. . . . . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays to end of September . . . . . . . . . .

Tan Yard

Tan Yard takes its name from the tanning of hides to make leather.  This small cul-de-sac off the middle of Main Street is one of the oldest parts of Swannington.  At the beginning of the 20th century Tan Yard was one of the poorest areas of Swannington in financial terms, but one of the richest in community spirit and cohesion.

Tan Yard sketch by Wendy Moulds

Tanning In Swannington

The Tan Yard is one of the oldest parts of Swannington.  Tanners were wealthy but had the social stigma of a smelly occupation.


When Swannington tanner Edward Orton died in 1745 the terrier valuing his property amounted to £1,008 14 shillings and 8 pence, the list included hundreds of skins and hides in various stages of processing.  Read more about the life and will of Edward Orton.

We don’t know whether Edward was at the current day Tan Yard, but it seems unlikely that Swannington would have had more than one tanning family.

The tan yard at the National Museum of History, St Fagans, Cardiff
The tanning pits at the National Museum of History, St Fagans, Cardiff

Railway Inn

William Sherwin built the Railway Inn on the corner of the Tan Yard and Main Street in 1833.  It was demolished in 1958 and the site lay derelict until a house was built there in 2020.

Railway Inn Customers
Site of the former Railway Inn on corner of Tan Yard

Early 20th Century Life

Wendy Moulds wrote a riveting account of hardship and community spirit of Tan Yard life during the first half of the 20th century In The Tanyard

The 1911 census showed the Tan Yard having a child mortality rate of 33%, double that of neighbouring Main Street.  Tan Yard census and child mortality rate 1911

Kirk Family

Cold Newton born George Kirk married Fleckney born Sarah Emma Dunkley at Margaret Harborough register office in 1913.  Their eldest son George William was born in Cossington in the same year and Reginald was born at Barrow Upon Soar in 1915.  By this time George was in the Royal Engineers and the family moved to Swannington.  Maurice was born in the Tan Yard on the 3rd November 1919.  The 1924 electoral roll shows the family were still at the Tan Yard in 1924, while the 1931 electoral Roll lists them at Ivanhoe Cottage on Station Hill.  By 1939 they were living in Swannington Road, Ravenstone.

Pickering Family

Kath Pickering grew up in the Tan Yard, read more about the footballing Sunday school teacher who married war hero Sid James.

George Kirk in the Tan Yard - supplied by Jon Rennocks
George and Sarah Kirk with sons George William and Reginald - supplied by Jon Rennocks

Current Day Tan Yard

Life is much easier for 21st century Tan Yard residents as the houses have been improved and modernised.  Perhaps a resident will write a description for us.

Tan Yard 2020