The village seems to have escaped the worst of the local Luddite disturbances of 1811–12. Because the Luddite rioters only broke the frames of those owners that had lowered men’s wages, it may be that none had been reduced in Calverton. A spirit of radicalism did exist however as Calverton was one of eleven Nottinghamshire villages (which also included Woodborough, Oxton and Lambley) that presented petitions to parliament in 1817 demanding electoral reform. The petitioners wished (in a foreshadowing of later Chartist demands), for annual elections of representatives chosen by ‘all men who have attained the age of twenty-one… seeing that all men pay Taxes, and all men have lives and liberties to protect’. At the time only male owners of property worth at least forty shillings were allowed to vote. Limited electoral reform was not to come until 1832. (q.v.)
By the time the first county directory was published in 1832, Calverton had grown to a ‘considerable village’ of 1,196 persons, of whom 270 were engaged in manufacturing, of one sort or another, forty-seven in retail and handicrafts and only thirty-seven were primarily employed as agricultural labourers. It was not therefore a traditional English agricultural village, but one in which cottage industries, such as the making of hosiery, dominated. William White’s directory claimed nearly three hundred stocking frames were in use at the time.
Calverton’s principal resident was Lady Katherine Sherbrooke (1783–1856), the widow of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764–1830) who had been Governor General of British North America and who had retired to live at Calverton Hall. Other residents included five shoemakers, four hosiery manufacturers, four shopkeepers, three butchers as well as blacksmiths, frame-smiths and tailors. The 1832 directory lists two pubs, the Admiral Rodney and the White Lion, as well as three beerhouses, perhaps recently opened as a result of the Beerhouse Act 1830. The Gleaner (sic) public house was not to make its first appearance, in a directory, until 1876. Its application, as a beerhouse (together with the Forest Tavern), for a spirit licence having been refused in 1861.
Partly as a result of disillusionment with the 1832 Reform Act, radicalism raised its head again in the shape of the People’s Charter of 1838, as textile workers saw real electoral reform, which the Charter proposed, as a means whereby their standard of living might be improved. One of the Nottinghamshire organisers of Chartism was a Calverton man called George Harrison (1798–1871) who was a farmer and Primitive Methodist preacher. He had already, in June 1835, strongly objected, at the annual vestry meeting, to the dissenters and ‘the parish at large’ supporting St. Wilfrid’s against their will, by means of the church rate. It was this Harrison who invited the leader of the Chartists, Feargus O’Connor to Calverton on Monday 25 July 1842. It may have been thought that a meeting of Chartists was less likely to be broken up by the authorities in the countryside, than in the town of Nottingham. The Chartists’ own newspaper The Northern Stardescribed, in extravagant terms, the arrival of O’Connor by train from Derby, and his progress in a carriage procession along Mansfield Road, picking up delegations from suburbs and villages along the way till at last, around 2 pm, Calverton was reached. O’Connor made a long speech at ‘Bonner Pool’ to a crowd, which the newspaper estimated at five thousand, and then a tea-party was served in a marquee ‘in a beautiful pasture bounded by a splendid wood’. There followed an evening of singing, dancing and games, during which time a supposed government spy was pointed out and questioned. O’Connor spent the night in Calverton and the following morning, he set out for more speech-making in Mansfield.
Four weeks later The Northern Star reported that, on Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 August 1842, there had been skirmishes with the village constable and a general withdrawal of labour by workers in Calverton, but the Battle of Mapperley Hills, on that Tuesday 23 August, perhaps saw the zenith of Chartism in Nottinghamshire, and the working class began to focus instead on opposition to the Corn Laws and the high price of bread.
The General Enclosure Act of 1845 had required that provision should be made at enclosure for the landless, in the form of ‘field gardens’ or allotments, limited to a quarter of an acre, and this will have been prompted by the fear of civil unrest amongst the poor. Calverton had already been enclosed, but there is evidence that in 1845 this ‘cottage garden system’ had just been introduced to the village, and that frame-workers were cultivating rented allotments. In that year allotment tenants paid their first half–yearly rent to Calverton farmer Mr. William Ward, who provided them with a free supper, prepared by Samuel Fletcher at the White Lion. Not only were the poor more likely to be happier having a stake in the land, but it was hoped that landowners would have to pay less in the form of the poor-rate, if landless workers in the village were able to grow their own food.
In 1851, at the same time as the census (which had found 1,427 person in 302 houses), there was a census of ‘Accommodation and Attendance at Worship.’ This is often referred to as the ‘1851 Religious Census’ and it revealed both the popularity of religion and the variety of options, both established and nonconformist, for the prospective Calverton worshipper. Samuel Oliver, vicar of St Wilfrid’s parish church (q.v.) claimed an average attendance of forty-seven in the morning, 132 in the afternoon and 133 at evening service. The Methodists appeared to be a state of some disarray at the time. There was a Primitive Methodist Chapel, which had been erected about 1783 for the Calverton Roeite sect (q.v.), but had been taken over from them in 1848. This building was used by the Reformed Methodists in the morning (seventy worshippers), as well as by the Primitive Methodists both in the afternoon (90) and in the evening (150). There was also a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, erected on Mansfield Lane in 1815, which could muster only twenty-five in the evening; Matthew Shepherd, the steward, explained that the low number attending was due to ‘the agitation in the connexion having caused a division here’. The New Methodists had built a place of worship in about 1820, but had sold it the Baptists in 1832 and the minister, Samuel Ward, for the Particular Baptist Chapel, claimed a congregation of 120. The relatively recently formed Latter-day Saints (or Mormons ) held services in a building that was ‘not used exclusively for worship’ and the elder, Thomas Lester, claimed an average of forty in the afternoon and fifty-seven in the evening. There was no mention of the Roeite sect (q.v.), in the census, some thirty years after the death of its founder, John Roe, in 1823. This religious census of 1851 was never repeated, not because of doubts about its accuracy, but probably because it was felt to have shown the popularity of the dissenters.
Although the 1832 Reform Act had extended the franchise, only sixty male land-, or lease-holders out of Calverton’s population of 1,427, were eligible to vote in the South Nottinghamshire by-election of 1851 and twenty of them were not even residents of the parish. Two Calverton voters lived as far away as Bishops Waltham in Hampshire. Of the sixty eligible, just forty-six actually did vote. While Calverton voters preferred Sydney Pierrepont (the future Earl Manvers) to the tenant farmers’ candidate William Barrow of Southwell by twenty-eight to eighteen, it was actually the latter who was narrowly elected for the constituency.
Prior to 1800, education for the less well-off was generally restricted to the occasional charity school. Calverton was fortunate to benefit from a bequest of a Nottingham hosiery manufacturer, and village native called Jonathan Labray, who died a bachelor in 1718. His trustees arranged to pay the master of a day school and to allow him use of a house and four tons of coal per year. In 1835, sixty two males were taught; some paid for by the endowment, and some by weekly payments of one penny for reading and one penny for writing. There was also another school where twenty-five girls were taught at the expense of their parents. An infant school was started in 1833 for forty-four males and thirty-seven females, supported by subscription and pennies per week. This school seems to have moved into a purpose-built structure at Burnor Pool in 1846 which became the National School in 1852. Children not taught in these schools might have had some instruction in one of the three Sunday schools; one attached to St Wilfrid’s, one to the Methodists and the last to the Baptists.
The earliest reference yet found to Calverton cricket was on Monday, 24 October 1836, when neighbouring Woodborough beat the village by 38 runs, in a two-innings match played at Woodborough (67 and 71, 50 and 50). The first mention of cricket in Calverton (and the earliest scorecard), was on Monday, 30 September 1844, when members of the two brass bands of Calverton and Woodborough met each other, and the home side won by six wickets (47 and 42, 41 and 49 for 4 ). The teams, including star player, Calverton tailor Cornelias Hind (aged 39), afterwards enjoyed a supper of roast beef at the Admiral Rodney. Before football became popular, the cricket season ran from April to October and, at a time when stockingers and others could control their hours of work, Monday was a popular day for fixtures. A Calverton Cricket Club had been formed by 1852, as there is a report of a club dinner at the Gleaner beerhouse on ‘Whit-Tuesday‘ (8 June) of that year. In July 1855 a match was played between a team consisting of eleven members of the Hind family, and the rest of the village. The village won by twenty runs. A second eleven is noted in 1856, and there is a scorecard of 1860, showing that a team of juniors beat Woodborough by eight runs. Calverton’s most celebrated Victorian cricketer was Wilfred Flowers (1856–1926) who was born in the village in December 1856, and who played in eight Test matches and in 442 first-class matches for Nottinghamshire.
In November 1880, by arrangement with the 6th Duke of Portland, Hucknall began to take a supply of water from a 200′ deep borehole, on the Old Rufford Road (A614), opposite the Watchwood Plantation. A pumping station sent 330 gallons per minute from the borehole, through six miles of eight-inch pipe, south-west to a reservoir at Hucknall which held 400,000 gallons. This allowed Hucknall to have twenty gallons of water per person per day, and was at a time when Calverton was without any piped water at all (q.v.).
The population of Calverton had risen dramatically since the start of the century (see table), but the hosiery industry was beginning to show signs of decline because of changes in fashion and because manually operated stocking frames were becoming outdated. In Nottingham, the population increased because of the rise of lace manufacture, more advanced steam–powered frames, and by migration from villages like Calverton, following the passing of the Nottingham Enclosure Act of 1845, which at last had permitted housing and industry in the former common fields of the town.
In 1881 the census recorded, in a population of 1246, a total of 294 workers in clothes-making (everything from hosiery to hats, shawls and gloves), while ninety-six were engaged in agriculture.
In January 1898 Sir Charles Seely bought the Sansom Wood Estate in Calverton from the 6th Duke of Portland. The Seely family were coal owners and had bought the Babbington pits (Cinderhill, Broxtowe, Kimberley and Bulwell, inter alia) in 1870, so it is probable that the Calverton land purchase was intended for extractive, rather than agricultural purposes. In May 1898 the Manchester Times noted that Sir Charles was renting 80 acres of land to the Parish Council for allotments, ‘at a trifle over 31 shillings’ (£1.55 per year) per acre, in addition to a recreation ground of four acres, at a nominal rent of 6d (2½ p).
By the time of the death of Victoria in 1901, the population of the parish had declined slowly to 1,159.