Barwell and Earl Shilton in old picture postcards volume 1

Barwell and Earl Shilton in old picture postcards volume 1

:   Frank Shaw
:   Leicestershire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4540-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Barwell and Earl Shilton in old picture postcards volume 1'

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Barwell and Earl Shilton today are so intertwined that it is quite impossible for the casual visitor to the area to know where one ends and the other begins. That may be so for the visitor - but ask a Barwellian or a Shiltonian and you'lI get a totally different picture. Fierce pride in their respective areas is still very much the order of the day!

But at least for both we can start with a common base - the Domesday Survey of 1086. Earl Shilton here receives its first mention in recorded history as 'Scheltone' and Barwell was called 'Berryall'. In later years it became Bearwell. Experts believe that the 'Bear' probably meant 'Boar' and that the word 'welI' meant 'stream'. Consequently the name meant 'the town by the boar stream'. The stream is at the end of Mill Street and called the Tweed. It flows quite close to the Bosworth Battlefield and is mentioned in all the communications about the Battle.

By 1564 there were forty-eight families recorded in Barwell and ten families in Earl Shilton. The family of Shentons were Lords of the Manor here in the Civil War and served under King Charles. After the defeat of Charles II at Worcester in 1651, Captain Shenton escaped capture by hiding in an old Wych elm tree on the Ashby Road opposite to what is now Sunnyside Hospital and about 200 yards towards Hinckley. He lived to see Charles recalied to the throne and died peacefully in his bed in 1690, aged 87. The tree was still standing as late as 1942 and the stump until the 1960's. There was a plaque explaining its significance but with the disappearance of the tree the plaque is now in the custody of the Borough Council at Hinckley where arrangements can easily be made to see it.

Prior to the 1840's, the chief industry of the area was market gardening, but by that time the staple trade had become knitting stockings in hand frames, the work being done at home. Three

hundred frames were recorded in Barwell alone in 1845. At that time its population was only 1,300 persons which probably meant a frame in almost every house! Earl Shilton was similar with seven hundred frames for 2,000 inhabitants. When Civil War broke out in Americain 1861, the area was hit badlybythe fact that the northern states blockaded the southern ports so that exports of cotton dried up. Suddenly something approaching famine was ravaging the district. Flour had to be distributed to keep the poor from starving and many men went to work on the roads at 3d per day and were grateful for that, Others found work on the Leicester to Nuneaton Railway then being built. Despite the poor relief', many people were still forced to seek refuge in the Union workhouse at Hinckley, known locally at the time as 'The Bastille'. The stocking trade recovered somewhat during 1865-1875 but steam power was now being applied to hosiery work and employment based on hand frames at home was coming to an end. Employment for the future was to be in the numerous factories that were now springing up throughout Barwell and Earl Shilton - a number of which were specialising in shoe production. The last stocking frame disappeared when its owner, a Mr. Pratt, died. His old cottage, a thatched one, stood in Wood Street, Earl Shilton.

At the turn of the century both Barwell and Earl Shilton still remained separate - both essentially country villages where everyone knew everybody else. Since 1894, horse-drawn buses from Hinckley had been available, and in many ways it was a blissful situation. But it had its harsh side. Flush toilets did not exist and open cesspits were the general rule. Work was hard and long. Fifty or sixty hours a week was normal.

There were, however, the Whitsun Parades and Festivals when everyone enjoyed themselves and of course sport was the most popular and cheap way of enjoying oneself. Especially cricket.

Both villages have seemed to have a special ability to excel at the game - each producing a good number of county players and Barwell claiming to have the oldest fixture in the world. Every year since 1807 Barwell has entertained Coventry and North Warwickshire and whetherit be bad weather, war or plague, the match takes place! If necessary, only one balI will be bowled. However, the scorebook will not read 'match cancelled' but, (if it is raining), 'rain stopped play' or whatever. Barwell and Earl Shilton also had a match between the two villages of long standing and it usually lasted all day, with the added bonus of a beer tent and the village brass bands. Life, despite the harshness of the times, could still be good!

The Coronation of King George Von 22nd June 1911 was a red letter day for both villages. There was music from the brass bands, judging of decorated houses and shops, competitions for ladies and gents decorated bicycles, a procession and tea for the children and dinner for all those persons over sixty years of age. There was sport on the recreation grounds followed by fireworks, a bonfire and dancing. Earl Shilton purchased a Coronation Clock but found after all the festivities that it still had a surplus of 15/- (75p). It was decided that, 'it was considered advisabie for it to remain to cover future contingencies'! Prudenee is clearly a Shiltonian characteristic!

Like the whole of Europe shortly after these rejoicings, both villages were to suffer the horrors of the First World War, but apart from providing men to feed the cannons of Flanders fields, the village factories provided the army with its soeks and boots. These were even supplied to the Russian cossacks. In one week alone eighty men enlisted from Earl Shilton and marched to EImesthorpe Station to entrain. Many of those that the cheering crowds followed never retumed, and the memorials in Barwell and Earl Shilton bear silent testimony to the savage wounds that

were inflicted in these villages and indeed every town and village in Great Britain.

By 1936 both villages were developing into small towns and in that year they were incorporated into the Hinckley Urban District Council which subsequently has become part of the area of the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

Today the problems of the past have been eliminated. Poverty, disease and ignorance have gone. But now there are new problems to overcome. Traffic congestion is the worst of these because unless it is solved, the great boon of the modem society can destroy a community. Barwell and Earl Shilton also struggle in these hectic years to retain their identity and pride in their individual communities, a struggle made harder by the intertwining of their former villages into one another to which I referred at the outset.

I have no doubt they will succeed in overcoming both problems. If you visit them you will find that to date they have managed to remain both interesting and different despite the modem developments that have brought them together. Shotgun marriage it may have been - but based on mutual respect of one for the other, it has been a happy one.

Finally, my acknowledgements to Gregory Drozdz for the giving of his invaluable assistance in producing the foot notes to each photograph and also to Beryl Baker, Artie Payne and Archie Spencer for so much interesting information which I never dreamed existed!


Principal Chief Officer and

Director of Administration & Finance Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council


1. The unveiling of Barwell War Memoriaion 31st December 1922 by George Geary. It had been a while before the village had decided on a public memorial although the chapels and church had placed memorial plates and windows to the memory of the fallen. This view shows Chapel Street in the background.

2. This is another view of the same ceremony but looking towards Shilton Road. The memorial cost El ,200 and was raised by public subscription . The railings were added at a later date. At the unveiling ceremony wreaths and flowers were placed at the base of the memorial and a military contingent from Wigston Barracks saluted as the Last Post was sounded. Three bronze tablets on the structure record the names of 88 of Barwell's men who gave their lives in the war. The names of the fallen of the Second World War were added after that conflict.

3. Kirkby Road in 1916. These houses typify the great activity of house building in the late 19th century and show its effect. Just to the left, out of shot, is the Excelsior Works, built in 1895. Further along Kirkby Road is the cricket ground and cemetery. In the distance to the left can be seen some of the smaller and older artisan's cottages.

4. An unidentified home in the 1880's. It must have been of some note - for there are twelve people pictured here and they all appear to be household staff and servants. There are three horse-drawn carriages and the garden has obviously been well-tended and cultivated.

5. Top Town in 1911. The crowds have gathered to celebrate the Sunday School 'Treats' - a public procession and afternoon tea for those attending the various Sunday Schools in the village. A band is playing and is surrounded by straw-boatered men and bonnetted ladies. Those in the foreground seem more interested in the photographer! The two buildings in the background still exist and the gateway between them today forms the entrance to the Liberal Club. The field that can be seen there in this photograph was used for the Barwell Wakes, held each year to celebrate the church's anniversary. Older residents may weIl remember David Lloyd George speaking in this square.

6. Barwell Brass Band in 1906. The band would play at all the major village occasions - the opening ceremony of chapels, the Treats and even the Wakes. The men of the band obviously took a pride in their appearance, even down to the youngster seated at the front and not in uniform. They were, however, also nicknamed the 'Greasy 8' - probably by those who were jealous of their status. But there is a story that the train carrying Edward VII was due to halt at Elmesthorpe Station and the band was to play for him. This stop was hastily cancelled when the band left the Wentworth Arms in a somewhat 'happy' condition!

7. BarweIl Primitive Methodist Chapel, Shilton Road at the turn of the century. The Methodist community in BarweIl has a long history and was thriving as early as 1792. Various premises in the village have been used for worship but the initial purehase of the land on Shilton Road was not made until1864. However, the parcel of land did not front onto the road and this was not finally purchased until1903. A school room, built at a cost of !1 ,500, first occupied the site and eventually the chapel was built and opened in March 1903. One of the BarweIl ministers, James Smith, lived next door to the chapel and he preached in the locality for sixty years. For nine of those years he was invalided and bedridden but amazed everyone one day when he suddenly got up and walked!The chapel was last used for worship in 1966 when it was decided to amalgamate the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist communities. The chapel passed to property developers and has since been converted into flats.

Primitine Methodist -Cburch, Bartaell,



8. Opening of the Barwell Water Scheme, 5th November 1912. Prior to having a piped water supply from Snarestone, the village had relied on local springs, weHs and pumps to provide its water supply. It was quite a feat of modernisation to have water mains Iaid, The same George Geary who unveiled the War Memorial is seen sampling the first glass of water! Reverend Titley on the left, Police Constabie 'Bobby' Martin on the right.

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