Clarborough & Welham Community
near Retford, Bassetlaw
North Nottinghamshire
United Kingdom

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Clarborough History
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Version 2.56
Site last updated on
30th
September 2017

Great Domesday – the 'national' (well, almost) survey commanded by William I (The Conqueror) was published in 1086. Clarborough appears in that book as Claueburch or Claureburg. Individuals with names including Aethelstan; Arnketil; Earnwine the priest; Fulk, man of Roger de Bully; Geoffrey, man of Roger de Bully; Grim and Grimkel speaks of a community of mixed Saxon and Danish with an overlay of Norman French.

The next significant date is c.1260 when we find the church of St.John the Baptist in existence - see the church’s website for more of its history. That Manor Farm is close by the church, suggests that these probably represent the original nucleus of the village, although more research is needed before this can be stated with any certainty. Although the Mayflower Pilgrims left from centres quite local to Clarborough in the early 1600s, such as Babworth, Scrooby and Sturton-le-Steeple, we have only recently become aware of a local - Edward Southworth joining their exodus. For more on Edward Southworth and Sue Allen’s discoveries, see http://www.pilgrimfathersorigins.org/clarborough.html and also Clarborough & Welham Newsletter (Summer 2017 issue) in our Newsletter section. For more on the Mayflower Pilgrim in Nottinghamshire, click here.

Clarborough (and Welham) lie well inside the ‘golden triangle’ of Separatist activity of the 16th and early 17th century. This triangle stretched from Austerfield in the north to Gainsborough in the east and beyond Babworth in the south.

In 1777 the Chesterfield Canal was opened through Clarborough, providing navigation to the Trent. With a wharf at the site of what is now the Gate Inn, distance communications were beginning to bring Clarborough (or Clareborough as it was often called as recently as the mid-19th century) into the wider communication network. (For more on the canal, see the The Chesterfiled Canal Trust or Wikipedia entry here).

By around this time Workhouses were developing locally in Clarborough, East Retford and Sutton. For more on this topic, see the Genuki page. It is vital to remember that the Parish of Clarborough was, until the 20th Century, much larger than now. It originally extended from its current northern limits around Clarborough village right into central Retford, a wedge-shaped parish running right down Moorgate and Spital Hill. It was only in 1934 that what had been Moorgate Chapel of Ease (started in 1828) became St.Saviour’s Church and the centre of its own parish, occupying the smaller, but more populous, southern end of the old Clarborough Parish leaving the remaining Clarborough Parish more clearly centred on Clarborough itself.

However, we jump ahead of ourselves. At around the same time that the canal arrived, the national road network was being upgraded with the introduction of Turnpike highways. One such ran from Retford (Spital Hill) to Clarborough (1824-76) and another from Saundby to Gainsborough (1787-1884) and the Trent, almost certainly following the route of the current A620, once again, pulling Clarborough into the wider 'scene' and together with the canal may well have shifted the centre of gravity of the village away from the church towards Main Street as we now see it.

Soon this transport mix would be joined by the railways; the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway opened in 1849, skirting the village – as late as the 1890s a siding was operating at Welham and children would be sent from the Elementary School to collect or despatch parcels. Welham siding provided base for an extra locomotive (known locally as a ‘banker’) to assist coal trains climbing the gradient towards the east. The low bridges carrying this rail line across the road from Retford to Gainsborough through Welham and Clarborough would come to present considerable problems for heavy vehicles as the 20th century progressed.

With the advent of national elementary schooling for all, we find a two-roomed Victorian school building adjacent to St,John the Baptist church on Church Lane opening in May, 1871. School Log Books, still extant, record the school from 1871, although it is thought it had been established somewhat earlier under church auspices. These Log Books paint a picture of a typical agricultural community well into the 20th century. Extracts from the earlier Log Books are available in Local Schools Primary School History - take a look!

We are now so familiar with the national road network, with its A, B and C categories (as well as M for motorways) that it comes as a shock to realise that it was only in 1919 that the new Ministry of Transport took over the responsibility for maintenance and construction of a national road network. Prior to that it had been a mixture of local authority ('county') and private organisation responsibility.

So we come to the 20th century. Initially developments occurred slowly, but with increasing prosperity after World War 2, Clarborough began to take on the role of a dormitory settlement, an influx of workers at local power stations from the 1950s demanded housing which changed the size and structure of the village, much building taking place to the west of the A620. This involved significant re-developments, several farms disappearing to be replaced by Hillview Crescent and the (then) new Primary School ‘Lower’ site – the original Victorian building off Church Lane remaining in use as an ‘Upper’ site. Large estate developments also took place between Big Lane and Smeath Lane, shifting the balance of the whole village westward. A purpose-built village hall appeared and with improved rail connections to London from Retford came another burst of building to house those for whom the 90min trip to the capital was offset by lower property prices.

Severe July 2007 flooding around Main Street and the water courses running down from Clarborough Hill caused considerable damage and also delayed construction of a new Primary School off Hillview Crescent; the site being flooded. Redesign of the new building to lift it higher and also provide landscape contouring to deflect future flood waters meant that the new school opened in September 2008. This new Primary School building replaced the 1960s ‘Lower’ site to bring all children under one roof; the Victorian building was then put on the market. These developments of the school site seemed to be successful but flooding remained an issue - a repeat in mid-2014 once again flooded properties along Main Street.

During the economic downturn that began in 2007, both the Kings Arms public house and Post Office/Shop on Main Street closed for business as, for a while, did the Gate Inn on Smeath Lane. However, by 2013 both The Kings Arms, The Gate and the new Barcroft’s Farm Shop had opened and an Outreach Post Office returned to the Village Hall. The Farm shop, however, failed to ‘take off’ and has been closed for quite a while.
A SPAR village shop opened at the Kings Arms Yard in May 2014 and is pulling in trade from all directions.

A Neighbourhood Plan was formally voted in place by local residents in February, 2017.. For more see Neighbourhood Plan.