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Market Square, Ilkeston, Derbyshire.jpg
Ilkeston Market Place
Grid reference: SK355785
Location: 52°58’3"N, 1°18’26"W
Population: 37,550
Post town: Ilkeston
Postcode: DE7
Dialling code: 0115
Local Government
Council: Erewash

Ilkeston is a town in eastern Derbyshire. It stands on the River Erewash. Its population at the 2001 census was 37,550. The town's major industries were traditionally coal mining, iron working and lace making / textiles, but these have all but disappeared in the last few decades.

The town stands between Derby and Nottingham and is near the M1 motorway. Nottingham is the closer city, with a green gap of just some two miles parting them along the county boundary.

History and Culture

Ilkeston is assued to have been founded in the early Anglo-Saxon period and its name is taken to be derived from a presumed founder who may have been named Elh or Elha, (Elkan Tun would be "Elka's Town"). The town appears though as Tilchestune in the Domesday Book, which records that is was then owned principally by Gilbert de Ghent, who also controlled nearby Shipley, West Hallam and Stanton by Dale.[1]

Ilkeston was created a borough by Queen Victoria in 1887.

The American Adventure, a large theme park which closed in 2007, was located on the outskirts of Ilkeston on the former Woodside Colliery adjoining Shipley Country Park.

Stanton Ironworks

One of the biggest and most important local employers was the Stanton Ironworks, later known as Stanton and Staveley - the continuation of a long stading tradition of iron working in this area. There has been evidence of iron working and quarrying in the area since Roman times and the industry began blossoming into a huge industrial concern in the 1780s. By the mid 19th century there were several blast furnaces and the production rose from around 500 tons of pig iron per month to 7,000 at the end of the century. Steel pipe manufacturing began at Stanton after WW1 and later concrete pipes were produced, Stanton being the first in the UK to develop the 'spun pipe' process.

A restored Stanton Wagon, Chalons Way, Ilkeston

In the mid 19th century the works produced 20,000 tons of iron castings per year, 2.5 millions by 1905. Up to 12,500 people were employed during the period when the works were part of British Steel Corporation of which 7,000 worked at the Stanton works.[2][3] During its long existence the works produced huge quantities of a variety of products including pig iron, tunnel castings, (used in projects such as the London Underground), pipes and street furniture as well as bitumen, roadstone, chemicals and munition casings. It is likely that if you live in the UK, you are not far away from a S&S manhole cover or lamp post. The works gradually declined, the business being run from 1985 by the French Saint-Gobain Group. The last casting was an emotional event in 2007.[4] The huge Stanton site has been partially given over to business park and the rest of the site is earmarked for redevelopment which is subject to local opposition.[5]

Ilkeston Charter Fair

Ilkeston Market Place[6] is the site of a Charter fair.[7] The fair celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2002, the Charter being granted by King Henry III in 1252. This makes the fair older than Nottingham's famous Goose Fair and it is one of the largest street fairs in the country.

The present fair developed from two separate fairs, as another 'agricultural hiring fair' or 'Statutes Fair' was traditionally held on Wakes week in October as well as the original Charter Fair which was held on the Feast of the Assumption (15 August). The two fairs were combined in 1888 and the one Charter Fair has been held in October ever since.

Since 1931 the fair has been officially opened by the Mayor, now the Mayor of Erewash, on the Fair Thursday at noon with the Town Clerk or latterly the Council's Solicitor reading the Charter from the steps of the Town Hall.


Ilkeston no longer has a railway station despite its substantial population and the fact that the Midland Main Line (formerly part of the Midland Railway, later the London, Midland and Scottish Railway) skirts the eastern edge of the town. Ilkeston once had three stations. Ilkeston Junction station, also known as "Ilkeston Junction & Cossall" was on the Midland Main Line: this station closed in January 1967. Plans to build a new station (thought to be close to the former Ilkeston Junction) have often been speculated about and announced, but to date little action has been seen. A short branch from this station to Ilkeston Town station in the town centre closed in June 1947.

Ilkeston's third station was Ilkeston North, on the former Great Northern Railway (later LNER) line from Nottingham to Derby, closed in September 1964. A major feature of this line was Bennerley Viaduct, a 1,452 foot long, 61 foot high, wrought iron structure which still crosses the Erewash valley just to the north east of Ilkeston. Once threatened with demolition, it is now a Grade 2 listed building, though the removal of the embankments at either end have left it an oddly isolated free-standing structure surrounded by fields.[8]

The nearest station is Langley Mill, but there are plans to re-build the station at Ilkeston Junction called 'Ilkeston Parkway'.

Ilkeston spa baths

From early in the 19th century the existence of natural mineral waters was noted here and exploited. A local businessman Thomas Potter built, in 1831, the famous Ilkeston Bath at the bottom of Town Street next to the Rutland Hotel. For over 60 years the baths helped tourism to the town at a time when spa towns like Bath and Harrogate enjoyed popularity. 'If you're doubled in pain and thin as a lath, Come at once then and try, the famed Ilkeston Bath,' was a well known advertising slogan. A mixture of a general decline in the popularity of spa bathing and, reportable, contamination of the waters from mining activities led to the eventual closure of the baths just before 1900. The baths and the adjacent Rutland Hotel, that too enjoyed a revenue from tourism, no longer exist though Bath Street still betrays their existence.[9]

Picture gallery

Ilkeston skyline


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ilkeston)