Market Day at East Retford.

RETFORD, the capital of the parliamentary division of Bassetlaw, situate in Nottinghamshire, is easily accessible from all parts of the country both by road and rail. It is an important junction of main lines. North and south it is served by the Great Northern Railway Company; east and west by the Great Central Railway Company. The Midland Railway Company have running powers over the Great Central, from the neighbouring towns of Mansfield and Worksop; and the London and North Western Railway Company use the system for the conveyance of goods. There is one passenger station, that of the Great Northern Railway Company. It was built on the site of the old one a few years ago, necessarily of large dimensions, and is replete with every convenience and comfort. Retford is three hours' run from the metropolis. The principal centres of industry are within easy reach. The coast at Grimsby is within 46 miles. Doncaster, the scene of the great racing carnival of the north, is half an hour's journey. From the main arteries, branch lines radiate in every direction. The Dukeries district, well known throughout the British Isles, is near, the fair demesnes of the Duke of Portland, Earl Manvers, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Savile and others being visited from Retford by coach.

Retford is equally accessible by road. It stands on the Great North Road, midway between London and York. Before the advent of railways, the town was famous in the good old days of stage-coaches and royal mails. Now, at least 50 to 100 motor cars visit Retford every twenty-four hours, and traffic on the magnificent highway has been largely restored. It is generally conceded both by cyclists and motorists that the roads of Nottinghamshire are excellent.

The railway facilities of Retford make the town especially desirable to those manufacturers (whether of textiles or hardware goods), who are on the look out for localities in which to establish new or additional works. By the side of the main lines, close to the town, there is land available for factories at a reasonable outlay. The rates are less than in many other similar towns. Its pure and abundant water supply is particularly suitable for boilers, and for those manufacturing processes into which it enters. The price of gas is low, and when used for industrial purposes a considerable reduction is allowed. The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire coal-fields are at hand: the Shireoaks, Kiveton Park, Manton, Langwith, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Shirebrook, Cresswell, and other pits are distant a quarter of an hour to an hour's railway journey. Already there are several large engineering establishments, and mills for the manufacture of paper and of india-rubber goods.

Not only does the proximity of Retford to the Dukeries make the town attractive to visitors, but it is also sought after as a place of residence. Its geological formation is that of the red sandstone. Its water supply is, therefore, good, and the town is dry and healthy. Its death rate is low. A new system of drainage having recently been completed, its sanitation is of a high order. Educationally it stands perhaps in the front rank of country towns. It has its own Local Education Authority, and is a centre for the training of pupil-teachers. Its King Edward VI. Grammar School (see page 38) affords opportunities which are rarely offered, and which are recognized and appreciated in many parts of the country; and its High School for Girls is similarly esteemed.

As to pastimes, the country is hunted by an exceptionally fine pack of hounds. Until last year they were owned by Viscount Galway: they are still housed at the kennels at Serlby, but they have now passed into the possession of Earl Fitzwilliam, and will shortly be domiciled at Barnby Moor, about three miles from the borough and near to the time-honoured haunts. In connection with this hunt, steeplechases are held at Retford in the spring of each year. In the town itself cricket, bowls, and tennis are available on grounds which are alike charming and well-kept; and there are golf-links at Torksey and Carlton-in-Lindrick, both within a short distance, and easily reached by railway.

Retford occupies a position between the sand land and the clay. The former comprises much of the old Sherwood Forest, a beautiful domain, the land of the Dukeries; and the latter consists of the rich grazing and corn-growing area towards the banks of the Trent, where many old and interesting villages are to be found. Naturally Retford shares the prosperity or suffers the adversity of agricultural pursuits. Its Saturday weekly market includes a commodious Corn Exchange, and an open ground for store stock; and there is a fat stock market every Monday. It has two fairs, one in October for four days, and one in March for eight days. Formerly hops were largely grown—the famous "North Clays" which were regarded as of national interest—and were quoted in the technical lists, but the industry has disappeared. At the October fair thousands of sheep are penned; at the March fair horses are the principal feature, and the breed of shire horses in this part of the country has become noteworthy.

One of the charms of Retford is undoubtedly its antiquity. Its government and buildings, though modernized and brought up to date, are nevertheless associated with bygone ages. Incorporated centuries ago, Retford was favoured by the kings of the realm, who granted by charter many privileges, some quaint and curious, of interest to the student of history. Its fine Town Hall takes the place of structures of a like kind which have gone before. Three at least of its beautifully restored churches are of ancient foundation. Even its Nonconformist sanctuaries, all new within living memory, stand upon the sites of old ones. Some of its surrounding villages are traceable to the times of the Saxons or earlier, and several of the estates to be found therein have been in the possession of the same families for generations.