Building record MNT27854 - Bestwood Colliery Village


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Grid reference Centred SK 55368 47659 (356m by 287m)
Map sheet SK54NE
District Gedling
Civil Parish Bestwood Park (G), Gedling


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Company & Village: Bestwood is a colliery settlement with a range of buildings erected for the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company (BCIC). It is the best designed village of its type in the Leen Valley area. The company was established by John Lancaster, an entrepreneur with coal mining interests in Lancashire, on land leased in 1872 from the 10th Duke of St Albans of Bestwood Lodge. BCIC was a successful enterprise that merged with Babbington Colliery Company in 1936 re-styling itself as B. A. Collieries Ltd. The site remained operative until 1969, with coal diverted from Linby Colliery. Most of the industrial building and infrastructure was demolished, except the winding engine house, which was restored and opened as an attraction in 1995. The site was landscaped by the County Council. (1)
Housing: Temporary housing was built in 1874 by the contractor J. E. Hall, for workers involved in sinking the shaft. The company started constructing housing almost immediately. The architect of these buildings and very probably additional housing dated 1876 was the noted Manchester practitioner Thomas Worthington.2 The winding engine house was built to an Italianate design and may also have been designed by Worthington. It is almost certain that the Duke of St Albans influenced the design of the buildings, as at the nearby Bestwood pumping station, for which the lease of land was conditional on his approval of building designs. His interest in architecture is also illustrated by his choice of the architect S. S. Teulon, noted for his highly individual and inventive designs, for the rebuilding of Bestwood Lodge in 1862–5 and of the estate church, Emmanuel, erected in 1868–9. The housing at Bestwood is an interesting example of relatively high-quality provision during the 1870s. The first phase went up on The Square and St Alban’s Road. Foremens’ houses stand at either end of a terrace of workers’ housing. The foremens’ houses are arranged in blocks of four houses with entrances in porches of two alternating designs, with tall gabled bays, prominent chimneys with stacks originally set diagonally and shallow bay windows. There is
decorative and raised brickwork and a little timbering. The houses have back gardens and modern plans suggest that the porches open to a stair hall, with doors off to front and rear rooms. The
terraced housing is simpler two-up two-down accommodation with small back yards and a narrow alley or entry between the rows at the rear. There is some decorative detail, such as characterful
hipped dormers originally with finials* and slated canopies over the front doors. Plans suggest that a small stair hall was provided so that rooms were not entered directly from the street. The colliery managers resided in large detached houses at either The Sycamores (since demolished) on Moor Road or probably at the Edwardian Keepers House in Bestwood Park.3 The Sycamores briefly
became the HQ for the national Union of Democractic Mineworkers. The second-phase terraces on Park Road of 1876 are also two-up two-down, but with both front and rear gardens. The nineteenth
century Ordnance Survey maps show small buildings, probably privies, in the back gardens; most houses now have single-storey kitchen extensions. Modern plans suggest they have a separate
staircase hall giving access to the two ground-floor rooms. Detailing includes plaques with the BCIC logo, shallow slated porches and some attractively decorative raised brickwork. Additional housing was erected in the interwar period, including semi-detached and terraced housing. The west and north sides of The Square were built up, as well as the south side of Park Road, north side of Church Road, the east side of St Alban’s Road and new streets were also laid out. The housing harmonises with earlier work in terms of scale and materials, extending the grid pattern established with the earliest housing of the village. Additional building took place after the middle of the twentieth century. (1)
Amenities: A recreation ground (now cricket pitch) and allotment gardens within The Square and off Park Road are shown on nineteenth-century OS maps. Bestwood Village Social Club, at the west end of Park Road became a miners’ welfare and community centre; it was built as a village hall in 1928. At its centre is a large arts and crafts brick building with a pitched roof. It was later surrounded by modern flat roofed extensions.The Bestwood Hotel on Park Road was built in 1896 and is marked ‘Institute’ on early twentieth century OS maps. The building is a good example of late Victorian architecture by an unknown architect. It probably had its origins as a working mens’ club or miners’ institute, for which fundraising events were being held in the 1880s. (1)
Other buildings: The former colliery office building (the Clock Tower) was executed in Italianate style with a tower, to designs by Thomas Worthington. The use of brick with stone dressings creates a polychromatic effect and reflects Worthington’s interest in Continental Gothic styles and the influence of John Ruskin. The plans were approved in 1873. The church of St Mark was established as a mission church and built in 1887 to designs by the Manchester architect J. Medland Taylor. The land was donated by the Duke of St Albans and the colliery company, each paid £600 towards the costs. The building is a good example of a modest church by this architect with an exposed timber roof, stained glass of some quality and furnishings with local associations. The Lenton School Board became concerned about the need for a school in Bestwood, because of a growing population in an area distant from existing schools. The exception was an establishment referred to as a ‘dame school’ capable of taking fewer than thirty children. Such establishments were private institutions, often with a poor educational reputation. This stood to the south of the east end of Park Road. Eventually land was acquired from the Duke on the other side of the village and plans solicited from the architect to the colliery company, though the identity of the architect at this time has not been established. After the Bestwood School Board was started as a separate entity, the school opened under its auspices in May 1879. It was designed in the arts and crafts style with some decoration below the eaves and may originally have had a gothic south facing window. (1)

<1> Nottinghamshire County Council, 2022, Model Villages of the Nottinghamshire Coalfield (Published document). SNT5309.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <1> Published document: Nottinghamshire County Council. 2022. Model Villages of the Nottinghamshire Coalfield. Nottinghamshire County Council.

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Record last edited

May 17 2023 1:03PM

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