| Whitwell Local History Group Homepage
Programme | A Parish History | Parish Survey |Other Documents  | Links
Enquiries | Photo Page | Latest Changes



HODTHORPE (Happy Valley).

A brief history of it’s origins and development.

Early History.

The village of Hodthorpe, affectionately called ‘Happy Valley’, owes it's origins to the Shireoaks Colliery Company Ltd. who opened their fourth colliery in 1890/91, on an area of land known as Belph Moor, Whitwell. The Company had leased this land from the 6th. Duke of Portland, who was the principle landowner and the Lord of the manor of Whitwell.

Before the arrival of the colliery the primary occupation for both male, and female, workers was to be found in Agriculture, small Stone Quarries, the Duke of Portland's estate at Welbeck, a number of craft trades, and some smaller "cottage industries" within the parish.

In the area in which the village of Hodthorpe would later develop only a few stone cottages existed. This area was known as "Stoneycroft" (demolished in 1933/35), it’s location being opposite the Junior & Infant School. Larpit Lane, the main thoroughfare, ran from the top of Hunger (now Hanger) Hill through what are now Welbeck Street (Whitwell), Queens Road, and Broad Lane to Radcliffe Lane on the eastern boundary of the parish. Near to this eastern boundary lay Birks Farm and Hall Leys Farm.

The railway arrived at Whitwell in 1875, and the laying of the track between Worksop and Whitwell, cut through Larpit Lane, providing an artificial boundary, with Whitwell to the west, and the land in which Hodthorpe would develop, to the east.

Ownership, or part-ownership of the original manor of Whitwell, up and until the latter part of the 16th century, has always been a matter of speculation. Many land-owning families were involved and ‘plots of land’ was forever changing hands. Some order was restored in 1593/95 when John Manners, second son of the 1st Earl of Rutland, became the owner of the manor.

The manor of Whitwell remained part of the Rutland Estate until 1813, after which time it became part of the Welbeck Estate owned by the Duke of Portland. As a residential area Hodthorpe began to develop in the closing years of the nineteenth century. Although the Duke of Portland owned areas of land in Hodthorpe the greater part, approx. 56½ acres, was once part of Birks Farm, owned by the Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme and part of the Worksop Manor Estate. Whilst there was a major sale of land by auction in the Worksop area by the Duke of Newcastle in 1890, earlier sales of land by Private Treaty had already taken place some years earlier.

Landowners and Builders.
In the early years of Hodthorpe's development one of the principal landowners was Henry Sweet Hodding, Solicitor, who lived at Harness Grove, Darfoulds, Worksop, and it was he who provided most of the land for housing development.

He also donated a piece of land at a central point in the emerging village on which to build the Mission Church of St. Martin. As the village began to grow it became known as ‘Hoddingthorpe’, a combination of the name ‘Hodding’ and ‘thorpe’, from which the name of "Hodthorpe" eventually evolved. Whilst there does not appear to be have been any set pattern of house-building in Hodthorpe some of the earlier properties are to be found in what was familiarly known as "the bottom end". A terrace of four red brick houses named "Bentinck Cottages" now 1, 3, 5, and 7 Broad Place were amongst the earliest to be built.

Having said that on Queens Road, at the ‘top end’, there is a pair of semi-detached brick houses having a date stone which reads "Daisy Cottages 1897", and at the ‘bottom end’ we find ‘Prospect Villas’ built in 1903.

A number of people were responsible for house building in the early years of Hodthorpe's development. Amongst these was the Coggan family who built "Coggan's Row" at the bottom of King Street (originally called "Back Street"). William Futtit, farmer and landlord of the "George Hotel" (later known as the "George Inn") of High Street, Whitwell, built "Futtit's Row, also called "Alexandra Terrace", opposite the Junior & Infant School on Queens Road (originally called "Front Street"). The Shireoaks Colliery Company Ltd. built "Colliery Row", which formed part of King Street (22 to 74).

The recognition of Welbeck, and other ducal landowners in the neighbouring area, came to the fore as house building progressed. ‘Welbeck View’ and ‘Portland Cottages’ are still in evidence on Queens Road, whilst on King Street sets of semi-detached properties carry the name stones ‘Clumber’, ‘Rufford’, ‘Welbeck’, ‘Portland’ and ‘Thoresby’, along with ‘Edward’ and ‘Ivy Villas’ all built in 1905. Other named properties include ‘Hawthorn Villas’, (built by the Mottishaw family in 1904); ‘Glenberis’ (1909) and ‘Irwell Cottages’ (1903).

On account of how it developed Hodthorpe has been described as one of the earliest examples of "mushroom development", acting as a "dormitory" to Whitwell in order to accommodate the rapid influx of miners and their families from all parts of the country. It also provided much needed accommodation for former agricultural workers who became miners and would have forfeited their "tied cottage".

Local Authority (Council) Housing and Reorganisation.
The first Local Authority (Council) housing to be provided in Hodthorpe was Birks Close (bungalows) built in 1934. These were originally built as ‘Old Peoples Bungalows’ a name they carried for many years. In the past many of Hodthorpe’s old people were reluctant to move into the bungalows since some the earlier inhabitants didn’t live long after taking up tenancy.

It would be another seventeen years before Clowne R.D.C. embarked on the next phase of Council House building in Hodthorpe. What was known as ‘Leam’s Field’ was purchased by the Council and ‘Queen’s Close (bungalows)’ was built in 1951. In 1952 a pair of semi-detached houses were built on Queens Road on the site of the ‘Bombed Buildings’. Two years later, 1954, two blocks of semi-detached houses were built on ‘The Green’ (see section on ‘Hodthorpe Blitz’). In 1971 the Council purchased the Cooperative building on King Street and converted it into four single-person flats (see section on ‘Shops’).

In 1978 Bolsover District Council (the successor to Clowne R.D.C.) completed a major reorganisation of the bottom part of King Street to provide more housing. In order to do this the Council purchased areas of private land to the rear of King Street (Coggans Row area) for house building purposes. Access to this new building area was obtained by the demolition of houses numbered 67 to 73 and 89 to 101 King Street to create St. Martins Walk and Green Field Avenue.

Access to this new building area that was already available between 121 and 123 King Street became Birch Road. Thirty new properties were added to the Council housing stock in Hodthorpe, ten of which were two bedroom bungalows.

Water Supply.
A great advantage to Hodthorpe’s development was the discovery of a good water supply from a borehole on the land near ‘Bentinck Cottages’. From here the water was pumped using a ‘Wind-pump’ to a storage tank, known as ‘The Tank’ at the top end of Hodthorpe. The Wind-pump was eventually replaced by a steam driven pump, known as a ‘Donkey-Engine’ supplied by Mr Hodding. The water, often referred to as ‘Hodding’s Water’, then ran back by gravity feed through a system of pipes to ‘communal taps’ (approx. one tap to every four dwellings) placed around the village. Hodthorpe had its own fresh water supply ‘on tap’ so to speak, whilst the rest of the Parish was still reliant on the ‘Village Pump’, the ‘Water Carrier’, localised springs and wells.

However, the sinking of Manton Colliery in 1902 was to alter things. During the sinking of the first shafts a more than adequate supply of fresh water was discovered. Whilst it caused many problems during and after the sinking of the colliery, was a ‘life-saver’ for the residents of the Clowne Rural District (i.e.. The parishes of Barlborough, Clowne, Creswell and Whitwell).

The District Council eventually entered into an agreement with the Wigan Coal & Iron Company, who owned the colliery, for a regular supply of water from Manton. This agreement also made provision for the supply of water to be increased as the population of the District increased.

A Pumping Station, built by the Council, was officially opened in 1911. The water was pumped from storage tanks at the colliery to storage tanks on Sparken Hill, Worksop. From here the water gravitated to the Hodthorpe Pumping Station (originally steam driven pumps later converted to electric) which ‘boosted’ the water supply up to storage tanks at Barlborough.

In 1970 the Clowne R.D.C. built a new pumping station at Low Town, Worksop. This new pumping station housed two high velocity electrically driven pumps which were capable of pumping the water supply direct to the Barlborough storage tanks without the need of the pumping station at Hodthorpe. Once it was no longer needed the pumping station at Hodthorpe was stripped of its machinery and the building stood empty for a number of years. The Council eventually sold the land for private building purposes.

Since 1999 the ‘Barlborough Water Supply’ has been coming from the Sunnyside Pumping Station, off Carlton Road, Worksop. The water supply is now ‘boosted’ to the Barlborough storage tanks using the Lowtown pumps without the need of the storage tanks at Sparken Hill. The original water supply from Manton Colliery is now directed into the River Ryton.

Church, Chapel and School.
In 1897 the Mission Church of St. Martin was built on King Street. In 1955 the Hodthorpe Church Hall was built within the church precincts on what had previously been a garden. (both closed in 1991). In 1994/95 English Churches Housing Group built Martin House, a building housing twelve single person flats, on the land once occupied by the Church and Church Hall. In 1904 the Primitive Methodist Chapel was built at the top of King Street (closed in the early 1950’s). This brick building replaced the ‘Tin Chapel’, constructed from corrugated iron sheets near, the same site. A local haulage contractor used the old ‘Tin Chapel’ for a number of years. After standing empty for some time the 1904 building was taken over by Batchelors Peas and then later by Wheatley & Sons (Wrought Iron Works).

In 1905 the C.of.E. Junior & Infants School was built on Queens Road, the official opening being carried out by His Grace, the 6th. Duke of Portland. KG on Tuesday, January 17th.

Hodthorpe developed, in keeping with most mining communities, to be a self-supporting community. Whilst it didn't have it's own Blacksmith, Wheelwright, or Undertaker, it was blessed with a number of shops and other small business's to provide the necessities of life. Only twelve premises were actually designed to be shops when they were built. Yet, from at least 1912 to 1941, Kelly's Directory of Information shows there to have been an average of between fourteen and seventeen shops in existence. "Front-Room" shops were well established during these years, one of which sold ‘Goats Milk Ice Cream’. It may be hard to believe but at one period in its history Hodthorpe supported three ‘Fish & Chip Shops’

The first recorded evidence of the arrival of the Post Office in Hodthorpe is to be found in the Trades Directory for 1911. The Post Office, and associated services, was originally located in Coggans Row, in "Land’s Shop". This being 61 Kings Street, the home of Mr H.L (Harry) Land and family. The Post Office business eventually moved 137 Queens Road were it would remain until its closure at mid-day on the 4th April 2002. In 1911 the Worksop Cooperative Society opened their No 7 Branch on King Street. The store, which became Branch 166, ceased trading on Saturday 23rd.January 1971.

The Hodthorpe Blitz.
The month of August 1940 proved to be a landmark in the history of Hodthorpe. On the 22nd August the village was bombed. Twenty high explosive bombs were dropped causing damage that left 40 people homeless, of which 15 were injured. Although there was no loss of life there was a series of miraculous escapes, including that of pensioner and twin boys. At the time of the attack the pensioner was in bed at the bungalow home of his daughter and son-in-law, at the bottom of King Street. The bungalow received a direct hit and the pensioner was thrown bodily across his room by the blast. He was found completely buried under an avalanche of destruction, and eventually rescued by his daughter, her husband and other helpers. The bungalow, named ‘Barondene’ at this time, was eventually repaired and still survives to the present day. Other bomb damage occurred on Queens Road and King Street. On Queens Road the houses numbering 113, 115, 117 and 119 were so badly damaged they would never be inhabited again, and what became known locally as the ‘Bombed Buildings’, were eventually demolished. It was at number 115 that twins had to be rescued from the damage. Ironically the twins and their parents had left Hull only two weeks earlier to stay with relatives in Hodthorpe to escape bombing. A ‘Relief Fund', organised for the benefit of the victims of the bombing, raised £213-17s-7d. After deducting expenses of £20 the remaining £193-17s-7d. was distributed amongst 39 beneficiaries.

In 1954, Clowne Rural District Council built just one pair of 3 bedroom semi-detached houses. These are numbered 113 and 115. There is no longer a 117 and 119 Queens Road since the numbering continued as it did before the bombing but with 115 now being followed by 121 Queens Road. On Kings Street a terrace of 12 houses, known locally as Grays Buildings, numbering 84 to 106, between the Church Opening and The Green, also suffered bomb damage. These were repaired sufficiently for the inhabitants to return and live in them, initially in the front section of the house. Further repairs were later carried out and the houses were fully occupied for many years. The Green was the "rec" for the children at the bottom part of the village, the highlight of the year being the bonfire on the 5th November. In 1954 The Green and the site of Grays Buildings changed roles.

The District Council built two blocks of 3 bedroom semi-detached houses, 106A, 106B, 106C and 106d, on The Green and eventually demolished Grays Buildings and constructed a play area for children.

Social and Recreation
Hodthorpe Working Mens Club saw it’s origins in a wooden hut that had previously been used as a changing room for the Colliery Football Club at the old Portland Arms, Belph. In 1908 the Portland Arms closed and the former Inn was later converted into a dwelling house. The inaugural meeting to form ‘The Club’ was held at the Portland Arms 9th December 1908. Following the closure of the Portland Arms the wooden hut was moved to the bottom of Queens Road and became the first ‘Hodthorpe Club’.

In 1909 the present Hodthorpe Working Mens Club was built. Initially ‘the club’ was' men only’, until1955 when the Club was extended, providing a new Concert Room, from which time Ladies were admitted and became full members.

Apart from its primary function from its inception ‘the Club’s always been at the forefront of providing other forms of social activity and general village involvement. .In 1953 and 1977 ‘the Club’ was at the forefront in organising the Hodthorpe Celebrations to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and her Silver Jubilee. The most memorable events of former years being the Sports, the Club Trip to the seaside and Concerts performed by ‘home-grown-talent.

THE CLUB SPORTS, which were designed for all age groups, of either sex, were held on the Recreation Ground at the top end of the village. There were events for ‘Married Men’; ‘Married Women’; ‘Single Men’; and ‘Single Women’; not forgetting ‘The Old Man’s Race’, along with all the traditional children’s events. Whilst it was not usually part of Sports Day, ‘The Men’s Walking Race’ always attracted a great amount of support. The contestants would compete against each other ‘Around the Ramper’. The ‘Ramper’ ran from Hodthorpe Club along Portland (Green) Lane turning left at the Duke’s Cottages, Belph, continuing to Belph Corner; turning left again along Mansfield (A60) Road to the Toll Bar; turning left again and continuing back to Hodthorpe Club. A distance of around 2¼ miles (approx. 4,000 yards).

The day out to the seaside was an event well attended and in the early years transport was by train from Whitwell Station. The ‘trip’ was so popular two trains, with eleven carriages between them, were needed for this special excursion. Treats were provided for the children either in money or tickets for free rides on the amusements. In later years transport was provided by the East Midland Bus Company and other Bus Company’s.

For many years Hodthorpe Club had a long-standing relationship with the Management and Staff of the Miner’s Holiday Camp at Skegness. Many who spent their holiday at the Skegness Camp will recall the excellent entertainment it provided. Whilst a number of professional entertainers were booked for the season there were some good entertainers amongst the Camp Staff. Hodthorpe also had many ‘home grown’ entertainers. This brought about exchange visits between the ‘Hodthorpe Club Concert Party’ and ‘Skegness Miners Camp Concert Party’. It was from this relationship that the name ‘Happy Valley’ was born. Whenever the people from the Skegness Camp came to Hodthorpe they said they always received a happy welcome. So they always referred to Hodthorpe as ‘Happy Valley’.

Jack O Edson. 2002.


 | Back to top
 Programme | A Parish History | Parish Survey | Other Documents | Links