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History Of Swanwick

Swanwick is first mentioned in a Beauchief Charter (Bishops of Sheffield) in 1275; it was then known as Swanwyk, taken from the ‘Old English’ Swana (swain or herdsmen) and Wic (outlying farm). It became prominent in 1368 when a coal mine was established at The Delves.

Prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, oversight of the land in this area was granted to a man named Belton Coker. On dissolution the Babingtons of Dethick (one of whom conspired in the attempted escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Wingfield Manor) took over the land then known as ‘The Heye’. The land was eventually transferred to John Zouch of Codnor.

By 1620 the Turner family, probably responsible for the founding of the ‘modern’ Swanwick and some of its industrial heritage, had possession of a large proportion of land around ‘The Hayes’ and the village was beginning to grow, spreading out from Hill Top (now the site of The Hayes), the original village centre to its present centre.


Yellow Yard

This area of Swanwick village, of Derby Road South is reputedly the oldest part of the village, it has both listed buildings and a listed well, and it is alleged that Mary, Queen of Scots stayed there on her way to Wingfield Manor.

It was the original road through the village from Pentrich to Hill Top (the Hayes) then to Bloomfield and on to Alfreton.


Mining and Industry In Swanwick

Mining in Swanwick can be dated back to the 14th Century, originally at The Delves (Old English – the diggings). The Gate Inn now stands on the site of the old gateway to the Delves Pit.

The Swanwick Colliery Company was established in 1736 near the present site of the Service area. The approach road now bears the name “Old Swanwick Colliery Road” to remind people of the village’s mining heritage.

Mining in Swanwick ceased in the late 1960s and there are now no visible signs that the village had any mining heritage at all. The mining cars are the only remaining evidence of mining in the village and were put in place for the millennium.

Around 1740 Swanwick became renowned for its silk stocking ‘cottage industry’ which went on to supply the Royal Family during the time of Queen Victoria.The Elliot family manufactured quality silk hosiery and kept the domestic framework knitting industry going into the 20th century, later than any other village in the county.

Swanwick was also known for its manufacture of footwear. The manufacture of footwear died in the 20th century with only the Boot and Slipper pub left to remind one that it ever existed.

It was the arrival of the Butterley Company in the late 18th century that changed the face of Swanwick. The company took any surplus labour that Swanwick had and a new turnpike from Alfreton to Derby was built and opened in 1807. Much of the land around the centre of the old village was built on.

There are several families that seem to figure highly in Swanwick's long history. The Turners, were once major local industrialists but they faded out in the 18th century. It was Elizabeth Turner who, in 1740, had a school built to provide education for twenty children from poor families. 

Colliery Photograph © Bob Bradley


Swanwick Hall

Swanwick Hall was originally the home of the Wood family. The Woods occupied an early 17th century building  in what is known as  Wood’s Yard, It was a substantial yeoman's residence of 1678, on evidence of a date stone high up on the dormer gables, along with the crest adopted by the Wood family.The Wood family, who were the owners of substantial land and  mineral rights later moved to the present site and built a new
house which remains today as Swanwick Hall. A nationally famous painting of his children by Joseph Wright of Derby, used to hang in its dining room.

The Hall opened as a grammar school in 1922, the Derbyshire County Council having bought it two years earlier after the death of Hugo Wood.It has been extensively enlarged and is now a community school serving a large catchment area ranging from Heage to Ironville.

It is suggested that the Hayes and Swanwick Hall were built or renovated around the same time. There is evidence that the Woods and the Wrights socialised with each other at Butterley Hall (now Derbyshire Police HQ), The Hayes and Swanwick Hall.

The development and changes in character of the village during the 18th and 19th centuries are probably best illustrated with extracts from the Kelly’s Directories of 1881 and 1925.


“Swanwick is a hamlet and ecclesiastical district and was constituted achapelry by Order of Council, November 22nd 1861 and was part of theNorthern Division of the County, Scarsdale Hundred, Belper Union, AlfretonCounty Court District, rural Deanery of Alfreton and Archdeaconry of Derbyand Diocese of Lichfield, later in the Diocese of Southwell, now Derby Diocese.”

“In the neighbourhood are extensive collieries, the property of CharlesRowland Palmer-Morewood Esq. J.P. Swanwick Hall was the seat of WilliamDe Burgh Jessop Esq. J.P., The Grange being the seat of George Cressy HallEsq. and The Hayes, the seat of Fitzherbert Wright.”

“The principal landowners are C. R. Palmer-Morewood, The ReverendHugh Wood, George Cressy Hall and Fitzherbert Wright.”

“In 1871 the population was 1,604 and in 1921 had grown to 3,266.”

“National schools to hold 200 girls and infants were opened in 1863,another school for 120 children was added later. At The Delves a Free Schoolwith Masters residence was founded by Mrs. Elizabeth Turner in 1740 for 40poor children. In 1888 an Elementary School for 147 boys, 142 girls and 197infants was opened.”


The Church of St Andrew, was built at the cross-roads in Swanwick in 1860 to a design by a derby architect. The tower was added later, in 1903, as a gift from Fitzherbert Wright who was retiring as managing director of the Butterley company, which had also originally paid for part of the cost of the church. Fitzherbert Wright lived at a large stone house called Swanwick Hayes, built for him as a wedding present by his father, the industrialist, Francis Wright. Swanwick Hayes is now a large conference centre. During the war it was a prisoner of war camp for a brief period.

Until 1974 Swanwick was part of the old Alfreton Urban District Council, from then on the village came under control of Amber Valley District Council, later a Borough. The Parish Council was formed in 1983.

There are two Swanwicks in the country, the other being near Southampton, which had its own railway station and in 1935, Derbyshire’s Swanwick experienced problems in mail being delivered to the wrong Swanwick. Representations were made to LMS to get the name of Butterley Station changed to Swanwick but they declined to do so, but did change the sign to read ‘Butterley for Swanwick'.


The Swanwick Well

There were several wells scattered around Swanwick mostly in fairly obscure places, but by far the largest used to stand on Hayes Lane close to the entrance to the Hayes Conference Centre. It was truly a massive Victorian affair with a large seat and there are still existing photographs of local ladies and gentlemen sitting within its great stone edifice.

Unfortunately in the 1970s it was removed to make room for housing on Hayes Lane. The Parish Council tried to find its remains which were supposedly buried on the Chapel Street recreation ground but the search had to be abandoned as the stones had either been placed under the pavilion or had been taken and are now serving as fireplaces in Swanwick.

Undaunted the Council decided to press ahead to build a new well to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. The well was placed on Broadway Head close to St. Andrew’s Church. Now every year a well dressing ceremony takes place with several local organisations have presented their own wells and after the Blessing the event then moves on to our Community Fayre where space is provided free by the Council for the local charities/organisations to use their stalls to raise funds.

After the Blessing the event then moves to the Swanwick Hall dining room where space is provided free by the Council for the local organisations to use their stalls to raise funds.


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