History of Eastwood

History of Eastwood

It seems from existing documents and research that the first reference to Eastwood was in the Doomsday Survey in 1086 which referred to a small Saxon settlement called ‘Estwic’. A later reference by a Minister of Religion (Owen Meredith) corrected this name to ‘Eastwick alias Eastwood’. Thus – by this simple act – our current name was born. A copy of this section of the Doomsday Book can be seen in the now restored Durban House on Mansfield Road.

The original small settlement (about 28 houses) remained as such until about 1830 when corn milling, pottery, brewing, rope making and brick making joined the traditional activity of the area – that of farming. Roads, canals and railways increased the population further.

The ‘Sun Inn’ is claimed to be the birthplace of the Midland Railway, in that a meeting of local dignitaries decided to build a railway line from Pinxton to Leicester to facilitate transport of coal. The cost was met by capital contributions of various interested parties. Coal was literally fuelling the industrial revolution and mining communities like Eastwood grew very quickly. By 1880 the population had increased to about 4,500. The other major influence on the development of the town at this time was its central location, which was well served by rail, canal and road.

At about this time the Town’s Church was rebuilt for the third time following a public appeal for funds. The earliest Church was built around 1250 – ‘a tiny building with a short steeple’ and lasted for about 500 years. The second Church, built from local funds, was apparently a somewhat ‘economical’ reconstruction and only lasted for about 90 years. As industrialisation progressed, it became clear that this Church was far too small for the larger community and a much more grandeur Church was built, again following appeals for funds from the local people. This time however, the greater population, most of whom were in work, were able to raise a much larger fund. The Town were justifiably proud of this Church, which included an impressive tower and clock, a stone nave and chancel and a number of impressive stained glass windows. This third Church lasted over 100 years before a fire destroyed much of the main body. The tower was saved however and in 1967 the Church was rebuilt into what can be seen today – complete with the original tower.

The young D. H. Lawrence used to collect his father’s wages from the Mining Company’s office at Durban House, Mansfield Road. The building was built as the offices of the local owners of the coal mine, Barber Walker and Company.

Eastwood Hall, another fine building was built in the early 19th Century and was bought by the Walker family. The business partnership between the Barber and Walker families apparently goes back to 1787 and remained strong until the 1947 nationalisation of the whole of the coal industry. The new National Coal Board then acquired Eastwood Hall firstly as their Area Offices and later the Board’s National Offices. This was the location for several crisis meetings during the National Miner’s Strike in the 1980’s.

Eastwood continued to develop in the early 1900’s, mainly through coal mining and the Town’s proximity to road, canals and the railway. In 1900 the main railway line was called the Great Northern Railway and the canal was the Nottingham Canal. Agriculture, corn milling, framework knitting, malting and brewing, rope making and pottery all developed during industrialisation, but coal mining remained the principal industry. Records show the location of many mines from small ‘bell shaped’ holes in fields to the main pits (e.g.Moorgreen Colliery).

Shops and smaller businesses became progressively established along Nottingham Road and the feeder streets either side. Trams and buses provided new means of transport between Nottingham, Ripley and Heanor so providing a popular access for Nottingham people visiting Derbyshire.

In 1908, the local Urban District Council opened it’s new offices in Church Street. Built at a cost of £2,000 it housed the Council Chambers and offices for the Town Clerk and Council Surveyor. Pictures of the Council dignitaries at this time are still held in the Town Council records. Situated behind the Council offices was Eastwood Fire Station. At the time, it was a curious similarity that the present day Eastwood Fire Station situated on Nottingham Road was again sited next to the present day Town Council’s Offices.

Progressing further in the 20th Century, Eastwood developed into much of what can be seen today. During the two world wars, Eastwood coal, metal castings, rope and wire products and agriculture all continued to make valuable contributions. During the 2nd world war, Eastwood had it’s own Company of Soldiers attached to the famous Sherwood Foresters Regiment. The War Memorial at the junction of Nottingham Road and Plumptre Way commemorates the names of Eastwood people who gave their lives in both world wars.

Eastwood continued to develop but during the mid half of the Century this development slowed down. Canal traffic had, of course, long since disappeared when the railways took over the freight transport. Both the railway line and the local coal mines were closed and as a consequence Eastwood saw a ‘mini depression’ with unemployment, some poverty and shops closing down.

The population of Eastwood fought back however and following the spirit of D. H. Lawrence’s personal symbol – the mythological Phoenix raising itself from the ashes – has now created a new atmosphere of regeneration.

The History of Eastwood therefore continues and the Town is again becoming a thriving community with considerable potential for building a new and exciting future from a proud past.