As the name suggests, coal mining was a major source of income for the land-owners and employment for residents. Coal mining was in operation since the middle ages and only ceased in 1990 with the closure of opencast mining at the Lounge site near J13 of the A42 at Ashby.
Local gardeners will know that along with evidence of coal in the soil there is a great deal of sticky yellow clay a couple of feet below the surface. There were several clay pits and brickworks in Coleorton. Bricks were used for house-building and also for mining.
John Clifford reports that around 1841 his namesake worked in brickyards in Peggs green at the age of 12. See History of the Clifford family (pdf) page 9.
Coleorton Pottery was established by Sir George Beaumont in 1835 at Lount and it was operated by several different companies until 1938. About Coleorton Pottery >>
The Bauble industry is unique to this area of Leicestershire. "Bauble" was the local term for a variety of alabaster made into made plates, jugs, views, egg-cups and other trinkets. Some were sold to the local monastry, some were collected by travelling salesmen (hawkers) who sold them around the country at resorts and spas such as Weston-super-Mare. The alabaster came from Derbyshire.
Local manufacturers included:
The census records for Coleorton 1841-61 (1841 was the first national census) indicate considerable lace-working activity. These would have been home workers making lace for the up-and-coming lace industries based in the towns of Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester. But by 1871 the numbers of home workers had dropped significantly, probably due to mechanisation of the processes and concentration in factories.
The lace factory at Loughborough had already been the scene of Luddite protests and violence in 1816. Home-based lace-making was already in decline.
John Clifford's family histories (see below) contain a lot of economic and political background, for example the impact of enclosures, Corn Laws etc. on agriculture and farm labourers.
John Clifford's family histories (see below) describe his family's work as framework knitters.
John Elverston of Elverston Yard (a hamlet just off Stoney Lane) was a notable hat-maker using beaver fur and also silk top-hats. Samuel T. Stewart tells about the hatting industry in his book on the history of Elverstons Yard downloadable from here >>.
Picture of the cottages today and a little history on our April 2022 Calendar >>
Many of the numerous inns and ale-houses in Coleorton are now either demolished or turned into private houses. They provided additional work for most landlords who often worked in the miners or on farms as well. Ale-houses were often owned and run by women.
Census records from 1841 onwards recorded the employment of residents.
You can see how many people worked in the mines and potteries during the 19th century from the Census figures >>.
Bear in mind that in 1884 Rotten Row (Lower Moor Road area) was transferred to Coleorton from Thringstone, so earlier records for Rotten Row - up to 190 people - are under Thringstone census.) Also Peggs Green was at various times in Thringstone or Swannington parishes.