Oliver's Crossing

Oliver's Crossing from Jackson Street

The crossing was installed in the early days of Coalville.

Crossing what was then known as Hugglescote Lane and because it formed the main outlet for coal from Snibston Pit it was much used, interfering for many years only with limited traffic. The lane was initially very little developed with housing but, as the town grew in importance industrially, more permanent gates were needed, served by an attendant. An early local photo shows these gates alongside the Primitive Methodist chapel and school built in the 1860s.

The identity of many of the early “gate minders” is not clear but by 1881 Oliver Robinson, aged 62, was described as such. It is understood that he suffered an accident in the pit in the 1870s and was given this duty in compensation.

His family story, so typical of many in the working class of the time, makes interesting study.

Like many other mining families Joseph and Catherine Robinson came from Cossall in Nottinghamshire in the 1830s, to seek better opportunities for their teenage children. It is probable that they settled in Swannington parish in one of the houses built on the north side of Ashby Road opposite the Snibston mine. Joseph and sons Oliver, Solomon and Charles, aged 20, 15 and 15 respectively were all employed as miners.

The men quickly settled into the area finding wives and having families if their own: Oliver married Hannah Curtis, a native of Lount, at Whitwick in April 1843 and by 1851 had acquired a family including Mary Ann, 7, and Harriett, 6, to which was added Lavinia in October 1853. At this time they were accommodated in one of the six “Snibby Rows” but by 1861 they were back on the north side of Ashby Road where they remained until the mid 1870s, possibly when Oliver was injured at work.

The change in fortune continued as they moved to Marshalls Row on Station Street (now High Street) where his wife died in May 1878. She was buried in London Road Cemetery.

Oliver’s 29 year-old daughter Lavinia was married, in August 1880, to widower John Burton, a 29 year-old carpenter, and they were living with Oliver in Marshalls Row with John’s three children but bad fortune continued to dog the family for they lost five of their eight children in infancy before 1889: 8 months-old Harriett in September 1881; 6 months-old Oliver in April 1883; 1 month old John and 3 months old Lavinia in February 1884 and 2 months old John in May 1888.

The family’s ill fortune is mirrored by a deterioration in their living accommodation as they went from Marshalls Row to a hovel in Red House yard and then back to Marshalls Row.

The last child died in rooms at the rear of the Engine Inn. Only Joseph, aged 4; Catherine, aged 1; and Samuel, aged 1 month, survived to be recorded in the 1891census after the family had moved to North Road, Hugglescote, a slightly healthier environment.

After all these traumas Oliver died, aged 71 and was buried in Hugglescote cemetery in February 1892.

His daughter Lavinia married again in October 1910 to 87 year-old John Vernon of Hugglescote.

Oliver’s daughter Mary Ann Catherine married Snibston miner Samuel Peace in January 1862 at Coalville and by 1901 their family had settled in Hugglescote and Ellistown.

His daughter Harriett, who suffered from a mental handicap from birth, was buried in May 1878 in London Road cemetery at the same time as his wife.

Lavinia’s son Joseph married Jane Knapp in 1907 and his family settled in Thringstone.

Oliver’s grand daughter, Catherine Burton married Thomas Orton Leeson of Peggs Green in September 1918 and their family initially settled in Thringstone.

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