- Farms – Until after the Second World War there were numerous farms in Swannington, many are now woods. Read more about farms
- Houses – From cottages and terraces to grander houses, find out more about the houses where people lived.
- Public Houses – Learn more about the village’s public houses including the Anchor Inn, Bull’s Head, Fountain Inn, Jolly Colliers, King’s Arms, Queen’s Head, Railway Inn, Robin Hood and the Station Inn.
- Religious Buildings – Read about their intriguing history including St George’s Church Loughborough Road, Primitive Methodist Chapel Main Street, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel corner of Main Street and Burton’s Lane, Quaker Meeting House corner of Main Street and Church Lane, Coleorton Baptist The Rowlands and New Swannington Wesleyan Reform Union Chapel Church Lane.
- Schools – For details of the school buildings read on.
- Shops and Businesses – In former times residents could buy everything from bread to gunpowder at the village shops as well as have their hair cut or horses shod.
Descriptions of Swannington farming life have been published in the Trust members’ magazines:
Some of the huge changes in farming since the Second World War are illustrated by Manor Farm in Main Street. In 1985 the cow sheds were demolished to facilitate a road widening scheme. Some of the land is now the community garden maintained by Swannington Women’s Institute. The former farm is now a house and accessed via Church Lane.
The Stone House in Main Street is one of the oldest buildings in Swannington.
Swannington House, the former home of Lady Beaumont, was demolished because of subsidence.
Anchor Inn (no longer an inn)
The 1891 census lists the occupants as:
- James Bradley, 56 years, Inn Keeper + Coal Miner, born Thringstone.
- Ann Bradley, wife, 53 years, born Griffydam.
- Sarah A Bradley, daughter, 22 years, Dressmaker’s Apprentice, born Osgathorpe.
- Oliver Bradley, son, 21 years, Collier’s Labourer, born Swannington.
- John Bradley, son, 16 years, Collier’s Labourer, born Swannington.
- Thomas Bradley, son, 14 years, Agricultural Labourer, born Swannington.
- James Bradley, son, 13 years, Scholar, born Swannington.
- William H Bradley, son, 11 years, Scholar, born Swannington.
The 1901 census lists the occupants as:
- Adolphus Bakewell, 35 years, Licensed Victualler + Frame Fitter + Wagon Maker?, born Packington.
- Mary Bakewell, wife, 36 years, born Meare, Somerset.
- Arthur Bakewell, son, 10 years, born Finchley, Middlesex.
- Frederick Bakewell, son, 9 years, born Islington, London.
- Albert Bakewell, son, 7 years, born Islington, London.
- Jim Bakewell, son, 6 years, born Thringstone.
- Clara Bakewell, daughter, 4 years, born Thringstone.
- Leonard Bakewell, son, 1 year, born Thringstone.
The three youngest children were probably born at the Anchor Inn, which was just inside the Swannington Parish border.
Bull’s Head (now a house)
It seems that in 1908 the police were intent on reducing the number of licensed premises in this area. At the Ashby Brewster Sessions they objected to the renewal of the licence of the Bull’s Head Inn in Swannington, which was in the possession of the executors of the late Joseph Wheatley.
Giving evidence Superintendent Lockton said that the population of Swannington was 1,737 and that there were 10 licensed houses of one sort or another in the village. He said that the Railway Inn was 62 yards away, the Fountain 343 yards and Mr Atkins’ wholesale premises 108 yards distant and therefore by implication that there were too many licensed premises in such a small area.
Mr Musson appearing for the licensee said that the Bull’s Head and the Railway were in the same ownership and the police were applying to take away the licence of much the better of the two. In support of that proposition he said that the Wyggeston Hospital Trustees always took lunch at the Bull. All the cases brought by the police were referred to the compensation authorities but the Bull’s Head continued as a pub for many more years.
The 1911 census records that the publican was John George Hough (39) who had been married for 16 years to Annie (39). They had six children of whom five still lived with them. Leonard (14) was an errand boy at a coal mine, James (11), George Brentnall (9) and Joseph Horice (7) were in school, a pleasure that still awaited Harry Chester (4). Living with the Houghs were Annie’s mother Ann Brinsley (78) a pensioner and lodger Richard Sutton (56) a navvy at the sewage works.
John George Hough had been a butcher’s apprentice in 1891, before moving on to be the landlord of the Bull’s Head for at least a decade as he is recorded as being there on the 1901 census. He was the son of John Hough the land steward at Coleorton Hall and owner of Thringstone Smock Mill (now Hough Mill).
Harry Cresswell was the landlord in 1939, he was also a coal miner and A.R.P. warden (air raid precautions). Harry’s wife Hilda was listed as the landlady. They were the last licencees before the pub closed in the 1960’s and it became a house.
Fountain Inn (now a house)
It is believed that the building was originally a house where a colliery manager lived. The Califat tramway (which ran parallel to what is now St George’s Hill and Main Street) emerged between what is now Fountain House and Brook House. There was a weighbridge next to the colliery manager’s house. The tramway continued across the road so that the coal could be taken up the Incline.
It was bought by Thomas Atkins in 1870 and became a beer house. It was leased to Marston, Thompson and Everard who eventually purchased it in 1947. At the 1911 census living in the nine roomed inn were the widowed inn keeper, Frances Robinson (48) who had given birth to eight children. Four of her six surviving children lived with her.
John Alfred (26) a bricklayer and his wife Elizabeth Agnes (22). Also Albert William (19) an apprentice carpenter and joiner; James Arthur (15) and Edith Emma (12) were both still in school. When Emma went to university she became a keen tennis player and persuaded her brothers to build a tennis court at the rear of the inn. Frances Robinson remained as landlady of The Fountain until 1936 when she retired to St George’s Lodge.
Landlords include, Alec Mason, Vic Bedder, Bill and Cath Peters.
To the sadness of many the Fountain Inn closed in December 2015. It has since been converted back into a house and three other houses are on the former car park.
Jolly Colliers (now Grosseto Pizzeria, Whitwick)
The Jolly Colliers was in the area transferred to Coalville Urban District Council in 1936.
In 1911 William Reeves (62) a widower was the publican assisted by his sister Ellen (58) a widow and his son Thomas (19).
Also resident were his daughter in law Mary Reeves (36) and grandson Edwin (7).
King’s Arms (now Coleorton)
The King’s Arms was a Swannington public house. In 1936 there were numerous boundary changes when Coalville Urban District Council expanded. The opportunity was taken to “tidy up” parish boundaries and the one between Coleorton and Swannington was moved to the east. As a result the houses on both sides of The Moorlands are in Coleorton Parish.
In 1911 the family comprised:
- James Shaw, 49 years, Farmer and Publican, born Coleorton.
- Clara Shaw, 50 years, born Coleorton.
- Clara Annie Shaw, 19 years, Mother’s Help, born Coleorton.
- Evelyn May Shaw, 18 years, Mother’s Help, born Coleorton.
- Joseph William Shaw, 16 years, Farm Labourer, born Coleorton.
- Thomas Richards Shaw, 14 years, Farm Labourer, born Coleorton.
- Eustace W P Shaw, 12 years, Scholar, born Coleorton.
- Elsie Maud Shaw, 10 years, Scholar, born Coleorton.
- John Fern, boarder, 59 years, Carpenter at the Coal Mines, born Coleorton.
Queen’s Head (now MotorTechnics, Whitwick)
The Queen’s Head was on the corner of Thornborough Road and Spring Lane, Swannington. This part of the village transferred to Coalville Urban District Council in 1936.
It is now MotorTechnics car sales and repairs.
Railway Inn (demolished)
The last of the booking offices along the Leicester and Swannington railway line was in Main Street Swannington at the corner of the Tan Yard. This was a little over half a mile from the boarding point at the top of the Incline!
The Railway Inn can only have operated as a ticket office for about 15 years for, in 1846 the Leicester to Swannington Railway was taken over by the Midland Railway. An extension to Burton on Trent was built around 1848 with a fine new station at Swannington, half a mile south of the Railway Inn, catering for passengers.
Though deprived of its original purpose, the Railway Inn continued to ply its trade as a public house for there were thirsts to be quenched in Swannington as in all mining settlements.
In 1901 and 1911 the nine roomed inn was occupied by Walter Chester and his wife Jane Hough. Walter was a publican and grazier and used the family connection to operate Hough Mill to produce animal feed during the First World War.
Ownership passed through several hands until it came to Joseph Wheatley, an inspector and later a clerk of works on the Midland Railway. His son, Alfred, became their chief architect.
The Railway had the distinction of claiming to be the last inn in the midlands to have a “Bull Ring and Peg” game in the bar.
In 1929 Alfred Wheatley sold the Railway, together with an adjoining cottage, to Bass and Company Ltd for £885. It was delicensed and let as a private house about 1930. It was sold again in 1946 and demolished in 1958.
The Robin Hood and Little John was a public house with a thatched roof. The building burnt to the ground during the 19th century and was rebuilt as the Robin Hood.
In 1911 the landlord was Stephen William Blythe (a former Markfield grocer) who lived in the nine room property with his wife Elizabeth. They had been married 19 years and had a 16 year old son, William Kirby Blythe who was a fitter’s apprentice.
The pub was then run by the Lidwell family who were also builders.
The Robin Hood is still in business.
The left part of the Station used to be the first Co-op shop opened in Swannington in 1894. The shop transferred to a site near the school in April 1909 (now the Chilli and Spice).
In 1911 the Station had nine rooms and was the home of George Clay (33) a metal turner at the wagon works and his wife Ethel Annie Clay (29). They had been married for three years and had five month old George Lovett Clay. Living with them was Mary Ann Platts (17) their domestic servant.
The Station was owned by Levi Lovett who in the 1891 and 1901 censuses is recorded as living three properties away from the railway station as a licensed victualler and colliery weighman. That property was almost certainly The Station Inn. His daughter Ethel Annie married George Clay and Levi Lovett moved further up Hough Hill handing over The Station Inn to his son in law.
The Station Inn is still in business.
St George’s Church
St George’s Church was built in 1825. The poet William Wordsworth’s diary records walking with his host, Sir George Howland Beaumont to choose the site of the church. Others claim that Lady Beaumont chose the site as it was a place where her husband liked to paint. It is likely that both claims as correct, as it would be natural for Sir George to take his guest to the place he liked to paint and suggest it as the site for the church.
The original name was St George’s Whitwick as both Swannington and Thringstone were part of the ecclesiastical parish of Whitwick. It later became an ecclesiastical parish in its own right.
Primitive Methodist Chapel (Now A Private Residence)
The Primitive Methodist Movement began in 1810 and was a low church form of Methodism.
The Chapel at the Spring Lane end of Main Street was built in 1858. Although the Methodist Union took place in 1932 the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists of Swannington continued to meet separately until the 1950’s.
The building was then occupied by Midland Patterns who made wooden patterns for parts for many projects including Concorde and Rolls Royce. Read more about Midland Patterns
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Now A House)
The original chapel was up the jitty next to the Stone House. The replacement chapel was built by Walter Moss and Sons, the building firm then resident in The Grove, Main Street in 1908-9. The chapel closed in 1998 and became a house.
Quaker Meeting House (Now A House)
The founder of the Society of Friends, known as Quakers, was George Fox who was born in Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire in 1624. In the 1660’s the Beaumonts had him arrested at the Quaker Meeting House on the corner of Main Street and Church Lane.
For many decades the property was a blacksmiths.
Coleorton Baptist (Now A House)
Coleorton Baptist Chapel was built in The Rowlands, just inside the Swannington parish boundary. As such it is much closer to the main residential areas of Coleorton than Swannington.
The reason for the location was that the Beaumonts of Coleorton Hall were staunch supporters of the Church of England. They did all they could to restrict the progress of nonconformists. However, while the Beaumont family controlled Coleorton they did not control Swannington. The local Baptists therefore built their chapel in Swannington.
New Swannington Wesleyan Reform Union Chapel
Built in 1910, this chapel was part of Swannington until 1936 when New Swannington was absorbed by Coalville Urban District Council.
Swannington Primary School
Prior to the opening of the school building children had been taught in a barn. The school was built in Main Street on land donated by Wyggeston Hospital. It opened in 1862 and is still educating the children of the village today.
When cataloguing the Archive we came across this fascinating story of the school raising £200 for the building in 1913, things don’t change much do they?
Having educated thousands of children during more than 150 years please visit the school pages for more information and photographs.
New Swannington Primary School
Built in 1906, this school was part of Swannington until 1936 when New Swannington was absorbed by Coalville Urban District Council.
Shops and Businesses
Cooperative Shop (Now A Restaurant)
In 1908 Wyggeston Hospital sold some building plots north of the school. The one next to the school became the new Cooperative Society shop in 1908. The premises changed hands and at one time was Holmes butchers. It is now the Chilli’n’Spice restaurant.