In 1846 Samuel Bagshaw published a gazetteer anddirectory of Derbyshire in which we have a description of ClayCross or Clay Lane,as it was then known,in the parish of NorthWingfield.
With the centre of the town some 400 feet abovesea level,Clay Cross is a prominent landmark on the A61 road.Itis practically midway between Derby and Sheffield,both beingabout 20 miles in distance.Sections of the A61 in Derbyshiretrace the same route as the old Roman road,Rykneld Street.Thisapplies to Clay Cross and some years ago Roman coins and otherrelics were found on Stretton Road.
It was at the crossroads where Stretton Road nowmeets High Street and joins with Clay Lane and Thanet Street,thatstood the cross from which it is said the town derived itsname.Early Christians are thought to have erected it on apilgrimage.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century ClayCross was mainly a rural area,but George Stephenson the railwaypioneer changed that.Driving a tunnel under Clay Cross hill forhis main line from Derby to Leeds,he found coal and iron.Verysoon afterwards Stephenson founded the Clay CrossCompany.Ironworks flourished and several colliery shafts weresunk.Parkhouse Colliery was the scene of a disaster in 1882 when34 lives were lost,and in the local cemetery a memorial waserected to the victims of that tragic disaster.
Clay Cross Parish Church was founded in1851,although the ancient font dates back to the thirteenthcentury,but the churchyard was closed for new graves in 1878 soheavy was the death rate.
Clay Cross can claim to be among the pioneers ofuniversal education,for as far back as 1854 Clay Cross Companybuilt a block of school buildings out of the first profits madeby the firm,and it was claimed that they were the first toprovide nearly free education for local children.Workmen of theCompany paid twopence per week no matter how many children theyhad at the school,which was open to other children in the area ata slightly higher fee.
Another long established business is that of theKenning Motor Group which was founded in the town by Mr.FrankKenning,JP.,who opened a hardware business.Under the chairmanshipof the late Sir George Kenning,the main activities of the companywere guided into distribution and maintenance of motor transport.
Vicars of Clay Cross 1851-1938
Rev.Joseph Oldham,B.D. - 1851-1888
Rev.H.Sharpe Oldham,A.K.C. - 1888-1907
Rev.John Laight Blake,B.A. - 1907-1922
Rev.Howard Dobson,B.A. - 1922-1929
Rev.Samuel Elder,M.A.- 1929-1935
Rev.H.C.Snape,M.A. - 1936-1938
Rev.Frank Mitchell,M.A. - 1938