In 1086, at the time of the Domesday Book, Swadlincote was just a small manor and part of Church Gresley. Today, it is the largest town in South Derbyshire with a population of over 30,000 people. The town is actually made up of three separate settlements - Swadlincote, Church Gresley and Newhall. These combine with the parishes of Woodville and Castle Gresley.
During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the principal industries were coal mining, brick-making and the manufacture of clay products, including pottery. These industries have largely disappeared and have been replaced by a variety of engineering, manufacturing businesses and service industries.
The loss of major industries inevitably led to a decline in the area, but thanks to various initiatives, Swadlincote is now well on the way to recovery. In fact over the last decade, it has exceeded the national average for growth by some distance. The town centre is being restored through the Swadlincote Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme funded by the District Council and English Heritage.
In High Street, Edwardian shop frontages are being improved with the help of grants. The aim is to bring out the special character of Swadlincote and keep it distinct from other towns that so often look all the same. The main shopping street has been pedestrianised and provides a good mix of of shops. Both open and indoor markets take place every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.
Sharpe's Pottery which closed in 1967, after a working life of 146 years. Followed six years later by a fire that caused extensive damage has been rescued and re-opened as a museum. All the latest interactive technology enable visitors to discover the fascinating facts of South Derbyshire pottery, with video clips, old newsreels and photographs. It even houses a ultra-smart and up to date Tourist Information Centre.
Like the town itself the ski centre also appears to be benefiting from the general feeling of optimism and a new state-of-the-art 'perma-snow' surface has been installed. Built in 1981, the ski slope covered an unsightly spoil heap as well as providing a combined practice and business opportunity for a local entrepreneur. On the opposite side of the road to the ski centre, is Swadlincote Woodlands Forest Park, built in the 1990s. The area was formerly used for opencast and clay manufacture and extraction. The 80 acre site includes a network of forest trails and footpaths set amongst more than 22,000 trees.
The planting of the woodlands park, has extended The National Forest right into Swadlincote. The National Forest is Britainís most ambitious environmental project for over 1,000 years. It covers 200 square miles and combines new planting with existing woodland. During the first ten years over six million trees have been planted and the wooded cover increased from six to sixteen per cent. Access has been improved and over 20 new tourist attractions opened.
Within a relatively short space of time, Swadlincote has experienced a very considerable lifestyle change. No longer a community whose way of life revolved round mining and the pottery industry, but one of greater opportunities with the diversification of employment. The town is now brighter and more modern in appearance, but still retains much of its character.
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The Visitor Centre is housed in a newly restored 19th century pottery works, in West Street Swadlincote. The latest interactive technology enables visitors to discover the fascinating facts of South Derbyshire pottery, with video clips, old newsreels and photographs.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am. Last admissions 3.30pm. Check Christmas and new year opening. Admission Free. For more information telephone 01283 222600. Website:www.sharpes.org.uk
EVENTS AT SHARPE'S
A wide range of events are held at the museum, including music, art, theatre and regular farmers' markets. For more information please ring the above number or check the website.
For events in South Derbyshire and The National Forest contact the Tourist Information Centre.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
A TIC is located within Sharpe's Pottery Museum to help you plan your visit to South Derbyshire and The National Forest. Details are as follows:
Sharpes's Pottery Museum, West Street, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, DE11 9DG
Tel 01283 222848
Fax: 01283 222848
Website - www.visitnationalforest.co.uk
Located within the museum, holds a large archive of local and family history. For opening hours. Telephone.01283/218150
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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