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Statue of Harold Larwood in Kirkby Market Place
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Kirkby-in-Ashfield is a market town in the Ashfield District of Nottinghamshire, England. With a population of 25,265 (according to the 2001 National Census), it is a part of the wider Mansfield Urban Area. The Head Offices of Ashfield District Council are located on Urban Road in the town centre.
Kirkby-in-Ashfield lies on the eastern edge of the Erewash Valley which separates Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. 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 on 6 January 1907 but quickly re-built; and St Thomas', built in the early 1910s in neo-gothic style.
Kirkby Castle is said[weasel words] to have dated back to at least the 13th Century. Its owner in 1284 Robert de Stuteville was fined by King Edward I for not attending the Royal summons. However, in 1292 Robert clearly forgiven, hosted the king at the Castle to a nights stay.[better source needed][better source needed]
It was said[weasel words] that Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1530 travelled through Sutton in Ashfield having been recalled to London by King Henry VIII, before he stayed at nearby Kirkby Hardwick.[better source needed][better source needed]
Coal and transport
Kirkby-in-Ashfield was once an important centre of coal mining and railways in west Nottinghamshire, with three active coal mines and several railway junctions. The former Mansfield and Pinxton Railway from the Erewash Valley Line was joined here by the later Midland Railway line from Nottingham. The Great Central Railway main line passed to the south-west side of the town and had a double junction with the Great Northern Railway Leen Valley Extension line to Langwith Junction and the Mansfield Railway to Clipstone.
The town was served by four stations. Only one is now open:
- Kirkby-in-Ashfield East was the main station for the town on the Robin Hood Line. It closed in the 1960s
- Kirkby on the Robin Hood Line was opened 1990s and replaced the former station at Kirkby East.
- Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central was opened on the now-defunct Mansfield Railway. It closed in the 1950s to passengers and the site is now an industrial estate. Although the old station masters house can be seen.
- Kirkby Bentinck was opened on the Great Central Main Line from Nottingham Victoria to Sheffield Victoria. The station closed in the 1960s and the site has been cleared. Although the old station masters house is still in situ. This was the only mainline station in the entire Ashfield and Mansfield District area. With the other being at Annesley and Hollinwell.
The town rapidly expanded during the Victorian era. However the closure of the coal mines in the 1980s and early 1990s led to a major slump in the local economy, and the area then suffered a high level of socio-economic depression.
The town centre underwent further upgrading, starting in late 2014 and 2015 to include the demolition of the old Co-Operative foodstore and county library with surrounding pedestrian plaza, to be rebuilt with a Morrisons store.
In 2021, a new leisure centre was developed including a swimming pool for the first time in Kirkby, partially on land originally purchased in 1935 by Kirkby Urban District Council, to replace the old Festival Hall.
Local politics have been dominated by the Labour Party for much of the 20th century; however, Ashfield attracted media attention in the late 1970s with a shock by-election win for the Conservatives. From the 2010 General Election until her stepping down in 2019, the MP was Gloria De Piero, best known for her work with GMTV. She took over from Geoff Hoon, one-time Secretary of State for Defence during the premiership of Tony Blair. She was elected with a very slim majority of 192 votes from the Liberal Democrats' Jason Zadrozny. In 2019, Conservative Lee Anderson won the seat.
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 designated ancient monument. It is thought[who?] 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 near Annesley 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, which doubles up as local cafe The Wild Rabbit, was opened in October 1994, and is an environmentally friendly building and a centre of excellence for energy conservation. The building is also used as a popular venue for local live acts and other entertainment. The area surrounding The Wild Rabbit Cafe is a place of scientific interest due to the unique limestone outside to the rear of the cafe.
- The Rev. Sir Richard Kaye, 6th Baronet FRS. Rector of Kirkby in Ashfield from 1765 to 1809 and Dean of Lincoln. Kaye employed Samuel Hieronymous Grimm to make a series of drawings of life in Ashfield in the late 18th century.
- Oliver Hynd MBE – 2016 & 2012 Paralympic, Gold, Silver, Bronze medallist in swimming, younger brother of Sam Hynd
- Sam Hynd – 2008 Paralympic, double gold medallist in swimming.
- Enid Bakewell - English cricket player - inaugurated in the ICC Hall of Fame, considered one of the best all rounders in women's cricket
- Harold Larwood – English cricket player – famous for the Ashes 'Bodyline Series'
- Bill Voce – English cricket player – associated alongside Harold Larwood for the Ashes 'Bodyline Series'
- Dave Thomas – former English footballer, played for Everton, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers.
- Tom Naylor - English footballer, currently playing for Portsmouth FC. Formerly of Mansfield Town, Derby County, and Burton Albion.
- Helen Cresswell – English television scriptwriter and author was born in the town in 1934.
- Joe Hardstaff (RAF officer) First Class Cricketer.
- Henry Ely Shacklock Pioneer in Coal Ranges.
- Carl Toms OBE Costume Designer.
Places of interest
- Kirkby-in-Ashfield railway station
- St John the Evangelist's Church, Kirkby Woodhouse
- St Wilfrid's Church, Kirkby-in-Ashfield
- Hollinwell incident
- http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/midlands/kirkby_in_ashfield_castle.html created in 2019 retrieved on 3rd October 2020
- https://www.huthwaite-online.net/hucknall/historians/1978-clay-dove.php created on 23 January 2012 and retrieved on 21 August 2020
- Railway Junction Diagrams 1914 page 143, Ian Allan Ltd reprint, ISBN 0-7110-1256-3
- "Decision date for new town centre plans". Chad, 28 August, 2013, p.32. Accessed 9 May, 2022
- Kirkby Square a step closer Chad, 22 October, 2013. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Removal of market stalls inspirepicturearchive.org, (Nottinghamshire County Library services). Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- £2.4 million facelift for Kirkby is announced Chad, local newspaper, 13 August 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2015
- Work starts on the new Kirkby Indoor Market www.ashfield.gov.uk, 19 April 2021. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Moor Market comes to Kirkby www.ashfield.gov.uk, 11 June 2021. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Kirkby's new indoor market ready to welcome new traders Chad, 20 August 2021. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- This is when the new Kirkby Leisure Centre will open Nottinghamshire Live, 18 November 2021. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Sneak peek as Kirkby's new leisure centre is half way through construction Chad, 6 January 2022. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Swimming pool at new Kirkby Leisure Centre filled with water for first time Chad, 22 February 2022. Retrieved 9 May, 2022
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1012926)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
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