Hinckley town centre
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Hinckley is a market town in south-west Leicestershire, England. It is administered by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council. Hinckley is the second largest town in the administrative county of Leicestershire, after Loughborough.[a]
Hinckley has a history going back to Anglo-Saxon times; the name Hinckley is Anglo-Saxon: "Hinck" is a personal name and "ley" is a meadow. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Hinckley was quite a large village, and it grew over the following 200 years into a small market town—a market was first recorded there in 1311. There is evidence of an Anglo-Saxon church – the remnants of an Anglo-Saxon sundial being visible on the diagonal buttress on the south-east corner of the chancel.
In 2000, archaeologists from Northampton Archaeology discovered evidence of Iron Age and Romano-British settlement on land near Coventry Road and Watling Street.
In the 17th century, the town developed a hosiery industry, producing stockings and similar items. Hinckley played a prominent part in the English Civil War. Its proximity to several rival strongholds—the royalist garrisons at Caldicote, Ashby de la Zouch and Leicester, and those of the Parliamentarians at Tamworth and Coventry—and the presence of parties of troops or brigands occupying several fortified houses in nearby Warwickshire, led to frequent visits by the warring parties. The local townsfolk were forced to decide whether to declare their allegiances openly or attempt to remain neutral—with the risk of having to pay levies, ransoms, and fines to both sides. In March 1644, Hinckley was occupied by a group of Royalist troops, though they were soon driven out by a force of Parliamentarians, who took many prisoners.
The Civil War years were a particularly unsettled time for the clergy in and around Hinckley. Parsons with parliamentary leanings like Thomas Cleveland, the vicar of Hinckley, suffered sequestration by the Leicester County Committee, like some of his "malignant" neighbours accused of visiting royalist garrisons or preaching against Parliament.
The town was visited by both parliamentary and royalist troops from the rival garrisons, particularly parliamentary troops from Tamworth, Coventry and Astley Castle in Warwickshire. Troops from Coventry garrison were particularly active in the town, taking horses and "free quarter" and availing themselves of 'dyett and Beere', and taking some of the inhabitants hostage for ransom. Royalist troops raided the town to threaten those with parliamentary sympathies. The notorious Lord Hastings of Ashby de la Zouch is recorded to have "coursed about the country as far as Dunton and Lutterworth and took near upon a hundred of the clergymen and others, and carried them prisoners … threatening to hang all them that should take the Parliament's Covenant". Parliamentary newssheets record that on the night of 4 March 1644, Hastings's men brought in "26 honest countrymen from several towns" intending to take them to Ashby de la Zouch, along with a huge herd of cattle, oxen and horses from the country people and a minister named Warner. These prisoners were herded into Hinckley church and asked "in a jeering manner, 'Where are the Round-heads your brethren at Leicester? Why come they not to redeem you?'"
The Parliamentarians responded in a memorable "Skirmish or Great Victory for Parliament". Colonel Grey with 120 foot-soldiers and 30 troopers from Bagworth House rushed to Hinckley and retook the town, routed the Royalists, rescued the cattle and released their imprisoned countrymen. No doubt the inhabitants of the town were as relieved as any when Ashby finally surrendered, as Vicars records, "a great mercy and mighty preservation of the peace and tranquility of all those adjacent parts about it."
At the time of the first national census in 1801, Hinckley had a population of 5,158: twenty years later it had increased by about a thousand. The largest industry in the early 19th century was the making of hosiery and only Leicester had a larger output of stockings. In the district, it was estimated around 1830 that 6,000 persons were employed in this work.
In 1899 a cottage hospital was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria two years earlier. Money was raised by the local townspeople and factory owners, notably John and Thomas Atkins who also had a hand in building many of the key buildings of Hinckley. The cornerstone was laid by Sir John Fowke Lancelot Rolleston.
This hospital was central to the people of Hinckley and supported by local workers who donated one penny a week for its upkeep until it was adopted by the NHS in 1948. Over the years it expanded to align with the town. The hospital now appears dilapidated in some areas and is threatened with closure, sale and demolition by West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Properties Ltd.
The area was subject to new housing developments in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s.
West Hinckley, Forest View, Hollycroft, Middlefield, Saxon Paddock, Stoneygate and Wykin Estate are areas of Hinckley. The suburbs of Burbage and Sketchley are separated from the rest of Hinckley by the railway line.
Hinckley became an urban district under the Local Government Act 1894, covering the ancient parish of Hinckley. In 1934, under a County Review Order, Hinckley urban district expanded to include the ancient parishes of Barwell, Burbage and Earl Shilton and most of Stoke Golding. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972 the Hinckley urban district was abolished, becoming an unparished area in the borough of Hinckley and Bosworth. Since then, the civil parishes of Barwell, Burbage, Earl Shilton and Stoke Golding have been re-established. The core urban area remained unparished.
- The site of the Battle of Bosworth, administered by Leicestershire County Council, includes an interpretation centre at Ambion Hill, where Richard III encamped the night before the battle. St James's Church at Dadlington is the place where many of the dead were buried and where a chantry was founded on their behalf
- Hinckley Museum is in a range of 17th-century timber-framed framework knitters' cottages
- Stoke Golding has a medieval churches with a carved arcade and fine 13th-century window tracery
- St Mary's Church, the Church of England parish church of the Assumption of Saint Mary the Virgin, in the centre of Hinckley, is 13th-century. There is a local folk tale that a tombstone in the churchyard marking the grave of Richard Smith, a young saddler murdered in the Market Place in 1727, "bleeds" every 12 April, the anniversary of his death. The church is open daily, Monday – Saturday, 10.00 to 4.00 pm, and Sunday during services.
- The Great Meeting of 1722, hidden away behind old hosiery factories, is a notable early example of nonconformist architecture with a galleried interior
- Britannia (Burbage) Scout HQ: the home of 1st Britannia Scout Group is a specially designed and built scout hall
- Park Hollycroft Park was donated by the notable local Atkins family to the people of Hinckley in 1934, the park has two tennis courts, a bowling green, golf course, band stand and gardens. The park is the base for some of the town's biggest events including the Proms and Worldfest music events. Due to the high standards achieved within Hollycroft Park it has been awarded with Green Flag status for both 2010/1 and 2011/2
- Brodick Park in the west of Hinckley was recently the subject of controversy between local people and the Council which had wanted to sell the park for housing, however following a recent change in administration, this sale has been cancelled. The park has now been planted with trees to make a nature reserve.
- The Ashby Canal, the longest contour canal in England, passes through the town
- Hinckley has two former quarries, quite close to one another, called the Little Pit and Big Pit. The Little Pit is now designated a Site of Ecological Interest (SINC), and has been transformed by a local community group into an angling club to preserve the area of water and surrounding wildlife. It is opposite the Asda superstore entrance and is fenced off from the public. The Big Pit remains the subject of controversy between local residents and developers. It is on Ashby Road, between the cemetery and a parade of shops. It too is fenced off from public access.
- Shopping Centres: Hinckley's biggest shopping centre, Britannia Centre on Castle Street, has more than 12 stores and stalls. Hansom Court on Stockwell Head (named after the inventor of the Hansom Cab) has a number of stores. There is also The Crescent, an outdoor shopping area, containing a bus station, a supermarket & a cinema, among other stores.
Hinckley is a traditional centre of the hosiery industry. The first framework knitting machine was brought here by Joseph Iliffe in the 17th century and by the 19th century Hinckley was responsible for a large proportion of Britain's hosiery production. Since the Second World War the hosiery industry has steadily shrunk in size although several textile firms remain in the area. Hinckley & District Museum, which is housed in a range of former framework knitters' cottages, tells the story of the hosiery industry and contains some examples of framework knitting machines.
Ultima Sports Ltd, a manufacturer of sports cars is based in Hinckley as is Paynes Garages Ltd, one of the oldest family-owned Ford Motor Dealerships in the UK. Established by JA Payne in 1907, the firm became Ford Dealers in 1922. The business remains family owned with Nigel Payne, grandson of the founder, one of the current Directors.
The town's central location and good links to the UK motorway network have made it a common location for distribution warehouses. Hammonds Furniture, a family owned nationwide fitted furniture company, was established in the town in 1926 by Thomas Hammonds, and currently employs over 850 people in its two Hinckley factories.
Hinckley has housed the Triumph Motorcycles Ltd facility since 1990. Founded in 1902 Triumph is one of the oldest motorcycle producers still in activity. In the summer of 2017 there are plans for the reopening of a visitors centre and cafe, namely 1902, opening six days a week.
Hinckley is home to a well-established creative and technology community with designers, illustrators, artists and photographers taking up residence in the town, particularly in converted buildings such as the renovated Atkins Building (formerly Atkins Hosiery, also home to the Hinckley Times newspaper) and Graphic House on Druid Street, also a former factory converted to modern office and studio use.
Supercar manufacturer Ultima Sports are based in Hinckley. They claim to have set the fastest roadcar lap around the Top Gear test track with their GTR720 model, although it has never appeared on the programme.
The A47 between Nuneaton and Leicester was by-passed around the town during the early 1990s when the Northern Perimeter Road (Normandy Way) was completed. As well as relieving congestion in the town centre, new commercial developments have been built along the route.
Hinckley is also served by the A5 and the M69. The A5 links Hinckley to Tamworth, Staffordshire in the north-west and Milton Keynes in the south-east. The M69 links Hinckley to the nearest cities, Coventry, and Leicester, and the M1 and M6 motorways.
Hinckley railway station is on the Nuneaton to Leicester section of the Birmingham to Peterborough Line and has regular services between Birmingham and Leicester via Narborough and Nuneaton. Journeys to London can be made via the West Coast Main Line through Nuneaton to London Euston or the Midland Main Line via Leicester to London St Pancras.
The local radio station, Fosse 107, serves the town and the surrounding area. The town's local newspaper is the weekly paid-for Hinckley Times, which is published every Wednesday. The Hinckley Times regularly publish news stories on their own section of The Leicester Mercury's website, LeicestershireLive. Castle Mead Radio is a hospital radio station which serves the patients and staff of Hinckley's two main hospitals.
Hinckley & Burbage Photographed, set up in 2012, is an ongoing social media visual documentary about the Hinckley and Burbage area of Leicestershire, using photographs, videos and stories about Hinckley, its people and the changing landscape. Hinckley Past & Present is a website setup in February 2014 for local history, current events, contacting people, and photos.
The town has had five notable football clubs over the years:
- Hinckley Town – formed in the 19th century, dissolved in 1906, reformed in 1972 and merged with Hinckley Athletic in 1997 to form Hinckley United
- Hinckley Athletic – formed in 1906 as Hinckley United, changed name to Hinckley Athletic after World War II, merged with Hinckley Town in 1997 to form Hinckley United
- Hinckley F.C. – formed in 1967 as Downes Sports, changed name to Hinckley Downes in 2007, and again to Hinckley in 2010, before dissolving in 2011
- Hinckley United – formed in 1997 as result of a merger between Hinckley Athletic and Hinckley Town, dissolved in 2014
- Hinckley A.F.C. – formed in 2014
Hinckley Rugby Club, was formed in 1893 and has been based at the Leicester Road Sports ground since 1968. The club has played in league rugby since 1987. The first team currently play in National 2 North (level 4).
Hinckley Ladies' Netball Club is based at the Leicester Road Sports Ground and has four senior teams in the Coventry and Warwickshire Netball League. Hinckley Gymnastics Club, established in 1971, is based at Clarendon Park.
Hinckley Basketball Club was founded in 1974, and included staff, ex-students and students of John Cleveland College. The team folded after the 2012–13 season, because of player shortage. The Club, reformed in 2014, plays home games at Green Towers club on Richmond Road. The two club teams are the Hinckley 69ers in Division 2, and Hinckley Hail in Division 4, of the Leicestershire men's league.
Hollycroft Park, in the centre of Hinckley, contains two tennis courts, a golf pitch'n'putt and a lawn bowls green with pavilion. Greentowers, a self-funded charity, is a youth club at Richmond Park which contains a climbing wall, skate park, astro turf pitch, and a BMX track.
The main primary schools in the area are Battling Brook CP, Richmond, Hinckley parks, St. Peter's Catholic, St. Mary's Church of England, Westfield Infant/Junior and Sketchley Hill Primary School (in Burbage). The high (secondary) schools include Redmoor, St Martin's Catholic Academy (in Stoke Golding) and Hastings (in Burbage)— all feeder schools for Hinckley Academy, the two schools in the town for Years 10 and 11. The school also operates a sixth form. North Warwickshire & Hinckley College, a Further Education college, is also in the town. The only other major college in the area is William Bradford (Earl Shilton). Within Hinckley there is also Dorothy Goodman Special School that caters for both juniors and seniors with disabilities, with units integrated within other local schools.
Simon de Montfort's banner, described as the 'Arms of Honour of Hinckley', per pale indented argent and gules, is shown in stained glass in Chartres Cathedral, and is used in Hinckley's coat of arms, local sports teams and other organisations. Combined with Montfort's personal coat of arms, it forms part of the club crest for the town's football club Hinckley A.F.C.
French organist and composer Louis Vierne gave a recital and stayed one night in Hinckley while on a tour of England, and later wrote a carillon piece for organ called "The Bells of Hinckley", inspired by a carillon of bells he heard there. It is the last movement of his fourth suite of Vingt-quatre pièces de fantaisie.
- Davy: Now, sir, a new link to the bucket must need be had: and, sir, do you mean to stop any of William's wages, about the sack he lost the other day at Hinckley fair?
Hinckley is mentioned in the Monty Python sketch "Olympic Hide and Seek Final" as the home town of one of the competitors.
The actress Lauren Samuels trained at Hinckley's Speech and Drama Studio, and appeared in the BBC show Over the Rainbow. Hinckley and District Museum was opened in 1996 and is open each year from Easter Monday to the end of October. The museum prepares new exhibitions for each season. The museum is housed in a row of thatched 17th Century Cottages in the centre of the town.
- Martine Croxall, television presenter BBC News Channel
- Davey Graham, guitarist and folk singer, was born in Hinckley
- Graeme Hawley, actor who played John Stape in Coronation Street, lived in Hinckley
- Paul Hines, BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars driver, former British and European Champion
- Joseph Nutt, surveyor of highways
- Phil Oakey, singer with The Human League, born in Hinckley
- Manu Tuilagi, rugby player for Leicester Tigers and England national rugby union team, attended John Cleveland College in Hinckley
- John Cleveland, poet was educated at Hinckley Grammar School. John Cleveland College is named in his honour.
- Dr Edmund Percival, research chemist
- Una Stubbs, English actress and TV personality, grew up in Hinckley
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Hinckley was known to its residents for many years as "Tin 'At" (tin hat). It is reputed that, many years ago, one of the itinerant sheep drovers bragged that he could drink a hat full of ale. The local landlord put this man to the test by getting the local blacksmith to make a tin hat, which he then filled with ale. Thereafter, the town became known as "Tin 'At". Another explanation is that the people of Hinckley used to place buckets on water pumps to keep them clean and prevent the spread of illness, the bucket obviously being the "Tin 'At". A tin hat can be seen on top of the flag pole which sits on the roof of the Coral branch at the corner of Castle Street and Market Place. There is also a pub called The Tin Hat, and an annual fair held each December in the town centre called The Tin Hat Fair.
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- Hinckley Past & Present – Hinckley Past and Present