Gainsborough waterfront and the River Trent
|Population||22,841 (2017 estimate)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||135 mi (217 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Gainsborough is a market town and inland port in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. The population of the town was 20,842 at the 2011 census, and estimated at 23,243 in 2019. It lies on the east bank of the River Trent, 18 miles (29 km) north-west of the county town of Lincoln, 15 miles (24 km) south-west of Scunthorpe, and 35 miles (56 km) east of Sheffield. At one time it had important trade downstream to Hull, as the English port furthest inland – over 55 miles (90 km) from the North Sea.
King Alfred, Sweyn Forkbeard and Cnut the Great
The place-name Gainsborough first appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1013, as Gegnesburh and Gæignesburh. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it appears as Gainesburg: Gegn's fortified place. It was one of the capital cities of Mercia in the Anglo-Saxon period that preceded Danish rule. Its choice by the Vikings as an administrative centre was influenced by its proximity to the Danish stronghold at Torksey.
Historically, Gainsborough is the "capital that never was." Towards the end of July 1013, the Dane Sweyn Forkbeard and his son and heir Cnut (Canute) arrived in Gainsborough with an army of conquest. Sweyn defeated the Anglo-Saxon opposition and King Ethelred fled the country. Sweyn was declared King of England and returned to Gainsborough. Sweyn and Cnut took up high office at the Gainsborough Castle on the site of the present-day Old Hall, while his army occupied the camp at Thonock (now known as Castle Hills). However, Sweyn died, or perhaps was killed five weeks later in Gainsborough. His son Cnut established a base elsewhere. So Gainsborough was named as capital of England and of Denmark for five weeks in the year 1013.
Cnut may have performed his unsuccessful attempt to turn the tide back in the River Trent at Gainsborough. Historians believe he may have been demonstrating on the aegir, a tidal bore. He and his supporters may have known Gainsborough was the furthest reach of the aegir, and ideal for his demonstration. However the story was only written down a century later by Henry of Huntingdon, who gives no location, and it may have been a myth or a fable.
The Lindsey Survey of 1115–1118 records that Gainsborough was held by Nigel d'Aubigny, the forebear of the Mowbray family, whose interest in Gainsborough continued until at least the end of the 14th century.
A weekly market was granted by King John in 1204.
Gainsborough Old Hall
Thomas Burgh acquired the manor of Gainsborough in 1455. He built Gainsborough Old Hall between 1460 and 1480, a large, 15th-century, timber-framed medieval strong house, and one of the best-preserved manor houses in Britain. It boasts a magnificent Great Hall and strong brick tower. King Richard III in 1483 and King Henry VIII in 1541 both stayed at the Old Hall. The manor was sold to the Hickman family in 1596.
English Civil War
The town was garrisoned for the King in January 1643 and began cooperating with the garrison at Newark in raiding the surrounding countryside and harassing Parliamentarians there. With the Great North Road blocked to Parliamentarian traffic, Gainsborough became significant as part of a route around Newark by way of Lincoln and the line of the modern A15 road. It was in Royalist interests to obstruct this, which gave rise to battles at Gainsborough and Winceby. Parliament captured Gainsborough in the battle on 20 July, but it was immediately besieged by a large Royalist army and forced to surrender after three days.
Parliament captured Gainsborough again on 18 December 1643, but had to withdraw in March 1644, razing the town's defences to prevent their use by the enemy. The Earl of Manchester's army passed through Gainsborough in May 1644 on its way to York and the Battle of Marston Moor.
After the Civil War ended in 1645, several people in Gainsborough were fined for Royalist sympathies, including Sir Willoughby Hickman, 1st Baronet at the Old Hall, who had been created the first Baronet of Gainsborough by Charles I in 1643.
The first recorded evidence of a church at Gainsborough is in 1180, when the rectory there was granted by Roger de Talebu to the great Preceptory of the Knights Templar in Lindsey, at Willoughton. In 1547, following the Protestant Reformation, the parish of Gainsborough came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lincoln for the first time.
The medieval Church of All Saints fell into disrepair after the Civil War. In 1736 it was demolished to make way for a new parish church completed in 1748 in a mix of perpendicular Gothic and Classical Revival styles. All that remains of the medieval church is the west tower, 90 feet high with a ring of eight bells. A monument to Richard Rollett, master sailmaker on Captain James Cook's second voyage, is located in the porch.
The town's rising 19th-century population called for a second church in the south of the town: Holy Trinity Church opened in 1843. This was followed by St John the Divine Church in Ashcroft Road in 1882, and St George's Church in Heapham Road in the 1950s. Holy Trinity closed in 1971 – it is now the Trinity Arts Centre) – and St John the Divine in 2002.
Non-conformism flourished in Gainsborough. It has often been claimed that some of the Mayflower Pilgrims worshipped in secret at the Old Hall before sailing for Holland to find religious freedom in 1609; no historical evidence for this has been found, whereas the congregation of John Smyth that met in the town developed into the Baptists and some returned to England. The John Robinson Memorial Church in Church Street was dedicated in 1897; the cornerstone was laid by Thomas F. Bayard, US Ambassador. Now the United Reformed Church, it was named in honour of John Robinson (1576–1625), pastor of the "Pilgrim Fathers" before they left on the Mayflower.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached in Gainsborough several times between 1759 and 1790. The town's first Methodist chapel opened in Church Lane in 1788, moving to a new site in North Street in 1804, and rebuilt there as St Stephen's in 1966. The Primitive Methodists set up in the town in 1819, with chapels in Spring Gardens (1838), Trinity Street (1877) and Ropery Road (1910). St Thomas's Church in Cross Street caters for the town's Roman Catholics.
Second World War
Gainsborough suffered its only large-scale air raid of the war on the night of 10 May 1941. High-explosive bombs and incendiaries were dropped, but many fell harmlessly on the surrounding countryside. There was only minor damage in the town and no casualties.
On the night of 28–29 April 1942 a single Dornier 217 dropped a stick of bombs on the town centre, causing extensive damage and the loss of seven lives. On 31 December 1942, a RCAF Bristol Beaufighter aircraft on a training exercise crashed on Noel Street, killing both airmen and a three-year-old girl. On 22 May 1944 a RAF Spitfire fighter, in a training exercise, collided with a Wellington bomber and crashed into a Sheffield-bound goods train as it was passing over the railway bridge on Lea Road. The pilot was the only casualty.
In the early hours of 5 March 1945 a single Junkers 88 fighter/bomber made a low-level attack over the town, dropping anti-personnel bombs on Church Street and the surrounding residential area. Three people lost their lives and 50 houses were damaged.
The town was before 1974 in the Gainsborough Urban District in the county of Lindsey. West Lindsey District Council was formed from five former councils. Gainsborough Town Council was established in 1992, and in the same year Gainsborough's first mayor was appointed.
The town is at the meeting point of the east-west A631, which crosses the Trent on Trent Bridge at the only point between the M180 and the A57), the A156 from the south to Torksey and A159 from Scunthorpe). The dual-carriageway Thorndike Way intended to link with the A15 at Caenby Corner, only reaches eastward to the town boundary. It is named after the locally-born actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. The former A631 through the town is now the B1433.
The civil parish extends south across rural land to Lea. The boundary passes to the south of Warren Wood, north of Lea Wood Farm, and along the northern edge of Lea Wood northwards through Bass Wood, where it meets Corringham, the main settlement to the east of Gainsborough. The boundary crosses Thorndike Way (A631) and briefly follows the B1433. At Belt Farm it meets Thonock, then follows The Belt Road, to the south of Gainsborough Golf Club, then down Thonock Hill to the edge of the Trent Valley.
George Eliot and The Mill on the Floss
In order to see Mr and Mrs Glegg at home, we must enter the town of St Ogg's, — that venerable town with the red fluted roofs and the broad warehouse gables, where the black ships unlade themselves of their burthens from the far north, and carry away, in exchange, the precious inland products, the well-crushed cheese and the soft fleeces which my refined readers have doubtless become acquainted with through the medium of the best classic pastorals. It is one of those old, old towns which impress one as a continuation and outgrowth of nature, as much as the nests of the bower-birds or the winding galleries of the white ants; a town which carries the traces of its long growth and history like a millennial tree, and has sprung up and developed in the same spot between the river and the low hill from the time when the Roman legions turned their backs on it from the camp on the hillside, and the long-haired sea-kings came up the river and looked with fierce, eager eyes at the fatness of the land. It is a town "familiar with forgotten years". The shadow of the Saxon hero-king still walks there fitfully, reviewing the scenes of his youth and love-time, and is met by the gloomier shadow of the dreadful heathen Dane, who was stabbed in the midst of his warriors by the sword of an invisible avenger, and who rises on autumn evenings like a white mist from his tumulus on the hill, and hovers in the court of the old hall by the river-side, the spot where he was thus miraculously slain in the days before the old hall was built. It was the Normans who began to build that fine old hall, which is, like the town, telling of the thoughts and hands of widely sundered generations; but it is all so old that we look with loving pardon at its inconsistencies, and are well content that they who built the stone oriel, and they who built the Gothic façade and towers of finest small brickwork with the trefoil ornament, and the windows and battlements defined with stone, did not sacriligiously pull down the ancient half-timbered body with its oak-roofed banqueting-hall.
Many scholars believe Gainsborough to be the basis for the fictional town of St Ogg's in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860). The novelist visited Gainsborough in 1859, staying in the house of a shipbuilder in Bridge Street, which survives today as the United Services Club. The stone bridge and the nearby willow tree are mentioned and the Old Hall is described in detail. Thomas Miller's Our Old Town published two years before, included the true story of a miller who loses a lawsuit after assaulting his adversary, and George Eliot used a similar story plot in The Mill on the Floss as the basis of the Tulliver/Wakem feud. It's also possible that she witnessed the Trent Aegir, which inspired the flood in her story's climax.[page needed]
Boiler-maker and ironworks
Gainsborough has a long history of industry. It was the manufacturing base of Marshall, Sons & Co., a boiler-maker founded by William Marshall in 1848, who died in 1861 and was buried in the cemetery in Ropery Road. His business became one of the joint-stock companies run by his sons James and Henry. It occupied the 16-acre Britannia Ironworks, the biggest in Europe when built. Marshall's Works' steam engines were sold worldwide until it closed in the 1980s. The site is now split among various companies. Tesco in Beaumont Street and Dransfield's occupy about nine acres; the remainder is held by local companies.
Tesco, on the corner of Trinity Street and Colville Terrace, demolished much of the works to create its store some twenty years ago. It had intended to replace their current store with a 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) Tesco Extra store on stilts, with parking beneath, but these plans were scrapped. Dransfield remodelled about nine acres (36,000 sq. m) of the site to include a shopping area and a new heritage museum. The site Marshall's Yard opened during Easter 2007, with additional shops opening after that.
Another area of Gainsborough industry is Rose Brothers, named after William German Rose and Walter Rose, the co-founders. In 1893 William Rose invented the world's first packaging machine. Two years later it bought the Trentside Works site and started to expand into many other areas, producing items such as starch, razor blades and sweets such as Cadbury's chocolates, its name appearing on the Roses selection. The firm produced seaside rock-making machines, cigarette-making machines and bread-slicing and wrapping machines. When it closed, A. M. P. Rose bought the confectionery packaging side.
Wigs, jokes and exhausts
Gainsborough is the home of two of the largest importers of jokes and novelties into the UK: Smiffy's (formerly known as RH Smith & Sons, founded in 1894), and Pam's of Gainsborough, a smaller firm founded in 1986. Smiffy's were the only wigmaker left in the UK until December 2008, when bulk production moved to the Far East and over 35 jobs were lost. The firm has set its future goals on a more mature fancy dress and party market.
Another local business is Eminox, founded in 1978. It started by building replacement exhausts for the local bus company, then expanded into manufacturing large stainless steel exhaust systems for buses and commercial vehicles. It also builds low-emission catalytic systems for the London low emission zone.
West Lindsey District Council had its offices at the Guildhall, Lord Street, but moved in January 2008 to a £4.3 million new-build in Marshall's Yard.
The town has two railway stations on different routes. The main station is Gainsborough Lea Road in Lea Road (A156) in the south of the town, serving the Sheffield-Lincoln and Doncaster-Lincoln lines with mainly hourly services to Lincoln, Sheffield and Doncaster. Sheffield services generally call at Retford, Worksop and Sheffield only, then continue towards Leeds. The other station is Gainsborough Central near the town centre. It serves the Brigg branch line and is the terminus of an hourly service to and from Sheffield on Mondays to Saturdays, calling at all stations. On Saturdays there are three services to Cleethorpes via Brigg and Grimsby Town.
Where the railway crosses the Trent, the four lines come together at two junctions on either side of the river. The lines from Lincoln and Cleethorpes meet at East Trent Junction, east of the river. Those from Sheffield and Doncaster meet at West Trent Junction on the opposite side in Nottinghamshire.
West Burton Power Station is three miles (5 km) to the south-west of the town, next to the Sheffield-Lincoln Line.
The town bus station in Hickmen Street has frequent services on Monday to Saturday, but no Sunday services. Most town routes are served by Stagecoach. Two local services connect the uphill area of the town and Morton to the town centre, one running clockwise, the other anti-clockwise. The town has a connection hub with hourly services to Lincoln, Scunthorpe and Retford and a service to Doncaster every two hours. These serve several villages along the route. Other bus services run during school terms.
There is still one wharf, but ships no longer navigate this far up river. Commercial shipping remains further down the river at Gunness Wharf, Grove Wharf and Flixborough Wharf, which has direct rail links. This leads to some to argue that Goole, (23.7 miles (38.1 km) to the north of the town, is now the most inland port in the UK.
At the A631 Trent Bridge, there was a ferry before 1787, a distance of 235 feet. The bridge was completed for £12,000 in the spring of 1791, but it meant that taller river traffic of the day could no longer go further upstream. Originally a toll bridge, it was bought by the Ministry of Transport, Lindsey County Council, Gainsborough Urban District and Nottinghamshire County Council for £130,000 in 1927 and declared toll-free on 31 March 1932.[page needed]
The town is home to the semi-professional football club Gainsborough Trinity F.C., which plays in the Northern Premier League, the seventh level of English football. For a brief spell in the early 20th century, the club was professional and a member of the Football League.
Gainsborough Rugby Club (the All Blacks) has played Rugby Union in the town since 1924.
There are several cycling clubs, including Trent Valley Road Club, Viking Velo and Gainsborough Aegir Cycling Club.
The house and grounds of Richmond Park, in the north of the town, opened as a public park in 1947. Attractions include greenhouses, an aviary and a 600-year-old oak tree. Whitton Gardens on the Riverside opened in 1973.
Gainsborough Town Hall, which was built in 1892, is now a entertainment venue with seating for up to 150 people.
Renovation of the town's river banks was completed in 2002, providing riverside access. On the second weekend in June in that year, the town hosted the Gainsborough Riverside Festival, an annual arts/heritage event that ran until 2013, when it fell to financial constraints.
Unlike most of the UK, Lincolnshire retains a tripartite system, with secondary education for many pupils decided by voluntary examination at eleven. The town has one of the top state schools in the country, Queen Elizabeth's High School (selective state grammar school from 11–18 featuring a sixth form) in Morton Terrace (A159).
There are links beyond the town to the John Leggott Sixth Form College in Scunthorpe, North Lindsey College, and Lincoln College, which has a branch at Gainsborough College in Acland Street, focusing on vocational education.
In birth order:
- Sweyn Forkbeard (died 1014), King of Denmark and England, died in Gainsborough.
- Simon Patrick (1626–1707), theologian and Bishop of Chichester
- Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon (1740–1799), peer and music patron
- Thomas Mozley (1806–1893), clergyman and writer
- Thomas Miller (1807–1874), author and poet
- James Bowling Mozley (1813–1878), theologian
- John Collingham Moore (1829–1880), portrait painter
- Sir Halford Mackinder (1861–1947), geographer and explorer
- George Cuckson (1878–1915), footballer
- Dame Sybil Thorndike (1882–1976), actress
- Frank Airey (born 1887), footballer with Gainsborough Trinity
- Rex Woods (1903–1987), artist and illustrator
- Bill Podmore (1931–1994), TV producer, Coronation Street
- Mervyn Winfield (1933–2014), Nottinghamshire cricketer
- John Alderton (born 1940), actor, Upstairs Downstairs, Please Sir!
- John Hargreaves (born 1944), England cricketer
- Andy Dalby (born 1948), guitarist with Kingdom Come and Camel
- Julia Deakin (born 1952), actress
- Steve Housham (born 1976), footballer and manager
- Chris Mosdell (living), lyricist with Yellow Magic Orchestra, Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson
Gainsborough is twinned with:
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Gainsborough Built-up area (E34004397)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- City Population. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
- Eilert Ekwall,The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p. 191.
- Ian S. Beckwith, The Book of Gainsborough (1988)ISBN 0860232697
- Ian W. Walker (2000), Mercia and the Making of England Sutton ISBN 0-7509-2131-5
- J. Charles Cox (1916), Lincolnshire p. 133; Methuen & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- BBC article. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
- "Viking Gainsborough: Former capital promotes Sweyn Forkbeard links". BBC. 25 December 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
- John West, Oliver Cromwell and the Battle of Gainsborough (1992) ISBN 0-902662-43-0
- Monument to Richard Rollett at All Saints' Church, Gainsborough.
- "New York Times 30 May 1897" (PDF).
- Gainsborough Heritage Society Gainsborough at War 1939–1945.
- Clyde Binfield, The History of the City of Sheffield, 1843–1993 p. 27 (1993).
- "Oli Fields". Trent Vale. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
-  Archived 5 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "About Us". Smiffys.com. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "East Midlands". Royal Town Planning Institute.
- "West Lindsey Marks Green Building Completion". Tenbees.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Commemoration plaque beside the water tower
- Thomson, William (2016). The Book of Tides. Hachette UK. p. 146. ISBN 978-1786480804.
- "Gainsborough". The Logistics Institute Data Observatory. University of Hull. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
Labelled as Britain's most inland port...Nowadays, very few vessels sails as far up the River Trent as Gainsborough...
- "Goole, East Yorkshire – Britain's most inland port". Yorkshire Life. Archant Community Media Ltd. 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "Port of Goole". Invest Humber. Marketing Humber and Humber Local Enterprise Partnership. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
As the UK's most inland port, Goole is ideally situated for access to the country's transport infrastructure.
- "Room Hire". Th-exchange. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
- Gurney-Read, Josie (26 August 2016). "GCSE results 2016: state school results". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "Education | League Tables | Performance results for The Queen Elizabeth's High School, Gainsborough". BBC News. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "The Queen Elizabeth's High School, Gainsborough". Gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- *public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gainsborough". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 389–390. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
- Derek McCulloch, "The Musical Œuvre of Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon (1740–99)", Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle #33 (2000) .
- Plaque near birthplace
- "Famous People from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire". www.visitoruk.com. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- plaque at birthplace
- GH Cookson at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- "CUCKSON, George Herbert". Lincs to the Past. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
- "Who's Who in the Cinema", The Movie volume 13 p. 431. Orbis Publishing (1981)
- Michael Joyce (October 2004). The Football League player's records 1888 to 1939. ISBN 1899468676.
- "Obituary: Bill Podmore". The Independent. 25 January 1994.
- "Mervyn Winfield". Cricinfo.
- "John Hargreaves". Cricinfo.
- "Images for Kingdom Come Arthur Brown* – Galactic Zoo Dossier". www.discogs.com.
- "Gainsborough born actress who starred in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead to open Heritage Centre". www.gainsboroughstandard.co.uk.
- "Steven Housham | Football Stats". www.soccerbase.com.
- P. Buckley (2003), The Rough Guide to Rock, Rough Guides, London, pp. 1200–1201.
- The Newsroom (19 July 2018). "Gainsborough students show off town's potential to German visitors". Gainsborough Standard. JPIMedia Publishing Ltd.
- "East Midlands Region". Civic Heraldry of England. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
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