Retro: Recalling the heyday of agriculture before change swept through

The Old Mill and Ford over the River Ryton at Shireoaks
The Old Mill and Ford over the River Ryton at Shireoaks

Our picture this week shows the Old Mill and Ford over the River Ryton at Shireoaks.

Although it is not certain when the image dates from, it is probably from the early 1900s or even the late years of the 19th Century when the mill was still a working building.

British agriculture reached its high point in the late 1870s but from then on, over the next few decades, there was a dramatic decline, caused by several factors, including cheap grain and meat from America and Australia, meaning mills like Shireoaks were not so much in demand.

The was also the rise of the industrial and mining industries, and mechanisation of agricultural machinery by use of steam power.

It all resulted in a decline in the populations of the villages as many people sought a livelihood in the towns and cities.

The development of the mining industry in the western part of Bassetlaw also played its part in the movement of people from the villages.

In 1854, Shireoaks pit was sunk by the Duke of Newcastle and new houses were built in the village to accomodate the workers.

Manton pit followed in 1898 and Harworth in 1914 as a whole community was created at Bircotes.

However, all communities, whether village or town, farming or mining were then changed completely again by the events of World War One, the start of which reaches its centenary this year.

The Old Mill at Shireoaks became a private house and the old ford disappeared to be replaced by a bridge.

Yet, despite the events that have shaped local and national history, some of the villages have seen little change in their appearance and many street scenes from yesteryear are still there today.