Alfreton is a town and civil parish in Derbyshire, the Amber Valley district adjoining the Bolsover and north-east Derbyshire districts. Once the Norman manor and later becoming an urban district, the population of Alfreton is over 8000 people, but including part of the Manor and Urban districts of the villages of Ironville, Riddings, Somercotes and Swanwick, the population includes 25,000.
Alfreton has a very interesting history, said to have been founded by King Alfred, which is where the name of the town came from. It appears in many different forms throughout the ages, dating back to the Domesday book, but it appears even earlier than that in A.D. 1004 in the will of Wulfric Spott, the founder of Burton Abbey. Amongst his bequests, was a place called Alfred’s farmstead, which is believed to relate to Alfreton, but there is no evidence that this was the aforementioned King.
There is evidence with several major roads, and a long Roman road, stating that settlement in the area predated the time of King Alfred by several centuries. It is known that the initial settlement was at the top of the modern King Street Hill, where the original marketplace developed and where there was also an ancient meeting hall until 1914, called the ‘Moot Hall.’ There have been several inns established over the centuries, some of which survive today. To the West was a manor house, and the nearby church of St Martin, which dates back to 1200.
The economy during the mediaeval period was centred around agriculture but the presence of coal and ironstone meant that both ironworking and mining grew in importance. Pits developed throughout the Manor, with those in Swanwick and Alfreton being the most productive and in some parts of the Manor, coal seams was so close to the surface, they were often ploughed up and numerous small workings developed.
Alfreton colliery was cited to the north-east of the town and rope making became allied to the industry, with Alfreton becoming famous for the quality of its ropes. In the 18th century, Britain was the chief coalmining centre in Derbyshire, and the third largest town in County. Pits closed and their sites have now reclaimed for the development since the late 1960s.
Once the mines closed, the main industry of Alfreton was historically changed, to light industry, warehousing, and the service sector. Nowadays, with the declining proportion of the area still being agricultural, the town centre is very busy with a number of national chain stores, along with charity shops and some great independent shops, which is dominated by a large branch of Tesco supermarket.
There are several churches, the oldest of which is St Martins at the west of the town, part of which dates back to the year 1200. There are several banks, estate agents, building societies and other services and there is also an indoor market, a library, two post offices, numerous pubs and food outlets as well as a health centre, leisure centre and swimming pool. There is also a golf course outside the town to the West.