Victorian Coleorton

Most of us don't remember any other monarch than Queen Elizabeth. She reigned supreme for 70 years over a changing nation in a changing world.

Another such great lady, though of somewhat different temperament, was Queen Victoria. She ascended the British throne in 1837 and lived to see the new century, passing away in 1901. Arguably the changes she saw were greater that those in Elizabeth II's reign.

In Coleorton many mines opened and closed:

  • Peggs Green opened in 1830 and closed 1859
  • Coleorton No1 (California) 1849 - 1873
  • Coleorton No2 (Califat / Alabama / Windmill) St George's Hill, Swannington. 1855 - 1873
  • Coleorton No3 (Bug'n'Wink)  opened in 1875 and kept going until 1933
  • Joseph Smart & Son (Colliery & Brickworks) 1874 - 1880

Sir George Beaumont (8th bart.) built Coleorton railway (horse-drawn), to connect his coal mines and lime quarries to the Swannington incline and thence to Leicester.

Having been a flourishing mining centre for hundreds of years Coleorton mines were beginning to be worked out and deeper, more productive mines were being sunk in Coalville and Whitwick. Coal mining provided a livelihood for many families, including some youngsters. Although we have no evidence of the employment of very young children or women in Coleorton mines, elsewhere in England it was commonplace and in 1837 a flood in a Yorkshire mine killed 26 children prompting a Royal Commission and the first of many laws controlling the employment of children and women in mines. More about coal mining in Coleorton >>

In 1857 St Mary's churchyard had no more space for graves and a plot of rectory land on the Ashby Road was designated as a new cemetery and St John's was erected as a mortuary chapel. Ten years later a new "National School" school was built under the sponsorship of Canon William Beresford Beaumont in the next-door field - Viscount Beaumont's School which is still in use today. This replaced the Endowed School funded by the will of the 3rd Viscount Beaumont School on 1702. During Victoria's reign various education acts including that of 1870 made schooling for all children between 5 and 12 compulsory. Although attendance was monitored closely, headmaster William Briggs reports boys being given time off for potato picking and girls having a day off to help mothers with spring-cleaning!

Changes in religious beliefs and practices were increasing and in 1839 the Primitive Methodist Chapel was built on Lower Moor Road paid for by local people's subscriptions and continued until the new and larger Chapel was built next to it in 1901, the original chapel becoming known as "The Schoolroom".

The Beaumont family were in residence at Coleorton Hall for most of Victoria's reign and played a significant role in the lives of the community. However Sir George Howland William Beaumont (10th bart) spent little time at Coleorton, letting out the Hall to A Donisthorpe from Leicester. Although the Beaumonts returned for a while in the next century it was the beginning of a more industrial world with the Hall eventually becoming NCB Regional office and residents more often working in factories in Coalville, Loughborough or Ashby.

What changes do you see as being the most significant to Coleorton people during the reign of Elizabeth II? Drop me a line at or come along to a "Sleuthing" session and share with us all.

Sandra Dillon

Published in November 2023 newsletter