A century ago Hinckley was on the verge of a number of important developments in its history, developments the results of which we can still see in the town and its surroundings today.
The population of Hinckley in the 1881 census was given at 7,673 and by 1891 this had increased to 9,636; the largest single increase since the census had begun in 1801 clearly giving an important indication of the changes taking place at that time. These changes affected nearly every aspect of life in the town from religion to education and from entertainment to health.
In 1880 the Hinckley Salvation Army Corps, was established and in the same year a report recommended extensive restoration to the chancel of St. Mary's Church so that it might, according to the writer of the Parish Magazine, 'rank with any in the county.'
A new venture in the town in this decade, The Hinckley Music Society set up in 1880, numbered nearly one hundred members by the end of the first year of its existence.
Health was an important consideration in the town and as one writer recorded: 'It is hoped that before long this (polluted water) will cease to be so powerful an agent for evil in the town and with a new water supply a great diminution may probably be seen in the mortality list,' By the end of the decade efforts by engineers and at least two water diviners had resulted in a new supply being arranged from Snarestone which by 1891 supplied 300,000 gallons of fresh water daily. Also during the 1880's the demand for a hospital grew, no doubt influenced by the increased population and 'the mortality list1, and in 1890 the Hinckley and District Cottage Hospital and Nursing Institute was formed.
The Free Library building, only closed in the 1970's and described in detail in the first Hinckley Historian by Mr. Foss, was opened in 1888 as a memorial to Arthur Atkins. In the following year the 'Hinckley Times' was established to provide the area with a newspaper which still is an important feature of life in the town today.
During the 1880's schemes for locating the Grammar School in a new building (the present Mount Grace High School) were pursued by the governors and the headmaster, Rev. Watherston, who had taken up his post in 1882. By the beginning of the next decade the schemes for building the new school were well advanced and the buildings were finally occupied on Leicester Road in 1894 by the forty and more boys who were pupils.
At a time when many hand frames were still in operation in the area a notable step took place in industrial life lit the town in 1887 when Mr. A. E. Hawley set up the Dye Works which was later to become a major employer as Sketchley's.
Many other developments took place in the decade which have not been mentioned, a decade which is only just fading from the memory of the town. The late S. Atkins in an interview in 1975 recalled in vivid detail the celebrations of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 and the procession in the town, but few, if any, who took an active part in that event can be alive today.
As previously stated the 'Hinckley Times’ only began publication at the end of the decade and it is clearly important to preserve the historical records of the eighteen eighties before they are lost. The Hinckley Historian in the 1980; s would welcome any information on the town a century ago either in the form of written articles or information which would form the basis for such articles.
Many thanks to all our contributors and readers in the past and especially to the staff of John Cleveland College reprographic centre who have made the production of our magazine so outstanding.
We look forward to your support in the 1980’s.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine