A Geographic Survey of Tuxford

Geography  Position
Relief&Geology
Climate
Lighting
Communications
Occupations

History
Ancient
Medieval
Middle Ages
Victorian Modern - 1947

The Future
Agriculture        Education   Social Life          Industry      

Doris Sanderson has lived in Tuxford and West Markham for most of her life. She trained as a primary school teacher and her college thesis was entitled A Geographic Survey of Tuxford.

The work was completed in 1947 and soon after this Doris was offered a teaching post at Tuxford Primary School. She taught at the school for many years and now in her seventies still lives an active life in the village.

Doris's work includes many hand drawn maps. She still enjoys artwork and has painted many watercolours of the flowers in her cottage garden and around the village.

These pages contain verbatim extracts of Doris's thesis to give an idea of the style of the work and to provide a contrast with the Tuxford of today.

In this section of the website modern means 1947 !


Geography        

Position        

Tuxford, once known as Tuxford in the Clay, lies in North Notts and is situated on a ridge on the left slope of the Trent valley. The old name for Tuxford was Tucksford, a tuck being a two sided dagger. The ford was presumably over the stream known as the Godbawk.

Although Tuxford is only two miles three furlongs in length, with an acreage of 2,847 and approximately 383 houses, it is officiallly a township, and its older inhabitants resent its being called a village. It has a population of 1306 (1947) and the land has a rateable value of £6631.

The Great North Road passes through Tuxford and provides a never ending stream of traffic, but if we forget that streak of hectic movement along its main street we can imagine a part of England in pre-industrial days.

Tuxford is in the rural district of East Retford and its surrounding district is purely agricultural. It has a parish council of eleven elected members and one rural district councillor. The Tuxford division sends one member to Nottingham County Council


Relief and Geology      

Tuxford stands on a ridge about 150 feet above sea level between the valleys of the Trent and the Idle and is very well drained by these rivers and their tributraries.

In the west is the beautiful wood and parkland of the Dukeries and on the east is a wide belt of rich, fertile agricultural land dipping down to the Trent valley.  Tuxford commands a good view of the surrounding countryside and Lincoln cathedral can be seen on most days appearing like a ship coming over the horizon.

The rock formations of Nottinghamshire run in long narrow bands from north to south. The Western portion of Notts is a Black Country with coal mines and limestone quarries, central Notts has poor, dry sandy soil with uncultivated tracts and forests; while Eastern Notts is a region of rich, well cultivated arable land, with inhabitants mainly engaged in agriculture.

Tuxford stands on a belt of Keuper Marl. The old name for Tuxford was Tuxford in the Clay and Station Street (Lincoln Road) used to be called Sludge Street because of the nature of the soil. The  Keuper Marl is extreemely fertile and provides fine arable and pasture land. It has also been used for a great deal of brickmaking. There were once two brickyards in Tuxford one at Stone Road End, near the railway crossing, and one just off the Great North Road, opposite Markham Road. Among the Keuper Marl are small bands of hard sandstone amd much of this has been quarried in years gone by for roadmaking, from Stone Pits Field opposite Tuxford Hall.

Tuxford church is built of soft sandstone or skerry, being local Tuxford stone. This has weathered badly and gives the church the appearance of being much older than it really is.There is a band of waterstones running parallel to the Goosemoor Dyke which divides Tuxford from Egmanton. These can be seen near Hopyard Lane.

The wells in Tuxford are deep. The old well in the Market Place was 66ft below the usual water level and the well at the station is deeper. There is a spring of cold water known as Holywell, just off Lincoln Road. This was once noted for curing rheumatism and scurvy, baths were erected there in 1801. These were later pulled down and rebuilt. At one time there was an aerated water manufactory but that too has disappeared. The only remains now are Holywell's Farm.


Climate              

Tuxford , being situated above the surrounding countryside is rather bleak in winter and in the old coaching days Cleveland Hill was said to be the bleakest spot between London and York.

As in the rest of England, the climate during the early part of this year (1947) has been exceptional. There was an exceptionally cold winter with snow on the ground from January 6th to Easter. The road conditions were very bad and bulldozers and gyrotillers were at work on the Great North Road.

The late start in sowing caused by the bad winter has had its effect on this year's harvest. Yields have been lower than usual and many of the farmers have had to grow more barley because it was too late to sow wheat.

The summer has been equally exceptional, and the hot sunny weather has in its way helped to balance the effects of the bad winter. The harvesting periods for hay, corn and fruit have been very dry, and the fruit crops especially plums have been very good.


Lighting           

Up to 1939 Tuxford had its own gasworks situated near the station down Lincoln Road. The gasworks was opened in 1852 and held about 5,000 cu. ft. of gas. The gasworks provided gas for the majority of dwelling houses in Tuxford and for street lighting. Even the church was lit by gas. It is rather surprising that the service was not extended to the surrounding parishes but permission would not be granted.

In 1939, the Retford Electricity Department gained permission to lay electricity in Tuxford and the surrounding villages and the gasworks was forced to be dismantled. Now Tuxford is lit entirely lit by electricity and many of the outlying farms have recently had electricity laid on in their buildings. This was a great boon to the farmer who previously had to work every morning by the light of a  lantern.


Communications          

As regards communications, Tuxford is very fortunate. It is a route centre and is well served both by roads and railways.

A continuous stream of cars, lorries and vans sweeps through Tuxford on the Great North Road. Tuxford has main roads leading to Lincoln, Ollerton, Nottingham, Mansfield and Worksop. There is also a daily bus service from London to Edinburgh.

Tuxford is also well served by railways and it is to these railways that Tuxford owes its present day prosperity. Although only a very small place, Tuxford has four stations, the Central Station on the Lincoln - Chesterfield line, the Northern Station on the York - London line and the two stations, the upper and lower levels, which form the Dukeries Junction.

Tuxford also has quite an important railway plant with repair yards and engine sheds. The plant was built for repair shops for the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway and it employs many skilled engineers. With the amangamation of the railways most of the important work went to Doncaster.


Occupations 1947          

Tuxford is an active progressive little town yet by some means it has clung to its rural aspect. The surrounding countryside is purely agricultural and I would say that roughly one third of the population of Tuxford is engaged in agricultural work. The farms are fairly small and are mainly mixed farms with plough and pasture land. Many of the inhabitants are fruit growers and loads of plums, apples, pears and strawberries are sent from Tuxford station every summer.

Railway work employs by far the greatest number of people in the town, nearly two thirds of the population working on the railway or at the plant. 75% of the children in Tuxford Primary School have fathers working on the railway.

Present day (1947) occupations include farmers, farm workers, nurserymen, railwaymen, innkeepers, grocers, drapers, butchers, joiners, wheelwrights, motor mechanics, blacksmiths, cobblers, painters and decorators.

Clarks Dyeworks, British Ropes, Jenkins Engineering Works, Northern Rubber Company and a large number of shops in East Retford provide employment for som of the Tuxford people.


History

Ancient             

Very little is known of the Tuxford of early times and apart from the church there are no ancient buildings for Tuxford was burnt down in 1701.

Situated as it is on the Great North Road on fertile land between densely forested Sherwood Forest and the marshes of LIncolnshire this part of Notts must have had a very early beginning.

Arrowheads and other worked flints have been found at Merryfields and on the black land at Stone Road End. Several good examples of querns or old hand mills have been found in the vicinity.

Roman coins of Nero Verus Domitian and remains of ancient pottery have been found near Tuxford. During the construction of the railway curttings a jar of chiefly Roman coins was found by the workmen. Old coins have also been found near the Read Grammar School.

With the building of the Great North Road by the Romans settlements would have sprung up along it. Tuxford is in a very favourable position on a hill and could have been one of these.

There are many evidences of Saxon settlement in the district and there is the ancient Saxon church at Markham Clinton. Many Tuxford people were buried in the churchyard at Markham Clinton. Since then Tuxford has flourished whereas Markham Clinton, being rather off the map, has remained at a standstill.

This part of Notts had many priories and abbeys. There was once a priory one and a half miles West of Tuxford where there now stands Prior's Park Farm. The prior of Newstead Thomas de Gunthorpe was buried in Tuxford in 1495.


Medieval            

In Saxon times Tuxford (Tuxfort) was composed of two manors, which were later joined into one. The celebrated family of Lexington long held the manor of Tuxford, and Tuxford began to develop as an agricultural community.

The representive of the Lexington who was created a baron, made Tuxford his chief seat in the riegn of Henry III. Upon his death the Tuxford property went to his brother Henry, who became Bishop of London. The heirs were then Richard de Markham and William de Sutton who divided the land between them. In the early part of the fifteenth century part of Tuxford belonged to Lord Cromwell, Lord Treasurer of England

The Nottinghamshire of the days of the abbeys, fortresses, county seats, and powerful families was an interesting and prominent county. It possessed an almost unrivalled source of attraction to sport loving kings in its noble Sherwood Forest, well stocked with deer and surrounded by the romance of Robin Hood. These were the days when Tuxford and the neighbouring manors began to grow.

Tuxford manor was not enclosed until 1799. The land was given to Trinity College, and St. John's College, Cambridge, as compensation for tithes, and to the Duke of Newcastle, then Lord of the manor.

The neighbouring village of Laxton (Lexington) is the last stronghold of the open fields system of agriculture. Up to the present day the plough land is divided into three great open fields of some 300 acres each. They have a three-course rotation (winter corn, spring corn and fallow). The stubbles and the fallow fields are still used as common grazing land, and everything is carried on under the jurisdiction of the same manorial court. The film record of Laxtons feudal survivals has been presented to the National Film Library.

On election days the inhabitents choose and swear in the jury to decide the portions of land each farmer is to have for the next twelve months. Every year two of the three fields, West field, South field, and Mill field, are cultivated, while the third remains fallow. The tenants hold the land under the lord of the manor, and his bailiff summons them to court by ringing a bell, and fining two pence those who fail to come.

Every tenant is alotted ten strips which may be separated by a grass track, ensuring that each tenant shares the poor land, as well as the good. Each has his share in keeping the hedges and bounderies in order. At hay harvest the grass on the tracks is mown and sold by auction.

Tuxford Church is mainly medieval, and is the only old building in Tuxford. It is built of local sandstone or skerry, which has weathered badly.

It has an elaborately carved font cover, carved by hand by Francis Turner, a local craftsman in 1673.

On the north side of the chancel is a large chapel, containing tombs and memorials to the Whites, who for generations were the lords of the manor of Tuxford, and lived in the adjoining hall. When Tuxford manor was sold to the Duke of Newcastle in 1820 for £65,000. The Whites went to Wallington, but Tuxford church is still their burial place.


The Middle Ages         

In 1701 a fire commenced in Newcastle Street, and burnt down practically the whole of the town, causing a damage of £3000. Queen Anne authorised a collection of alms throughout England, and Tuxford was rebuilt.

The new Tuxford began to develop rapidly. Although today events move past, Tuxford has known days when it really mattered in the march of events. Tuxford became an important coaching station between London (137 miles) and York (90 miles).

Looking back to 1640, we find that the roads round Tuxford had a very bad reputation, for it was quoted by William Uredale, Treasurer at War, in the State Papers that, "about Tuxford is the most absolutely ill road in the world". Throsby also speaks of the clayey grounds in this vicinity, over which his steed could not travel more than two miles per hour.

Mention is also made of Tuxford in connection with the delay of mails to London, and the times allowed for traversing this district are worth reproducing, as indicating the rate of travelling in those days.

Scrooby to Tuxford (7 mls.) 2 hrs.

Tuxford to Newark (10 mls.) 3hrs.

Newark to Grantham (10 mls.) 1½hrs

There are no mentions of Tuxford in the records of the Civil War, but in Tuxford there is a Rebel Stone, with the inscription, " here lies a rebel". This marks the burial place of a Scotch rebel killed in the rebellion of 1745. According to legends this is the furthest point south that the Scots reached. There are also references to the burial of Scottish rebels, killed in Tuxford in the Civil Wars, in the church records.

When communication began to develop, Tuxford began to flourish. It became an important coaching station, and began to " mend its ways", and lose its bad reputation. Tuxford in the Clay, the place where the roads were once a welter of rolling clay when rains were about, and hard and deeply rutted during frosts and dry spells, began to improve. Over that stretch of Great North Road, "royal cavaldes", mud bespatted couriers, flying mails, gigs and phaetons and old stage coaches rumbled by. Tuxford became a place of inns.

At the Crown Inn, Margaret Tudor stopped, on her way to marry James of Scotland.

Extract from the Bridal Procession of Margaret Tudor, en-route for the North, to marry James IV, King of Scotland :-

" Early in the morning of the 11th of July, 1503, the youthful Queen left Newark and proceeded en route for Tuxford. The royal cortege proceeded through the villages of South and North Muskham, Carlton and Sutton, at all of which places the villages and those in adjacent rural districts had assembled in considerable numbers. Arriving at the summit of the hill on which Weston mill now stands, the spires of Weston and Tuxford churches first appeared in view, and the minstrels of music struck up a lively air. Halting for a few minutes, the Queen proceeded on her journey arriving at the foot of the hill, near where the Rebel Stone is still standing. The procession was met there by the vicar and churchmen of Tuxford in their best dresses. The Bishop of Murray gave the Queen the Crosse to kiss, and she lodged at the Crown Inn at Tuxford. During the remainder of the day and until midnight, the bells continued to ring. Large bonfires were kept blazing in the Market Place."

Charles I also stopped at the Crown Inn to take refreshment on his from Newark to Welbeck.

Jeanie Deans, the heroine of "The Heart of Midlothian", spent a night in Tuxford.

Dick Turpain is said to have stopped there on his memorable ride to York.

Gladstone often came to Tuxford, on his way to Clumber, and caught " The High Flyer" to London from Tuxford station.

The Inns of Tuxford in 1832In 1832 there were eight inns in Tuxford. Of these The Newcastle Arms Hotel, The Fountain, The Sun Inn and the Mail Hotel are still in existance.

The Reindeer Inn, The Fox and Grapes Inn, The Black Horse Inn and The Bluebell Inn have been taken over as shops and cafes.

The Newcatle Arms Hotel has a large courtyard and generous stabling and is now too spacious for the normal needs of an hotel in Tuxford. Since the war 1939-45, however, bus loads of people have stayed the night there, thus breaking a journey from London to Scotland.

Besides developing as a route centre, Tuxford began to develop as a market town.

It became the milling centre for the surrounding villages, and the remains of two windmills can be seen on the top of the hill on the Retford Road. Before they closed down these mills were driven by mechanical means.

Tuxford was noted for the growth of hops. The hopyards of Tuxford produced hops in large quantities, which were sent to the breweries at Newark. Straggling hops in the hedges are now the only remains of the once flourishing hop trade.

There are in Tuxford three large maltkilns (now warehouses), which did a considerable trade using local barley from Tuxford and the surrounding villages. The malt was sent to breweries in Newark. Many of the farmers however bought malt and brewed their own beer, using the gypsum water.

Tuxford became quite an important market town. It had its own butter market, which is now a grocers warehouse. There used to be a weekly cattle market. It had two fairs a year, one in May and one in September. On fair days there was a tremendous number of cattle stretching from the cattle market, down the Great North Road and up Newcastle Street and Lincoln Road. There was also a September fair for hops.

Fruit growing also became important. It is said by local inhabitants, that the first Victoria Plum to be grown in England was grown in Tuxford.

Tuxford became an agricultural centre, and its biennial hirings of farm servants became very important. It had its own Guild Hall, for there is no reference to it in the Vestry Book, where there is a list of subscribers towards the removing of "ye gild hall to ye moor" (or mere) in 1717.

In the Vestry Book is also a list of the existing footroads in 1814.

Public -  Moorhouse Road

             Newark Road

             God-balk Close Road

             East Markham Road

             Church Road

             Woodcotes Food Road

Private - Meekleys Road

             Holy Well Foot Road

             Five Acres Close Road

The constable was responsible for the upkeep of the roads, maintenance of law and order and the administration of the poor law. The minutes of the meetings when he presented his accounts for the year are kept in the Vestry Book.

In 1854 there were carriers from Tuxford, used by local farmers, to Newark, Normanton, Ragnall, Retford and Sutton every Monday and mail carriers to Newark daily.

At this time when craftmenship was at its height Tuxford was nearly self supporting. It had its own law courts, markets, jail (now used by the County Council as a Fire Station), boot and shoe makers, farmers, corn millers, saddlers, maltsters, rope makers, nail makers, brick makers, wheelwrights, joiners, bakers, dressmakers, tailors, blacksmiths and grocers.

At this time there were six trains up and five down daily, with two up and one down on Sundays. There were two luggage trains up and two down daily.


Victorian Times           

With the building of the railways in the 1850's, Tuxford began to grow rapidly. It became a flourishing township. The population figures were seen to rise, when the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway was built through Tuxford, connecting it with Chesterfield and Lincoln. Later the Great Northern Railway was built connecting it with Retford and Newark.

Tuxford became a railway centre with four stations and at the time four station masters. Being situated at the junction of a main North-South line, and a main East-West line it became important in the railway world.

A railway plant was begun with large repair shops and engine sheds, employing many skilled engineers. The population again began to rise and Tuxford continued to flourish. In 1947, nearly two thirds of Tuxford's man employed on the railway. When the railways were amalgamated bigger repair yards were opened in Doncaster.

Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, frequently came to Tuxford on his way to Rufford Abbey, when going to Doncaster races.

With the coming of the railways however, agriculture has not seemed to suffer and we find the  Tuxford of today (1747)   an active progressive littel town , although it has no large manufacturers.

Read Grammar School - Founded 1669Tuxford has also had its place in the growth of education. It had its own grammar school which was founded by Charles Read in 1669 which still stands with its motto over the door what God hath built let no man destroy. Charles Read was a shipper of Hull and left money for the foundation of three grammar schools, one of which was to be in Tuxford.It was a rule of the school that the boys would take it in turn to sweep out the school house on Saturday mornings or be fined 6d. As with other small endowed schools the struggle for existance was difficult and it closed down in 1912 and is now used as a child welfare centre.

Chantry House near the church used to be a young ladies boarding school.

The Girls National and Infants School was opened in 1830 with a subscription of £40 from the National Society and £30 from Trinity College. This is now a church Sunday School.

The Board School was erected in 1877.


Modern Times (1947)        

Apart from the hectic rush of traffic along its main street, Tuxford still has the appearance of a part of pre-industrial England.

The greatest development in recent years has been in agriculture. Most of the farmers now possess tractors which were unheard of in pre-war Tuxford. A workshop has recently been opened in Tuxford dealing only in the repairs of farm tractors abd agricultural machinery.

Tuxford Market PlaceThe tiny market place no longer has a market and the local farmers have to  sell their produce in Retford. There is still a cattle fair twice a year but it is of little importance. There is no shortage of labour for agriculture for besides regular workmen the farmers employ Land Girls from the hostel down Lincoln Road and prisoners of war from Headon.

During the war the government built a large military camp in the valley off Ollerton Road. It is now used as a training camp for REME recruits. The presence of the military camp and the Land Army hostel together with the large number of evacuees accounts for the war time rise in population.

The railway is still important. The ambulance team of the Tuxford Railway is famous in the railway world having won numerous shields and having once represented England. The ambulance section of the ARP won first prize in every section in the first county competitions.

Tuxford Primary School is a typical rural schoool with about 130 children on roll. In addition to ordinary lessons the children have training in woodwork, cookery, basketry, gardening, fruit growing, bee keeping and farming having weekly visits to College Farm and so learning new methods in agriculture.

May Queen Ceremony  -  1945The children have an annual festival when the traditional May Queen is crowned and parents and friends are entertained by maypole dancing.

In 1941 the children of Tuxford County School grew two acres of sugar beet in their school garden. It was harvested by the children and sent to the local sugar beet factory at Kelham. When they worked out the sugar content it was found that the children had grown enough sugar to feed Tuxford for one week, according to the present sugar ration.


The Future            

Agriculture           

Agriculture is now flourishing in Tuxford and more and more land is being put under the plough. There seems to be a future in agriculture now that it is supported by the increasing call for production and by increased wages.


Education            

The Education Act of 1944 states that a new Secondary School is to be erected in Tuxford. The existing school is to be extended and modernised for a primary school for the children of Tuxford and the surrounding villages.

Tuxford School is already a centre for cookery and woodwork classes for the nearby schools and the Central Kitchen attached to the school serves school dinners for all the surrounding villages.


Social Life           

Social life in Tuxford could be improved greatly. It is in need of public recreation grounds and places of entertainment. It has recently acquired a Central Hall which has been converted from a maltkiln. Before this   the only meeting place was an assembly room in the Newcastle Arms Hotel.

Tuxford has its own cricket, football and bowling clubs and has the usual youth organisations.

It has an effecient evening institute providing classes in a great variety of subjects.


Industry         

Although Tuxford is situated so near to the Yorks, Notts and Derbyshire coalfield it has never held any importance industrially. However it is not unlikely that industry will find its way into Tuxford in the years to come when there might be a bigger future for home industries.