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Early Coalville

Coalville began to grow in 1833 in an area known previously as Long Lane, this was a track running roughly east-west separating the ancient parishes of Whitwick and Hugglescote which was crossed at the Old Red house by another track running north-south which separated Swannington from Whitwick and Hugglescote from Snibston.

Many people researching Coalville families find it difficult to understand that the information will be found in the records of the four parishes. The Anglican Church in Coalville was not present in the early town.


The development of the new town of Coalville was initiated by William Stenson, who returned to the area from the Forest of Dean coalfield, to sink a mine in Whitwick parish in the 1820s. Having reached coal he investigated means of transporting it to the Leicester market and was successful in persuading the great George Stephenson to support the building of one of the world’s earliest railways from Leicester to Swannington. This arrived at Long Lane in 1833, under the supervision of Robert Stephenson, who persuaded his father and other Liverpool associates to buy the Snibston Estate in order to exploit the coal which had been proved by Stenson. railway’s arrival, William Stenson’s mine was already in operation, being operated by miners from a nearby, declining, ancient coalfield around Staunton Harold and Worthington. He helped provide housing for them at Club Row and Stone Row, a settlement known as Coalville Place, and provided a Baptist chapel and school for his workers families.

George Stephenson began to build his community around his two mines by attracting miners from many areas in the country. He built for them six rows of miners’ cottages on Ashby Road and provided a school, which was used on the Sabbath by the Primitive Methodists.
Around these two little settlements the town began to prosper and grow. Speculators and general traders arrived and built houses and shops on Long Lane and it was not long before other major housing developments spread along lengths of the other main tracks through the area. As the population grew many front rooms of houses were converted into small shops or beer houses but later on purpose-built, specialist shops were provided by traders to meet the growing demands of their townsfolk.


Initially employment was concentrated on mining and brick and tile making but other associated industries developed employing considerable numbers of men in wagon making, iron founding, railway servicing and quarrying. Females found work in shoe making, elastic web manufacture and shirt making once they were barred from working in the brick and tile works.

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