Calverton Village Online

STOCKING TRADE
By the sixteenth century, much of the forest in Calverton was in the form of heathland which was used for sheep pasture. Wool from the sheep may have been used to make yarn for the early hosiery industry which originated in Calverton in 1589 when William Lee first conceived the idea of imitating the action of a pair of knitting needles on a machine.

The hosiery industry begun by Lee was to have a significant effect on Calverton for the next 350 years. The style of dwellings, the prosperity and the social structure of the village were all affected. As Calverton's principal industries, farming and hosiery went hand-in-hand. Many stockingers made a precarious living as both framework knitter and farmworker. By the early years of the nineteenth century over 400 stocking frames could be found in Calverton. Some cottagers had four or five frames in one room. The old pattern of cultivating land around the homestead persisted. Most villagers had a plot of land annexed to their cottages which housed a few cows, numerous fowls and the family pig, a cornerstone of the cottage economy. The larger farms were to be found outside the village and often on the edge of the parish. Ramsdale, Watchwood and Lodge Farm were all established after the Arnold Enclosures of 1789. For the cottager, life was often hard and the working hours long. Frame rents and other expenses had to be paid and a twelve hour day might only gain a wage of five shillings per frame. If work could not be had the stockinger 'went on the land' . The average wage for a farm labourer at that time was barely two shillings a day and did not rise until the 1870's, the peak of farming prosperity in the nineteenth century.Hard times in the framework knitting trade in the early part of the century precipitated the Luddite riots which led to a turbulent interval in the life of the area. They began in Arnold in February 1811 and quickly spread to surrounding villages. The stockingers removed certain minor parts from their frames to render them useless in order to bring pressure on the master hosiers who owned the frames and supplied the materials of production. Soon this led to actual frame -breaking and by the summer of 1811 200 frames had been destroyed in the area where the industry was centred and it continued on and off for the rest of the year, being well led and organised.

By February 1812, 4000 regular troops were billeted in Nottinghamshire and most village inns had men billeted there. Within a year of starting, over 1000 machines had been destroyed. Isolated trouble occurred after 1812 but it had died out by about 1820.

During the first part of the nineteenth century, the population of Calverton more than doubled in size to just over 1400 people in 1851. There was often more labour available than farming could absorb. Strong beer and the 'latch filter' penny were tempting alternatives for labourer and stockinger alike. The wife of the household was cook, baker, brewer, seamstress, sometimes framework knitter, and often mother to a dozen children. The children were also familiar with hard work. From an early age they were taught to seam or work the frames. Potato picking and turnip singling kept many a child away from school. Similarly, stone picking and crow scaring were an early introduction to work on the land.

  1. Village Handframe Knitters 1900s
    Village Handframe Knitters 1900s
  2. Hannah Harrison working in Windles Square 1920
    Hannah Harrison working in Windles Square 1920
From 1871 to 1940, the village population gradually declined by nearly a third to about 1000. This was probably the result both of the concentration of the hosiery industry into the factories and of the changing nature of agriculture. Indeed it was the workers in the latter industry who were more likely to move to another area. 

Right: 1948: Bill Yates still working in Dovey's Frameshop, aged 81.....every day Bill would walk to work from Nottingham.

As modern farming swept away the surviving eighteenth century landscape, so the influx of coalminers from the north in the 1950's, the building of new houses and the establishment of modern roads and conveniences completely shattered Calverton's remaining links with a mainly nineteenth century way of life. The old stocking frames were broken up or found their way into local museums, and the old methods of working on the land were consigned to memory.

By 1961 the number of people in the village was four times that of 1951. During the next twenty years the growth continued but at a slower rate as Calverton became more of a 'dormitory village' for people who work in other places, particularly Nottingham.

Charles Coggan, Hosier, 1852-1940

The decline of the domestic stocking knitting trade from the middle of the nineteenth century was linked to the general movement to concentrate scattered cottage crafts and industries into large factories. Once the machinery of mass production became available for the manufacture of hosiery, the death knell sounded for the craft of hand frame knitting in Calverton. The building of a factory was inevitable. It was Charles Coggan, a far sighted entrepreneur with considerable business acumen and powers of leadership, who came to Calverton in 1887 and built a factory.

Charles Coggans workforce Circa 1923

Top row: Harry Morley, Lewis Freeman, Mr Worthington (Willie's dad), Neville Morley, Ernest Fisher, Harry Dovey, Howard Binch, Harold Turton, Lloyd Meads, Harry Holmes (?), Nelson Binch.

Second row: Edie (Smith) Burrows, Nell Meads, Elsie Meads, Doris, Binch, Peck, Ada Morley,Winnie Pembury, Elsie Taylor, Kate Richardson, Mr Stretton, Joyce Coxon, Ida Dovey, Doll (Gretton) Binch, Alice (Jenkins) Kirkham, Beatie Worthington, Madge Wells (Oxton), Beatie (Smith) Lee, Dick Fisher, Agnes Binch, Jessie Rowett, Ivy Clayton, Lena Marriott.

Third row: Ivy Worthington, Fred (Smith) Bardil, Tinklers (Epperstone) x2, Lucy (Martin) Beardall, ?, Clare Jubb, Dinah Turton, Lilian Grocock, Evelyn Greaves (Woodborough), Hilda (Morley) Richardson, Mabel (Meads) Pembury, Marion (Carter) Wood, Doris (Bardill) Foster, Marion (Meads) Dovey,Bina Orange, Violet Bishop, Bertha Harrison, Ivy Gretton, Mabel Lee, Alice Jubb, Alice & Lil (peeping between), Mary Wells, Ida (Bardill) Snowden, Sally Smith, Dick Peake.

Fourth row: Lil Bardill, Ivy (Meads) Sulley, Annie (Brown) Richardson, Iris Swift, Dolly Bishop, Reby Brown, Florrie (Wright) Alvey, Gladys Beardall, Ethel (Smith) Fisher, Ada Worthington, Izzie Meads, Nell Marriott, Mabel (Holmes) Winfield, Mary Coxon, Violet Binch, Ann Richardson, Rosie Hind, Ethel Hind, Mabel Marriott, Maisie Freeman, Elsie Clayton. 

Fifth Row: Gladys Keys, Gladys Bishop, Ada (Cooper) Skevington, Harold Fisher, Arthur Lee, Jack Morley, Bebe Middup (Woodborough), Ethel (in hat) Lambley, Sybil Turton?, Archie Bardill, Gertie Hempsall, Sam Fisher, Alice Brooks, Hilda Lee, Mrs Clipsham, ?, ?, George Birch (behind), Wilfred Clayton, Howard Meads, Willie Worthington, Ida Swift, George Meads, ?, Sylvia Clipsham (in front), Sam Jubb, Hannah Cooper, Ivy Bardill, Alice Marriott. 

Botton row: Jim Morley, W Bardill, D Worthington, Matthew Meads, J Clayton, Maurice Cooper, Frank Turton, Walter Hempsall, Tom Cooper, Mac Lee, Eric Meads, D Worthington, Percy Richardson, Bill Beardall, Dick Bardill, ?, Hilda Rowett, Joe Worthington, Mr Hempsall.


According to some of the villagers who worked for him, he was "A man of unusual merit"........."A gentleman among employers"......"One in the lead as far as Welfare for his workmen was concerned". He provided a reading room and a small library and made sure that excursions to other counties were arranged for the enjoyment of his employees. Over a hundred years ago this was indeed far-sighted. An interesting item comes to light in some deeds held in Calverton Museum. Charles Coggan acquired the Stockinger's Cottages on South Terrace in which lived Matthew Shepherd who was the headmaster of Labray school from 1821-1862. 

Matthews son, the next headmaster, lived there too, followed by various occupants, until in October 1915 Mr Coggan installed six stockingers, namely Nelson Binch, James Binch, William Binch, Frederick Gaitson, James Gaitson and Thomas Birds. Charles Coggan found employment for many villagers in the hosiery industry and was held in great respect by those who worked in the factory. He died in 1940 at the age of 88....the factory has subsequently been owned and used by Meridian, Rowleys and Courthaulds. 

  1. One hosiery worker clearly has good balance
    One hosiery worker clearly has good balance
  2. 1950: Inside the interior of John Dovey's workshop the last commercial hand frame factory in Calverton
    1950: Inside the interior of John Dovey's workshop the last commercial hand frame factory in Calverton
  3. Meridian
    Meridian
The final links with Calverton's clothing past were finished on the infamous date of September the 30th 1991. On this date the Main Street factory mysteriously burnt down, and so a golden age was lost forever.