Swadlincote is a town and unparished area in South Derbyshire, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of Burton-upon-Trent, 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and about 12.5 miles (20
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.1 km) due south of Derby. It is the largest town in South Derbyshire and is the seat of South Derbyshire District Council.
Swadlincote consists of the settlements of Swadlincote itself plus the districts of Newhall and Midway, and the contiguous suburban villages of Church Gresley and Woodville. Their combined population is about 36,000. The village of Castle Gresley is situated less than 2 miles to the southwest and the community of Albert Village lies 1.5 miles to the south, just within Leicestershire.
Swadlincote’s name is derived from the Old English “Swartlings Cottas”, Swartling being a man’s name and cottas meaning cottages. Past forms of the name include Sivardingescote and Swartlincote. Swadlincote residents often shorten its name to “Swad”.
The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded Swadlincote as a small manor. It was part of the parish of Gresley (latterly Church Gresley) until the 19th century.
The first record of mineral extraction in the area is from the end of the 13th century, but the area remained rural until the industrialisation in the 18th century. The presence of coal and clay in the area led to urbanisation as colleries, brickworks and potteries came to dominate Swadlincote. These industries continued to expand until the Second World War. In Alexandra Road one traditional bottle-shaped kiln survives. The fireclay strata in the coal measures has a high alumina content. Swadlincote is one of only six places in Great Britain with clay deposits of such quality. The high alumina content makes it particularly suitable for salt glazing. The properties of the clay mean that it is easily formed into pipes that are resistant to sewage. The Public Health Act 1875 created a huge demand for locally produced pipes.
Emmanuel Church of England parish church is a Gothic Revival building consecrated in 1846. It was designed by H. I. Stevens and completed in 1848. Swadlincote had a Wesleyan chapel by 1848. Today the town has also the Roman Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul.
The town’s first local government was formed in 1871 with the creation of Swadlincote District local board of health. the board’s district consisted of three civil parishes: Church Gresley, Stanton and Newhall and Swadlincote. Under the terms of the Local Government Act 1894, this became Swadlincote and District Urban District, renamed Swadlincote Urban District in 1951. In 1974 the urban district was merged with Repton Rural District and part of South East Derbyshire Rural District to form the present South Derbyshire District.
The urban district council was granted a coat of arms in 1947. The design reflected the fact that Swadlincote was formed out of part of the ancient parish of Church Gresley. Around the edge of the shield was a bordure or border in a “vairy” pattern of red and ermine, from the arms of the Gresley family, who took their name from the parish. The dedication of Grespel parish church to Saint George and Saint Mary was represented by their symbols: a cross and fleur de lys respectively. The quartered ermine and red field of the shield was taken from the arms of the Stanhope family, Earls of Harrington. The Tudor roses were taken from the arms of Derbyshire County Council. Above the arms was a crest depicting a human arm holding a billet or: a yellow brick for the local brick making industry. The arm rose from flames, indicative of mining of fireclay and coal. The Latin motto adopted: E Terra Divitiæ (“From the earth, riches”) also referred to the mineral industries of Swadlincote. The current arms of the South Derbyshire District Council which bear the motto “The Earth Our Wealth” also reflect this heritage and are borne on local street-name signs.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the town’s Rink venue (now demolished and the site of industrial units) hosted to major British and American pop stars and Gene Vincent appeared in the town on 7 September 1963. Ringo Starr appeared in 1962 while he was the drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
Swadlincote comprises four of the seventeen wards of the district of South Derbyshire. Between them the four wards return 11 out of the 36 district councillors. The wards are: Church Gresley (two councillors), Newhall and Stanton (three), Midway (three) and Swadlincote (three). Of the eleven councillors elected in 2007, ten are members of the Labour Party, and one is a Conservative.
Swadlincote forms part of the South Derbyshire Westminster parliamentary constituency. Between 1997 and 2010 its MP was Mark Todd (Labour). In the 2010 General Election, the seat was won by the Conservative Party candidate Heather Wheeler, a former leader of the Conservative group on the South Derbyshire District Council. A notable previous MP is Edwina Currie (Conservative). Until 1983 the area was part of the Belper constituency.
The town originally had a prominent manufacturing heritage that made pipes and earthenware etc. It was the centre of the South Derbyshire coalfield but mining ceased in the early 1990s when Rawdon Colliery closed in 1993. Light manufacturing and service companies are sited on industrial estates.
Swadlincote has a moderate-sized town centre, typical of those in the Midlands, containing national chain stores including Boots and small local businesses. It had a branch of Somerfield before the Co-operative Group took over that chain in 2009. Swadlincote had a Woolworths until the chain ceased trading in 2009. Alworths took over Woolworths’ former Swadlincote branch but this too subsequently closed. The opening of a large Morrisons store on Coppice Side has been blamed for the closure of a number of small independent shops in the town. Shops that lined West Street and High Street from 1901 disappeared by the early 21st century. Hepworth Retail Park is a fairly modern development which contains a restaurant, cinema and various shops.
Plans were announced in 2008 for the development of a retail complex consisting of a cinema, DIY store and a nationally recognised clothing store. A link road called Sir Herbert Wragg Way has been built, named after the area’s mid-20th century Member of Parliament and pipe yard owner.
Barracuda Group opened a bar and restaurant at the former Empire Cinema site in April 2007. It is one of the chain’s “Smith & Jones” branded pubs and is named ‘The Paramount’ after Paramount Cars, a bespoke car manufacturer that was based in the town in the 1950s. The pub closed in June 2013.
Swadlincote is near the junction of the A514 (Derby to A444) and A511 (Burton-upon-Trent to Ashby-de-la-Zouch) roads.
In 1804 the Ashby Canal was opened. Its northern terminus was at Moira
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, Leicestershire and it built tramways to carry coal and ceramics from Swadlincote and elsewhere to the canal for shipment.
The Midland Railway opened its Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line through Gresley in 1845 and opened Gresley railway station to serve the area
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. The company later built a branch line through Swadlincote itself and neighbouring Woodville. In the 20th century passenger services were withdrawn from both lines, and British Railways closed Gresley station in 1964.
Today the nearest railway station is Burton-on-Trent, about 4 miles (6.4 km) away. The Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line remains open for goods traffic and in the 1990s there was a plan to restart the passenger service as the second phase of Leicestershire’s Ivanhoe Line. However, the plan was discontinued after the privatisation of British Rail and has not been revived.
Swadlincote is served by the Arriva Midlands and Midland Classic bus companies.
Swadlincote is also on National Cycle Network Route 63. Although currently under development, the route is signed from Civic Way through to Church Gresley via Maurice Lea Park with onward links to the heart of the National Forest.
Schools in Swadlincote include Granville Community School at Woodville, William Allitt School at Newhall, Pennine Way Junior School in Church Gresley, Belmont and Springfield Junior Schools and The Pingle School on Coronation Street; which with 1,500 pupils is Swadlincote’s largest secondary school.
The closest university is the University of Derby, 18 miles to the north, with Staffordshire University’s Lichfield campus an equal distance to the southwest.
The main attractions within the boundaries of Swadlincote are the local parks such as Maurice Lea at Church Gresley and Eureka, the Green Bank Leisure Centre, the large dry ski slope and The 50s American Diner, the largest American diner in the United Kingdom, all within reach of the town centre. The town has one museum: , a visitor centre that tells people of the town’s pottery heritage. There is a café and the town’s Tourist Information Centre. Gresley F.C., formerly Gresley Rovers, is a semi-professional football team based at Moat Street, Church Gresley.
Local youth organisations include No 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron of the Air Training Corps on Eureka Park.
The creation of the Swadlincote Woodlands Forest Park has introduced a recreational area with forest trails and more than 22,000 trees. it is also the proposed site for the Pipeworks arts and media project. a registered charity based community theatre and media production facility.
The area around Swadlincote has historically had a distinct dialect.
The accent, rather like that of Burton-upon-Trent, is akin to that of Derby, and the terms of endearment “Duck” and “Ay up me duck” (Hello, my dear) are in common use in the Swadlincote area, as they are throughout some parts of Derbyshire and much of north Staffordshire. For example, an inhabitant enquiring about your well-being may ask “How are you, (me) duck?”. This can be likened to the Geordie use of “pet”. Although “duck” can be used to converse ‘male to male’, it is now more commonly used when talking to a member of the opposite sex.
The word “youth” (pronounced “yow-th”) is commonly used to describe any person. Unlike “duck”, however – which is always a term of endearment – the word is sometimes used for scorn as well as endearment.
One example of the dialect is the pronunciation of the word “tree”, which is pronounced as “tray”, and “tray” – which is pronounced as “Tree”. “Saturday” is “Satdee”, “Tuesday” is “Toozdee” and “three” is “threy”. “Mardy” means soft or crybaby and “jitty” is a passage or alley. “Ah” is “yes” and “can’t/wouldn’t/shan’t” are “canna/wunna/shunna”. “Something” is “summat”.
Recently, people have been moving to the town from southern Staffordshire, e.g., Tamworth, Rugeley and Lichfield
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, who use Swadlincote as a dormitory site, working elsewhere. This dialect can be heard alongside the traditional one.