words supplied by Sandra Noon
In the 12th century Stockingford was just a clearing in the Forest of Arden known as Stoccingford. The name comes from the old English word Stocc, which was used to describe the uprooting of trees; this would have been located by a ford which crossed a stream, possibly the one which runs through the Whittleford area. The land at that time was owned by the Canons of St Mary de Pre of Leicester, which was bestowed to them by Earl Robert le Bosso and William de Newmarch.
It is thought that the first inhabitants were those who worked for the Augustinian Monks who were resident in the Priory that had been established on the land which now forms the Arbury Estate.
During the 13th century Alfred the Great decreed that the country should be divided up into counties, hundreds, and tithing’s, one tithing was ten families that owned their own land, and a hundred was ten of these tithing’s, each hundred was given a name, Stockingford formed part of the Hemlingford Hundred.
Coal mining was first recorded at Stockingford in the 14th century; the mine owner was William Waggestaf. The land which Stockingford stood on at this time was granted to William Jabet and his wife Maud on the understanding that it would be pasted on to their son William and his wife Ellen. It was this century when Stockingford was stuck by the Plague, and one third of the population of England were lost to this deadly disease.
In the 15th century the land was conveyed to the Augustinian Monks of Arbury Priory. The following century Henry the VIII brought about the reformation and confiscated all the land belonging to the Priory, the Arbury Estate and land was then bestowed on Charles Brandon, who later sold it to Edmund Anderson. The Priory was demolished and the Manor house we know as Arbury Hall was built in its stead. Towards the end of the 16th century the Newdigate family took up residence at Arbury Hall and became the new lords of the manor, and the hall was transformed into the ‘Gothic Gem’ we see today.
Stockingford became part of Nuneaton in the 17th century. It was about this time that silk ribbon weaving arrived in Stockingford as the industry started to spread from Coventry to Nuneaton and the villages surrounding it. It was also during this century that the farm land around Stockingford was being developed, there were already sheep being raised, and it was about this time cattle were introduced. Deer were also present, and were used for food, and their hides were used for leather goods. There was also the first recorded brick and tile maker called Henry Green, it was also around this time that Richard Newdigate purchased bricks from Adam Broughton’s yard which was adjacent to Arbury Hall.
During the 18th century around a quarter of the people of Stockingford were employed in by the silk merchants, they worked in their own cottages, that would have had large windows to let in the light, as there was no electricity, this did not arrive till many years later. They worked on hand looms, which producing one length of ribbon at a time, this allowed them to develop the skill needed to make intricate designs.
In the mid 18th century the first mine shaft was sank at Stockingford by John Barber, unfortunately this was short lived as there was a problem with the pumps, needed to pump the water out.
By the early 19th century the majority of people living in Stockingford were ribbon weavers, as demand for ribbons was high at this time due to the fashion for sewing ribbons to dresses and hats, particularly in London. Due to the growing population in Stockingford a church was built to administer to their spiritual needs and dedicated to St Paul. Shortly after this the ribbon trade was in turmoil as cheap imports began to flood the country, this was devastating for the people of Stockingford who relied heavily on this work to feed their families, soup kitchens were arranged to help the starving residents, the population at this time was 1386, almost half of which had not reached adult age. In the mid 19th century the prospects for the residents started to improve, as work was being carried out to pave the way for the Midland Railway to lay a line from Leicester to Birmingham a seam of blue clay was uncovered, and Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company was formed to extract the clay, for this workers were needed. In 1867 Reginald Stanley, along with his brother and brother in-law, also set up brick and tile manufacturing company producing blue bricks, they also produced decorated bricks which were very popular at the time, as they were used to decorate Victorian houses, examples of which can still be seen on buildings today, such as Barclays bank in Nuneaton, and the Gate hotel Abbey Street Nuneaton, which Reginald Stanley built, this has now become a clothing company. By the late 19th century Tomkinson and Hickman along with the trustees of Henry Stratford Dugdale and Henry Tretheny, the main land owners of the area, developed further brick and tile manufacturing also coal mining. There was also a mine opened in the village of Galley Common which was next to Stockingford, a short walk away, all this brought much needed jobs to the area. As Stockingford grew due to the new industries, further housing was also needed at this time, and work began to develop church road and Haunchwood Road.
The beginning of the 1900’s brought with it other changes in the lives of the residents of Stockingford, the installation of gas lighting, the opening of the Palace cinema and the arrival of the first petrol driven omnibus that allowed them the freedom to travel into Nuneaton. In 1922 a monument was erected in honour of the men who had worked in the Midland colliery, that were lost in the great war, this can be seen today, and stands in Whitlleford Road, a widow was also dedicated to the people who were killed. In total 201 people of Stockingford were lost during the war. In 1942 the Second World War came to Stockingford a once again the people were in the firering line, bombs were dropped close to the railway bridge, whittleford Road and also Cross Street.
Today the mines and brick and tile companies have all gone and there is little to show of their existence, the area were the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Co once stood, adjacent to Wittleford Road, is now known as Whittleford Park which local people have worked on to make it a pleasant area for all the communities in the surrounding area. Many of Stockingford’s residents now have to travel to work in other areas such as Nuneaton and Coventry. What was once a thriving industrial community is now just a village were people live. However some may feel it is better that way because of all the pollution the mines and tile manufacturing caused.