Kimberley - Part 01 - From The West
w/e 16 January 2011
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Kimberley in South Africa is synonymous with diamonds but the bedrock of Kimberley in Nottinghamshire could be said to be an amalgam of coal, lace and beer. Like many of the other towns and villages in the area much of the history of the town is tied up with the mining and lace industries aided and abetted by the coming of the railways. Kimberley in fact had two railway stations in close proximity, one on the Midland line and the other belonging to the Great Northern Railway and we shall see both later. But its history goes back much further and the town is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Chinemarelie, a settlement where they main landholder on behalf of William Peverel was called Grimketel. Peverel owned large swathes of land in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Over the years the settlement at Kimberley has expanded to merge almost imperceptibly into neighbouring towns and villages to form an almost continuous urban landscape from Nottingham in the east through Nuthall to Heanor and the towns of the Erewash Valley to the west via such places as Giltbrook, Newthorpe, Hill Top, Eastwood, Langley Mill and Aldercar. Only about six miles from the centre of Nottingham, it is even closer to Ilkeston being separated only by Cossall and Awsworth so it is perhaps long overdue for a visit for this site.

Church Hill (Kettle Bank)In previous Town Walks and Village Trails that have been circular in nature, I have followed various brochures and leaflets but this exploration of Kimberley is a linear walk of my own making, much of it falling within a Conservation Area. It begins on the Eastwood Road at its junction with Church Hill (left) which leads up to an area called Swingate. Since childhood when I visited family at Swingate I have known Church Hill by the alternative name of Kettle Bank and this name always puzzled me. Now that I have discovered the eleventh century landowner, Grimketel, I believe it is a derivation of his name that has transcended the centuries.

Kimberley Parish Church

At the junction of Church Hill and Eastwood Road is Kimberley's Parish Church. The Domesday Book mentions a chapel at Kimberley that belonged to the mother church at Greasley which was one of the largest parishes in Nottinghamshire. It was not until 1848 that Kimberley became a parish in its own right and the church is now part of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
Nine Corners

Across Eastwood Road from the church and the rectory is a short street with the intriguing name of Nine Corners where the town's coat of arms is proudly displayed against a backdrop of of one of Hardys & Hansons' complex of brewery buildings.
Nelson & Railway

Station RoadNine Corners leads to Hardy Street but by continuing from Eastwood Road into Main Street (left) we can ascend a flight of steps to reach Station Road (right) close to the Nelson & Railway, a pub that stands within sight of the brewery. The pub's name is derived from "The Lord Nelson, Railway Hotel" which dates from the time when it stood between the aforementioned competing railway companies.
Hardy Street

Heading from Station Road to Hardy Street leads to the heart of the brewery complex where the derelict Midland Railway Station (left) still stands and can be seen through Gate E. The brewery has its roots back in 1832 when Samuel Robinson converted an old bakehouse on the corner of Hardy Street. A site almost opposite was purchased by Stephen Hanson in 1846 which also started brewing beer a year later and the two breweries operated side by side until 1857 when brothers William and Thomas Hardy bought Robinson's brewery. Expansion allowed the brothers to commission a new brewery in 1861.
Hardys & Hansons

The two breweries continued to operate separately for many years and in the process purchased pubs as outlets for their products. Thomas Hardy was one of the pioneers of the 'tied house' system and his enterprise was quickly followed by Stephen Hanson but by 1930 the companies decided to amalgamate and Hardys & Hansons came into being. The bridge that links brewery buildings across Hardy Street still bears the company's logo although beer is now no longer brewed here.


Many pubs in Kimberley and the surrounding area were tied to the brewery and sold Kimberley Ales for the company but in 2006 the Kimberley site was acquired by the Suffolk based Greene King plc who announced their intention to cease brewing here in December of that year. As a result over 170 years of commercial brewing came to an end and the site now stands empty and desolate.
Iconic Building

A document has been produced to provide broad guidelines for prospective purchasers as the iconic Maltings building on the site has been granted Grade II listed status.
Kimberley Bridge

The Midland Railway line that ran through the breweries enabled both the Hardys and the Hansons owners to construct sidings. The station was opened in 1880 but the line closed in 1916 when ten miles of double track was taken up as part of the war effort in the battle for the Dardanelles and was never re-laid. The line originally connected Bennerley and Bulwell and this disused cutting as viewed from Hardy Street is now not only a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) but also Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) managed by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust with particular attention being paid to bats and birds. The impressive three arch bridge now owned by Broxtowe Borough Council was restored in 2009 and provides a valuable link in the footpath network for local people. This is the view from Hardy Street in the opposite direction to the previous image.
Brewery Street

Although the old brewery buildings, and there are many in the Hardy Street area with access gates at various points, all stand within the Conservation Area, future development of the sites will have an impact but the status of the Conservation Area should protect the narrow lanes that form an integral part of the area. Our route continues to Edgewood Road via the appropriately named Brewery Street and in doing so will pass more narrow lanes such as Critch's Flats (right). The brewery may be gone but the names of Hardy and Hanson will join Grimketel and live in the memory long after the beer has been drunk.
Kimberley Index
Forward to Part 02

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