The Oxcroft Settlement

It’s little known today but for a few years from 1936 until 1968 nearly 400 acres of land were part of an experiment in agricultural management, animal husbandry, horticulture and land tenancy, which we briefly look at in this blog.

This map of the Oxcroft Estate appeared in Fred Kitchen’s 1947 book of his experiences there – ‘Settlers in England’.

In February 1936 Derbyshire County Council bought Oxcroft farm (399 acres, about two miles north of Bolsover) from the 9th duke of Devonshire. The same year it was leased to the Land Settlement Association. Forty smallholdings were formed, intended to give unemployed men and their families a chance to make a living from the land.

Each holding had a semi-detached, three-bedroom house, 5 acres of land, a piggery and other buildings. A ‘central farm’ or ‘estate service depot’ was managed by the estate manager.

By the 1960s there were problems, which include a poor tenancy rate and air pollution from Coalite (Bolsover) and Staveley works – so much so that tomatoes were reported as having a taste problem.

The estate was closed in 1968 – the land and buildings were sold off.

Taken from Fred Kitchen’s 1947 book ‘‘Settlers in England’, is this line-drawing by EJ Brown, which shows the then community centre, which is still extant though is now dwellings.

Fred Kitchen wrote about his experiences as a tenant at Oxcroft in his book ‘Settlers in England’, published in 1947, by JM Dent & Son. The book is now fairly rare. Two of EJ Brown’s line-drawings for the book feature in this post.

The wary can still spot these semi-detached houses scattered on the near 400 acres of the Oxcroft estate. All were built to a near-standard pattern and included glasshouses and accommodation for animals, fowls and particularly pigs.
The estate houses are not difficult to spot, once you know what to look for, but most have been altered since construction.

There’s more about the Oxcroft Settlement in our VCH book ‘Bolsover and adjacent parishes’ and further information about Fred Kitchen here.

Recently (January 2023) Bolsover District Council announced that they were looking into the possibiloity of a conservation area in the former Oxcroft Settlement area.

This post was first published on our Facebook page on 10 October 2020, but has been edited for this website blog.