About this image
By March 1896, when sinking operations began on No.1 shaft of Shirebrook Colliery, the village was invaded by thousands of newcomers from other parts of the country - Nottinghamshire, the West Midlands, even Cornwall - in search of a home and job at the new pit. Work had already commenced on the building of a Model Village for the colliery workers, but it was impossible to keep pace with the massive influx of people. By 1901 Shirebrook's population had leapt from less than 600 to nearly 7,000, a tenfold increase in barely five years with large numbers occupying tents and the old navvies' huts in the open fields, a major and hurried building programme was carried out in the main village by Messrs F H and J W Moore. Hastily erected, and just as hastily occupied, these houses were prey to sanitation and hygiene problems, and must have contributed to the terrible typhoid outbreak of the late 1890's that killed 150 young children in four years. The churchyard was filled, extended and filled again, and became a health hazard. At last, in 1899, it was closed, and a new cemetery opened on Pleasley Road. Inevitably such a startling change to the village brought violence, rowdiness and squalor, but that is only half the story. There was also progress, improvement and civic pride. The 1890's also saw the founding of the Carter Lane Board Schools, the setting up of the Shirebrook Gas Company, and the merging with Pleasley and other parishes as part of Blackwell R D C. Piped water systems were established, with the 'shire brook' now running underground, and sewers and street lighting gradually installed. In 1904 Shirebrook at last became an independent civil parish, and under the leadership of such entrepreneurs as the Moores and Thomas Moorley embarked on further provision of schools and social amenities. The Catholic and Nonconformist churches, the Baptist School (whose scholars are shown here) was established in 1901 in the Model village, and later the Central School on Langwith Road. This picture is part of a souvenir booklet, published by the photographers George Holdsworth and Son of Holmfirth (who produced many such booklets for other schools).