The Protestation Returns of 1642 were intended to record a full list of all male inhabitants aged eighteen years and over in each parish, who took an oath to 'live and die for the true Protestant religion'. A population total can be easily calculated by allowing for the estimated proportion of the population under the age of eighteen years, perhaps 40% and doubling to allow for women. Seventy-five names are listed in the Calverton parish returns, with the note ‘none refused’. A population estimate for the village, immediately before the English Civil War, is therefore 250.
The Hearth Tax was introduced, after the Civil War, in 1662 to provide a regular source of income for the newly restored monarch, King Charles II. Sometimes referred to as ‘chimney money’, the tax was essentially a property tax on households (rather than houses) graded according to the number of their fireplaces. The 1664 Hearth tax returns show that Calverton had seventy-nine chargeable hearths in thirty-five households and seventeen not-chargeable hearths in seventeen households which had been exempted from the tax. A multiplier, recommended by some authorities, is 4.3, which gives a population for Calverton at the end of the English Civil War, of 223 in the fifty-two households.
Village surnames which span the Civil War period include Cooper, Wilkinson, Martin, Pepper, Mottram and Sturtivant.
Soon after the Restoration, Calverton lost its vicar, John Allot, for non-conformity. The Act of Uniformity 1662 required the use of all the rites and ceremonies in the Book of Common Prayer in church services. Revd. Allot, a puritan, was one of nearly two thousand clergymen who refused to conform and were ejected from the Church of England for not complying with the Act. He went to London and ministered in private, but died soon afterwards. The Act encouraged the notion of non-conformity and religious dissent in English society.
By 1676 it was of urgent interest to discover the religious opinions of the people, since the Catholic James was likely to succeed his brother King Charles II. This anxiety led to the Compton Census, a national ecclesiastical survey named for Henry Compton, Bishop of London. Adults (i.e. people over the age of 16) of each parish were recorded as either communicants, popish recusants, or other dissenters. In Calverton 129 communicants were recorded, no recusants, but a remarkable fifty-two dissenters. Demographic historians suggest that the proportion of the population over sixteen in settlements at the time was about 65%, so a simple calculation gives the total population as 278. The population estimate is less interesting however than the high proportion of dissenters, which may well have been a result of the ejection from his living of Calverton's vicar, James Stephenson, at some time between 1654 and July 1656, by reason that he was 'destitute... aged and impotent', and also by the 1662 ejection of John Allot for non-conformity (above).Ejections left a void in a parish, which may have facilitated the growth of groups of dissenters. In 1677 Robert Thoroton commented that Calverton was '... a populous village, with an empty church, for the most part'.
In 1743 a new Archbishop of York, Thomas Herring, was appointed. Soon after taking up his post he wrote to all the clergy within the diocese, seeking information about the parishes they served. Calverton’s curate, Maurice Pugh (1705-1766), replied to the archiepiscopal enquiry, and his answers give interesting incidental information about life in the village in the mid 18th century:
I. We have about eighty Families in Our Parish we have but two Families Dissenters, one of them Presbyterian, one Quaker.
II. We have a licensd Meeting House in Our Parish for the Presbyterians, but it has not been made use of these 5 or 6 Years
III. We have a Charity School, but not endowed, to teach fourteen Children to read english at the Direction of Mr: Abel Smith, Trustee to the late Mr. Labray of this Town. the Children are instructed as the Canon requires.
IV. We have no Alms House, but have land given to the Poor, by Mrs. Jane Pepper late of this Parish and others the Rent of which is 2 : 7 : 0 per An. The Vicar and Parish Officers dispose of it jointly to the Poor, we know of no abuse in the management of it.
V. I reside upon My Vicarage of Calverton.
VI. I do the Duty Myself
VII. I know of no such Persons. (Non-baptised churchgoers)
VIII. I read the publick Service once every Lords Day in My Church Morning & Evening alternately I am obliged to do Duty in the Church of Woodborough that is joined with Calverton, I presume the small allowance from the Church of Southwell has been the Reason that Service could not be performed according to Canon
IX. I catechise the Children and Servants during the time of Lent, and all the Summer from May to Michaelmass, and spend some time every Sunday Evening in instructing the Youth in the Principles of the Christian Religion during that time.
X. I administer the Sacrament four times in Year at least. I have about a hundred and fifty Communicants they all receive two or three Times in the Year, about three score last Easter.
XI. I give open and timely Warning of the Sacrament before it is administred, My Parishioners give Me Notice when any Young persons design to communicate, or new Servants, but the elderly People I have not called upon to do so but will for the future. I have had no Reason to refuse the Sacrament to any Person. Calverton May 21. 1744 MAURICE PUGH Vicar
If the family size was 4.75 in 1743, then the settlement had about 380 inhabitants at that time. Twenty years later, at the time of Archbishop Drummond’s 1764 visitation, Maurice Pugh reported that the number of families had risen to 'above 110', and so the number of villagers was perhaps 520. Throsby, however, writing in the 1790s said that ‘the village consist of 100 dwellings'.
By the time of the first decennial census of 1801 the population had risen to 636 in 129 families.
Until the opening of the colliery in 1952, the greatest social change in Calverton’s history had been arguably the parliamentary enclosure of 1778-80. By the time that an enclosure petition was presented to Parliament on 1 December 1778 by ‘several landowners and persons interested’, some 996 acres, or about 30% of the parish had already been enclosed. Some of these acres would of course have been accounted for by the houses and gardens of the settlement itself and the rest had been enclosed piece-meal over centuries. The award, when it came in 1780, would reveal that there had been only 51 acres of the open fields left to enclose. This is about 1½% of the total area of the parish, so any notion that the primary objective of Calverton's enclosure was to rearrange the village arable from strips and furlongs in large communally farmed fields, into the landscape of today, must be resisted. The rest of the land enclosed was about 550 acres of warren and Sansom wood and 1728 acres of common and forest, much of it to the west of the Old Rufford Road (A614).
Calverton was one of forty or so townships within the ancient bounds of Sherwood Forest, and so was subject to forest law, which protected both the animals (primarily deer) for the exclusive use of the king. It may be that because of this, agricultural improvement and commercial development in Calverton was different from other, more purely agricultural, settlements. Specifically the village was situated in one of the two administrative districts or bailiwicks into which Sherwood Forest was divided, the southern part called Thorney Wood Chase, of which the Earl of Chesterfield was hereditary keeper. The Chase was formerly well wooded and stocked with fallow deer, but growth of population and changes in agricultural practice were altering the character of the area.
Back in 1609 Richard Bankes’ map had shown the progress of enclosure in the parish. Calverton, like most settlements on Bankes’ map, was found to be surrounded by a number of large communally farmed arable fields. These must have been in existence for many centuries, but by 1609 each of the large open fields had had some of its land changed into non-communable closes, some of which may have been used for pasture. In Calverton the map shows about twenty small closes converted out of a portion of a field, The Moores, to the north east of the village, between the present Carrington Lane and the Doverbeck. Nearby was a bigger New Close. Many other closes, large and small, had been created between Dark Lane and the southern parish boundary with Woodborough, in the large Hyll Feild. More closes line the western edge of the Hyll Feild along the course of the stream which now flows near George’s Lane. Other parts of the parish were less subject to the making of permanent closes, as they were more wooded and breck agriculture was practised. These brecks were temporary enclosures made out of the forest waste land and sheep walks. Plots of land were fenced off and ploughed as arable for up to seven years, after which period the fences were taken down and the land reverted to open forest. In Calverton each messuage was entitled, as a customary or common right, to an acre of the breck, and each cottage to half an acre.
According to Dr. Thoroton's history of the county, the freeholders of Calverton in 1612 were Christopher Strelley, John Sturtivant, Robert Cooper, John Lees, Thomas Leeson, Ed. Benet, John Barber, John Lambrey, Humfr. Youle, Euseby Marshall of Arnall, John Chaworth of Southwell, esquire and John Cressewell.
A bill was presented in March 1779 by the Nottinghamshire MP Lord Edward Bentinck, who was the younger brother of the third Duke of Portland. It noted counter-petitions to some of its provisions by the Earl of Chesterfield and other smaller owners. The Earl of Chesterfield's objections concerns the alleged insufficient compensation to be allowed to him as hereditary ranger of Thorney Wood Chase. The earl's claims were apparently met by the promoters, and the bill was amended accordingly. The other counter-petitioners, led by villager William Huthwaite, described themselves as 'owners and proprietors of ancient houses having right of common'. They alleged that if the bill passed it would be prejudicial to their rights and properties and injurious to the public in general. They successfully secured the appointment of an additional, fifth, commissioner, a local man George Padley of Calverton, to represent their interests.
An Act for dividing and inclosing the open fields, meadows, pastures, commons, forest and waste grounds in the parish of Calverton in the County of Nottingham was passed by Parliament in May 1779. After a little over a year, on 7 July 1780, the commissioners were able to sign the award. One hundred and seventy plots of land were allotted to nearly ninety owners. Because about 2,334 acres of Calverton had been enclosed in such a short time, it seems very likely that much of the detail mentioned in the award had already been agreed by the principal owners, and the work of the commissioners will have been to satisfy the claims of those villagers who perhaps owned no land at all, but did have common rights around the parish. These rights would be replaced, at enclosure, by small allotments of land. John Roe (q.v.) for example received just 11 perches, or about 330 square yards.
The principal landowners were now the prebends of Oxton, Revd James Bingham as vicar, the Duke of Portland, Margaret Sherbrooke, Elizabeth Bainbrigge and Thomas Smith. There were many other smaller proprietors however, and because of this multiplicity of ownership, Calverton could not be described as a 'closed village’, where the property was in the hands of a few people who could control development and, for example, restrict people coming in who might become dependent on poor relief.
The initial stimulus or spark to parliamentary enclosure is not clear. As noted, it was not to reorganise the arable, but since the largest Calverton landowners were now the holders of the two prebends of Oxton, Hugh Thomas and John Marsden, it may well have been prompted by them, so that the annual payment of tithes to the prebendaries could be changed into an allotment of land, and all tithes could be extinguished. Thereafter the land, that had been allotted, would provide an income to maintain the prebendaries, who served at Southwell Minster. The Duke of Portland would also have been a supporter of enclosure, since the Calverton villagers’ common right of breck agriculture must have been an irritation at a time when the ‘Dukeries’ were beginning to subsume the forest wastes.
Enclosure meant that the system whereby land which was owned by one person, but over which other people had certain traditional or common rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, or to collect firewood, or collect sand and gravel was ended forever. The common right of breck agriculture, which was peculiar to forest villages, was also brought to an end.
The landscape of the parish was also altered. Hedges were planted, drains dug, gates and stiles erected, footpaths and bridleways established in law and roads (sixty feet between the hedges) were laid out, so that today’s Calverton is recognisably as set down in the Award of July 1780.
The nineteenth century:
The village seems to have escape the worst of the Luddite disturbances in 1811-17, but a spirit of radicalism did exist, as Calverton was one of eleven Nottinghamshire villages (which also included Woodborough, Oxton and Lambley) that presented petitions to parliament in 1817 demanding electoral reform. The petitioners wished (in a foreshadowing of later Chartist demands), for annual elections of representatives chosen by ’all men who have attained the age of twenty-one… seeing that all men pay Taxes, and all men have lives and liberties to protect’. At the time only male owners of property worth at least forty shillings were allowed to vote. Limited electoral reform was not to come until 1832. (q.v.)
By the time the first county directory was published in 1832, Calverton had grown to a ‘considerable village’ of 1,196 persons, of whom 270 were engaged in manufacturing, of one sort or another, forty-seven in retail and handicrafts and only thirty-seven were primarily employed as agricultural labourers. It was not therefore a traditional English agricultural village, but one in which cottage industries, such as the making of hosiery, dominated. William White’s directory claimed nearly three hundred stocking frames were in use at the time.
Calverton’s principal resident was Lady Katherine Sherbrooke (1783-1856), the widow of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830) who had been Governor General of British North America and who had retired to live at Calverton Hall. Other residents included five shoemakers, four hosiery manufacturers, four shopkeepers, three butchers as well as blacksmiths, frame-smiths and tailors. The 1832 directory lists two pubs, the Admiral Rodney and the White Lion, as well as three beerhouses, perhaps recently opened as a result of the Beerhouse Act 1830. The Gleaner (sic) public house was not to make its first appearance, in a directory, until 1876. Its application, as a beerhouse (together with the Forest Tavern), for a spirit license having been refused in 1861.
Partly as a result of disillusionment with the 1832 Reform Act, radicalism raised its head again in the shape of the People's Charter of 1838, as textile workers saw real electoral reform, which the Charter proposed, as a means whereby their standard of living might be improved. One of the Nottinghamshire organisers of Chartism was a Calverton man called George Harrison (1798-1871) who was a farmer and Primitive Methodist preacher. He had already, in June 1835, strongly objected, at the annual vestry meeting, to the dissenters and ‘the parish at large’ supporting St. Wilfrid’s against their will, by means of the church rate. It was this Harrison who invited the leader of the Chartists, Feargus O’Connor to Calverton on Monday 25 July 1842. It may have been thought that a meeting of Chartists was less likely to be broken up by the authorities in the countryside, than in the town of Nottingham. The Chartists’ own newspaper The Northern Star described, in extravagant terms, the arrival of O’Connor by train from Derby, and his progress in a carriage procession along Mansfield Road, picking up delegations from suburbs and villages along the way till at last, around 2 p.m., Calverton was reached. O’Connor made a long speech at 'Bonner Pool' to a crowd, which the newspaper estimated at five thousand, and then a tea-party was served in a marquee ‘in a beautiful pasture bounded by a splendid wood’. There followed an evening of singing, dancing and games, during which time a supposed government spy was pointed out and questioned. O’Connor spent the night in Calverton and the following morning, he set out for more speech-making in Mansfield.
Four weeks later The Northern Star reported that, on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 August 1842, there had been skirmishes with the village constable and a general withdrawal of labour by workers in Calverton, but the Battle of Mapperley Hills, on that Tuesday 23 August, perhaps saw the zenith of Chartism in Nottinghamshire, and the working class began to focus instead on opposition to the Corn Laws and the high price of bread.
The General Enclosure Act of 1845 had required that provision should be made at enclosure for the landless, in the form of 'field gardens' or allotments, limited to a quarter of an acre, and this will have been prompted by the fear of civil unrest amongst the poor. Calverton had already been enclosed, but there is evidence that in 1845 this ‘cottage garden system’ had just been introduced to the village, and that frame-workers were cultivating rented allotments. In that year allotment tenants paid their first half–yearly rent to Calverton farmer Mr. William Ward, who provided them with a free supper, prepared by Samuel Fletcher at the White Lion. Not only were the poor more likely to be happier having a stake in the land, but it was hoped that landowners would have to pay less in the form of the poor-rate, if landless workers in the village were able to grow their own food.
In 1851, at the same time as the census (which had found 1,427 person in 302 houses), there was a census of ‘Accommodation and Attendance at Worship.’ This is often referred to as the ‘1851 Religious Census’ and it revealed both the popularity of religion and the variety of options, both established and nonconformist, for the prospective Calverton worshipper. Samuel Oliver, vicar of St Wilfrid's parish church (q.v.) claimed an average attendance of forty-seven in the morning, 132 in the afternoon and 133 at evening service. The Methodists appeared to be a state of some disarray at the time. There was a Primitive Methodist Chapel, which had been erected about 1783 for the Calverton Roeite sect (q.v.), but had been taken over from them in 1848. This building was used by the Reformed Methodists in the morning (seventy worshippers), as well as by the Primitive Methodists both in the afternoon (90) and in the evening (150). There was also a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, erected in 1815, which could muster only twenty-five in the evening; Matthew Shepherd, the steward, explained that the low number attending was due to ‘the agitation in the connexion having caused a division here’. The New Methodists had built a place of worship in about 1820, but had sold it the Baptists in 1832 and the minister, Samuel Ward, for the Particular Baptist Chapel, claimed a congregation of 120.The relatively recently formed Latter-day Saints (or Mormons ) held services in a building that was ‘not used exclusively for worship’ and the elder, Thomas Lester, claimed an average of forty in the afternoon and fifty-seven in the evening. There was no mention of the Roeite sect (q.v.), in the census, some thirty years after the death of its founder, John Roe, in 1823. This religious census of 1851 was never repeated, not because of doubts about its accuracy, but probably because it was felt to have shown the popularity of the dissenters.
Although the 1832 Reform Act had extended the franchise, only sixty male land-, or lease-holders out of Calverton’s population of 1,427, were eligible to vote in the South Nottinghamshire by-election of 1851 and twenty of them were not even residents of the parish. Two Calverton voters lived as far away as Bishops Waltham in Hampshire. Of the sixty eligible, just forty-six actually did vote. While Calverton voters preferred Sydney Pierrepont (the future Earl Manvers) to the tenant farmers’ candidate William Barrow of Southwell by twenty-eight to eighteen, it was actually the latter who was narrowly elected for the constituency.
Prior to 1800, education for the less well-off was generally restricted to the occasional charity school. Calverton was fortunate to benefit from a bequest of a Nottingham hosiery manufacturer, and village native called Jonathan Labray, who died a bachelor in 1718. His trustees arranged to pay the master of a day school and to allow him use of a house and four tons of coal per year. In 1835, sixty two males were taught; some paid for by the endowment, and some by weekly payments of one penny for reading and one penny for writing. There was also another school where twenty-five girls were taught at the expense of their parents. An infant school was started in 1833 for forty-four males and thirty-seven females, supported by subscription and pennies per week. This school seems to have moved into a purpose-built structure at Burnor Pool in 1846 which became the National School in 1852. Children not taught in these schools might have had some instruction in one of the three Sunday schools; one attached to St Wilfrid’s, one to the Methodists and the last to the Baptists.
The earliest reference yet found to Calverton cricket was on Monday, 24 October 1836, when neighbouring Woodborough beat the village by 38 runs, in a two-innings match played at Woodborough (67 and 71, 50 and 50). The first mention of cricket in Calverton (and the earliest scorecard), was on Monday, 30 September 1844, when members of the two brass bands of Calverton and Woodborough met each other, and the home side won by six wickets (47 and 42, 41 and 49 for 4 ). The teams, including star player, Calverton tailor Cornelias Hind (aged 39), afterwards enjoyed a supper of roast beef at the Admiral Rodney. Before football became popular, the cricket season ran from April to October and, at a time when stockingers and others could control their hours of work, Monday was a popular day for fixtures. A Calverton Cricket Club had been formed by 1852, as there is a report of a club dinner at the Gleaner beerhouse on 'Whit-Tuesday' (8 June) of that year. In July 1855 a match was played between a team consisting of eleven members of the Hind family, and the rest of the village. The village won by twenty runs. A second eleven is noted in 1856, and there is a scorecard of 1860, showing that a team of juniors beat Woodborough by eight runs. Calverton's most celebrated Victorian cricketer was Wilfred Flowers (1856-1926) who was born in the village in December 1856, and who played in eight Test matches and in 442 first-class matches for Nottinghamshire.
In November 1880, by arrangement with the 6th Duke of Portland, Hucknall began to take a supply of water from a 200’ deep borehole, on the Old Rufford Road (A614), opposite the Watchwood Plantation. A pumping station sent 330 gallons per minute from the borehole, through six miles of eight-inch pipe, south-west to a reservoir at Hucknall which held 400,000 gallons. This allowed Hucknall to have twenty gallons of water per person per day, and was at a time when Calverton was without any piped water at all (q.v.).
The population of Calverton had risen dramatically since the start of the century (see table), but the hosiery industry was beginning to show signs of decline because of changes in fashion and because manually operated stocking frames were becoming outdated. In Nottingham, the population increased because of the rise of lace manufacture, more advanced steam–powered frames, and by migration from villages like Calverton, following the passing of the Nottingham Enclosure Act of 1845, which at last had permitted housing and industry in the former common fields of the town.
In 1881 the census recorded, in a population of 1246, a total of 294 workers in clothes-making (everything from hosiery to hats, shawls and gloves), while ninety-six were engaged in agriculture.
In January 1898 Sir Charles Seely bought the Sansom Wood Estate in Calverton from the 6th Duke of Portland. The Seely family were coal owners and had bought the Babbington pits (Cinderhill, Broxtowe, Kimberley and Bulwell, inter alia) in 1870, so it is probable that the Calverton land purchase was intended for extractive, rather than agricultural purposes. In May 1898 the Manchester Times noted that Sir Charles was renting 80 acres of land to the Parish Council for allotments, ‘at a trifle over 31 shillings’ (£1.55 per year) per acre, in addition to a recreation ground of four acres, at a nominal rent of 6d (2½ p).
By the time of the death of Victoria in 1901, the population of the parish had declined slowly to 1,159.
The twentieth century:
The rural exodus of the nineteenth century slowed in the early twentieth, partly because of temporary prosperity in agriculture, and Calverton’s population fell slightly to 1,101 in 1911 and 1,040 in 1921 then rose to 1,058 in 1931. There was no decennial census in 1941 because of the Second World War, but by 1951, at the end of the final decade in which Calverton could justly be called a rural village, the population had increased to 1,304 in 431 households.
As noted above, Calverton was without a supply of piped water and the existing supply was often insufficient for the village's population. In addition, in dry seasons, it had to be carted long distances to water cattle. In June 1900, Basford RDC accepted Sir Charles Seely’s offer to provide a water supply for Calverton. A reservoir, pumping station and caretakers’ house were to be built at his expense, and 10,000 gallons of water per day would be supplied to the village from a borehole, for £87 per year. The reservoir was on the site of present-day Waterworks Cottage, off Longue Drive.
In the 1906 General Election, 346 (male) villagers were eligible to vote in the, erstwhile, Newark constituency, which was about 31% of the total Calverton population. This is to be compared with the 60 villagers, or only 4%, who were eligible in 1851 (q.v.). The increase was a consequence of the Second and Third Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884. The poorest men were still unable to vote by reason of a property qualification, not abolished until 1918.
The last census before the First World War had found 1,101 inhabitants in 275 households. Certain surnames predominated; there were 69 with the surname Meads, 63 were called Binch, 50 Cooper and 50 Worthington. Villagers were soon being called up to fight in the war, and when the Calverton Co-op failed in their attempt to prevent William Meads from being conscripted, they were said to have lost their last male employee. By the war’s end, Calverton had lost 33 men (over 6% of the male population); the names of the dead are listed on a memorial in the church.
After the war, as a result of the ‘Homes Fit for Heroes’ campaign, a Housing Act was passed to allow the building of council housing. In 1920 Basford RDC made plans for houses in the village for rent, which would cost £1,300 to build. Calverton councillor Charles Collyer (1877-1953) was shocked at the price and pointed out that the average rent in the village was only 2s 6d (12½p) per week. It is not known how many houses were built, but the population increased from 272 households in 1921 to 305 households in 1931, so perhaps less than thirty houses in the decade.
Plans for a railway, to improve transport in the agricultural districts of Nottinghamshire, which would join Lowdham to a point near Blidworth, and which would serve Epperstone, Woodborough, Calverton and Oxton were proposed in 1919 by the Notts. War Agriculture Committee. Possibly because there was already a line from Rolleston to Mansfield, via Southwell, the plans came to naught.
The 1930s brought significant change to the village. Electric light arrived in 1930, with the erection of just a dozen street lights in October of that year. The supplier may have been the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Electric Power Company. By 1939 however the number of overhead electric cables was considered ‘a menace’, and requests were made that new ones should be routed underground. In August 1932, Nottingham Corporation’s water engineer expressed disappointment that so few applications for mains water were being received from villages, because they appeared satisfied with their existing ‘unwholesome’ borehole supplies. In Calverton, where pipe-laying was nearly complete, only 125 had signed up for mains water, out of 308 houses.
In July 1935, at a time when outdoor swimming was becoming nationally popular and lidos were being built by local councils, the Spring Water Lido, a 75 feet by 30 feet outdoor pool, was opened on Moor Lane as a private enterprise by two village business men, Messrs. P. Bagguley and A. Roden. Equipped with a diving board, changing facilities and a café, the lido was fed by a natural spring delivering 300 gallons a minute.
In June 1937 a new cricket pavilion was opened by James Seely (1901-1956) in the same week (as he noted), that he had attended the ceremony of ground-breaking in connection with the new colliery (q.v.). The cricket ground itself had been provided by his grandfather Sir Charles Seely in 1910.
Although it was in 1937 that the first shaft of the mine was sunk, it had been as early as 1910 that borings had taken place at Oxton, Thurgarton and elsewhere, to more accurately determine the extent of the concealed Nottinghamshire coalfield. As a result of the borings, it was expected that coal could be worked profitably in the area, as was already being done at Gedling. In 1921, George Spencer of the Notts Miners Association had asserted that coal was ‘known to exist’ at Calverton Work started on the colliery in June 1937 with the Seely family’s Babbington Colliery Co. beginning the sinking of the shaft that would enable ventilation and ‘man-riding’ to the workings at Bestwood colliery. In 1938, the Babbington Colliery Co. was taken over by the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company which was soon renamed B. A. Collieries Ltd. At about the same time Charles Collyer (who was by now chairman of both Basford Rural Council and the Calverton Parish Council, as well as a Calverton poultry farmer) was in discussions with the Ministry of Health to borrow money to provide sewage disposal works for the village. At that time there were no disposal facilities at all, and the possibility that the mine owners, B.A. Collieries Ltd., might wish to build a colliery village of 500 houses and boost the population from an estimated 1,200, made the talks more urgent. The 527m mine-shaft was completed early in 1939 and by September of that year, various buildings and twenty-two houses of a proposed colliery village had been built, to a design by Geoffrey Jellicoe. The Second World War then brought further work to an abrupt halt.
In 1940 the Trent Fishery Board, a precursor of the Trent River Authority, opened the Calverton Fish Farm with the aim of breeding thousands of fish to stock rivers and still waters around the country. In December 1941, some 12,000 fish, including carp and bream, were brought from the lake at Highfields park. The farm was already hatching out salmon and trout, and hoped to be fully stocked by 1942.
On 13 October 1940, a Fairey Battle aircraft of No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron, then operating from RAF Winthorpe, was returning from a raid on Boulogne. Control of the aircraft was lost in fog, and it crashed in woods close to Whinbush Lane. A memorial was subsequently erected to the three Polish airmen who were killed.
In the Second World War the village lost eight men, and their names appear on a brass memorial, in St Wilfrid’s Church (q.v.).
Work resumed on the mine after the war, and at the sinking of the new shaft in January 1946, B.A. Collieries Ltd. chairman Claude Lancaster M.P said that it was estimated that beneath the surface there might be 125 million tons of coal, which if one thousand men were to produce a million tons every year, would provide employment for 125 years. This was to be the last privately sunk shaft, before the coal industry was nationalised on the 1 January 1947 and became the property of the National Coal Board (NCB). Since government plans to take the industry into public ownership were a Labour Party manifesto commitment of the post-war election, it seems possible that the sinking of the coal-winding shaft by B.A. Collieries Ltd, before nationalisation, was to ensure the payment of compensation.
In 1949 Councillor Collyer foresaw the development of Calverton from a village of 1,250 people to a ‘satellite town’ of 8,000 by 1960, and he said that the NCB were asking that two thousand miners be housed in the village. The final depth of the new shaft was reached in June 1952 and, on 24 September of that year, Calverton Colliery was officially opened by the Minister for Coordination of Transport, Fuel and Power Lord Leathers. After ventilation and other equipment had been installed, coal winding began in March 1953.
Following the colliery opening, two housing developments were created; the Colliery Estate bounded by Mansfield Lane, Crookdole Lane and Park Road East, and the Council Estate bounded by Park Road, Lee Road and Flatts Lane. In the 1950s the population of Calverton rose sharply from 1,304 in 431 households in 1951, to 5,658 in 1,545 households in 1961. This suggests that some 1,100 houses were built in the period. The Yorkshire Post reported, in February 1954, that collieries in the Mexborough area were being affected by men leaving for Calverton, because they had been promised new houses.
The increase in population necessitated the rapid provision of more school places, and in 1955 Manor Park mixed primary school was opened, followed by William Lee mixed junior school in 1956. In 1957 Colonel Frank Seely mixed secondary school was the next to open. When, in 1960, Sir John Sherbrooke junior school opened its doors, Manor Park became a school for infants only.
In the 1970s and early 1980s the colliery employed some 1,600 workers, but by 1988 this figure had fallen to 1,000, of whom 300 lived in the village. By September 1993, the number had been further reduced to 648, of whom 148 lived in Calverton.
Traditional cottage-based frame-working had died out by the mid- twentieth century, but the link between the village and the hosiery industry was retained, through the presence of a Courtaulds factory on Main Street. The destruction of this factory by fire in 1991, finally ended Calverton’s association with the textile industry.
In 1992 British Coal (the successor to the NCB), had announced that the colliery would close, and in November 1993 it raised its offer of redundancy payments to £7,000 per man, on condition that the mine shut down immediately. This was to dissuade workers from opting for a review procedure which would delay matters. This offer was accepted, and the mine shut on 19 November. In December 1994 RJB Mining (now UK Coal) bought the core mining activities of the English coalfields from British Coal for £814 million and reopened four collieries, one of which was Calverton. Less than five years later however, on 9 April 1999, RJB Mining announced the closure of the colliery, citing ‘deteriorating geological conditions...(which)… have made it unviable’, and production of coal in the village finally ended, a week later, on 16 April.
In the 1960s, further housing had been built in the village, within the boundaries of Crookdole Lane, Bonner Lane, and Park Road East and by 1971 the village numbered 6,283. In the late 1970s and 1980s, there was more housing at the bottom of Bonner Hill and George’s Lane and by 2001 there were 6,903 inhabitants in 2,771 households. Since the closure of the colliery, Calverton has assumed the character of a large commuter village.
The twenty-first century:
The 2011 census found 7,076 inhabitants in 2,987 households. A total of 76.8% of these households owned their accommodation outright, or with a mortgage or loan. This compares with 63.4% for England as a whole.
In April 2015, the High Court dismissed a legal bid by Calverton Parish Council to quash a ‘joint-core strategy’ drawn up by Nottingham City Council, Broxtowe Borough Council and Gedling Borough Council, in September 2014, with regard to the building of houses. The parish council had argued that the joint plan was based on a flawed report issued by an inspector, but the High Court said that the inspector had taken an approach that was ‘both sensible and appropriate’ in reaching an evidence-based conclusion that, in order to meet housing need for the area, some development on green belt land would be necessary. The effect of the ruling is to allow the plans of Gedling Borough Council, to build perhaps one thousand new homes in the parish up, to the year 2028. In consequence, by that time the population of Calverton parish might approach 9,500.