Local Heritage at Retford Library


During Retford Library’s refurbishment in 2020, the Local Heritage section was re-located to the ground floor to allow easier access for all. A small reserve collection, including local parish magazines and journals, remains on the first floor.

The Collection

The collection contains a range of material relating to Retford and the local area, with background material on Nottinghamshire and surrounding area.

You will find resources to help you trace:

  •         History of local places
  •         Recent local developments
  •         Transport
  •         Local businesses/industries
  •         Social history
  •         Local politics
  •         Family history
  •         History of individual buildings

The book collection has c.3000 volumes, including works by local authors and standard books such as John S. Piercy’s “History of Retford.”

Tuxford resident Eric Coddington (1937- 2012), bequeathed his vast private collection of local history books to Nottinghamshire library service. Many of these, including rare books, can be found in Retford Library’s collection.  

The library also has a special collection relating to the Mayflower Pilgrims. A list of titles available can be found on the PDF document below.

Some books are only available to be consulted in the library, but wherever possible we offer a loan copy of the title as well. The majority can be searched for on the library catalogue but some are not yet included.

The Local Studies classification numbers can be used to find books on specific themes e.g. L90.2 Retford is the reference for titles concerned with the history of the town in general, but topics such as Education in Retford have a specific number – indexes are available and staff will be able to help.


Periodicals in the Local Heritage collection include:

  • The Nottinghamshire Historian
  • Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire (history and archaeology)
  • Parish magazines for many of the surrounding villages

A full list can be found on the PDF document below;


Newspapers: The library has a complete file, on microfilm, of the Retford, Gainsborough and Worksop Times (March 1871 to date). There is a card index to this newspaper covering 1871 – 1941.

Also on microfilm, other early local newspapers include: East Retford Advertiser (Jan 1854 – Dec 1859), Retford, Worksop and Gainsborough Herald (1889 – 1929 *incomplete), North Notts Herald (1937 –1938 *incomplete)

A digital scanner, reader printer and microfiche reader machine are available.

N.B. Not all Nottinghamshire titles are currently included in the British Newspaper Archive, although there may be relevant articles in other titles accessible through this FREE subscription subscription available in Inspire Libraries and at Nottinghamshire Archives.
A list of Nottinghamshire titles in digital format on the British Newspaper Archive can be found here.


Ephemera boxes have been compiled over many years containing news cuttings, leaflets and printed and written material on local themes.

Trade Directories

Trade directories, covering the period from around 1790, give contemporary information about Retford, including listings of local industries, and prominent people.

Local Government

Local Government information includes documents relating to the old East Retford Borough Council and Rural District Council, Bassetlaw District Council minutes/reports, Nottinghamshire County Council information, and some local parish council minutes. Some back copies are also kept by Bassetlaw Museum and Nottinghamshire Archives.

Electoral Registers for Bassetlaw

Electoral Registers for Bassetlaw are available, on microfiche, for the following years:

  •          1886 – 1936 (excluding 1905 and 1906, 1911, 1915 – 1919)
  •          1991 – 2002

You can also find the following electoral registers in hard copy:

  •         Retford Register of Electors 1959 – 1992
  •         East Retford Rural District Register of Electors 1963 – 1992
  •         Bassetlaw District Electoral Register for 2001, 2002, 2007 plus 2007/8 edited version

The Photograph Collection

The photograph collection includes over 2000 images, from c.1860 – c.1990, of local places, people and events. They are filed by theme and an index to the classification scheme is available.

Over 25,000 Nottinghamshire images have been digitised and are available on the Inspire Picture Archive website

Maps and plans

There are over 1000 maps and plans, covering the period from the late 18th century to the present day.

These include Ordnance Survey large scale 6 inch and 25-inch plans (plus metric equivalents) of the area from c.1880. There are some earlier Tithe and Enclosure maps (originals at Nottinghamshire Archives) and GOAD plans from c. 1980 showing Retford town centre shops and businesses.

These are available to browse. If you have a specific query about mapping please contact Ask Inspire


Census returns for Retford and its neighbouring parishes, from 1841 to 1901, are available on microfiche, but the free access to Ancestry.co.uk in libraries is often a more convenient way of searching for Census information.

Parish Registers

Parish Registers on microfiche are available for Retford’s churches (Church of England only):

East Retford (St Swithun’s): Baptisms 1573 – 1949; Marriages 1573 – 1960; Burials 1573 – 1972

Retford St Saviour’s: Baptisms 1833 – 1947; Marriages 1868 – 1959; Burials 1865 – 1978

West Retford (St Michael’s): Baptisms 1772 – 1971; Marriages 1754 – 1953; Burials 1772 – 1922.

Plus these nearby places:

Askham, Austerfield, Babworth, Bawtry, Beckingham, Blyth, Bole, Bothamsall, Clarborough, Clayworth, Cottam, Darlton, Dunham, East Drayton, East Markham, Eaton, Elkesley, Everton, Finningley, Fledborough, Gamston (Retford), Gringley-on-the-Hill, Grove, Harworth, Hayton, Headon, Laneham,Littleborough, Marnham, Mattersey, Misson, Misterton, Normanton-on-Trent, North Leverton, North Wheatley, Ordsall, Ragnall, Rampton, Ranskill, Saundby, Scrooby, South Leverton, South Wheatley, Stokeham, Sturton-le-Steeple, Sutton-cum-Lound, Treswell, Tuxford, Walkeringham, West Burton, West Drayton, West Markham, West Stockwith, Worksop

Microfiche copies in the library have been well-used for many years, but from August 2022 the majority of records are available via Inspire's FREE subscription to Ancestry.co.uk. A full list of those available online is here.

A separate family history collection of some key titles to help with the process of researching family history is also available

For help with specific enquiries please contact Ask Inspire

Archival records

Archival records such as wills, diaries, original parish registers (including non-conformist registers), business and personal correspondence etc. are held at Nottinghamshire Archives:

County House
Castle Meadow Road
Email: archives@inspireculture.org.uk
Tel: 0115 9581634