. . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays in October for people to see sails and new information boards . . . . . . . Talks re the history of Hough Mill Sunday 27th October . . . . . . . Trees from around the world - tour of Califat arboretum - Saturday 9th November . . . . . . .

The Arrival Of The Railway

Robert Stephenson’s 1832 was the first steam railway in the English Midlands and around the fifth in the world.  The railway reached Swannington in 1833 and the official end is where it met the Hinckley Road (the Hinckley to Melbourne Turnpike), that is Main Street opposite what used to be the Fountain Inn.

Glenfield Tunnel

At just over a mile long, building the Glenfield Tunnel was always going to be a challenge.  The surveys had indicated that the terrain was mainly sandstone, but in reality there was a lot of sand.  As a result millions of bricks were required to line the tunnel.

The tunnel closed in the 1960’s and was later bought by Leicester City Council, who licence our partners Leicestershire Industrial History Society to conduct tours of the first 400 metres from the Glenfield end.  Details are on the LIHS website.

Prior to printed tickets, passengers were given a brass token that was collected by the guard.
Glenfield Station
Glenfield Tunnel - Leicestershire Industrial History Society lead tours of the tunnel

Impact Of The Railway On Swannington

The Leicester and Swannington Railway reached Swannington in 1833 and gave an enormous boost to the coal mining industry in and around the village.  The mine opening dates tell the story:

  • Coleorton No 1 – California – 1849
  • Snibston No 3 – 1850
  • Coleorton No 2 – Califat – 1855
  • Swannington No 1 – Calcutta 1857
  • Swannington No 2 – Sinope – 1861
  • Swannington No 3 – Clink – 1863


This increased both the population of the village and its prosperity.  Even after Swannington’s mines had closed the railway continued to have an important impact on the village as so many residents worked at the Snibston and Whitwick collieries.

A lasting impact of the railway is that it is often the prime reason why non Leicestershire people have heard of the village.

Impact Of The Railway On Coalville

The railway was an important catalyst in the development of the new town of Coalville centred around the junction of the parishes of Whitwick, Hugglescote, Snibston and Swannington.   The coal industry would not have flourished if a means of getting the coal to market.

In less than 200 years a handful of cottages have become a town of 30,000 people.  More information on the development of Coalville is on the Coalville Heritage Society website.

Impact Of The Railway On Leicester

As soon as the railway opened the price of coal in Leicester plummeted.  This enabled the hosiery and other industries to expand.  As a result Leicester became a prosperous city and an economic powerhouse.