The History Of Ilkeston

Ilkeston is estimated to have been founded in the 6th century AD and gets its name from its supposed founder Elch or Elcha, who was an Anglian chieftain (Elka’s Tun = Elka’s Town). Ilkeston was created a borough by Queen Victoria in 1887 and is now part of the Borough of Erewash in Derbyshire, England. It lies on the River Erewash, from which the local borough takes its name. Its population at the 2001 census was 37,550. Its major industries were traditionally coal mining, iron working and lace making but these have all disappeared in recent decades.

This town once had three railway stations; the Ilkeston Town station in the town centre which closed in 1947, the Ilkeston Junction and Cossall station which closed in 1967, and the Ilkeston North station which closed in 1964. However a feature of this line was the wrought iron viaduct, a Grade 2 listed building, which still remains in place today.

Ilkeston was also well known for its spa bath which was built by local businessman Thomas Potter in 1831. It was situated at the bottom of Town Street next to the once existing Rutland Hotel, which was built in 1820 as a Stagecoach Inn. The spa was advertised as “the most efficacious in England” and in the 1840’s it thrived with visitors.

Ilkeston Market Place

Ilkeston is still well-known these days for the Ilkeston Charter Fair, which celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2002. The Charter was granted by King Henry III in 1252, making the fair older than Nottingham’s famous Goose Fair and one of the largest street fairs in the Country. The Ilkeston Charter Fair is held in October of every year and since 1964 is opened by the Mayor of Erewash.

The town of Ilkeston has had some very notable residents such as the actors William Roach and Robert Lindsay, who were both born here. Also Samuel Taylor (1816-1875) the famous ‘Il’son Giant’ who reached the height of 7’4” was born in Ilkeston at nearby Hallam Fields.

Finally, Ilkeston and its beautiful countryside played an important part in the writings of D.H. Lawrence.

The History Of Long Eaton

Long Eaton is referred to as Aitone in the Domesday Book. In 1228 Aitone gained the suffix “Long” which was a reference to the length of the village. In the early days it consisted of little more than a few farms and cottages strung out between the parish church and what is now Main Street. It made up part of the parish of Sawley, which during the Middle Ages became a village of some importance, with Long Eaton under its jurisdiction.

The town developed around the lace-making industry and also the railway wagon industry in the nineteenth century. Beside the Erewash Canal stands a group of tenement factories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings are dominant features of the Long Eaton Conservation Area. At its peak, these factories employed half of Long Eaton’s working population.

The Long Eaton railway station continues to thrive and is now on the Midland Main Line, which is a frequent service running to London. Since 1974, Long Eaton has been a part of the Borough of Erewash and the population is approximately 45,000 people. 

Long Eaton Market Place Long Eaton also has a successful brass band, the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band, which is only one of two brass bands still functioning in Erewash. The band was formed in 1906 as a result of severance from the local Temperance Society. The brass band still rehearses today.

Speedway racing was a big event for the town of Long Eaton with the first meeting being held at the stadium on Station Road in May 1929. The Speedway stadium continued in popularity until its decline brought about its closure in 1997.

Notable Long Eatoners include the famous Long Eaton artist, Dame Laura Knight (formerly Laura Johnson) who was born in the town in 1877. She was the first woman artist to be made a Dame of the British Empire. The War Office commissioned her as an artist to cover the proceedings of the Nuremburg War Crime Trials in November 1945. She died in 1970 at the age of 93.

Also Gary Birtles, the well known footballer and now Sky Sports pundit, was signed for Nottingham Forest from Long Eaton United and went on to win two European Cups with the club.

The above photographs were provided by Andrew Knighton.

The Armoral Bearings of Erewash Borough Council.

Erewash Borough Council

Erewash Borough Council, Town Hall, Wharncliffe Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, DE7 5RP
0115 907 2244
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