title banner for Derbyshire UK - Derbyshire and Peak District GuideSwanwick in Derbyshire



Swanwick is an old Derbyshire village lying about midway betwen Ripley and Alfreton. The A38 joins the M1 motorway about 2 miles away giving easy access to the larger towns and cities that surround it. Swanwick doubled its size to around 5000 during the 20th century and this despite the fact that it has lost much of its original industries.

Coal mining was one of these industries and had provided work for centuries. Stocking manufacture was another. The Elliot family manufactured quality silk hosiery and kept the domestic framework knitting industry going into the 20th century, later than any other village in the county. The manufacture of footwear also died in the 20th century with only the Boot and Slipper pub left to remind one that it ever existed.

It was the arrival of the Butterley Company in the late 18th century that changed the face of Swanwick. The company took any surplus labour that Swanwick had and a new turnpike from Alfreton to Derby was built and opened in 1807. Much of the land around the centre of the old village was built on.

There are several families that seem to figure highly in Swanwick's long history. The Turners, were once major local industrialists but they faded out in the 18th century. It was Elizabeth Turner who, in 1740, had a school built to provide education for 20 children from poor families. The school house is now a private residence. Another family was the Woods, who occupied, an early 17th century building in what is known as Wood's yard. It was a substantial yeoman's residence of 1678, on evidence of a date stone high up on the dormer gables, along with the crest adopted by the Wood family.

The Wood family, who were the owners of substantial land and mineral rights, later moved into the present Hall in Swanwick which is now a school. Hugo Wood lived there with his family, and a nationally famous painting of his children by Joseph Wright of Derby, used to hang in its dining room. The Hall opened as a secondary school in 1922, the Derbyshire County Council having bought it 2 years earlier after the death of Hugo Young.

The Church of St Andrew, was built at the cross-roads in Swanwick in 1860 to a design by a derby architect. The tower was added later, in 1903, as a gift from Fitzherbert Wright who was retiring as managing director of the Butterley company, which had also originally paid for part of the cost of the church.

Fitzherbert Wright lived at a large stone house called Swanwick Hayes, built for him as a wedding present by his father, the industrialist, Francis Wright. Swanwick Hayes is now a large conference centre. During the war it was a prisoner of war camp for a brief period.

Swanwick seems to remain a lively place with plenty going on.

St Andrew's Church
St Andrew's Church

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