History of CCH

Hackenthorpe : Origins of the Village and Church

The first mention of ‘Eckingthorp’ occurs as early as the 9th century in Anglo-Saxon records of Derbyshire land owners.
The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning ‘the hamlet of Eck’s people’. The hamlet stood on the clay soils of the Rother valley in what was then part of the ‘Great Forest’ which then covered much of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire and south Lincolnshire. It is more commonly referred to today as Sherwood Forest, but this was originally but one part of the ‘Great Forest’. It comprised mainly oak and ash woodlands but had clearings where the soils could not support trees, known as the Heathlands.
Eckingthorpe was settled by Angles, who invaded Britain at the close of the Romanic period in around 500 AD. It was part of the Kingdom of Mercia, but being on the border with neighbouring Northumbria, was prone to battles and raiding. However, the settlement by the Angles was not the first sign of human habitation in the area: bones and flint tools now in Sheffield Museum were excavated in the 19th century from the district, dating back to the Neolithic Period.
A lovely tale about how Hackenthorpe got its name concerns a certain 13th-century landowner, one Hacun Thorpe, mentioned in law court documents of the time as demanding rents from his tenants. One can see why many think this a good source of our name, but it is much too late in time for that (as we have seen).
Hackenthorpe was for many centuries split between the parishes of Birley and Beighton; indeed it was to Beighton Church that parishioners from the hamlet used to have to go on Sundays.
The modern spelling of ‘Hackenthorpe’ actually emerged around the 14th century when local dialects began to influence place names. The hamlet remained mainly a centre of subsistence farming, with the serfs spending part of their time working on the Lord’s domains, the rest cultivating their own plots. As a welcome addition to income, coal and iron ore were mined locally in shallow ‘bell pits’. The local woodlands were the source for the charcoal used in the furnaces; coal was mined to heat the great homes of the rich.
Hackenthorpe really began to develop as a village in its own right in Tudor times.
In 1653 John and Alice Newbould built Hackenthorpe Hall, a sure sign of increasing wealth in the area. Descendants of this family still live in Philadelphia, USA, after their ancestor Michael Newbould bought 3,200 acres of land in Burlington County, West New Jersey, in 1677. They sailed aboard ‘The Shield’ in 1678 to take up their new lands.
In the 18th Century the area was developing as an early industrial site, with quarrying, milling, coal mining and brick kilns all being found between Birley and Hackenthorpe Green.
The Staniforth Works on Main Street date from 1743, and were originally built for scythe and sickle making. Main Street was actually a smithy pond! The Works were built by a Mr. Thomas Staniforth who also owned a forge at Carr Forge, one of many in the area. Some of the old forge dams still survive in the Shirebrook Valley. These also fed waterwheels for grinding the scythe and sickle blades.
By the 19th Century, Hackenthorpe had emerged as a village in its own right, though without a Church as we would understand the term. The first chapel there was built in 1813 on a site on Main Street opposite Hackenthorpe Hall. The village soon began to change: in 1820 steam power arrived at the Staniforth Works on Main Street; by 1840 the Sheffield Coal Company had several mines working in the area, including the Wiggin Tree at the top of Occupation Lane in Birley.
The railway arrived at Beighton in 1840, following the course of the Rother valley. This was the North Midland line from Rotherham to Derby.
In 1855 the first National School opened for Beighton Parish, of which Hackenthorpe was still a part; our local children could attend there. This school was replaced in 1880 when land and monies from Lord Manvers allowed the building of two Board Schools, one at Beighton and another in Hackenthorpe.
In 1877 Birley East Pit was opened and was soon producing up to 500 tons of coal every day. Needless to say, coal mining companies were now a very large source of employment in the area, a far cry from the former agricultural hamlet of only 150 years before.
In 1894 the Local Government Act introduced District and Parish Councils for local government. Beighton and Hackenthorpe both got street names and metal plates to proclaim their respective identities!
Finally, in 1899 Hackenthorpe got its very own church (or almost): Christ Church was built at the top of Sheffield Road, initially as a Chapel of Ease for St Mary’s Beighton (then in the Diocese of Derby). The principal financier behind the initiative was a Mr Hounsfield, owner of Cotleigh Hall. The Hall being nearer to the top of Sheffield Road, that’s where the new chapel was built for Mr Hounsfield’s convenience and ease of access, some distance away from the centre of Hackenthorpe village itself. The new chapel was dedicated on the 11th November that same year.
The 20th century saw this part of Derbyshire slowly being encroached upon by the ever expanding city of Sheffield.
Initially it was the colliery owners who began the building of terraced housing for their workers, but in the 1930s the development of Council estates began at Frecheville on what had been ‘Birley Moor’.
After the Second World War the city of Sheffield desperately needed more land for houses; so began a period of prolific house building in Hackenthorpe. As a direct result of this the area became part of Sheffield in 1967, and consequently left Derbyshire for Yorkshire! This move was bitterly contested by some locals, but the outcome was inevitable; aptly enough, some thought, the date for the takeover was April 1st 1967…
It was not long before Sheffield City Council transformed its dream of a New Town in the Mosborough area into reality: in the 1970s there was another building boom in Hackenthorpe and the surrounding villages, to become known as the ‘New Townships’ of Mosborough, a mixture of Council and private housing developments that still continues to this day.
However, the people who live in these townships are neither coal miners nor scythe makers, these industries having slowly declined in the post-war period until there is barely a trace of their existence save for a few ponds and the Staniforth Works, itself now little more than a collection of small businesses, a dental practice and a café.
What will the 21st century bring for Hackenthorpe?
In the 1960s an extension was built at Christ Church for use as a Church Hall. For a while the Church itself became part of the joint benefice of Frecheville and Hackenthorpe. In the 1980s, plans were afoot to expand the Church. The extension was demolished and part of the land sold to the Parsonages Committee of the Diocese of Sheffield for the building of a new Vicarage. Strangely, it was not until 1989 that it was realised that the Church had never been consecrated in its own right; the service was performed by the then Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd David Lunn. In 1999, redevelopment and reordering of the Church began, financed by the faith and generosity of the parishioners and supported by a very generous grant from the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust. During the reordering, a mobile building was put in place for use as a Church Hall. On Easter Sunday the present Church Building was opened to the Glory of God.

Don Bain, with acknowledgments to T.L. Platts, Historical Highlights of Beighton and other sources.