While Forest Town today (2009), is a rapidly developing village situated on the busy B6030 between Clipstone and Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, England, just over one hundred years ago the scenario was very different. The road was little more than a dusty track that wound its way through areas of agriculture, woods, and heath land. The occasional farm and cottage were the only sign of habitation. The landscape however, soon changed when men and machines employed by the Bolsover Colliery Company moved in and began the search for coal.
The Bolsover Colliery Company, (a Derbyshire Company) sank the shafts of the Mansfield Colliery in 1904, and coal was reached in May 1905. The colliery was soon being called ‘Crown Farm’, or ‘Crownie’, because of its close proximity to a local farm which was named Crown Farm. James Newton, a tenant farmer of the Duke of Portland, lived there with his wife and young children.
As the pit shafts of Mansfield Colliery were sunk and headstocks erected, accommodation was needed for the miners, and a whole new village was established, very near to a farm that was called the Travellers Rest. The first houses were built in a grid pattern, and were named ‘The Avenues’.
A school was erected for the children, along with houses and shops on the main street and a Co-op on Main Avenue.
A Workmen’s Institute built in 1908 provided facilities for the miners to drink and enjoy sporting or reading pastimes. The music of the Mansfield Colliery Band was often heard playing in the Institute Grounds and taking part in band contests. Sporting events such as cricket, football, and tennis were enjoyed there, and the cycle track held many exciting cycling events.
The Drill Hall, built in 1909, was where both the Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade met, they participated in gymnastic activities, parades, and they had a bugle band. Social and drama events for the village community also took place in this hall.
The religious needs of the miners and their families were also an early consideration in the new village. The first Anglican Church was a wooden building, it was erected in 1905 and known as St David’s Mission Church. A number of years later the stone church of St Alban’s was built, and the mission church then served as a church hall. The Methodist faith was also quickly established in ForestTown and the Primitive Methodists built a chapel/schoolroom in 1905, this was situated next to the Travellers Rest Farm a building that can be dated back to the 1850’s. Across the road from these two building the Wesleyan Methodists erected a chapel made of wood and iron in 1913.
The first people to live in ForestTown came from near and far. They were the pioneers who helped to establish a strong village community, they were united because of the need for coal. The families knew each other and it was a close community who shared both happiness and sorrow. For them all, World War One, was a particular challenging time. Many young men left the village to fight for their King and country, some did not return. The cenotaph in St Albans Churchyard records their names.
WW1 – 1914 -1918
G. Bradshaw; G. Bullock; J. E. Burton; F. Carter; N. Chadbourne; W. Garton; W. Heald; J. Kelk; S. Lancashire; A. Lee; F. Monks; W. Moxon; F. J. Munnings; J. T. Murden; A Peatman; S. F. Pickering; E. Richardson; W. Sheldon; I. Taylor; F. Thompson; J. Thorpe; F. H. Wilkinson; H. Wilson.