Special projects

Research projects

Did you work in Whitwick?

We are researching businesses and trades in Whitwick and would like to hear from anyone who has worked in Whitwick

We want to hear your stories, how long did you work, how did you get to work, what the working conditions were like etc.

Do you have any artefacts, paperwork, relating to Whitwick businesses.

Living in Whitwick

We would like to interview older residents who have lived all or most of their lives in Whitwick.

We want to know what life was like, where did you shop, work, how did you travel, what were the houses like (many now demolished)

If you or a member of your family would be willing to be interviewed, please get in touch with us.

Thomas Elsdon Ashford V.C.

2013 was the centenary of the death of Thomas Elsdon Ashford, V.C. He was born in Newmarket, served in the 7th Fusilier Regiment and fought in the action at Deh Khorja in the Second Afghan War in 1880. In this action on 16th August, Thomas, along with another, rescued a wounded man under fire from the enemy and was presented with the highest award for bravery – the Victoria Cross.

After leaving the army and returning home to England in 1884, Thomas moved to Leicestershire and lived in Skinner’s Lane with his wife and children. He was employed as a postman serving the area for over twenty years.



After suffering an attack of bronchitis on Boxing Day 1912, he remained in bed until his death on Friday 21st February 1913.

His funeral took place on Tuesday 25th February when over 8,000 people attended the service and burial.

A headstone marking the grave was not erected until 1992 after great efforts by local members of the Royal British Legion.

Thomas’ full story using archive material from various sources including military records, local historical groups, photographs and newspaper cuttings is in the process of being produced as a booklet by the Whitwick Historical Group and will be available later this year.


Whitwick Mineral Water

Collection of late C19th and early C20th Whitwick bottles.

In addition to the usual village trades, Whitwick also once had three mineral water factories. The largest of these was the firm of Bernard Beckworth on Cademan Street, which was established in 1875 and ran until the 1970s; it is listed in Kelly’s Directories of Leicestershire from 1904 through to 1941 as ‘Beckworth and Co. Ltd, Charnwood Mineral Water Works’.
By 1904, the firm of Stinson Brothers, based on Loughborough Road, had appeared.

By 1912, this firm is listed as simply Horace Stinson and it has disappeared from the Whitwick Directories by 1928. The firm of Richard Massey appears from 1916, listed at 36, Castle Street, Whitwick. Massey’s has disappeared by 1941. A Stinson Bros codd bottle appeared among lots listed for auction in Barnsley (BBR
Auctions) on Saturday 8 January 2006. It was described as a 9 inch tall emerald green glass codd bottle, embossed, ‘STINSON BROS/WHITWICK.’ The guide price was £80 - £100, the relatively high estimate presumably reflecting the rarity of the glass, but the bottle was in fact sold for £515. The bottle was turned up by a plough in a field opposite A.W.Waldrum’s Coal Merchant's premises on Grace Dieu Road, Whitwick and is the only known example.

There is also known to have existed a ‘Botanical Brewery’, though it is believed that this may have been a part of the Stinson or Massey enterprises, both of which later moved to Hermitage Road. Both firms are listed on Hermitage Road (under Coalville) in a trade directory of 1941. There are also known to have been examples of nineteenth century bottles bearing the name of McCarthy and Beckworth, Coalville.

We would like to find:

Below is a list of authors who have poems published in The Billet - a book of poems written by soldiers and relatives during the war. Listed below is a list of authors that Whitwick Historical Group haven't been able to trace and would like to do so. If anyone on the list is known to you please use the Contact Form to get in touch with us. Thank you.

Sam Allen, Albert Beasley, J. Beeby, Arthur Bridmead,
J. Bunn, C. Burbank, G. Burrows (Wombo)
Pte. Burton, M C Bruce, Reg Carter, R.W.F. Carter
W. Cartlidge, Pte. Challoner, W.H. Cheney, C Chester
Wren Dunkley, R. H. B. Durham, George Easton

Bill Edwards, Eric Farmer, H. Findell
T.W.Findley, Percy Finney, C. Gratrick, R. Hall, Mary Higgs
E. Holland, Frank Holt , D.G.W. Hunt
B. Jarvis, Herbert Lager, George Langton
Mrs. E. R. Loakes, Alfred Lowe, W. G. Manders

R. McKenna, Sergt. Palmer
Peter Pittam, W.H. Pollard, W. A. Powell
S. Redshaw, K. Robinson, K. Ross
C. W. Satchwell or C. W. Setchell, S.A. Scaysbrook
Margaret Scruton, Jack Shaw, Pte Siddons

A.G.Simpson, J. F. Smart, Sam Smedley
Ted Sorrel, Chas. W.Thompson
H.G. Thompson, E. Wand, G.W.Wardle, J.C. Vernon

The Plaza Cinema, Silver Street, Whitwick

A new picture theatre which could seat 820 people was opened on Monday, December 18th 1914 on Silver Street, Whitwick. The architect who designed the building was a Mr T I McCarthy from Belvoir Road, Coalville. The cost on completion was £1,550.


Performing artistes like comedy musicians and gymnasts performed there and lodgings were provided for them at The Three Crowns Inn.

A suitable music licence was applied for in 1917 by the manager Richard Kelly.

In 1930 the new manager Mr T H Marks took pleasure in bringing 'The Talkies' films to the picture house.

The cinema was full for the very first films, SYNCOPATION and NO BRAKES.

Shortly before Christmas 1951, the Palace Cinema was sold to Mr Williams of Birmingham. He made several improvements including a new projector, which he had bought second-hand from the Rex Cinema, Coalville, and a much improved heating system. As he owned other cinemas in the Birmingham area he appointed Mr Davis, as Manager of the newly named PLAZA CINEMA, WHITWICK.

Unfortunately, commercial television started in this area about this time and badly affected all cinemas. He tried to combat this by admitting OAPs for 6d (2 ½p) on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

In 1963, he had a new wide screen fitted so that the latest Cinemascope films could be shown. However, the cinema had to be closed for extensive repairs again in 1965, mining subsidence and changes in the safety regulations meant that all exit doors had to be widened.

About this time, Mr Williams took ill and the cinema was sold to Supreme Entertainments Ltd., of Wirksworth, Derbyshire. They re-opened it as a Bingo Hall on 7th September 1965. At first, some films were shown on certain days of the week, using a small portable projector, mounted at the back of the cinema.

It changed hands again and was sold to Thompson Automatics, of Loughborough. They used it as a Bingo Hall. This continued until 1982 when the building was completely gutted by fire, the blaze was started by an electrical fault. Not wanting to lose their Bingo customers a bus was laid on to transport them to the Beacon Bingo Hall at Loughborough.

After the fire the building was demolished and later three houses were built on the site.

We need your help

We're compiling an A to Z list of all the miners that worked at the Whitwick, Lount and Snibston pits. Can you help? If you have information that may help us with our list, please send us an email...

We're also trying to trace a number of authors of poems that Whitwick Historical Group published in the book - The Billet. The Billet is a compilation of poems written during and after the war by soldiers and their families about their experiences. Take a look and see if you, or a relative of yours is listed here so that we can get in touch...

A Visit to Parsonwood Hill School, Whitwick

The older children of Parson Wood Hill School have been studying life in Victorian times and the School contacted the Group. After consulting with them, we decided to do the same as we did at New Swannington School. Chris and Danny, had a mining table and it was amusing to see a couple of lads walking around the hall wearing pit helmets and carrying a Deputy's yard-stick, looking quite officious. The children had never seen "real" coal and were fascinated by it; Chris left some for the school to use on their display.

Reg took transport photographs, though Rosemary was convinced he was awarding prizes as when the children came to her table of various old photographs they were asking if they could see him on any of the school photographs. The children decided the item they most disliked on Iris' school items table, were the pair of clogs and said that they would rather walk barefoot to school than wear them. They found old items from Whitwick interesting especially the local chemist's medicine bottle that has the word, ‘Poison', written on the label and the ‘pop' bottle with the marble in. Many didn't know what a marble was. As usual, they had fun with Ann's olden day toys and she was also surprised that many of the children found it hard to play ‘snobs' ‘five-stones' etc. Because Maureen was ill and unable to attend, Norma stepped in and brought Maureen's miner's kitchen table. Bread and dripping didn't go down very well but if one child in the group was ‘game' to try it, then several of the others did too. Several classes came in during the morning and spent time at each table and then in the afternoon some of their parents and grandparents attended with them.

The event was well received by the School. One of our members was asked if they lived in the Victorian Times! Which one? - Don't ask, my lips are sealed!

Another visit to St John the Baptist Primary School, Whitwick

WHG had been invited by Whitwick St John the Baptist Primary School to talk to the children of Year 5 on the history of Whitwick. This was in preparation for the children to go on a class walk around Whitwick, looking at specific historical sites, during the afternoon following our morning visit. The visit took place on Monday, 13th January 2014.

School children

We talked to two classes of children. Each class had been allocated approximately 30 minutes for their talk. We had set up the artefacts on five tables under the headings of: medieval history of Whitwick; household items; coal mining; old photographs of Whitwick; and industrial (hosiery, brick making, bottle making and spar pottery).

Each class was divided into smaller groups so that it was easier for the children to see and touch the items and for us to talk to them on an individual basis.
The children were fascinated. They showed interest in all the items; asked lots of questions and were very well-behaved. The movement from table to table was marked by the ringing of the old school bell from the Market Place school and, as you can imagine, there was no shortage of volunteers to ring the bell as loud as possible!

It was unfortunate that such a short time had been allocated for the visit as the children were so keen to find out more about Whitwick’s history.