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Coalville is a town in North West Leicestershiremarker, Englandmarker, with a population of 4496. It is situated on the A511 trunk road between Leicestermarker and Burton upon Trentmarker, close to junction 22 of the M1 motorway where the A511 meets the A50 between Ashby-de-la-Zouchmarker and Leicester. Coalville is the administrative centre for North West Leicestershire District Council and a market town for the district. It is twinned with Romans-sur-Isèremarker in South East France.

History

As the name indicates, Coalville is a former coal mining town, with name coming from the name of the house of the owner of Whitwick Collierymarker, Coalville House. Coal has been mined in the area since medieval times and mine workings from these times can be found on the Hough Mill site at Swanningtonmarker near the Califat Colliery site. A life-sized horse gin has been built on the Hough Mill site and craters can be seen in the ground, where the medieval villagers dug out their allocation of coal. The seam is at ground level in Swannington, but gradually gets deeper between Swannington and the deepest reserves at Bagworthmarker, so consequentially, it was not until mining technology advanced that shafts were sunk in Coalville. A disused colliery at Snibstonmarker has been regenerated into Snibston Discovery Parkmarker, a museum focused on transport, mining and engineering.

The town grew up with the advent of coal mining which was pioneered by William Stenson and involved the sinking of shafts on the Snibston site by George Stephenson. Quarrying, textile and engineering industries, such as railway wagon production, grew in the town in the 19th century. Stenson is sometimes described as the Father of Coalville.

The Leicester and Swannington Railway opened in 1832 reaching Coalville in 1833 and had a small station at Long Lane (now Ashby Road) in Coalville – the first street in the town, which still has some of the original miners' cottages, which are next to the modern police station and opposite the sorting office. Snibston Colliery opened in 1833. The railway was extended to Burton upon Trentmarker in 1845, placing Coalville on an important route between Burton and Leicestermarker. Heavy coal traffic encouraged the construction of further railways linking Coalville to Nuneatonmarker and Shepshedmarker.

A fire underground at Whitwick Colliery (now under the Morrison's supermarket) led to the deaths of 35 men in 1898.

In the 20th century the railways to Nuneatonmarker and Shepshedmarker were closed and dismantled. Passenger services were withdrawn from the Leicester to Burton line in September 1964, but it remains open for goods traffic. Following the closure of the mines and the Palitoy Factory in the 1980s, the town fell on hard times. Effort was put into regeneration and the Whitwick Business Park now stands on top of the former Whitwick Colliery site. New business parks and industrial estates were constructed along the A511.

After 1993 there was an abortive plan to restore passenger trains on the Leicester-Burton line through Coalville as an extension of Leicestershiremarker's Ivanhoe Line.

Parish church and memorials

Coalville's parish church, Christ Church on London Road, was built between 1836 and 1838 (additions were made in 1853, 1894–95 and 1936). The architect was H. I. Stevens of Derbymarker. The church houses a brass memorial plaque to the victims of the Whitwick Colliery Disaster (1898) and the gravestone of James Stephenson, who came here through the influence of his brother, George Stephenson, the great engineer, to work as an official at the Snibston Colliery.

Other places of Worship

Baptists and Methodists

The Ebeneezer Baptist Church on Ashby Road was built in 1881 by a body of men and women who had previously belonged to the London Road Baptist Church (now demolished). The church once played a prominent part in the musical life of the town, and it was here that the Snibston Colliery Miner's Welfare Silver Prize Band was formed.

In 1861, a Primitive Methodist Church was built next to the railway crossing on Belvoir Road. This structure still exists, with lancet windows still visible at the rear of the premises as one walks along the footpath which follows the route of the old railway line. This church was replaced by a new building in Marlborough Square in 1903. This was built to seat six hundred people, with school hall, vestries and classrooms. The title 'Primitive Methodist', became obsolete in 1932 when the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists united nationally in 1932. Today, the church is known as simply, the Marlborough Square (or Coalville) Methodist Church. The old Wesleyan Methodist Chapel building still exists a short distance away, now used as a community resource, known as the Marlene Reed Centre.

There was also once another Methodist Church on the London Road. This was founded in 1910 by United Methodists from the United Methodist Church in Loughborough. Thus Coalville once had three different Methodist factions active within the town - all with their own chapels, the Primitive, Wesleyan and United Methodists. All of these branches were united nationally in 1932, though the London Road Church still continued to be served from Loughborough until 1943, when the chapel was transferred to the Coalville circuit and served by a minister who lived opposite, at number 76, London Road. The church was once known for its lovely garden, but sadly closed some years ago and has since been demolished, the site subsequently being used for new housing.

War Memorial

A well known landmark at the centre of the town is the clock tower, a war memorial in memory of Coalville residents who gave their lives in the 20th century's two world wars: built in 1926 to the design of Henry Collings and opened by Mrs Charles Booth of Grace Dieu. This memorial was admired by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

Transport

There are a number of bus services that run through Coalville with the majority run by Arriva Fox County, who have a depot in the town on Ashby Road. From Coalville, buses run to Leicestermarker, Loughboroughmarker, Burton-on-Trentmarker, Hinckleymarker and East Midlands Airportmarker.

There is now no railway stationmarker in Coalville. The nearest passenger railway station is Loughboroughmarker, about eight miles north east of Coalville. There have been calls to open the between Burton - Leicester Line for passenger trains (the line is currently closed at the Leicester end - the only traffic is the occasional Bardon Quarry stone) as part of the Ivanhoe Line but so far there are no plans for this to happen.

A section of the Nuneatonmarker – Coalville railway at nearby Shackerstonemarker, seven miles south of Coalville, has been restored and reopened as a heritage railway called the Battlefield Linemarker.

Museums

Snibston Discovery Museummarker is built on a site of the former Snibstonmarker Colliery, and is located on Ashby Road. It features interactive exhibits, an 0-4-0ST steam locomotive, a fashion gallery and more. The museum focuses on technology and design and how it affects everyday life.

Donington le Heath Manor House Museummarker, a family home for 700 years, has been redeveloped into a museum in Coalville. The house has close connections to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Education

The town has a FE/HE College, Stephenson College, which operates approximately 800 different courses in academic, vocational and industry-specific subjects. The college has recently moved from old mining college buildings in the centre of town to new buildings on the A511 near the Jolly Collier public house.

Dialect

The local dialect is closer to that of Derbyshiremarker than to the rest of North West Leicestershire due to the movement of miners from there.

Nightclubs

The town is known nationally for the club night 'Passion' held at the Emporium in the town centre run by Reece Baker. Passion has attracted international DJs such as DJ Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk and the DJ Mag 2008 number one DJ Armin van Buuren.

Also in recent times the club night 'Storm' held at the same club has been voted 'Best large club' at the Hard Dance Awards two years in a row. Storm attracts such DJs as Tidy Boys, Lisa Pin-up, Lisa Lashes and BK.

References

  1. 2001 Census results for Coalville (Ward)
  2. Introduction to Coalville, local publication from North West Leicestershire Official Guide, circa 1970
  3. ibid
  4. ibid


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