Swadlincote Heritage Trail

Swadlincote heritage Trail map TEST
Swadlincote Heritage Trail map


S1: Edmund Sharpe

Sharpe's Pottery - Old
Sharpe's Pottery Museum (copyright - The Magic Attic)

Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, West Street

Established in 1821, Sharpe’s Pottery originally manufactured domestic pottery, much of which was exported to America to meet the needs of the growing number of European settlers there.

During the 1850s public health concerns drove an explosion in the sanitary ware market and the local clay was ideal for such products.

Edmund Sharpe, the youngest and most influential brother at Sharpe’s Pottery, patented a successful variation of the “flushing rim” for water closets in 1855.

Sharpe’s Pottery and Edmund’s enterprising personality were very influential factors in Swadlincote’s growth from a small hamlet to a bustling town.

The factory flourished, along with many other local sanitary ware makers and sewer pipe manufacturers, until the 1950s.

Today the site is home to a successful pottery museum as well as to an arts organisation, the Magic Attic local history archive, therapy rooms and a very popular café.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S2: Majestic Cinema

Majestic Cinema
Majestic Cinema (copyright - The Magic Attic)

21 Alexandra Road

Today nothing remains of ‘The Majestic’ Cinema which opened in May 1933. It was advertised as the ‘Majestic Super Cinema’ and boasted five dressing rooms, a 33ft wide proscenium and a 25ft deep stage.

It was fitted with CinemaScope in 1956, with the first film to be shown in that format being “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. In January 1957 the pantomime “Sinbad the Sailor” was produced on the stage.

In its time, the Majestic showcased stars such as Max Bygraves and Larry Grayson (then known as Billy Brean!).

It was closed in the early 1960s and was converted into a bingo club. In the 1970s it became Royall’s Theatre Club, which attracted stars like Tommy Cooper and Arthur Askey. This did not last long and the empty building became derelict and was demolished in 1984.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S3: The Snooker Hall

42-44 Grove Street

The Snooker Hall was originally a barn on the farm of the Sharpe family who founded Sharpe’s Pottery. Known as “The Grove”, the farm was demolished in 1972.

The raised brick coped gables are typical of buildings from the 18th century.

The upper floor of the building was the birthplace of Magic Attic, set up in 1987 by local historians who were interested in preserving information about the area. The Attic is a local history archive and is a registered charity.

The Magic Attic relocated to Sharpe’s Pottery Museum when it opened in 2002.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Garden - after
Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Garden

S4: Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Garden

West Street, next to Sharpe’s Pottery Museum

This site was dedicated as a garden in 1981 by Chairman of the Council, Councillor Roy Nutt & HRH The Princess Anne.

Before then it may have been the site of a clay hearth, part of Sharpe’s Pottery. Earlier still it was part of the garden at Grove House, which extended over a much larger area than the garden does today.

Diana, Princess of Wales, walked through the garden during her visit to Swadlincote on 16th January 1991. After her death in 1997, memorial flowers were laid here by local people.

The garden has been transformed thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was officially reopened in 2018.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Old Midland Co-op Building
Old Midland Co-op building (copyright - The Magic Attic)

S5: Old Midland Co-op building

West Street, opposite Sharpe’s Pottery Museum

This building reflects Swadlincote’s development over time.

It is built on the remains of a circular bottle kiln on land formerly part of Sharpe’s Pottery.

It became a key showroom for the Midland Co-Op and more recently housed an auto shop, before being restored as part of Swadlincote Townscape Heritage Scheme.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S6: New Empire Cinema &Theatre

The Lounge Bar, 21 West Street

New Empire Cinema
West Street, outside the New Empire Cinema (copyright - The Magic Attic)

In December 1912, The Empire Picture Palace opened, presenting ‘Pictures & Varieties’ to a hall seating 500 people.

It was the second cinema to appear in the town - the first was a canvas tent on fields behind the block of shops which includes Poundstretcher today. By 1931 the original building had been demolished and the new (current) building, Swadlincote's independent New Empire Picture Palace, opened.

This building boasted the new flamboyant Art Deco architecture with its geometric shapes and exuberant interiors.

It is an excellent example of a style which swept the world. The impressive brick façade has elaborate detailing and decoration, together with metal framed stained-glass windows.

The Cinema closed in the early 1960s and has been used for various businesses since. Today it is a public house.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


John Avery - cropped
John Avery (photo credit to Eric and Olwyn Hardy)

S7: John Avery/ The Bear

17 West Street

John Avery was born in 1927 at the Bear Inn, Swadlincote, which was managed by his parents.

He served as a Bevin Boy (as a welder at Church Gresley Colliery) during the Second World War, before working at both the Empire Cinema and the Majestic Cinema in Swadlincote in the 1950s.

In 1974, he was appointed general manager of the London Palladium, where he worked until his retirement in 1992.

He died on May 11th 2016, aged 89.

The Magic Attic archives have film footage of John at the Majestic Cinema.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


The Nag's Head
The Nag's Head pub (copyright - The Magic Attic)

S8: The Nag's Head

Today Dean & Smedley, 1 West Street

The Nag’s Head was a large public house which opened in Oct 1883 and stood here until the 1960s.

England football caps worn by Ben Warren, the first husband of the landlady Mrs Hall, and who played for Derby County and Chelsea football clubs, were displayed behind the bar. He played for England from 1906 to 1911.

There are recollections of the pub being packed to capacity, especially on nights when big dance bands attended the Rink.

More information appears in “Out of the Dark - Swadlincote stories” on page 63.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S9a: Swadlincote Market Hall

Swadlincote Market Hall
Swadlincote Market Hall and the Delph

The Delph

Also known as Swadlincote Town Hall, it was built in 1861 from money raised by public subscription.

Below the clock face is the motto ‘Time the Avenger’ which was included at the insistence of Sir Henry Des Voeux and his wife Sophia, who contributed £44 to pay for the clock.

At the time that Henry Des Voeux was approached for the money, he was embroiled in a bitter lawsuit with some negative publicity and insisted that time would avenge him, or prove him right—hence his choice of motto.

There have been several changes to the ground floor frontage over time and to suit local needs. The area under the hall has been used to store fire hoses as well as for shops and market stalls.

Every Tuesday for around 100 years, a petty Crimes Court was held "under the clock".

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


The Battle of Somme - Sherwood Foresters Regiment
The Battle of Somme - Sherwood Foresters Regiment (photo from The Royal British Legion)

S9b: Sherwood Foresters Regiment

The Delph

The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) was formed in 1881 and is an important part of Swadlincote’s heritage.

As part of the 5th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, H Company paraded regularly on the Delph. The Regiment had links with almost every family in town through their service in the First or Second World Wars.

They remained a separate regiment until 1970 when they were merged with the Worcestershire Regiment.

Since 2007 they have been part of the 2nd battalion of the Mercian Regiment.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S10: Richard Holden

The Delph (actual location unknown)

Richard Holden was an armourer from Swadlincote. He was apprenticed to a London armourer in 1658 and was working in his own right from 1665 as a member of The Armourers Company.

From 1673 he was supplying munition armour to the Board of Ordnance, and by 1681 he had become the armourer responsible for Royal commissions.

He died in 1709, one of the last of the London armour makers.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.

Anne Beverley - mother of 'Sid Vicious'
Anne Beverley - mother of 'Sid Vicious'


S11: Anne Beverley (nee McDonald)

The Delph

The mother of ‘Sid Vicious’ from the infamous punk rock band The Sex Pistols had a turbulent life.

She died of an overdose in 1996 at her home in Hastings Road, Swadlincote.

There is a mystery surrounding her son’s ashes - apparently she used to pace around with them on Swadlincote High Street and rumour has it they may have spilled out on to the Delph!

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S12: Sabine's Foundry

The Sabine brothers
The Sabine brothers

Belmont Street (opposite the British Legion)

Sabine and his brother were blacksmiths who lived in Swadlincote in the early 1800s.

Among other things, they invented the extrusion machine for making sockets on the ends of clay pipes.

This was used by the pipe manufacturer, Thomas Wragg, with great success as it meant sections of pipe could be joined together easily.

Part of Sabine’s Foundry, which made munitions during the First World War, remain on Belmont Street today.

Sabine Brothers (Engineering) Ltd is still based in Swadlincote. Mr Tim Sabine is the fifth generation of the family to run the firm.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Helen Allingham painting
Helen Allingham painting

S13: Helen Allingham

7 High Street

Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson (Allingham) was born at this property in the High Street on 26th September, 1848.

She was the eldest of seven children born to Alexander Henry Paterson, a rural doctor, and Mary Chance Herford.

She became known for her watercolour paintings of the countryside, flower gardens, her children and especially picturesque old country cottages.

Helen made her living selling illustrations for magazines which enabled her to support her young family when her husband died.

In 1896 she was the first female member to be elected to the Royal Society of Watercolours.

Her paintings were sometimes used to decorate products like chocolate boxes and biscuit cartons. The originals are now collectors’ items.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S14: Waterfield’s Tea Room

Waterfield's Tea Room
Waterfield's Tea Room (arrow showing location on Swadlincote High Street)

15-17 High Street

Joseph and his son Joseph Harold (known as Harold) developed a large and successful bakery, confectionary and catering business which won national awards.

Joseph started the business in 1895/6 at premises on Alexandra Road, the place where Harold was born.

The site of the original bakery is now the Golden Dragon takeaway. The bakery had relocated to Church Gresley by 1911.

When he took over the business, Harold expanded into Swadlincote town centre and ran tea rooms on High Street, where Boots the Chemist is today. He also opened shops in Burton and Ashby.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S15: The original Salt Brothers Stores

Original Salt Bros store
Original Salt Bros store

26a High Street

This is one of several Salts properties on High Street.

In the 1890s, brothers Enoch, Joseph and Hezekiah Salt opened their first shop in Swadlincote.

Eventually, this extended to three stores which included a haberdashery and a menswear shop.

By the late 1920s they had added a hardware store. They also had stores in Moira, Newhall and Alvaston.

Salt Brothers finally closed all their Swadlincote shops in 1982, after almost a century of trading.

Today’s ‘Salts’ shop name is a tribute to one of Swadlincote’s favourite brands.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Paramount bin badge
Paramount bin badge

S16: Paramount Cars

Currently Clark’s/ Ladbroke’s 50 High Street

This British company produced the Paramount automobile between 1948 and 1956. Founded by WA Hudson and S Underwood from Derbyshire, the company manufactured some of its cars in Swadlincote.

You can still see part of the workshop behind Ladbroke’s, and the showroom was in the area now occupied by Clarks’ shoes.

Some work was also carried out in one of the workshops behind Bretby Art Pottery.

Some of the joinery for the cars was done in Melbourne and production moved there.

Fewer than 10 cars were actually made in Swadlincote - further production took place in Leighton Buzzard (Camden Motors).

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


The Foresters Arms doors
The Foresters Arms doors

S17: Foresters Arms

67 High Street, Swadlincote

The pub may have taken its name from the Foresters ‘Friendly Society’.

The Society was established in Lancashire in 1834 and offered ‘penny’ insurance schemes - aiming to support working men and their families as they "walked through the forest of life".

Pubs all around the country are named after it.

Celebrating the presence of a Foresters Public House in Swadlincote creates a nice link with The National Forest: visit Swadlincote Woodlands, Rosliston Forestry Centre or Conkers to find out more about The National Forest, enjoy a walk in the woods and much more.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson (photo from JoeJackson.com)

S18: Joe Jackson

Junction of Civic Way/Church Street

Joe’s Granny’s house, referred to in his autobiography, was on Vicarage Road (near the junction of Civic Way / Church Street).

Born in Burton-on-Trent in 1954, Joe Jackson lived on Coronation Street, Newhall as a child and spent a lot of time at his granny’s at Vicarage Road, Swadlincote.

He later moved to New York and became well known as a singer/songwriter.

His first hit “Is she really going out with him?” made him an overnight success in 1979.

He has recorded 19 studio albums and received five Grammy Award nominations during his career to date.

In his biography ‘A Cure for Gravity’ there are several references to Swadlincote including ‘’this unearthly landscape still haunts me’’ (p3/4).

Further details about Joe’s career and performances can be found at: http://joejackson.com/

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Baptist Church on Hill Street
Baptist Church on Hill Street

S19: Hill Street Baptist Church

16, Hill Street

Founded in 1867, Hill Street Baptist Church has been home to a growing group of Christians for nearly 150 years.

Since its establishment, the building has been extended and modernised.

The spectacular pipe organ inside this church is the main reason for its inclusion in the trail and musicians and music lovers are welcomed here for a varied programme of musical performances.

During the Second World War several aerial mines were dropped in this area and one landed in a clay hole behind the church.

All the windows were blown out and the glass was replaced with all kinds of second-hand pieces - a real patchwork job. Some fragments of the mine are stored at The Magic Attic.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


Gresley firebrick clay mine
Gresley firebrick clay mine

S20: Swadlincote’s Mining Heritage

The Pipeworks

The mining of coal is first recorded for this area in February 1293 (The Phillipps Charters) but it was not until the Industrial Revolution, with its increased demand for fuel, that it became a major local industry.

Many collieries were established in the area, of which these are a few: Granville Colliery (1823), Church Gresley (1829), Stanton (1854), Bretby (1855), Gresley Wood (1856), Cadley Hill (1861), Netherseal (1872), and Coton Park and Linton Colliery (1875).

By the time the industry was nationalised in 1947, 6,600 men were employed in local mines.

The last pit, Cadley Hill, closed on Friday 25th March 1988 – this marked the end of deep coal mining in South Derbyshire, although open cast mining continued for some years after that.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


S21: Sanitary Ware

Pipeyard (copyright - The Magic Attic)

The Pipeworks

Many local potteries, including Wragg’s & Woodward’s and Sharpe’s, made this area famous for the production of sanitary ware and associated pipework.

During the 1850s, for public health reasons, the sanitary ware market expanded and the local clay was ideal for the production of pipes, sinks and toilets.

Sharpe’s patented their new ‘rim flush’ toilet and exported sanitary ware around the world for over 100 years. Its water closets were considered status symbols in Russia!

Wragg’s, the other big local pottery, also produced vast quantities of pipes suitable for sewerage and drainage which were exported around the world.

The Wragg’s factory site (previously known as John Hunt’s, then Woodward’s, then Wragg’s and Woodward’s) is marked by the tall chimney, originally one of many, which could be seen from most of the Swadlincote area.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.


TG Green staff dancing at the Rink
TG Green staff dancing at the Rink (copyright - The Magic Attic)

S22: Alexandra Rink

Currently DCC Youth Information, Rink Drive

The Alexandra Rink was opened in 1909 as a skating rink by Ben Robinson with the words “Our rink is efficiently heated, our floor is a pleasure to fall on”.

The surface of the floor was Canadian sugar maple wood, recognised as one of the best surfaces for roller skating.

By 1913 part of the Rink building had been partitioned off to become the ‘Alexandra Palace of Varieties’ showing films and variety acts.

For a short time it even had its own film studio, Albion Film Co. The main room was still being used for roller skating and in later years also offered dancing, boxing, wrestling, bingo.

By 1917 Ernie Hall had started giving dancing lessons there. Known as “The Law of The Floor’’, Ernie went on to run the Rink.

Full details can be found in the Swadlincote Heritage Trail (pdf, 6.1mb) leaflet.