Hinckley has a history going back to Anglo-Saxon times; the name Hinckley is Anglo Saxon: "Hinck" is someone's name and "ley" is a meadow. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Hinckley was quite a large village, and grew over the following 200 years into a small market town—a market was first recorded there in 1311. There is evidence of an Anglo Saxon church – the remnants of an Anglo Saxon sun-dial being visible on the diagonal buttress on the south-east corner of the chancel.
In 2000, archaeologists from Northampton Archaeology discovered evidence of Iron Age and Romano-British settlement on land near Coventry Road and Watling Street. In 2011 this area was officially named and signed as Saxon Paddock.
In the 17th century, the town developed a hosiery industry, producing stockings and similar items. Hinckley played a prominent part in the English Civil War. Its proximity to several rival strongholds—the royalist garrisons at Caldicote, Ashby de la Zouch and Leicester, those of the Parliamentarians at Tamworth and Coventry, and the presence of parties of troops or brigands occupying several fortified houses in nearby Warwickshire—ensured frequent visits by the warring parties. The local townsfolk were forced to decide whether to declare their allegiances openly or attempt to remain neutral—with the risk of having to pay levies, ransoms, and fines to both sides. In March 1644, Hinckley was occupied by a group of Royalist troops, though they were soon driven out by a force of Parliamentarians, who took many prisoners.
The Civil War years were a particularly unsettled time for the clergy in and around Hinckley. Parsons with parliamentary leanings like Thomas Cleveland, the vicar of Hinckley, suffered sequestration by the Leicester County Committee, like some of his "malignant" neighbours accused of visiting royalist garrisons or preaching against Parliament.
The town was visited by both parliamentary and royalists troops from the rival garrisons, particularly parliamentary troops from Tamworth, Coventry and Astley Castle in Warwickshire. Troops from Coventry garrison were particularly active in the town, taking horses and "free quarter" and availing themselves of 'dyett and Beere', and taking some of the inhabitants hostage for ransom. Royalist troops raided the town to threaten those with parliamentary sympathies. The notorious Lord Hastings of Ashby de la Zouch is recorded to have "coursed about the country as far as Dunton and Lutterworth and took near upon a hundred of the clergymen and others, and carried them prisoners … threatening to hang all them that should take the Parliament's Covenant". Parliamentary newssheets record that on the night of 4 March 1644, Hastings's men brought in "26 honest countrymen from several towns" intending to take them to Ashby de la Zouch, along with a huge herd of cattle, oxen and horses from the country people and a minister named Mr Warner. These prisoners were herded into Hinckley church and asked "in a jeering manner, 'Where are the Round-heads your brethren at Leicester? Why come they not to redeem you?'"
The Parliamentarians responded in a memorable "Skirmish or Great Victory for Parliament". Colonel Grey with 120-foot soldiers and 30 troopers from Bagworth House rushed to Hinckley and re-took the town, routed the Royalists, rescued the cattle and released their imprisoned countrymen. No doubt the inhabitants of the town were as relieved as any when Ashby finally surrendered, as Vicars records, "a great mercy and mighty preservation of the peace and tranquility of all those adjacent parts about it."
At the time of the first national census in 1801, Hinckley had a population of 5,158: twenty years later it had increased by about a thousand. The largest industry in the early 19th century was the making of hosiery and only Leicester had a larger output of stockings. In the district, it was estimated ca. 1830 that 6,000 persons were employed in this work.
Castle Street is the first known location of 'Luddism', where disgruntled workers, replaced by machinery in their jobs, took sledgehammers to the machines. Joseph Hansom built the first Hansom cab in Hinckley in 1835.
In 1899 A Cottage Hospital was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria two years earlier. Money was raised by the local townspeople and factory owners notably John and Thomas Atkins who also had a hand in building many of the key buildings of Hinckley. The corner stone was laid by Sir John Fowke Lancelot Rolleston.
This hospital was central to the people of Hinckley and supported by local workers who donated one penny a week for its upkeep until it was adopted by the NHS in 1948. Over the years it expanded to align with the town. Sadly now, this historic beautiful building, appears dilapidated in some areas and is currently threatened with closure, sale and demolition by West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Properties LTD. The local community is facing a fight to save it for the town and petitons gave been signed both online and on paper.
The area was subject to new housing developments in the 1950s, 1960s and 1990s.
Hinckley became an urban district under the Local Government Act 1894, covering the ancient parish of Hinckley. In 1934, under a County Review Order, Hinckley urban district expanded to include the ancient parishes of Barwell, Burbage and Earl Shilton and most of Stoke Golding. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972 the Hinckley urban district was abolished, becoming an unparished area in the borough of Hinckley and Bosworth. Since then, the civil parishes of Barwell, Burbage, Earl Shilton and Stoke Golding have been re-established. The core urban area remained unparished.
Hollycroft, Middlefield, and Wykin are suburbs of Hinckley.
Burbage is often thought to be a suburb of Hinckley but is in fact separate. It is a large village merging with Hinckley to the south, separated by the railway line. Sketchley is another small village which has merged into Burbage.The site of the Battle of Bosworth, administered by Leicestershire County Council, includes an interpretation centre at Ambion Hill, where Richard III encamped the night before the battle. St James's Church at Dadlington is the place where many of the dead were buried and where a chantry was founded on their behalf
Hinckley Museum is in a range of 17th-century timber-framed framework knitters' cottages
Stoke Golding has one of the most beautiful medieval churches in Leicestershire, with an exquisitely carved arcade and very fine 13th-century window tracery
St Mary's Church, the Church of England parish church of the Assumption of Saint Mary the Virgin, in the centre of Hinckley, is 13th-century. There is a local folk tale that a tombstone in the churchyard marking the grave of Richard Smith, a young saddler murdered in the Market Place in 1727, "bleeds" every 12 April, the anniversary of his death. The church is open daily, Monday – Saturday, 10.00 to 4.00 pm, and Sunday during services.
The Great Meeting of 1722, hidden away behind old hosiery factories, is a notable early example of nonconformist architecture with a galleried interior
Britannia (Burbage) Scout HQ: the home of 1st Britannia Scout Group is a specially designed and built scout hall
Parks Hollycroft Park was donated by the notable local Atkins family to the people of Hinckley in 1934, the park has two tennis courts, a bowling green, golf course, band stand and gardens. The park is the base for some of the town's biggest events including the Proms and Worldfest music events.Due to the high standards achieved within Hollycroft Park it has been awarded with Green Flag status for both 2010/1 and 2011/2
Brodick Park in the west of Hinckley was recently the subject of controversy between local people and the Council which had wanted to sell the park for housing, however following a recent change in administration, this sale has been cancelled. The park has now been planted with trees to make a nature reserve.
The Ashby Canal, the longest contour canal in England, passes through the town
Hinckley has two former quarries, quite close to one another, called the Little Pit and Big Pit. The Little Pit is now designated a Site of Ecological Interest (SINC), and has been transformed by a local community group into an angling club to preserve the area of water and surrounding wildlife. It is opposite the Asda superstore entrance and is fenced off from the public. The Big Pit remains the subject of controversy between local residents and developers. It is on Ashby Road, between the cemetery and a parade of shops. It too is fenced off from public access.
Shopping Centres: Hinckley's biggest shopping centre, Britannia Centre on Castle Street, has more than 12 stores and stalls. Hansom Court on Stockwell Head (named after the inventor of the Hansom Cab)has a number of stores. There is a new development due on the site of the Hinckley bus station.
Hinckley is a traditional centre of the hosiery industry. The first framework knitting machine was brought here by Joseph Iliffe in the 17th century and by the 19th century Hinckley was responsible for a large proportion of Britain's hosiery production. Since the Second World War the hosiery industry has steadily shrunk in size although several textile firms remain in the area. Hinckley & District Museum, which is housed in a range of former framework knitters' cottages, tells the story of the hosiery industry and contains some examples of framework knitting machines. Hinckley also has a history of engineering and is home to the Triumph Motorcycle company.
Ultima Sports Ltd, a manufacturer of sports cars is based in Hinckley as is Paynes Garages Ltd, one of the oldest family-owned Ford Motor Dealerships in the UK. Established by JA Payne in 1907, the firm became Ford Dealers in 1922. The business remains family owned with Nigel Payne, grandson of the founder, one of the current Directors.
The town's central location and good links to the UK motorway network have made it a popular location for distribution warehouses. Hammonds Furniture, a family owned nationwide fitted furniture company, was established in the town in 1926 by Thomas Hammonds, and currently employs over 850 people in its two Hinckley factories.
Hinckley is home to a burgeoning creative and technology community with web and graphic designers, illustrators, IT specialists artists and photographers. Taking up residence in both the Atkins Building, Hinckley and also Graphic House on Druid Street companies such as MOAB Sauce Video Production & Web Designers and Erud IT Ltd Ethical IT Support. International illustrator Sarah Coleman aka Inkymole has based her studio at Hinckley since 1993.
The town is equidistant (19 km/12 miles) from Coventry and Leicester and 8 km (5.0 mi) to the east of Nuneaton. The small town of Ibstock is 18 km (11 mi) to the north on the A447.
The A47 was by-passed around the town during the early 1990s when the Northern Perimeter Road (Normandy Way) was completed. As well as relieving congestion in the town centre, new commercial developments have been built along the route.
Hinckley is served by the A5 and the M69. The M69 links Hinckley to the nearest cities, Coventry, and Leicester, and the M1 and M6 motorways.
Hinckley Bus are the main operator of bus services within the town centre operating services to Leicester, Burbage, Earl Shilton, Nuneaton and Barwell from their depot. Arriva originally operated a number of services to villages around the town until 2008 when they were sold to Centrebus Holdings, a joint venture between Arriva and Centrebus. During September 2013, Arriva purchased Centrebus' stake in Centrebus Holdings and regained control of the Hinckley depot.
Arriva Fox County and Stagecoach in Warwickshire are another two major operators serving Leicester, Nuneaton and Coventry (Stagecoach).
Hinckley railway station is on the Nuneaton–Leicester section of the Birmingham to Peterborough Line and has regular services between Birmingham and Leicester via Narborough and Nuneaton. Journeys to London can be made via the West Coast Main Line through Nuneaton or the Midland Main Line via Leicester. The terminus of the Midland route is London St Pancras which has been the home of Eurostar international services since November 2007.
The nearest airports are East Midlands and Birmingham International.
The local radio station, OakFM, 107.9 fm serves the town and the surrounding area. The main local newspaper is the weekly Hinckley Times, which has its own website. The daily Leicester Mercury no longer publishes a Hinckley edition. The free (advertising-funded) Hinckley Herald & Journal is distributed to most houses. Hinckley has its own community website and online news resource. take5 community news is a full colour gloss community magazine distributed free to homes and businesses. Hinckley also has its own hospital radio station Castle Mead Radio, which serves the patients and staff of Hinckley's two main hospitals.
There is a 400-seat theatre located near the centre of the town in Stockwell Head (Concordia Theatre), which holds regular productions. Further, the local council holds an annual 'Proms in The Park' event.
Hinckley Past & Present setup in February 2014 for the local people of Hinckley to find out more about local history, current events, finding old friends, colleagues, photos, etc. New people to the area as well as people who have left the area find the friendly group very useful. The group has an extensive website at www.hinckleypastpresent.org and a popular Facebook Group.
Hinckley Photographed, was created in August 2011 and is an ongoing photographic social documentary of the town's stories, characters and events. Hinckley Photographed is a non-profit organisation for the benefit of the local and wider arts community. Online forum... https://www.facebook.com/HinkleyPhotographed and the official website is www.hinckleyphotographed.co.uk
Hinckley remembers the contribution of Simon V de Montfort to participatory democracy. Montfort's banner described as the 'Arms of Honour of Hinckley', per pale indented argent and gules, shown in the stained glass image in Chartres Cathedral, is used by the town of Hinckley in the town coat of arms, various local sports teams and other organisations. Combined with his personal Coat of Arms, it also forms part of the club crest for the town's football club Hinckley A.F.C.
The town has had six notable football clubs over the years –Hinckley Town – formed in the 19th century, dissolved in 1906, reformed in 1972 and merged with Hinckley Athletic in 1997 to form Hinckley United
Hinckley Athletic – formed in 1906 as Hinckley United, changed name to Hinckley Athletic after World War II, merged with Hinckley Town in 1997 to form Hinckley United
Hinckley F.C. – formed in 1967 as Downes Sports, changed name to Hinckley Downes in 2007, and again to Hinckley in 2010, before dissolving in 2011
Hinckley United – formed in 1997 as result of a merger between Hinckley Athletic and Hinckley Town, dissolved in 2014
Hinckley A.F.C. – formed in 2014
The only rugby union club, Hinckley Rugby Club, were formed in 1893 and have been based at the Leicester Road Sports ground since 1968. Hinckley RFC have been involved in league rugby since 1987, during which time the first team has been as high as National League 3 North (level 4). They currently reside in National 3 Midlands (level 5).
The town's largest school, Hinckley Academy (formerly John Cleveland College), is noted for its many achievements on the rugby field and has produced many professional players, many of whom have gone on to play for England; these include England and Leicester Tigers players Graham Rowntree and Dean Richards, as well as current pros Ollie Smith, Sam Vesty and Manu Tuilagi. Tuilagi is the most recent ex-JCC man to make his international bow, starting in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham on 6 August 2011.
Hinckley has one basketball team, the Hinckley 69ers, a name derived from the town's proximity to the M69 motorway. It was founded, by Terry Byng and Paul Ferrier, in 1974, and has involved some staff, ex-students and students of John Cleveland College, as well as other interested, local players, throughout most of its history. The team last played in Division 2 of the Leicestershire men's league. The 2007–08 season was one of the team's best performances, with promotion and a cup win too. The team were based at John Cleveland College. The team folded after the 2012–13 season, due to a shortage of players. However it was re-formed, for the 2014–15 season, the club's 40th anniversary.
Hollycroft Park, in the centre of Hinckley, is recognised as a great area for sports – the park contains two tennis courts, a golf pitch'n'putt and a lawn bowls green with pavilion.
Hinckley has one high-performance Gymnastics Club based at Clarendon Park. In its 30 years of existence, it has never failed to have a number of its members competing for their home nations or for Great Britain.
Hinckley Ladies Netball Club is based at the Leicester Rd Sports Club and has four senior teams in the Coventry and Warwickshire Netball League.
Club Republic is a short drive. Greentowers is a youth club at Richmond Park; it has a climbing wall, skate park, astro turf, and BMX track; it is a self-funded charity and is not owned by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.
On 8 May 2014, the second stage of the first ever Women's Tour of Britain cycle race, The Friends Life Women's Tour, departed from Hinckley.
The main primary schools in the area are Battling Brook CP, Richmond, Hinckley parks, St. Peter's Catholic, St. Mary's Church of England, Westfield Infant/Junior and Sketchley Hill Primary School (in Burbage ). The high (secondary) schools include Redmoor, St Martin's Catholic Voluntary Academy (in Stoke Golding) and Hastings (in Burbage)— all feeder schools for Hinckley Academy, the two schools in the town for Years 10 and 11. The school also operates a sixth form. North Warwickshire & Hinckley College, a Further Education college, is also in the town. The only other major college in the area is William Bradford (Earl Shilton). Within Hinckley there is also Dorothy Goodman Special School that caters for both juniors and seniors with disabilities, with units integrated within other local schools.Famed French organist and composer Louis Vierne stayed briefly in Hinckley while on a tour of England, and later wrote a carillon piece for organ called "The Bells of Hinckley", inspired by a carillon of bells he heard there. It is the last movement of his fourth suite of Vingt-quatre pièces de fantaisie.
The town is mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (Act 5, Scene 1):
Davy: Now, sir, a new link to the bucket must need be had: and, sir, do you mean to stop any of William's wages, about the sack he lost the other day at Hinckley fair?
Hinckley is mentioned by Monty Python in the "world hide and seek championships"
Supercar manufacturer Ultima Sports Ltd are based in Hinckley. They claim to have set the fastest roadcar lap around the famous Top Gear test track with their GTR720 model, although it has never appeared on the programme
The actress Lauren Samuels trained at Hinckley's Speech and Drama Studio, and recently appeared in the BBC show Over the Rainbow.
Martine Croxall, TV Presenter BBC News Channel
Davey Graham, influential guitarist and folk singer, was born in Hinckley
Graeme Hawley, actor who plays John Stape in Coronation Street, lived in Hinckley
Paul Hines, BriSCA Formula 1 Stock Cars driver, former British and European Champion
Phil Oakey, singer with The Human League, born in Hinckley
Manu Tuilagi, Rugby player for Leicester Tigers and England national rugby union team, attended John Cleveland College in Hinckley
John Cleveland, poet was educated at Hinckley Grammar School. John Cleveland College is named in his honour.
Hinckley was known to its residents for many years as "Tin 'At" (tin hat). It is reputed that, many years ago, one of the itinerant sheep drovers bragged that he could drink a hat full of ale. The local landlord put this man to the test by getting the local blacksmith to make a tin hat, which he then filled with ale. Thereafter, the town became known as "Tin 'At". Another explanation is that the people of Hinckley used to place buckets on water pumps to keep them clean and prevent the spread of illness, the bucket obviously being the "Tin 'At". A tin hat can be seen on top of the flag pole which sits on the roof of the Coral branch at the corner of Castle Street and Market Place. There is also a pub called The Tin Hat. For a few more examples of Folklore
Hinckley is twinned with Le Grand-Quevilly, France, and joined with Herford, Germany in the early 1970s. Hinckley is also twinned with Midland, Ohio, United States.