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Retford is a market town in Nottinghamshiremarker in the East Midlands of Englandmarker, located 31 miles from the city of Nottinghammarker, in the district of Bassetlaw. The town is situated in a valley with the River Idlemarker and the Chesterfield Canalmarker running through the centre of the town.


Retford gained its first charter in 1246, when Henry III granted the right for a fair, this was later extended to holding a Saturday Market by Edward I in 1275. It was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and then remained a municipal borough until 1974 when it was merged into Bassetlaw district. Its civic traditions are maintained by Charter Trustees.

The origins of its name are unknown and have been subject to much debate, but consensus seems to conclude that it gets its name from an ancient ford crossing the River Idlemarker. It was originally named Redforde because the river water was tinged red due to the red clay river bed and frequent crossing of people and livestock disturbing the clay river bed. The first land settled was on the western side of the ford – this area being less liable to flooding – but as the community grew it spread to occupy land on the other bank of the river, and it was this eastern part of the town that eventually became more important; hence Retford's alternative (and, for administrative purposes, still official) name of East Retford. The highly unusual coat of arms for the town consists of two rampant choughs.

Retford was largely destroyed by a fire in 1528 , but prospered after the Great North Roadmarker was diverted to run through the town in 1766 and the Chesterfield Canalmarker (1777) and the direct London to York railway (1849) were both routed via the borough. The Great North Road was bypassed around the town in 1961 and part of the route through the town is now a pedestrian precinct.

The Pilgrim Fathers, a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts originated from villages of Babworthmarker and Scroobymarker on the outskirts of East Retford between 1586 and 1605.
St Swithuns Retford Notts
Grove Street Methodist Church
Flooding in King's Park — June 2007

On June 27, 2007, a few low-lying parts of the town were affected by the 2007 United Kingdom floods. The majority of Kings Park was flooded under three feet of water. The Asda and Morrisons supermarkets adjacent to the river were also flooded.


In the Market Square there is an ornate French-inspired Victorian Town Hall, in front of which is The Broad Stone. Legend says that this stone had a hollow in it that used to be filled with vinegar during plague times to disinfect coins. However, it is thought to be the upturned base of a boundary marker - perhaps the 'Dominie Cross'.

Also in the Market Square is the war memorial unveiled by Sir Frederick Milner in 1821. The memorial is in the form of an Eleanor cross an octagonal structure of late gothic design. The names of the men killed in the 1914 - 1918 war are on the lower 8 panels and on bronze plaques are the names of those who were killed in the 1939 -1945 war. monument was designed by architect Leonard W. Barnard F.R.I.B.A. of Cheltenham. The memorial is constructed of Stancliffe Stone from Darley Dale, Derbyshire.

Just across from the Market Square is Cannon Square which has St Swithun's Church and a cannon captured from the Russians during the Siege of Sevastopol at the end of the Crimean War in 1856.

Nikolaus Pevsner, architectural historian, is fairly scathing about Retford and its lack of distinguished buildings. "A singularly unattractive town," he wrote.



Retford is bypassed by the A1 trunk roadmarker and the A57 which links Retford to a number of major towns and cities. Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffieldmarker is also within driving distance up the A638 towards Doncastermarker. The East Retford bypass was built in three stages mostly along what was previously the A57. In 1957, the West Drayton diversion opened up to the B6387 near Elkesleymarker. Also near Elkesley and Gamstonmarker is the Retford Gamston Airportmarker. The section from Elkesley bypass to Five Lane Ends (A614 junction) at Apleyhead Wood opened in 1958. And the third section was from Five Lane Ends to north of Checker House at Ranbymarker (A620 junction).

The town is also served by a number of buses operated by Stagecoach in Bassetlaw, Stagecoach in Lincolnshire, Veolia Transport (Dunn-Line) as well as smaller local bus operators, to destinations including Worksop, Newark, Robin Hood Airport and Bawtrymarker. Retford bus stationmarker is also the terminus of the 450 National Express coach service between Victoria Coach Station in London and Retford.

Retford bus station
current bus station was built and opened on July 30, 2007 at a cost of £1.4 million, and was given an highly commended accolade in the infrastructure category of the UK Bus Awards 2008. The previous bus station on the same site was a collection of bus shelters, but also allowed vehicles to drive illegally through the bus station. The new bus station has new traffic controls in to prevent this.


Retford is served by two railway lines, the East Coast Main Line which runs between Londonmarker and Aberdeenmarker and the Sheffield to Lincoln Line which has links to Sheffieldmarker, Lincolnmarker, Gainsboroughmarker, Worksopmarker, Grimsbymarker and Cleethorpesmarker.


Retford is connected to the UK Inland Waterways network by the Chesterfield Canalmarker. Indeed, up to Retford, the canal is accessible by broad-beam boats rather than the more usual narrowboats, Retford Town Lock being the first narrow lock on the canal from its junction with the River Trent at West Stockwithmarker.


Retford is located close to Robin Hood Airportmarker (formely RAF Finningleymarker) which offers regular flights to other European countries. A regular bus service is available from Retford bus station to the airport. Due to its military past, Robin Hood airport has a long (2,580m) runway and so is capable of landing wide body jets such as Boeing 747s and has plans of extending its destinations to include the USAmarker.

Retford (Gamston) Airport is a private airport located a few miles south of Retford in the village of Gamston, operated by Gamston Aviation Ltd. Retford (Gamston) Airport is also the UK headquarters of Diamond Aircraft and offers used aircraft sales as well as flight training. Retford (Gamston) Airport is also said to be the busiest private airport in the UK and has just applied for permission to expand its services.


Retford has an established football team called Retford United F.C. which plays at Cannon Park on the outskirts of Retford. Retford is also home to Retford Town F.C., a smaller football club, and East Retford R.U.F.C., who play Rugby Union.

East Retford RUFC have a very successful junior section who compete in numerous competitions. The seniors are also very successful, competing in the Midlands League Division 5.

Details of the rugby club can be found at

Retford is under the control of Bassetlaw District Council, with their base being located at neighbouring Worksop.

The town is home to Retford Judo Club

The long established Retford Town Cricket and Sports Club was established in 1850 and moved to its present ground in 1858. The club was a founder member of the Bassetlaw Cricket league in 1904, their inaugural match was against Whitwell Colliery, they had to wait until 1984 before they won the League Division 1A Championship under the captaincy of George Jones, who shortly after emigrated to Australia. During this successful season the club chairman was Colin Loates.

Retford also has a long running Snooker League consisting of 2 Divisions the current Division 1 League Champions of 2007/08 are Liberal 'C' captained by Steve Norris

Leisure and entertainment

Retford is home to the Bassetlaw Museum, which was created in 1983 and has a number of collections donated by people in the local area.

Retford has two theatres in the town. The Majestic Theatre, which hosts famous entertainers, music concerts from local performers and plays, and was a former cinema. Retford Little Theatre is a smaller theatre which hosts the Retford Little Theatre amateur drama group.

Retford also features a skate park within the grounds of Kings Park in the centre of Retford, A small but fun Skatepark for the young to 'Hang out'.

The new Retford Leisure Centre offers aquatic activities such as lane swimming, fun swims, and water aerobics; along with a state of the art gym facilities.


Retford is primarily served by two local radio stations, BBC Radio Sheffield and the local commercial radio station Trax FM. Hallam FM's coverage area also includes Retford. The majority of the town receives its terrestrial television from the Emley Moor transmitting stationmarker, which broadcasts local news from BBC Look North and Calendar News. A minority of residents receive programming from Belmontmarker serving Lincolnshiremarker and East Yorkshire, Walthammarker serving the East Midlands or Bilsdalemarker serving North Yorkshire and the Tees Valleymarker.

Retford also has two newspapers serving the town, the paid-for Retford Times which is published in Retford and the Guardian and Trader newspaper, a free weekly newspaper published in Worksop. The Worksop Guardian, another paid-for newspaper, although predominately a newspaper serving Worksop and its area, also covers stories in Retford.

Retford's senior schools

As part of a major overhaul of secondary schools in the Bassetlaw area, all schools have now been moved to new facilities built around the town as part of the Transform Schools scheme. Retford is home to a Post-16 centre which has united all Sixth Form students from each of the above schools in one site (former Ordsall Hall Schoolmarker) and provide other courses available through North Nottinghamshire College (based at Worksop).

Famous Retfordians

Youth groups

Retford is served by many youth groups including The Scout Association, Girlguiding UK, St. John Ambulance and Young Farmers, Meeting within the town.

There is also a well established Karate and Kung Fu School "The Golden Dragon Martial Arts Academy" at the Albert road business centre and a Judo club in Hallcroft, the estate running parallel to North road.

Retford is also home to 1403 ATC Retford Squadron and Army Cadets.

See also


  1. Piercy, John Shadrach. The History of Retford. 1828. cited at Derivation of the Towns Name Updated May 29 2003, accessed June 17 2006.

External links

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