The "Sick Club" movement found congenial soil for growth at Hucknall, where it early took root and flourished vigorously; women as well as men banding themselves together for the purpose of bearing one another's burdens in the day of affliction.

It was a happy move, too, on the part of the Baptists and Methodists early in the 19th century to establish clubs at their chapels, where they were economically managed, and the social side of life was observed, especially at those red-letter days—the anniversaries—when the clubs walked and finished up with merrymaking in the Cricket Field.

On September 22nd, 1770, the first Friendly Society, known nowadays as the "Windmill Club," and the "Old Men's Club," was founded. At first the society was chiefly composed of men living at Arnold and Hucknall, who worked at cotton-spinning at the neighbouring water mills on the River Leen.

About the year 1780 it was decided to divide the funds between the Arnold and Hucknall members. The Hucknall men thenceforward met at the Half Moon, afterwards at the Chequers, from whence they removed a little over 50 years ago to the Seven Stars Inn, their numbers inducing the landlord there to build a big club-room to accommodate them.

For years the membership has been over 300, and such well-known men as Matthew Limb, Zachariah Green, Samuel Mellors, James Barker, and Thomas Twine have borne office. The two last-named have each been officers over 50 years.

Sandy Lane windmill.
Sandy Lane windmill.

On Christmas Eve, 1795, the members bought the Windmill, which stood on the knoll behind the present-day Victoria Cottage, on a site owned by Mr. H. Smith. The mill itself belonged to Mr. Thomas Needham, then resident at Whyburn Farm, who sold it to the Club for £350. The members prominent in this transaction were William Stanley, harness maker and landlord of the Half Moon; Thomas Rhodes, stocking weaver (resident at the present-day Station Lane corner); and Thomas Starr.

The growth of trees on the Broomhill site, and consequent obstruction of wind, together with the expiration of the lease of the land, determined Mr. Needham to part with the mill, which was hauled up Beardall's Lane to its present site in Sandy Lane, the property of Miss Jackson and Mrs. Story. The new site had to be raised (for it was originally a clay pit and brickyard), and friendly farmers in the persons of Messrs. Truman (Bulwell Wood), Ball, Hankin, and Daws lent teams for this purpose.

The massive pillar of oak around which the mill revolves came out of the Aldercar Wood at Newstead, and was one of three fine oaks which served for pillars for the old Wighay Mill and a windmill on Basford Rise, which was burnt down many years ago

The Club Mill narrowly escaped removal when the Great Central railway was made, but the railroad people deferred to the wishes of the Club, and ran their track a few yards to the west of the mill yard.

Nearly 30 years ago a little steam mill was erected in the mill yard to grind corn when there was no wind astir.

The Club Mill stands prominently on the landscape, and is one of the most picturesque objects in the parish. It is the survivor of many mills which dotted the scene from the hill on which it stands. The old dismantled mill on the Strelley ridge to the south is the only mill visible from Hucknall nowadays, whereas eighty years ago one stood in Beardall's Lane, at the top of the present Duke Street, another on the Connery, another on the Wighay, and seventeen on the ridge overlooking the Forest at Nottingham, near to the old gallows hill there.

To-day the clubs most in vogue are connected with the neighbouring collieries, which have done splendid work for many years in various ways.

The National Deposit Friendly Society, the Rechabites, and the Foresters boast the longest roll of members at the present time, Oddfellows and church and chapel clubs making up a formidable total of members.


No. 2 Colliery.No. 2 Colliery.

The Collieries were commenced in 1861. Sinking of the first shaft was commenced, and the Top Hard and Coomb seams were found at a depth of 387 yards, and proved to be 7ft. 8in. thick, with bind between the two seams. The sale of coal at No. 1 Colliery began in 1864.

The sinking in No. 2 Colliery began in 1866, and the coal was found there of a similar thickness at a depth of 410 yards, at the close of the year 1868. Early in 1867 a disastrous fire occurred at No. 1 Colliery, owing to some trams full of heated bind from a gob fire being carelessly left in one of the main airways. Before this was discovered, and the danger properly appreciated, the outbreak had got quite beyond control. It was necessary to fill the mine and shafts with water from a surface brook, and the damage ensuing was such that on re-opening it was found advisable to entirely abandon the old workings. Happily, no life was lost, or even personal injury sustained. The commercial result to the concern was of course very serious, and it was decided to leave No. 1 Colliery until No. 2 had been fully developed. For a year Hucknall coal was practically out of the market. Since 1864 up to the end of 1908, 16,721,255 tons of the Top Hard and the Coomb coal have been drawn. These seams are now within a few years of exhaustion under the area leased or obtained by the Company.


In the year 1889, No. 4 shaft was sunk down to the Deep Hard, which was found to be 5ft. 11ins. thick at that point, and headings were driven 202 yards north, 250 yards south, 100 yards east, and 100 yards west. To the north it thinned to 1ft. 9ins., south 1ft. 8ins., east to 5ft. 6ins., and west to 3ft. 4ins.

Under all the circumstances, the Partners decided that it would be better to look to seams above the Top Hard for any prolongation of the life of the Colliery during their day.

In pursuance of this decision, in 1897 headings were driven in the Main Bright seam, which is 287 yards from the surface, and is known in some parts of the Midland Coalfield as the Furnace seam. During recent years the new method of getting thin seams by the use of portable conveyors has been tried, but this has given place to a special system of filling coal on the longwall face, which is peculiar to the mine, and which admits of the seam being worked with a fair prospect of commercial success.

The necessity of replacing worn-out machinery has from time to time afforded the Company opportunities for the erection of the most modern appliances, and the use of these has made it possible to reduce some of the heavy items of expense which constantly tend to attach themselves to every old-established concern.

A passing reference to some of the new inventions is particularly appropriate in a work on local history, because the applications are themselves by way of becoming historical.

The most notable instance of pioneer engineering work is the installation of a Rateau exhaust steam turbo-alternator at No. 2 Colliery. This plant, which was erected in July, 1905, was the first in Great Britain to make use of the waste power which is contained in the exhaust steam escaping from the winding engine.

The power recaptured by this invention is converted into electrical energy, and is used in the mine for working the endless rope haulage system, which was previously driven by steam. In this way the winding engines may be said to haul the coal, not only up the shafts, but from the furthest extremity of the workings to which the haulage ropes extend.

In 1908 the extended development of the Main Bright seam at No. 1 Colliery (where no steam power is proposed to be used for any purpose except winding) called for extensions to the electrical plant. Acting on the advice of their technical manager, Mr. Maurice, the Company installed an " equalising battery," consisting of 240 large electric accumulator cells, in which the surplus energy from the Bateau alternator is stored through the medium of a "booster-motor-generator."

The combination of an equalising battery with an exhaust steam turbine is unique in the history of engineering developments, being the only example of its kind in the world. The use of an "equalising battery" alone is new to English mining practice, so that the application affords a double instance of pioneer work which may be placed to the credit of the " good old town."

Of minor developments, mention may be made of the use of electric coal-cutting machines, which saw their first application in the Leen Valley coalfield at Hucknall No. 1 Colliery in 1904.

The number of workmen employed at these Collieries has averaged 1,200.

The original partners in the Company were: —

Mr. Wm. Paget, of Sutton Bonnington;

Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis, of Leicester;

Mr. Alfred Ellis, of Leicester;  and

Mr. William Walker, of Coleorton, Leicestershire.

In 1866 Mr. Wm. Paget died, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. Herbert Paget.

In 1878 Mr. Walker died, his interest in the concern being bought by the surviving partners. In 1879 Mr. Alfred Ellis died, being succeeded by his son, Mr. A. G. Ellis.

In 1879 Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis died, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. John E. Ellis, in the following year, the latter acquiring the interest of Mr. A. G. Ellis in 1880.

Since 1880 the concern has been owned by Mr. Herbert Paget and Mr. John E. Ellis, until 1898, as a private partnership, but in that year it was registered as a limited company, Mr. Harold T. Ellis, Mr. F. N. Ellis, Mr. J. A. Taylor, and some other members of Mr. Ellis's family, being admitted as shareholders. No money was asked or received from the public, and the articles of association preclude the public sale of shares.

Up to 1867, Mr. Walker was the managing partner, Mr. John E. Ellis acting as his assistant. In 1867 Mr. Walker resigned his position, and Mr. John E. Ellis became the head of the commercial department, Mr. Woodhouse, mining engineer, of Derby, having control of the mines, with Mr. George Fowler as his resident representative. In 1868 Mr. Woodhouse relinquished his charge, and Mr. John E. Ellis entered on full control, with Mr. Fowler as resident mining manager. Mr. Francis N. Ellis came to the Collieries in 1872, and in 1882 succeeded Mr. Ellis in the management of the concern, being followed by Mr. J. A. Taylor, who now fills that office. In 1873 Mr. James Heslop sicceeded Mr. Fowler as resident certificated manager, giving his whole time to the service of the Company. Messrs. Greener, Douglas, and W. Maurice have successively held this office.

As regards the influence of the Colliery Co. on the public, political, philanthropic, and social life of Hucknall Torkard—no attempt has been made to exercise it in a corporate capacity. Those concerned in the undertaking, in whatever capacity, have acted as individuals rather than as members of a particular commercial concern.