-1918, the Second World War did not have the same impact, although for the families and friends of the servicemen who lost their lives during this conflict, the impact would have been much the same. A total of 20 servicemen are listed on the Somercotes War Memorial.
Many of the working men were carrying out work considered as vital to the war effort and would be placed in reserved occupation status. This included the miners who worked underground and the skilled men at Riddings Foundry. As in the previous war, much of the work done by men who did enlist was taken by women, especially in the foundries at Pye Bridge and Codnor Park.
While the collieries continued to produce coal for the nation’s factories and railways, the foundry began to switch production to the manufacture of bomb and shell casings. The government, knowing in 1939 that insufficient capacity was available for the manufacture of ordnance, began to contact companies with a view to constructing new, purpose built factories. The Stanton Ironworks Company was one of several who agreed, and in September 1941, the Stanton Gate Bomb Plant was opened. Skilled workers such as moulders, pattern makers and maintenance fitters from the foundry at Pye Bridge were seconded to the Bomb Plant for the duration of the war, and were not released back until late August 1945.
6. THE SALE OF A VALUABLE FREEHOLD ESTATE, 1942 [BY SLHS & JUDITH FITZHUGH]
In the early 1930’s the Babbington Coal Company sold their Somercotes and Birchwood estate to the Sheepbridge Iron & Coal Company of Chesterfield. The estate included the Birchwood Collieries Complex [New Birchwood and Lower Birchwood] and farms, land and property throughout the parish.
The collieries closed in 1941, and a year later on 12 August 1942 an important sale on behalf of the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company took place. In this sale large areas of Somercotes, Lower Birchwood, New Birchwood and Cotes Park were sold by auction. The auction was widely publicised in local newspapers, including the Derbyshire Times & Chesterfield Herald, published on 7 August 1942. The notice included a short history of the estate, which reads as follows: “SOMERCOTES ESTATE TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION - A Somercotes estate, formerly belonging to the Seely family, will be offered for sale next Wednesday at the Church Hall, Somercotes, by Mr. Ernest S. Mitchell, of Chesterfield, by order of the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. This estate was purchased close upon a century ago by the first Sir Chas. Seely who began mining developments in the Birchwood area and extended them to Tibshelf, where the Nos. 1 and 2 Collieries were sunk, and later the Nos. 3 and 4. The former two collieries were closed many years ago, and the family under the style of the Babbington Coal Co. carried on the others, the head of which was Lord Sherwood, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Air Ministry, and the grandson of the first Sir Chas. Seely. A few years ago the family disposed of their Nottinghamshire coal interests to the Bestwood Co., and the Sheepbridge Co. acquired their Derbyshire mining concerns and other properties some years ago. The Company closed the Tibshelf Nos. 3 and 4 collieries, and last December for economic reasons they closed down at Birchwood. A row of houses to be sold, Seely Terrace, will retain memories of the family who built the property. The cricket field, long the home of the local cricket club, and the venue for all kinds of village fetes, sports etc., will come under the hammer. The former residence of the manager of the colliery, Bircholme," now occupied by the Vicar of Somercotes (Rev. C. G. F. Clarke) is among the lots for sale. The gross annual income, excluding fee lots in hand, is £1,758 9s 7d.”
The sale took place at the Church Hall on Sleetmoor Lane, Somercotes and was conducted by Mr. Ernest S. Mitchell on behalf of Messrs. Davies Sanders and Co. Solicitors of Nottingham and Chesterfield. The freehold estate was divided into 32 lots consisting of 260 acres, 111 houses, several farms, allotments and cottage gardens as well as extensive woodland, ponds, a cricket field and a colliery site. A booklet of the particulars and sale conditions was available to potential buyers in advance of the sale.
MAP: Map showing auction lot nos: 1, 2, 15, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32
The lots were as follows:
|LOT No||DESCRIPTION||REALISATION AT AUCTION|
|1||Eight houses with frontage to Somercotes Hill, 1-8 George Street or Naylor’s Yard and a plot of garden ground near to No. 1||£1,210 Mr L Jepson|
|2||Dwelling house, outbuildings and gardens known as Rachel Cottage, Birchwood Lane||£115 Mr T Cook|
|3||Nether Farm, Birchwood Lane (43 acres)||£1,125 Mr E Watson|
|4||Three houses, 1,2,3 Birchwood Lane||£260 Mr F Lee |
|5||Shady Farm, Lower Birchwood (54 acres) also two cottages, 4 and 5 Birchwood Lane||£1,750 Mr H Simpson|
|6||Two dwelling houses, 8 and 9, Smotherfly||£120 Mr F Lee |
|7||A block of six dwelling houses known as Bonsall’s Row and a close of old grassland||£470 Mr E H Hunt|
|8||Detached dwelling No. 41 Birchwood Lane||£210 Mr J Varley|
|9||Detached dwelling No. 40 Birchwood Lane||£335 Mr W Topham|
|10||A pair of dwelling houses 39 and 38 Birchwood Lane||£250 Mr Todkill|
|11||Two houses 37 and 36 Birchwood Lane||£160 Mr A E Prince|
|12||“Bircholme” a detached residence situated off Birchwood Lane||£1,100 Mr Mountain|
|13||Gin Cottage, 30 Birchwood Lane||£110 Mrs Burt|
|14||Allotment Gardens||£500 Mr F Lee |
|15||Piece of land on Birchwood Lane||£120 Mr F Lee |
|16||Penny Town Farm (35 acres) and small holding, including three dwelling houses||£2,000 Lee Son & Coupe|
|17||Piece of old grassland off Birchwood Lane||£50 Mr H Gadsby|
|18||Swiss Cottage, just off Birchwood Lane||£275 Mr W Marriott|
|19||Twenty-six houses, land forming site of Lower Birchwood Colliery and access to the railway main line (30 acres) ||£775 W Bush & Sons|
|20||Pair of brick dwelling houses 3 and 4 Victoria Cottages, New Birchwood||£200 Mr F Lee |
|21||Pair of brick dwelling houses 1 and 2 Victoria Cottages, New Birchwood||£310 Mr H Gadsby|
|22||Closes of land, reservoir and ponds, including part of Pennytown Wood||£500 Mr F Lee |
|23||Pair of dwelling houses 11 and 12 Cotes Park||£405 Mr Mountain|
|24||Three houses 6,7,8 Cotes Park||£235 Mr Mountain|
|25||Land frontage to Nottingham Road||£360 Mr F Lee |
|26||Somercotes Cricket Ground||£950 Mr F Lee |
|27||Old Farm (41 acres) and two cottages||£2,100 Mr W Hunt|
|28||Ten houses Seely Terrace 5-14||£720 Mr G Piccaver|
|29||Ten houses Seely Terrace 15-24||£660 Mr F Lee |
|30||Ten houses Seely Terrace 25-34||£620 Mr Doar|
|31||Eight house Seely Terrace 35-42||£630 J G Severn & Co|
|32||A block of gardens known as Belle Vue, Seely Terrace.||£700 Mr G A Beasta|
 Purchased on behalf of Alfreton Urban District Council
 Purchased on behalf of an unknown client
 Mrs Burt was the tenant
 Lot 19 consisted of the old Birchwood Collieries site of just over 20 acres, and almost the entire hamlet of Muckram. The area became a scrap and recycling yard run by W Bush & Sons (now Sims Metals)
 Lot 25 is now the site of the Pilkington Glass factory. The land was just over 10 acre in size.
 The Cricket Ground was converted to a Greyhound Stadium and Football pitch which opened in 1955. It is now the site of the NHS Distribution Centre
 Lot 31 included the former premises used as the Somercotes Institute & Club, founded by Sir Charles Seely. In 1942 it was under a lease of ten years (expiring in 1945) held by Mr J G Severn of Alfreton, who purchased the entire Lot.
 “Bircholme” was the former residence of the manager of Birchwood Colliery. At the time of the auction it was occupied by the vicar of Somercotes, the Reverend C G F Clarke. In the auction catalogue it states that the house is leased to “…Mr C A M Oakes for the period of the War and six months thereafter at the annual rent of £60, the tenant paying the rates”
The sale of the Sheepbridge estate in Somercotes would have a great effect on parts of the village over the following years, particularly in respect of the hamlet of Muckram and the old Birchwood Collieries site.
7. COTTAGE FARM ESTATE, 1947
The history of the Cottage Farm Estate starts in 1934, when the Alfreton Urban District Council purchased land from the Cottage Farm at Lower Somercotes. The Belper News, published on 11 May 1934, reported on a council meeting as follows: “… They had also purchased the Cottage Farm at Lower Somercotes for £1,175 for the purpose of their horses, while 3½ acres would be used for a tip.”
The land seems to have continued to be used for grazing and farming for many years after the purchase. On 10 November 1939, the Council advertised land to let in the Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald: “Farmers and Graziers are invited to submit tenders for renting land situate at Lower Somercotes and known as Cottage Farm, and containing 16½ acres or thereabouts. The house and buildings and croft adjoining are excluded…”
By 1947, a decision had been taken to build on the land. Tenders were invited for the “construction of roads and sewers, Cottage Farm Housing Site, Somercotes” as published in the Derby Daily Telegraph of 28 March that year.
The estate was quickly developed within a couple of years. Although officially known as the “Cottage Farm” estate, it was also widely referred to as the “Windmill” estate, due to the proximity on its south eastern boundary with the site of the Riddings Windmills, which still existed at the time. The main access to the estate off Nottingham Road was named Windmill Rise.
Additional land acquisition with the purchase of the Springfield Poultry Farm off Quarry Road in the mid-1950’s expanded the estate further, which is how Springfield Crescent came to be named.
PHOTO: Baker Close, Cottage Farm Estate, c.1955
The building of the Cottage Farm estate coincided with an increase in the workforce required for the textile industry. The Cellular Clothing Company opened a factory on Nottingham Road, known for many years as the “Aertex Factory”, in the late 1940’s and expansion of the premises continued into the early 1950’s and beyond. Everlastic Ltd had also opened their factory off Somercotes Hill around the same time, increasing the need for a predominately female workforce.
As some of the older housing stock throughout the Alfreton Urban District was demolished, families were moved to the newer housing estates [the Firs Estate at Alfreton was built at around the same time]. The population of Somercotes continued to grow with this increase in house building, and unemployment in the district was relatively low.
8. SOUTH SPIRE ESTATE, 1957
With the development of the Cottage Farm Estate, the Urban District Council began to look further at replacing some of the housing stock that was considered unfit for purpose. In the 1950’s, the policy of local government was not to improve existing housing stock, but to demolish and replace structures that were condemned as being unfit for habitation. The Belper News published on 16 December 1955 reported on a meeting held by the Housing Committee: “SLUM CLEARANCE PROCEEDING – The report showed the probable effect on the housing revenue account with the decision of the Housing Committee to proceed with the erection of houses on the Somercotes South Spire site, and also to provide for slum clearance for which a subsidy will still be granted… the Council decided to go ahead with plans to build 60 houses next year on the Somercotes South Spire Site. It is intended to erect 12 three bedroomed houses, 36 two bedroomed houses and 12 bungalows”.
The following year, tenders were invited for the construction of roads and sewers at the proposed estate, and in June 1957, tenders were requested for the erection of houses and bungalows, although by then, 68 dwellings were proposed.
Despite the early building activity, the South Spire Estate was slow to develop. The main building programme did not take place until the late 1960’s. A report by the Housing Committee was published in 1970, part of which read: “HOUSING – With the increased availability of new houses on the South Spire Estate at Somercotes, a fresh impetus has been given to the slum clearance programme. Most noticeable of the clearance schemes have been those relating to Fletchers Row, Ironville, Brailsford Row, Swanwick and Lawton Terrace, Alfreton”.
During 1970, the erection of 78 council houses and four bungalows were started, as an extension to the estate. The estate would continue to develop, with many of the houses being built in the mid-1970’s. Many of the last streets to be constructed were named after the members of the famous 1975 Everest Expedition, led by Sir Chris Bonnington.
During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, demolition of the condemned houses began. In Somercotes, several were demolished on Birchwood Lane, a complete row of back-to-back houses on Mill Street were razed, and perhaps the best known, Coupland Place was completely re-developed. Many of the families living on Coupland Place were rehoused on the South Spire Estate.
9. CLOSURE OF THE HEAVY INDUSTRIES, 1960’S
The 1960’s saw the greatest changes in the parish since the beginning of the area’s industrialisation. During this decade, both the Cotes Park and Swanwick Collieries closed, and the Riddings Foundry at Pye Bridge, owned at the time by the British Steel Corporation, closed on Friday 13th June 1969.
Whilst the textile industry may have been considered to be flourishing, this business sector predominately employed women, whom, it must be said, did not enjoy the same pay rates as those working in the collieries or the foundry. With some forethought, the Alfreton Urban District Council had already made plans to establish an industrial estate in the district, and had also purchased land for development. As the collieries and foundry closed, the industrial estates took their place. With the additional advantage of the proximity of the M1 Motorway and the construction of the A38 [known locally at the time as the Alfreton By-Pass and which opened in 1969 as the A615] relatively large companies began to move or expand into the district. The Cotes Park Industrial Estate was the first to be developed.
Some of the first companies to move onto the Cotes Park Industrial Estate were Jersey Kapwood, Plyglass, Griffiths Laboratories and the Milk Marketing Board [as they were then all known], followed over the years by many more. Even with the additional land created by the closure of the Swanwick Collieries [now Nix’s Hill Trading Estate] and the Foundry at Pye Bridge [now Pye Bridge Industrial Estate] more was deemed necessary, and the estates were expanded. The hamlets of Pennytown and Muckram, long scheduled for slum clearance, were razed and have all but disappeared. In the latter part of the 20th century much of the ancient parish of woodland and pasture has been swallowed by the industrial estates and housing developments, but these necessary changes have helped to keep the local community, including the parishes of Alfreton and Riddings, viable.