Kimberley is a town in Nottinghamshire, England, lying 6 miles northwest of Nottingham along the A610. The town grew as a centre for coal mining, brewing and hosiery manufacturing. Together with the neighbouring villages of Giltbrook and Greasley, it has a population of around 6,500 people. There has been no mining or hosiery manufacturing in the town for many years and the local brewery was sold and closed at the end of 2006.
Kimberley is referred to as Chinemarelie in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book. With the accession of William to the throne Kimberley came into the possession of William de Peveril. The Peverils lost control when they supported the losing side in the civil war which preceded the accession of Henry II of England in 1154. The King became the owner of the land. King John of England granted land in the area to Ralph de Greasley in 1212 who took up residence at Greasley Castle and also at around this time to Henry de Grey whose son re-built Codnor Castle on the site of an earlier castle established by William Peveril.
Ralph de Greasley's land passed by inheritance and marriage to Nicholas de Cantelupe who took part in Edward III of England's Scottish campaigns and also the Battle of Crécy. Nicholas founded Beauvale Priory using part of his Kimberley holding in 1343. That part of Kimberley which had become the property of Beauvale Priory was claimed by King Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.
The Priory's land was redistributed by the King and came into the possession of Arthur Capell, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham again by inheritance and marriage in 1627. Arthur was beheaded in 1649 having fought for the Royalists in the English Civil War. Arthur's son was created Earl of Essex in 1661.
In 1753 the land was purchased by Sir Matthew Lamb whose grandson William Lamb became Prime Minister in 1834. The Lamb's Kimberley estates passed by marriage to the 5th Earl Cowper in 1805 and on the death of the 7th Earl in 1913 were sold off in pieces.
That part of Kimberley retained by the Cantelupe's passed by inheritance and marriage to John Lord Zouch who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field with Richard III of England in 1485. He was posthumously found guilty of high treason with his property forfeited to Henry VII of England. John Savage received this part of Kimberley in gratitude for his efforts on behalf of Henry VII at Bosworth. The Savage family sold this land to the Earl of Rutland in the early 17th century. The Duke of Rutland's Kimberley estates were sold in parcels in the early 19th century.
Airships have flown over Kimberley on a number of occasions. The R101 flew over Kimberley during a trial flight on 18 October 1929, the year before it crashed with the loss of most of its passengers and crew during a flight to India. During a bombing raid on the Bennerley and Stanton Ironworks during World War One, a German Zeppelin airship, L.20 (LZ 59) overflew Kimberley. The R101 and the L.20 were rigid airships but more recently, in August 1997 a non-rigid airship advertising the RAC flew over Kimberley.
One of Kimberley's most notable structures is its unusual war memorial, in the form of a rotunda which is used as the emblem of Kimberley School. This secondary school has a catchment area which extends into the neighbouring areas of Nuthall, Eastwood, Watnall, and Hempshill Vale.
The twin towns of Kimberley are Échirolles in France and Grugliasco in Italy.
Kimberley Brewery has recently been taken over by Greene King, another major brewer in a multi million pound deal which marks the end of the traditional Kimberley Ales as ale brewing will now cease and there will only be a distribution centre in the area.
The Kimberley Brewery has within its boundaries a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is listed under the title of "Kimberley Railway Cutting" as an important location for Permian Gymnosperm fossils. The Permian - Carboniferous unconformity can be found in the Kimberley Railway Cutting.
Since 1974, Kimberley has been part of the Borough of Broxtowe. From 1894 to 1974, however, it was part of Basford Rural District Council.
Ignoring the unsettled weather which marred my bus journey to the town, I decided to start at the far end of Kimberley and work my way back through, down the long central road, which is part of the A610. My first destination was a pub which I had heard a lot about in relation to its record for real ale and which sits at the top of an embankment, looking back down onto the main road. First up on this trip, the Nelson and Railway.
This picturesque pub is also a hotel and has a long history, as the building itself is 400 years old. The main door has an outside seating area to either side, including a small wooden smoking shelter. Inside, the narrow corridors encircle the bar, leading to the lounge entrance at one side of the long, narrow bar. This led to some initial confusion when I first entered as the door to the immediate left of the entrance is no longer in use and so my attempts to open it were made all the more frustrating by the fact that the clientele could see my struggle through the glass panel at the top. Not to be deterred, I eventually found my way in. The lunge area is roughly L-shaped with small tables and benches spread throughout. On the way, there are 4 handpulls offering Nottingham Extra Pale Ale, Greene King IPA Gold, Skinner's Betty Stogs and Kimberley Best Bitter, brewed by Greene King to the recipe of the now defunct local brewery which lies nearby. I opted for a pint of the Betty Stogs fro Cornwall's Skinner's Brewery. This was in excellent condition and a welcome way to forget the inclement weather. I took a seat at a small round table off to the side and soaked in the atmosphere of the interior, decorated with bygone photos of the area and assorted brewery memorabilia. I was the youngest customer in the pub by a good 20 years but this wasn't an issue and it was nice to see that the older folk of Kimberley have a good taste in music as Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac made an appearance on the jukebox.
This had been a pleasant start to the day but, as the title no doubt implies, it would not continue in this vein for long. My next stop was slightly further down the road, up yet another slope. My next intended stop was The Cricketers Rest.
The ease with which I'd located this pub was quickly tempered by the worrying sight of 2 locked doors at the entrance and a To Let sign on the wall above. This is certainly a worrying development for this Greene King owned premises. One can hope that the pub opening hours are such that I was early and that a new tenant can be found to ensure that the premises remains a drinking hole. A future visit may be required to see how things lie.
Next up, back down on the main road through the town was the next planned stop on the list. Set back slightly from the road is The Gate Inn.
This is yet another Greene King operated property in this particular neck of the woods. The pub is named for its location at what used to a turnpike between Nottingham and Kimberley which, for a fee, would allow travellers to pass through in one of 4 possible directions heading to various destinations. The building itself is contemporary with the turnpike and parts of it may be older. I walked towards the door, hoping for the welcome sight of an open door. Alas, this pub was also closed at the time of my visit! A quick bit of research confirmed that the pub does not open until 4pm on a Monday and Tuesday which seems a bit strange given the all day opening of pubs in nearby areas. This proves the value of researching opening hours in more detail before embarking on a trip of this type. Although frustrated, with the weather improving, I was determined to continue my adventures in the hope of finding at least one other pub that was open.
Hope was to be found at my next location, the Lord Clyde.
I was pleased to see that this pub was open, making it a marked improvement over the previous 2. Upon entering, I was greeted by an open plan layout with seating mostly confined to one side and a long booth to the right hand side. There are a few regulars around but the pub is largely quiet. The bar is small and tucked into one corner at the back of the room. I am faced with the choice of 2 beers from an available 6 handpulls. My options are Hardy and Hanson's Bitter and Golden Galaxy, brewed for Greene King in association with Brentwood Brewing Co. I decided on the Golden Galaxy (4.0%), a rich, golden and fruity ale with a nice, smooth finish. I took a seat by myself at a small table, largely obscured from the other punters by a supporting pillar. My pint went down quickly, coinciding coincidently with the arrival of the bingo callers. Taking that as my cue to leave, I headed out with the barman's advice to 'Run, before the bingo starts', ringing in my ears.
I had one final stop planned on my so far mediocre exploration of Kimberley. Situated at the other end of the town in its own large plot, is The Stag Inn.
This is a traditional stone built inn dating from 1737, with 2 bars, both of which have low beams, wooden panelling and settle seating. The appearance of the pub already had me hooked and the emphasis on advertising real ale even more so. The only thing preventing me from a pint or 2 to bookend the day was.......the opening time. 5pm. This was not the ending I was expecting to my trip. I'm not ashamed to admit that the issues with opening times is insufficient research on my part. However, The Stag not withstanding, there is a large preponderance of Greene King in this small town, echoing nearby Eastwood in that respect. Overall, Kimberley had been a disappointment but that doesn't mean that I'm not prepared to give it the benefit of a return trip in the future. The Stag alone will not escape my attentions that easily. I can't help but wonder whether areas like this would benefit from longer opening hours but it's obvious that pubs like this survive by knowing when to open and when they are more likely to attract passing trade. In general, Kimberley was one of the more ale deprived areas of recent trips but, who knows, perhaps a return on a different day, at a different time, will yield more fruit. Kimberley has had the once over so we'll see how it stacks up in the foreseeable future. Until next time.