Tram 212 at Hucknall in the first week of operation of modern trams (March 2004)
Hucknall shown within Nottinghamshire
|Area||7.913 km2 (3.055 sq mi)|
|Population||32,107 (2011 census)|
|– density||4,058/km2 (10,510/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
Hucknall, formerly known as Hucknall Torkard, is a town in Nottinghamshire, England, in the district of Ashfield. The town 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. The town is notable as the site where Rolls-Royce made the first demonstration of vertical take-off (for a plane). It is also the final resting place of Lord Byron and his estranged daughter, the mathematician and pioneer computer programmer Ada Lovelace.
Hucknall is 7 miles (11 km) north-west of Nottingham on the west bank of the Leen Valley, on land which rises from the Trent Valley in the south to the hills of the county north of Kirkby-in-Ashfield. The Whyburn or 'Town Brook' flows through the town centre, and Farleys Brook marks its southern boundary.
The town’s highest point is Long Hill, (although Beauvale estate has a higher elevation and is situated at the base of Leivers Hill, commonly mistaken for Misk Hill) at 460 ft (140 m) above sea-level, with views over the city and Trent Valley, which descends to between 22 and 24 metres AOD, flowing just beyond most of the city centre.
The town is surrounded by farmland or parkland. To the north-west lie Misk Hills and Annesley. To the north-east town are the villages of Linby and Papplewick 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 contiguous settlements of Butler's Hill and Westville often appear as distinct entities on maps, but are generally regarded as part of Hucknall, and are part of its historic and present-day Church of England parish, although the town itself has no civil parish council, however the identity is reinforced by being part of the post town and by being shared wards of Hucknall.
Hucknall was once 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 in 1887 the unusually long transepts, 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. There is a modest memorial to Lord Byron.
From 1295 until 1915, the town was known as Hucknall Torkard, taken from Torcard, the name of a dominant landowning family. Signs of the old name can still be seen on some of the older buildings.
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 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 in stages as the Robin Hood Line, the section through Hucknall in 1993 with a new station on the site of the old "Byron", though simply called "Hucknall".
The second line was the Great Northern Railway (later part of the LNER) route up the Leen Valley and on up to Shirebrook, serving many of the same places as the Midland south of Annesley. It closed to passengers on 14 September 1931 but remained in use for freight until 25 March 1968. The Hucknall station on this line was known as "Hucknall Town".
The third line was the Great Central Railway (also later part of the LNER), the last main line ever built from the north of England to London, opened on 15 March 1899. The stretch through Hucknall closed completely on 5 September 1966, but the Hucknall station here (known as Hucknall Central), had closed earlier, on 4 March 1963.
In 1956 the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Hucknall was built to serve the area of west Hucknall.
Hucknall was recorded as Hokeuhale (n.d.) and Hokenale (n.d.), suggesting “nook of land of Hōcanere” (a tribe), from Old English halh (haugh). This same tribe’s name occurs in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire. It has been suggested that the name Hucknall once referred to a larger area on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border. Two other settlements in the locality are called Hucknall; Hucknall-under-Huthwaite, in Nottinghamshire, (known today as Huthwaite) and Ault Hucknall in Derbyshire. It is likely that Hucknall Torkard marked the Southern Boundary of this larger Hucknall Area.
In the Domesday Book (AD 1086) the name appears as Hochenale (volume 1, pages 288-290).
The Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group (http://www.htrg.co.uk/) has a mission statement:
“To help Hucknall regain its position as a strong, viable and prosperous town.
To retain the historical legacy of the town and surrounding area.
To attract visitors and boost the local economy by raising awareness of our heritage to both visitors and residents alike.”
The Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group (HTRG) was inaugurated in 2002; it consists of people from all aspects of Hucknall life, who have a desire to help regenerate the town, primarily through tourism, after the devastating loss of the mining industry and large portions of the textile industry. Members of the group include residents, business owners, volunteer workers and councillors.
HTRG work with other well-established organisations such as the Hucknall Round Table (http://www.hucknallroundtable.co.uk/), the Rotary Club of Hucknall (http://www.rotary1220.org/huk/), Hucknall Heritage Society (http://www.hucknallheritagesociety.co.uk), the Eric Coates Society (http://www.ericcoatessociety.co.uk/), St. Mary Magdalene Church, Ashfield District Council (http://www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk/), Nottinghamshire County Council, Hucknall Library and volunteer organisations to prevent duplication of work and ensure the town is working together.
The group seeks every opportunity to market the town, through radio interviews, newspaper coverage, exhibitions in the street and at events, leaflets and posters. Heritage trails have been designed, one for the town centre and a 20-mile circular trail. To complement these trails, leaflets have been produced and free guided walks/bus tours take place throughout the Spring & Summer months.
The town is the northern terminus for the Nottingham Express Transit tram system as well as sharing a station on the Robin Hood Line. There is also a stop at Butler's Hill/Broomhill. The town used to be on the A611 but this has now bypassed the town to the west with a single-carriageway road with roundabouts, with access to junction 27 of the M1, some 3 miles away. The tram line was built from 2002–2004 and currently runs from Hucknall to the Station Street terminus next to Nottingham railway station.
- Bus services
Bus services in Hucknall are served by Trent Barton, AOT Coaches & Littles Coaches
- Trent Barton
- Connect Blue - Hucknall Estates, Hucknall Tram Station (clockwise)
- Connect Green - Hucknall Estates, Hucknall Tram station (anti-clockwise)
- The Threes (A,B,C) - Mansfield, Sutton, Newstead, Annesley, Hucknall, City Hospital, Nottingham
- 141 - Sutton, Mansfield, Blidworth, Hucknall, Bestwood Village, City Hospital, Nottingham
- Amberline - Derby, Heanor, Eastwood, Derby, Giltbrook, Hucknall
- AOT Coaches
- 8AOT - Hucknall Estates, Hucknall High Street, City Hospital, Nottingham
- Littles Coaches
- 228 - Hucknall Market Place, Vaughan Estate, Bestwood Village, Bulwell
The National Academy was founded in 1788 by Frederick Ward and originally located at the southern end of Annesley Road. It relocated in the 1970s to a new build still on Annesley Road but at the north end of the town, near the roundabout of the B6011 road. The National School has a large science block with 10 labs and an astro turf playing area, both opened in 2004 by Princess Anne. The school has an eco building. It is now an Academy.
Holy Cross Catholic Voluntary Academy is on Leen Mills Lane, next to Leen Mills Primary School, and is a feeder school to Christ The King Academy in Arnold. The school is a primary school and has been voted as 3rd best school in Nottinghamshire in 2014 and in 2015.
Hucknall’s Tesco superstore opened in 2003, which created a number of jobs for the town. In 2008, the store was extended to make it a Tesco Extra store. A Tesco Express store was opened in early January 2009 on Annesley Road.
Other popular shops in Hucknall are branches of Wilkinsons, Card Warehouse, Argos, B&M Bargains, Fulton's Foods, Home Bargains, Bird's Bakery (http://www.birdsbakery.com), Boots, Peacocks, Specsavers, Iceland, Aldi, Co-Operative Food, and Sainsbury's.
On 14 February 2014 Costa Coffee opened a branch on Hucknall High Street; the store's job advert attracted over 1,300 applicants.
Hucknall was a colliery town from 1861 to 1986. The sinking of the coal mines caused the settlement to grow rapidly from a village to a market town in under a hundred years. The Hucknall Colliery Company, formed in 1861 sank two shafts, Hucknall No. 1 colliery (known as "Top Pit") in 1861 (off Watnall Road) and Hucknall No. 2 colliery (known as "Bottom Pit") in 1866 (off Portland Road). No. 1 closed by 1943, and No. 2 closed in 1986.
Hucknall Airfield was built in 1916, which became RAF Hucknall. From 1927, Rolls-Royce began using the airfield for flight tests. During World War II, the aerodrome at Hucknall was the location of the first flight of a P-51 Mustang fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin Engine. The fitting of the Merlin, replacing the existing Allison V-1710 engine allowed the Mustang airframe to reach its full potential and achieve spectacular high altitude performance, something the Allison engine could not provide. In the early 1950s, the Rolls-Royce site at Hucknall developed the world's first vertical-takeoff jet 'aircraft' - actually, a test rig, officially called the Thrust Measuring Rig, but soon nicknamed the "Flying Bedstead" because of its shape. The first untethered flight, piloted by Capt Ron Shepherd, took place on 3 August 1954 before a distinguished audience. The rig rose slowly into the air and hovered steadily. It then moved forward, made a circuit of the area, then demonstrated sideways and backwards movements before making a successful landing. The flight was a tremendous success and during the next four months a number of free flights were made, up to a height of 50 ft. There are pubs in Hucknall called The Flying Bedstead and The Harrier. Rolls-Royce's flight test centre closed in 1971, but engines were still tested there until late 2008. There are still components manufactured at the site.
In December 1940, during World War II, a German prisoner-of-war, Franz von Werra attempted to escape by posing as a Dutch pilot and attempted to fly off in a Hurricane fighter. He was arrested at gunpoint as he sat in the cockpit trying to learn the controls and sent back to his prisoner-of-war camp in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Franz von Werra was eventually the only German to succeed in returning to Germany, when he escaped from Canada to the United States, then to Mexico and into South America before returning to Germany, during January - April 1941. His exploits can be seen in the film The One That Got Away.
Framework knitting was once the predominant industry in Hucknall.
One of the most important local firms in Hucknall is Doff Portland. The company has grown to become the UK's largest independent manufacturer of insecticides, weedkillers, other pesticides, fertilisers and garden products sold nationally through garden centres, independent DIY retailers and large retail multiples. Doff is one of Europe's largest producer of premium slug killer pellets. In addition, Doff provides extensive contract formulating and packing opportunities for third parties.
- Steve Blatherwick is a former professional footballer who played for clubs including Nottingham Forest and Chesterfield.
- Lord Byron (poet, philosopher and revolutionary) was buried in the parish church (on 16 July 1824).
- Robin Bailey (1919–1999), actor.
- Ben Caunt (1815–1861), a bare-knuckle fighter, known as "The Torkard Giant", who became 'Champion of England'. It is after Ben Caunt that the bell Big Ben is named.
- Eric Coates (1886–1957), whose compositions include the theme music for The Dam Busters movie, and the "Sleepy Lagoon" introduction for Desert Island Discs.
- Philanthropist Zachariah Green (1817–1897). Buried in the local Parish church. Has a monument to his memory in Titchfield Park.
- Jack Hall (1883–1938) professional footballer who played as an inside-forward or centre-forward for Stoke, Middlesbrough, Leicester Fosse, and Birmingham.
- Thomas Cecil Howitt, (1889–1968) an eminent British provincial architect of the 20th Century. The architect of Nottingham Council House.
- Paris Lees (1987-), journalist, presenter and transgender rights campaigner.
- Countess Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), daughter of the Poet Lord Byron, is buried in the church. She is credited with being the first computer programmer, having assisted in realising the potential of Babbage's analytical engine.
- Andy Turner, sprint hurdler, gold medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 European Athletics Championships and a bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.
- Enoch 'Knocker' West (1886–1965), a footballer who played for Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United. In 1915 he was banned from playing football for 30 years for allegedly fixing a match. He protested his innocence until his death.
- Sam Weller Widdowson, a footballer who played for Nottingham Forest and England. He also played cricket for Nottinghamshire and is credited with inventing football shin pads in 1874.
The town has its own band. The Hucknall and Linby Mining Community Brass Band was formed in late 2008 after players from the Newstead Abbey Brass Band wanted autonimity. After the Hucknall and Linby Miner's Welfare Band became Newstead Brass, the town no longer had its own band. After the decision to form the new band, liberaries from the old band and Riddings band were pooled to give the band the boost they needed. Under the careful instruction of conductor Mr Paul Whyley, the band has become an asset to the community, playing concerts at the parish church every Christmas, and around the local area throughout the year. The band also competes, and has enjoyed many successes since forming.
Arts and entertainment
The Byron Cinema is an Art Deco building, designed by prominent local architect, Alfred J Thraves, and opened on Monday, 2 November 1936.
The Byron originally boasted a sweeping, curved façade of Thraves' favoured sandstock bricks and Portland stone, with a vertical tower feature to the right of centre, faced in cream terracotta tiles. Much was also made in the cinema's publicity of the canopy "which is provided to protect our patrons during bad weather."
The Hucknall Dispatch newspaper reported this impressive building opened to a specially-invited audience of local dignitaries, who were served afternoon tea and sandwiches by the manager (H Pryce-Davis) and his staff. The audience was presented with a special souvenir programme before enjoying the cinema's first feature presentation: "The Littlest Rebel", a typically heart-warming Shirley Temple vehicle in which everyone's favourite munchkin (here, "glorious as a rainbow") charms President Lincoln into having second thoughts about the execution of her confederate father.
Little Shirley's singing and dancing efforts thrilled the paying public later that evening and for the following two days, before she surrendered the screen on Thursday to Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and the villainous Basil Rathbone for the pirate-themed action romp "Captain Blood," directed by Michael Curtiz "...on a lavish scale, at a cost of many thousand dollars!".
The Dispatch was enthusiastic about the new 1,189-seater establishment: "The consensus of opinion was that it's a delightful house of rest and amusement, the seating being conducive to the utmost comfort, whilst the projection was without fault for the first time, so perfect has the art become in these days. This comes with installing the best, and indicates the spirit of the management that Hucknall shall be provided with all that is best in the realm of pictures."
R L Kemp, Managing Director of the United Entertainments chain told the Dispatch: "The Byron projection room fills us with great pride and the management cordially invite any of our patrons who so desire to view the projection room. 'Wide Range' is the latest improvement developed by Western Electric engineers. It will be remembered that Western Electric were the pioneers of talking pictures and Wide Range is their latest scientific achievement. It is therefore with pride and pleasure that the Byron Cinema present talking pictures under conditions that will equal the finest in America and Europe."
Stall seats cost 6d or 9d, while balcony tickets were either 1/- or 1/3d. Hucknall's senior citizens clamoured for discounts and Mr Kemp "readily" agreed that pensioners should be admitted to the 6d seats at half-price for the 2pm Saturday screening.
Through war, boom and bust, the Byron remained a morale-boosting community focus for entertainment-hungry Hucknall folk, outlasting such rival picture houses as the Scala, which was acquired by United Entertainments in 1940. The Scala was always a poor relation to its more illustrious stable mate, its failure to install the new Cinemascope process ruling out the showing of the 20th Century Fox, Warner and MGM blockbusters which continued to fill seats at the Byron. Perhaps it was frustration at the mediocre filmic fare on offer that prompted one Scala customer to stab another in the face on the evening of 30 September 1947. The Scala's reputation as a family-friendly venue was hardly aided by such antics and it closed its doors for good on 23 June 1962.
By the late '60s, changing patterns of leisure activity dictated substantial alterations at the Byron. On 13 October 1967, after screening Richard Brooks' Western "The Professionals" (starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin and Jack Palance), the Byron closed as a single-screen cinema and the building was split into two. The stalls area downstairs was converted into a bingo club which still thrives today and was featured in the Shane Meadows film "Once Upon A Time In The Midlands", wherein Kathy Burke and Vanessa Feltz came to blows in the foyer. The upstairs balcony became a 404-seat cinema, which re-opened on 31 December 1967 with the James Bond epic "You Only Live Twice". The new lease of life for "The Showplace Of Hucknall" could not be sustained indefinitely however - home video, multiplying TV channels, Xboxes, etc., all took their toll on demand for cinema tickets and the Byron Cinema staggered on through several changes of ownership and name... before closing its doors in June 2006. The last feature presentation was John Moore's remake of "The Omen".
The town’s senior football team is Hucknall Town F.C.. Founded in 1945 as a colliery team (Hucknall Colliery Welfare FC), it changed its name to Hucknall Town in 1987 after closure of the pit. They rose steadily through the non-league pyramid for many years, winning the Northern Premier League title in 2003/04 (and thus winning promotion to the Conference North, just two leagues below the Football League) and reached the final of the FA Trophy in 2005. But the club fell into financial difficulties in 2009, and were demoted to the Central Midlands Football League for the start of the 2013/14 season, five leagues below the Conference North.
The works football team of Rolls-Royce has also plied its trade in non-league football for many years. The club was formed in 1935, and have undergone many name changes through the years. In 2009 they re-formed as Hucknall Rolls Leisure F.C., and by 2013 they were competing in the Nottinghamshire Senior League, which lies at the same level in the English football league system as the Central Midlands League - the competition their more 'senior' rivals in the town play in.
Hucknall Cricket Club, founded 1890. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd XIs currently[when?] play in various leagues of the South Notts. Cricket League. Hucknall Sports Youth Club formed in 1977 is one of the largest youth football clubs in Nottinghamshire. Originally known as Riden Sports it changed its name in 1980. Original founder and now President of the Club Derek Day was awarded the Nottinghamshire FA Community award in 2012 for his contribution of more than 30 years service to junior football.
Hucknall junior parkrun started on 27/03/2016 and is located at Titchfield Park, this was the first parkrun to start in the ADC area of Nottinghamshire with 69 runners attending the inaugural run.
Popular local DJ, Paul Jenner, and his schoolteacher brother, Steve, brought local commercial radio to Hucknall in the 1980s. WHAM ("Wonderful Hucknall AM") operated for several 28-day periods on Restricted Service Licences. The brothers are now part-owners of High Peak Radio and Ashbourne Radio, permanent independent local radio stations in Derbyshire.
- Brinkhoff, Thomas (7 July 2013). "Arnold (Nottinghamshire)". City Population. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
- Ordnance survey website
- St. Mary Magdelene parish church, accessed 25 September 2008
- Pevsner, N. (1951) Nottinghamshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin; pp. 85-86
- Hucknall Torkard History
- National School Technology College
- Holgate Comprehensive School site
- athletics track
- Doff site
- more information about his life by one of his descendents, not working September 2008
- Eric Coates, Robert Farnon Society, accessed 5 May 2015
- Zachariah Green Memorial Drinking Fountain, Ashfield District Council, accessed 25 September 2008
- "Olympic athlete Andy Turner burgled during mum's funeral". bbc.co.uk. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "Sam Widdowson". EnglandStats.com. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- Hucknall Town FC
- Hucknall Cricket Club
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