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Retford town hall.jpg
Retford Town Hall
Grid reference: SK705805
Location: 53°19’1"N, 0°56’27"W
Population: 21,314
Post town: Retford
Postcode: DN22
Dialling code: 01777
Local Government
Council: Bassetlaw

Retford (also known as East Retford) is a market town in Nottinghamshire, standing 31 miles from the city of Nottingham, and 23 miles west of Lincoln. The town is situated in the valley of the River Idle. The Chesterfield Canal runs through the centre of the town. The village of Ordsall is attached to the town, divided from Retford by the River Idle and the East Coast Main Line railway.


Retford gained its first charter in 1246, when Henry III granted the right for a fair, this was later extended to holding a Saturday Market by Edward I in 1275. It was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and then remained a municipal borough until 1974. Its civic traditions are maintained by Charter Trustees. The borough's arms are rather unusual and consist of two rampant choughs.

The origins of its name are unknown and have been subject to much debate, but consensus seems to conclude that the "ford" element is from an ancient ford crossing the River Idle. It is assumed that the town would have been named Redforde because of the red clay river bed, which would have been constatntly exposed by the passing of men and livestock through the ford.[1] The first land settled was on the western side of the ford – as this area being less liable to flooding – but as the community grew it spread to occupy land on the other bank of the river. It was this eastern part of the town, East Retford, which eventually became more important, hence Retford's official name of "East Retford".

Retford was largely destroyed by a fire in 1528.

King Edward VI Grammar School

The Pilgrim Fathers, a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts originated from villages of Babworth and Scrooby on the outskirts of East Retford between 1586 and 1605.

The town prospered after the Great North Road was diverted to run through the town in 1766 and the Chesterfield Canal (1777) and the direct London to York railway (1849) were both routed this way. The Great North Road was diverted around the town in 1961 and part of the route through the town is now a pedestrian precinct.

On 27 June 2007, a few low-lying parts of the town were affected by the 2007 United Kingdom floods of that month. The majority of Kings Park was flooded under three feet of water.[2] The supermarkets adjacent to the river were also flooded.[3]


St Swithun's

Sights of the town

Grove Street Methodist Church

In the Market Square there is an ornate French-inspired Victorian Town Hall, in front of which is The Broad Stone. Legend says that this stone had a hollow in it that used to be filled with vinegar during plague times to disinfect coins. However, it is thought to be the upturned base of a boundary marker - perhaps the 'Dominie Cross'.

Also in the Market Square is the war memorial unveiled by Sir Frederick Milner in 1921. The memorial is in the form of an Eleanor cross an octagonal structure of late gothic design. The names of the men killed in First World War are on the lower 8 panels and on bronze plaques are the names of those who were killed in Second World War.

The monument was designed by architect Leonard W. Barnard F.R.I.B.A. of Cheltenham. The memorial is constructed of Stancliffe stone from Darley Dale, Derbyshire.[4]

Retford's Sebastopol Cannon

Cannon Square, just across from the Market Square contains St Swithun's Church before which stands a cannon captured from the Russians during the Siege of Sevastopol at the end of the Crimean War. A plaque on side states 'Captured 1855 Sevastopol'.

Nikolaus Pevsner, architectural historian, was fairly scathing about Retford and its lack of distinguished buildings. "A singularly unattractive town," he wrote.[5]

Wildlife Conservation at Idle Valley Nature Reserve

Bug Arch at Idle Valley Nature Reserve

The Idle Valley nature reserve is managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT) and is the largest of the trust's reserves in Nottinghamshire. The eastern boundary is created by the natural path of the River Idle; redundant gravel quarries to the west of the river have created wetland areas which comprise the majority of the site. The reserve is a mosaic of different habitats over an area of 1,100 acres, over 750 of which are designated with SSSI status. It is the largest wetland area in Nottinghamshire and over 250 species of birds have been recorded there making it one of the top birding sites in the UK. NWT has a program of activities and events for the benefit of schools, community groups and individuals and is becoming increasingly popular with established walking groups in the area and also neighbouring counties.

Leisure and entertainment

Retford is home to the Bassetlaw Museum, which was created in 1983 and has a number of collections donated by people in the local area.

Retford has two theatres in the town. The Majestic Theatre,[6] which hosts famous entertainers, music concerts from local performers and plays, and was a former cinema. Retford Little Theatre[7] is a smaller theatre which hosts the Retford Little Theatre amateur drama group.

Retford also features a skate park within the grounds of Kings Park in the centre of Retford, A small but fun Skatepark for the young to 'Hang out'.

The new Retford Leisure Centre offers aquatic activities such as lane swimming, fun swims, and water aerobics; along with a state of the art gym facilities.


BBC Radio Sheffield and Trax FM, the local commercial radio station, sere the town, and it is reached too by Hallam FM.

Retford also has two newspapers serving the town, the paid-for Retford Times which is published in Retford and the Guardian and Trader newspaper, a free weekly newspaper published in Worksop. The Worksop Guardian, another paid-for newspaper, although predominately a newspaper serving Worksop and its area, also covers stories in Retford.

Big Society

Youth groups

Retford is served by many youth groups including The Scout Association, Girlguiding UK, St. John Ambulance and Young Farmers, Meeting within the town.

There is also a well established Karate and Kung Fu School "The Golden Dragon Martial Arts Academy" at the Albert road business centre and a Judo club in Hallcroft, the estate running parallel to North Road.

Retford is also home to 1403 ATC Retford Squadron and Army Cadets.


Retford has an established football team called Retford United FC which plays at Cannon Park on the outskirts of Retford. Retford is also home to Retford Town FC, a smaller football club, and East Retford RUFC, who play Rugby Union.

East Retford RUFC have a very successful junior section who compete in numerous competitions. The seniors are also very successful, competing in the Midlands League Division 5.

Details of the rugby club can be found at

Retford is under the control of Bassetlaw District Council, with their base being located at neighbouring Worksop.

The town is home to Retford Judo Club[8]

The long established Retford Town Cricket and Sports Club was established in 1850 and moved to its present ground in 1858. The club was a founder member of the Bassetlaw Cricket league in 1904, their inaugural match was against Whitwell Colliery, they had to wait until 1984 before they won the League Division 1A Championship under the captaincy of George Jones, who shortly after emigrated to Australia. During this successful season the club chairman was Colin Loates.

Retford also has a long running Snooker League consisting of 2 Divisions the current Division 1 League Champions of 2007/08 are Liberal 'C' captained by Steve Norris


Town Hall clock
  1. Piercy, John Shadrach. The History of Retford. 1828. cited at Derivation of the Towns Name
  2. "Villagers braced for more floods". BBC News. 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  3. "Gallery : Flooding in Notts". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  5. Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: Nottinghamshire (1951 ed.). Penguin Books. p. 63. 
  8. Retford Judo Club

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Retford)