Nothing ever happens in Sinfin!

Sinfin may be a fairly unassuming suburb four miles from the City of Derby in the East Midlands of England, but when you look at the bigger picture, our little area has made its mark on quite a few occasions over the years and is remarkably well connected historically.



Sinfin, a lake that became a swamp, then a marsh and later a moor.


Henry de Ferrers becomes the first Sinfinite.


Coddington (part of Sinfin) wiped out by the Black Death


Horse races held across Sinfin Moor


Bonnie Prince Charlie’s soldiers creep though our back gardens.


Barrow Canal opens just south of Sinfin.


Railway track running alongside Sinfin opens.


The first race meeting was held on Derby Race Course, which was the beginning of the end for the Sinfin course.


There are just two farms and five cottages on Sinfin Moor.


Twenty three year old Sinfin labourer, Richard Smith, was given six weeks hard labour for stealing potatoes.


International Combustion Ltd open factory on Sinfin Lane.


Derby Golf Course opens in Sinfin.


Sinfin becomes part of Derby.


Rose Dorrington, aged 4, is one of the first residents on the Sinfin estate.


Sinfin Primary School built.


St Stephen's Church Built.


Construction of the Sinfin Moor estate begins.


Sinfin Community School opens.


Dominik Cork - Question of Sport Mystery Guest - filmed at Keith Tomlin Bookmaker Sinfin Lane




There is very little information about Sinfin prehistorically, but a brief article written by a John Ward in 1894, gives a few pointers as to the origins of the area. He noted similarities between Sinfin Moor and excavations of marsh dwellings near Glastonbury. It is pretty much common knowledge that Sinfin was moorland, but according to Ward, the nature and colour of the soil indicated that Sinfin was at one time a swamp and may have been inhabited by primitive swamp dwellers. He also suggests that previous to being a swamp, it was highly probable that the area was a shallow lake.

The areas close proximity to the River Trent and that certain parts of the area are still susceptible to flooding following heavy rain adds substance to that theory, which is further validated by Roy Dorrington, whose family have resided in the area for over two centuries. Roy worked for the Beresford’s at Cotton’s Farm from the 1950s until 1980s and explained that ploughing across the moor was limited to a depth of ten inches because beneath the top soil lay white clay, which if disturbed would be detrimental to the soil’s properties. He also remembered that the extension of Sinfin golf course in 1971 revealed a field of white clay that was littered with fresh water mussel shells.


Did you know? Roman bones have been discovered on the Sinfin Moor allotments.




Sinfin is recorded as Sedenfield in the Domesday Book (1086) and was one of 210 manors throughout England and Wales granted to Baron Henry De Ferrers, a Norman soldier from a noble family who fought for William the Conqueror during the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Perhaps it was our very first Sinfinite who fired the arrow that landed in the eye of King Harold during that famous battle.


Did you know? Apart from Sedenfield, the area has also been known as Synfold, Swinfen, Swinefen Moor, Sidenfen, Sinfelmore, Sidenefenmar, Sydene Fen, Sinfen and of course, Sinfin.




Coddington, listed as Codetune in the Domesday Book, is one of the most ancient sites in the city and the only deserted medieval village within the boundaries of Derby. It lies beneath the area surrounding the now derelict farm by the golf course at the bottom of Shakespeare Street. It is believed that during the Black Death of the 1340s, the population was wiped out and any that did manage to survive moved to Normanton and Osmaston. There seems no further record of the village until two centuries later when it re-emerges as Cotton’s Farm. The site is considered of historical importance and may be excavated upon the demolishing of the old farm.


Did you know? Until the 1960s, you could go down to Cottons Farm on a Sunday morning and purchase a chicken for dinner and Mr or Mrs Beresford would neck the bird while you waited.




Horse racing in Sindelmore (Sinfin Moor) was established by the early 1700s. A newspaper records a notice of racing across the moor on July 26th 1733 at the well established venue. The race meetings were formal functions drawing gentry from all over Derbyshire. Horses were entered for races at the town’s inns. The Nag’s Head in St Peter’s Street, the George, the King’s Head and the Old Ship, Full Street. There are references to Race Balls being held at the County Assembly Rooms and the Virgin's Inn on the Market Place.

Horses were entered for races at the town’s inns. The Nag’s Head in St Peter’s Street, the George, the King’s Head and the Old Ship, Full Street.


An Act of Parliament of March 27, 1740, regulated horse-racing and led to restrictions at Alfreton, Bakewell, Wirksworth and Tideswell, which benefited the Sinfin course and increased crowds at events. By 1770, the turn-out had become much more upmarket, with William Cavendish,  the future 5th Duke of Devonshire, and his entire family present to celebrate his 22nd birthday. Following the races, the whole Cavendish family and Polish Ambassador enjoyed an evening of 'lavish entertainments' at the George's Head and Greyhound with Local nobility, gentlemen and tradesmen. Around that time, William Cavendish also donated a sum of £3, 12s 6d to the five local parishes.


Although the course had a prefabricated grandstand, the exposed course and often water-logged moor was not for the fashionable and during the late 1780s racing was transferred to a new course at the Holmes in Derby where a “handsome and commodious” permanent grandstand was built.


Did you know? Previous to race meetings across Sinfin Moor, an order was given to destroy any mongrels that strayed upon the course.




It is believed that an advance party, sent ahead from Derby by Bonny Prince Charlie, crossed Sinfin Moor on the way to Swarkstone Bridge where they received news that the King’s army were assembling near Lichfield. They turned back to Derby before retreating to Scotland where they were finally defeated at the Battle of Culloden.


Did you know? A stone cairn has been erected in the Crewe and Harpur garden by Swarkestone Bridge to mark the southern-most point reached by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army.




The Grand Canal (Trent and Mersey), locally known as Barrow Canal, runs along the southern edge of Sinfin and was built to link the River Trent to the Mersey. The first sod was dug by Josiah Wedgwood, of Wedgewood Pottery, in July 1776 and the 93.5 mile waterway was completed eleven years later. Along the canal there are five tunnels and more than seventy locks.


Did you know? Stenson Lock, with a rise and fall of over 12 feet, is reputed to be the deepest lock along the Grand canal.




Railway track running alongside Sinfin opens. George Stephenson, inventor of the Rocket




Whites Directory of Derby informs that there were just two farms and five cottages on Sinfin Moor in 1857. The land was owned by Sir John Harpur-Crewe, 10th Baronet of Calke Abbey.




The gateway to Sinfin. Work on Normanton Barracks began in 1874 and was completed in 1877 at a cost of £52,055. The bricks were made from clay excavated from land belonging to Cottons Farm just south of the barracks. The Barracks was originally the headquarters for 26 Brigade and depot for the 45th and 95th Regiments of foot. of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The regiments amalgamated in 1881 and became the famous Sherwood Foresters.

The last soldiers left the Barracks in 1963 and it was eventually demolished in 1981 having served as industrial units and a playground for local children. All that remains is the wall running along Sinfin Lane.


Did you know? Nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to Sherwood Foresters during the First World War.

Click here for more on Normanton Barracks.



F.W. Hampshire and Company,  Chemists and makers of fly papers and cough medicines, moved to Sinfin in 1910 following a fire at their previous premises at the Old Silk Mill in Derby town centre. The company, famous for Zubes Lozenges, Cossack hairspray and many of today's cleaning products....




The Richardson family tradition in the leather business dates back to the early 19th century in Derby. Encouraged by their father, William and John Richardson opened their first curriers on St Peters Street in 1824. The business prospered and in 1898 the brothers bought an old foundry on Eagle Street, where the Westfield shopping centre now stands, and expanded into tanning. They acquired the former brick works on Sinfin Lane from the Cotton's Farm estate in 1918 and built a new tannery, which was joined by the currier business after a fire destroyed the premises on Eagle Street.

Richardson's Tannery remained in Sinfin for 66 years and employed more than 200 people in its heyday, but increased foreign competition forced it's closure in 1984. The site is currently at the enquiry stage regarding plans to build a recycling/gasification/waste plant.


Did you know? The Richardsons were related to George Eliot, one of the leading novelists of the Victorian era.

Click here for more information on the Richardsons.



International Combustion on Sinfin Lane began life as the Automatic Furnace Syndicate. The business was formed in 1898 by American W.R Wood with its head office based near Cannon Hill Station in London and their furnace stoker machines being built under railway arches in East London. During that time virtually every factory in the country used coal fired steam boilers and were fed with huge quantities of coal by men with shovels. Wood's furnaces used a revolutionary automatic system which mechanically fed coal directly to the hearth of the furnace.

The company moved to Slough in 1902 and changed its name to the Underfeed Stoker Company. A year later a deal was set up with Alan Ransom, who's new engineering works designed woodworking machinery and used similar requirements during production and the staff at the Underfeed Stoker Company were relocated to Newark where 500 tons of furnace product were shipped out each month.


In 1922 the whole operation was transferred to a new factory on 50 acres of land alongside Sinfin Lane and production began on October 2, 1922 under the new name of the Derby Works of International Combustion. The first building on the site was a corrugated iron hut, with a floor made of discarded railway sleepers. There was no sanitation, heating, washing or drinking facilities and there was just one telephone on the premises. On Sinfin lane, there were often queues of up to several hundred men, all waiting patiently in the hope of obtaining a casual labouring job.


Between 1923-28, the Company merged with the Vickers company from Barrow-in-Furness to become International Combustion Limited and saw major expansion as staff were transferred to the Sinfin factory . New workshops were erected and the foundry was extended by 40% to produce 150 tons of castings a week. By 1930, General manager and Works Director Mr R. Greenwood watched over much of the expanded works from his spacious new office. A canteen capable of catering for 700 of the 1,000 employees was also built with a separate area for members of staff and a licensed club room was erected as a headquarters for the various sports activities; football, cricket, angling etc, which was encouraged by the company.

International Combustion Ltd continued to prosper through the thirties and the name gained global recognition for the production of power boilers, milling plant and other similar heavy equipment. During the WWII they concentrated on the war effort with the production of military equipment. After the war hundreds of boilers left Sinfin to all four corners of the globe. Later, the company provided specialist equipment for the nuclear power industry and was thriving with 2,000 staff and workers plus a further 1,200 short term contract employees.

ICL was bought by Rolls-Royce towards the end of the 1990s became predominantly involved with prefabrication of power plants to other company designs, but a policy change by Rolls-Royce regarding its exposure to the power industry left ICL to become little more than a fabrication shop. Much of the site, which was an industrial hive of manufacture for nearly eighty years, has now been cleared and what remained of International Combustion Limited was sold.


Did you know? The furnace stoker machine was based on the Archimedes' Screw principle.

Click here for more information on International Combustion



Construction of the municipal golf course began on April 27th 1923 at a cost of £500. It took eighteen men just three months to complete the work and the first ball was driven down the fairway by Alderman Hart on the 25th of July. The club house, costing £850, was built the following year and Alderman Hart became the first captain of the new Derby Golf Club. There have been one or two changes to the course over the years, the most notable during the seventies with the construction of Wilmore Road. A large chunk disappeared at the north edge as an extension appeared down the western side by the side of Sinfin Primary School.

Did you know? Alderman Hart topped the ball at the opening of Sinfin Golf Course and the first drive only travelled around fifty yards.


"A small booklet celebrating the 75th anniversary of Sinfin Golf Club mentions the flooding of the course in June 1981. I remember that day pretty clearly as the following day I was to go on my first holiday abroad to Spain. It was midday on a Friday and the junction of Sinfin Lane and Wilmore Road also became flooded. The water was over two and a half feet deep. A bloke from Carlyle Street in his six wheeled transit van was towing cars from the water. My dad had just finished a 6-2 shift at Leys and was met by a lake at the top of our street. Some people decided to walk through and my dad thought he would follow suit. Unfortunately, being only 4' 10", the water came over the top of his trousers and he came home absolutely soaked."

Tom Fülep



Sinfin becomes part of Derby.


Did you know that the Rolls-Royce should always have a hyphen between the two names?




When Rose Dorrington  moved into her new home on Sinfin Lane, there were just six houses occupied in Sinfin. The rest of the estate was still under construction.




Sinfin Primary School built.

Rose was also one of the first pupils to cross the threshold of the the new primary school. Seventy four years later she reopened the school's replacement.



Three bombs targeted at the Rolls-Royce test beds were dropped on decoy light across Sinfin Moor during the war. The soldiers operating the lights recorded three and the German pilot of the bomber, who was shot down, confirmed he had dropped three, yet only two exploded. During the post war years the army bomb disposal squad made two long searches across the moor, but couldn't find the unexploded bomb. To this day the third bomb sits undiscovered somewhere between Lea farm and Redwood School.



Three bombs fell on the moor on decoy lights south of the RR test beds.  2 exploded and the Army Bomb disposal made 2 long searches in the post war years but could not find the third.  Soldiers operating the decoy lights reported the three bombs and the pilot who was short down said he had dropped 3 bombs.




The foundation stone for St Stephen's Church was laid on Saturday 1st June 1935 by Hannah Price, wife of the Vicar of Normanton, Three months later, on Saturday 14th September, the church opened its doors for the first time.The black iron clad 'social hall' that stood behind the church was added at a cost of £360 in 1939. Alterations and additions were completed at the Church in November 1980 at a cost exceeding £42,000 of which £11,500 was pledged by the congregation.


Did you know? During the war St Stephen's Church was taken over by the army as a recreation centre for soldiers and bedding store.




Construction of the ‘Old’ Sinfin estate begins.




Construction of the Sinfin Moor estate begins.




Redwood Junior School built




Sinfin Community School Built




Redwood Infants School was built on Chapel Meadow. Most of the fields in the area had names including Pegs Meadow and The Willow Trees. The field opposite Sinfin House, situated around where the Social Club and Sinfin Community School stand, was The Crab Trees, now the Asda shopping precinct.


Did You Know? Redwood Road was originally called Barrow Lane and was a favourite rendezvous point for old time gypsies who were welcomed into the area.




Ashcroft School built on Crofts Field where two large Ash trees once stood. Facing the school was Littleover Sewage Works, built in 1933, but since been demolished to make way for Cloverdale Drive.




Grampian School was built at the same time as Moorfields, Derby's first purpose built childrens Observation and Assessment Centre for Children.




Sinfin Library built.




Sinfin Community School devastated by fire.

Communicating, promoting and encouraging community spirit in the Sinfin area.



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