A town in north east Derbyshire that once boasted three railway stations is the subject of this week’s Retro A to Z of Sheffield and surrounding areas.
Killamarsh was listed in the Domesday Book in the 11th century as Chinewoldemaresc or Chinewolde. This means ‘the marsh belonging to Cynewald’, which was apparently a Viking name.
The information in this article comes mainly from the Killamarsh Heritage Society website, http://killamarsh.org/history/.
A farming community from the Middle Ages onwards, Killamarsh was self-sufficient in agricultural and dairy produce.
The River Rother provided water power for grain mills and ironmongers and smiths also began to use it from the late 18th century.
Killamarsh Forge drew the special wire used in the core of a massive transatlantic telegraph cable laid by the SS Great Eastern in 1866.
Like many other local communities we’ve looked at, life began to change in the 19th century as Killamarsh became a thriving mining village, supplying the Sheffield steel industry with coal.
Railway stations at Killamarsh West, Upperthorpe and Killamarsh and Killamarsh Central dated back to Victorian times. The lines used to transport coal and other freight and also carried passengers at various times but the last passenger services to the town ceased in 1963.
Coal has been mined in Killamarsh since at least the 15th century but the opening of the first major mining operation at Norwood led to the population of the town almost doubling between 1861 and 1871.
The last two remaining pits at Westthorpe and High Moor were casualties of the early 1980s pit closure programme. During the 1984-5 miners’ strike, the Killamarsh Women’s Action Group was set up to support the strike and worked with a support group set up by Chesterfield Labour Party.
Tom Vallins of the Labour Party said: “The women were marvellous. They were organising the food collections and speaking in support of the strike. It was amazing how they did it.”
In 1955, Westthorpe was featured in Coal magazine, which mentioned Charley Boy, a swan that became a mascot of the pit when it arrived on the colliery reservoir with a damaged wing.
In March 1964 a London criminal, nicknamed The Expert, was killed trying to blast his way into the Westthorpe explosives store, as he blew up about 700 kilos of explosives inside. Debris damaged nearby houses.