Coalville

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Coalville is a town in North West Leicestershire, England, with a population estimated in 2003 to be almost 33,000. It is situated on the A511 trunk road between Leicester and Burton upon Trent, close to junction 22 of the M1 motorway where the A511 meets the A50 between Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Leicester. Coalville is the administrative centre for North West Leicestershire District Council and a market town for the district; it borders the upland area of Charnwood Forest which lies to the town’s east. It is twinned with Romans-sur-Isère in South East France.

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 Colliery, 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 Swannington 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 Bagworth, so consequentially, it was not until mining technology advanced that shafts were sunk in Coalville. A disused colliery at Snibston has been regenerated into Snibston Discovery Park, 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 Trent in 1845, placing Coalville on an important route between Burton and Leicester. Heavy coal traffic encouraged the construction of further railways linking Coalville to Nuneaton and Shepshed.

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 Nuneaton and Shepshed 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.

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 Derby. 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 engineer, to work as an official at the Snibston Colliery.

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.

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, the tower rises 68 feet above pavement level and was opened by Mrs Charles Booth of Grace Dieu. This memorial was admired by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

There is now no railway station in Coalville. The nearest passenger railway station is Loughborough, 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 Nuneaton – Coalville railway at nearby Shackerstone, seven miles south of Coalville, has been restored and reopened as a heritage railway called the Battlefield Line.

Snibston Discovery Museum is built on a site of the former Snibston 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 Museum, 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.

The local dialect is closer to that of Derbyshire than to the rest of North West Leicestershire, perhaps because of the movement of miners from there.

The town is known nationally for the club night ‘Passion’ held at the Emporium in the town centre. 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.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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