26 September 2017
Created by Barry Thompson © 2011-2017 Aston on Trent on Trent Local History Group, all rights reserved
Aston on Trent At Work - Part 1 The village probably started out as a pre-historic settlement near to the fertile river plain. As tribes settled down and became farmers rather than nomadic hunter/gatherers, the settlement may have moved to higher ground and by the sixth century the Saxon village of ‘Acetum’ was established. Farming has historically been the dominant way of life. Between the 11th and 17th Centuries large tracts of land were owned by the Lords of the Manor with villagers renting strips for the growing of produce. An area of local common pasture land was known as Aston on Trent Moor. In the eighteenth century the Acts of Enclosure were introduced which effectively brought an end to the practice of strip farming. Open fields were divided into smaller units and fenced, giving landowners the opportunity to develop and profit from a more efficient method of farming. From 1648 much of the land around Aston on Trent was owned by the Holden family. Despite areas of poor soil Aston on Trent earned a reputation as ‘the bread basket of Derbyshire’ on account of its prolific production from the surrounding wheat fields known as Ash, Alderslad, Grass and Hether. Today farmland still surrounds the village with a mixture of arable crops, sheep, dairy and stock cattle. Aston on Trent was home to a small stocking framework knitting industry in 1766 when John Whyman set up his business. By 1789 there were three stocking machines in the parish. To the north of the village, brick making developed as a cottage industry from 1795 before expanding to the Brickyard Plantation in the early 1900s. In 1930 The Derby Brick Company Ltd opened up a new works at the northern outskirts of the village. The industry continued until the 1960s when larger companies forced its closure. Bricks stamped with ‘Aston’ continue to be dug up in the vicinity. There is evidence of some plaster quarrying in the 17th century by John Hunt and in the early 18th century but it was only at the end of the 18th century that it seems to have been quarried in commercial quantities.  A railway, costing £500 in1812, ran from the plaster pits on Aston on Trent Hill to the canal near Hicken’s bridge. It extended to other pits nearer Aston, and finally closed sometime before the First World War. The census of 1851 (249 persons) reveals the following breakdown of occupations: Agriculture 39% Domestic Service 23% Textiles 7% Transport 5% Building 5% Plaster Pits 3% Education 2%