Approaching Worksop Town Lock
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||S80, S81|
Worksop (// WURK-sop) is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England and the administrative centre of the Bassetlaw district. It is located 19 miles (31 km) east-south-east of Sheffield, close to Nottinghamshire's borders with South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, on the River Ryton and not far from the northern edge of Sherwood Forest. It is known as the "Gateway to The Dukeries", because of its proximity to former Ducal estates such as Clumber House, Thoresby Hall, Welbeck Abbey and Worksop Manor, as well as estates such as Rufford Abbey and Hodsock Priory.
Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman history
Worksop was part of what was called Bernetseatte (burnt lands) in Anglo-Saxon times. The name Worksop is likely of Anglo Saxon origin, deriving from a personal name 'We(o)rc' plus the Anglo-Saxon placename element 'hop' (valley). The first element is interesting because while the masculine name Weorc is unrecorded, the feminine name Werca (Verca) is found in Bede's Life of St Cuthbert. There are a number of other place names recorded that contain this same personal name element.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 Worksop appears as 'Werchesope'. Thoroton states that the Doomesday Book records that before the Norman conquest Werchesope (Worksop) had belonged to Elsi son of Caschin who had "two manors in Werchesope, which paid to the geld as three car". After the conquest, Worksop became part of the extensive lands granted to Roger de Busli. At this time the land "had one car. in demesne, and twenty-two sochm. on twelve bovats of this land, and twenty-four villains, and eight bord. having twenty-two car. and eight acres of meadow, pasture wood two leu. long, three quar. broad." This was valued at 3l in Edward the Confessor's time and 7l in the Doomesday Book. De Busli administered this estate from his headquarters in Tickhill.
The manor then passed to William de Lovetot, who established a castle and endowed the Augustinian priory c 1103. After William's death the manor was passed to his eldest son, Richard de Lovetot, who was visited by King Stephen, at Worksop, in 1161. In 1258, a surviving inspeximus charter confirms Matilda de Lovetot's grant of the manor of Worksop to William de Furnival (her son).
Medieval and early modern history
In 1530, Worksop was visited by Cardinal Wolsey, who was on his way to Cawood, in Yorkshire. "Then my lord [Wolsey] intending the next day to remove from thence [Newstead Abbey] there resorted to him the Earl of Shrewsbury's keeper, and gentlemen, sent from him, to desire my lord, in their maister's behalf, to hunt in a parke of their maister's, called Worsoppe Parke." (Cavendish's Life of Wolsey)
A surviving (Cotton) manuscript written by Henry VIII nominated Worksop as one of three places in Nottinghamshire (along with Welbeck and Thurgarton) to become "Byshopprykys to be new made". However, nothing was to come of this (White 1875) and the priory later became a victim of the Dissolution of the Monasteries - being closed in 1539, with its Prior and 15 monks pensioned off. All the Priory buildings, except the nave and west towers of the church, were demolished at this time and the stone reused elsewhere.
In 1540, John Leland noted that Worksop castle had all but disappeared saying it was: "clene down and scant knowen wher it was". Leland noted that at that time Worksop was "a praty market of 2 streates and metely well buildid."
In the Hearth tax records of 1674, Worksop is said to have had 176 households, which made it the fourth largest settlement in Nottinghamshire after Nottingham (967 households), Newark (339) and Mansfield (318). At this time the population is estimated to have been around 748 people.
By 1743 there were 358 families in Worksop, with a population of around 1,500. This had risen by 1801 to 3,391 and by the end of the 19th century had reached 16,455.
During the 18th and 19th centuries Worksop benefitted from the building of the Chesterfield Canal, which passed through the town in 1777, and the subsequent construction of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in 1849. This led to growth which was further boosted by the discovery of coal seams beneath the town.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport (formerly RAF Finningley) is approximately 15 miles (24 km) from Worksop, offering regular flights to other European countries. Due to its military past, Doncaster Sheffield Airport| has a long 2,580 metres (8,460 ft) runway, and so is capable of landing wide body jets such as Boeing 747s, and has plans of extending its destinations to include the US. The popular discount airline easyjet, commenced flying to many European destinations in March 2010, but withdrew by the end of the year citing commercial factors as a reason. The Hungarian airline WizzAir continues to serve several Eastern-European cities, and Thomson Holidays regularly runs charter services from there as part of their package holiday business.
Worksop is connected to the UK Inland Waterways network by the Chesterfield Canal. Although the canal was built to export coal, limestone, and lead from Derbyshire, iron from Chesterfield, and corn, deals, timber, groceries and general merchandise into Derbyshire, today it is used for leisure purposes.
Worksop lies on the Sheffield-Lincoln line, and the Robin Hood line. With Northern services running between Sheffield, Lincoln, and Leeds calling at the station, and East Midlands Railway services from Nottingham via Mansfield terminating at the station.
- North Nottinghamshire College
- Outwood Post-16 centre
Worksop is served by Bassetlaw District General Hospital, part of the Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust. Bassetlaw Hospital treats ~33,000 people each year, as well as ~38,000 emergencies. Bassetlaw Hospital is one of the University of Sheffield Teaching hospitals Medical School.
Mental Health services in Worksop are provided by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust who provide both in-patient and community services. Wards run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare provide training for medical students at the University of Nottingham.
Agricultural and forestry
John Harrison's survey of Worksop for the Earl of Arundel reveals that at this time most people earned their living from the land. a tenant farmer Henry Cole farmed 200 acres of arable land, grazing his sheep on "Manton sheepwalk". This survey also described a corn-grinding water mill (Bracebridge mill) and Manor Mill situated near to Castle Hill. There was also a kiln and a malthouse.
One unusual crop associated with Worksop is liquorice. This was originally grown in the Priory gardens for medicinal purposes, but continued until around 1750. William Camden records in Britannia that the town was famous for growing liquorice. John Speed noted: "In the west, near Worksop, groweth plenty of Liquorice, very delicious and good". White says the liquorice gardens were "principally situated on the eastern margin of the park, near the present 'Slack Walk'." He notes that the last plant was dug up about "fifty years ago" and that this last garden had been planted by "the person after whom the 'Brompton stock' is named". A pub in Worksop is now named after this former industry.
Additionally, much of the area being heavily forested, timber was always an important industry - supplying railway sleepers to the North Midland Railway, timber for the construction of railway carriages and packing cases for the Sheffield cutlery industry. The town also became notable for the manufacture of Worksop Windsor Chairs. Timber firms in the town included Benjamin Garside's woodyard and Godley and Goulding, situated between Eastgate and the railway.
Brewing and Malting
Worksop has a strong tradition of brewing including being the site of the historic Worksop & Retford Brewery. This Brewery had previously been known as Garside and Alderson and Prior Well Brewery.
At the start of the 19th century, Worksop had a largely agricultural economy with malting, corn milling and timber-working being principal industries. However, the discovery of coal meant that by 1900 the majority of the workforce was employed in coal mining, which provided thousands of jobs - both directly and indirectly - in and around Worksop for most of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first coal mine was Shireoaks Colliery, which by 1861 employed over 200 men which rose to 600 men by 1871. Steetley Colliery started producing coal in 1876 and in Worksop a mine was developed on land to the South East, owned by Henry Pelham-Clinton, 7th Duke of Newcastle. This mine was fully operational in around 1907, with three shafts, and was named Manton Colliery.
The closure in the 1990s of the pits, compounding the earlier decline of the timber trade and other local industry, resulted in high unemployment in parts of the Worksop area, as well as other social problems.
In John Harrison's survey of Worksop for the Earl of Arundel, a dye house and a tenter green (where lengths of cloth were stretched out to dry) indicates a small cloth industry was present in Worksop. Late attempts during the Industrial Revolution to introduce textile manufacturing saw two mills constructed - one at Bridge Place and the other somewhere near Mansfield Road. Both enterprises failed and closed within three years. They were converted to milling corn.
The local economy in Worksop is dominated by service industries, manufacturing and distribution. Unemployment levels in the area are now lower than the national average, owing to large number of distribution and local manufacturing companies, including Premier Foods, Wilko, RDS Transport, Pandrol UK Ltd and Laing O'Rourke.
Major employers in the area include Premier Foods, Greencore, Wilko, RDS Transport (the Flying Fridge), B&Q, MAKE polymers, OCG Cacao, part of Cargill, Pandrol, GCHQ and the NHS (Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust).
Worksop has three churches which are all on the National Heritage List for England.
Officially titled the Priory Church of Saint Mary and Saint Cuthbert, is the Anglican parish church usually known as Worksop Priory. It was an Augustinian Priory founded in 1103. The church has a nave and detached gatehouse. Monks at the priory made the Tickhill Psalter, an illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period, now held in New York Public Library. After the dissolution of the Monasteries the east end of the church fell into disrepair, but the townspeople were granted the nave as a parish church. The eastern parts of the building have been restored in several phases, the most recent being in the 1970s when the architect Lawrence King rebuilt the crossing.
St. Anne's Church is an Anglican parish church and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building. The church was built in 1911 by the Lancaster architects Austin and Paley. The church has an historic pipe organ originally built by Gray and Davison in 1852 for Clapham Congregational Church.
Places of interest
Mr Straw's House, the family home of the Straw family, was inherited by the Straw brothers, William and Walter when their parents died in the 1930s. The house remained unaltered until the National Trust acquired it in the 1990s and opened it to the public. Clumber Park, south of Worksop is a country park, also owned by the National Trust, and is open to the public.
There is also Worksop Priory a historical church near the town centre.
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