18th & 19th Centuries

Industry and the coming of the canal and railway

Framework Knitting
Knitting machines were invented towards the end of the 16th century in Nottinghamshire and the industry spread to Derbyshire and Leicestershire over the next few decades. William Iliffe is credited with introducing the frame to Hinckley in 1640 and from there it would have spread to smaller communities such as Dadlington. The 1851 census contains the details of 50 households in the village and 26 people recorded their occupation as framework knitters. However, by this time the industry was in decline. Only 15 framework knitters remain in the 1861 census. Most of the remainding 1851 census adults were either farmers or worked as agricultural labourers on the farms.   Hinckley & District Museum contains a reconstruction of a framework knitter's living area.  
 
The Ashby Canal was completed in 1804 and linked the mining area around Moira in North West Leicestershire to the Coventry Canal at Bedworth. A 1794 Act of Parliament authorised construction which was led by engineers Robert Whitworth and his son, also called Robert. The canal is unique in England in that it is completely at the same level and requires no locks. Boats carrying coal from the Ashby coalfields soon started their way around the village. The canal was bought by the Midland Railway in 1846 but as canal traffic declined towards the end of the 19th century, the Midland allowed it to fall into disrepair, and the northern end of it was eventually closed after parts of it collapsed.

The Napoleonic Wars
There are two references to the village at the turn of the 19th century. A Dadlington man, Thomas Merrick, left his work as a framework knitter and went to serve for a short time in the British Army in the Netherlands. His story can be found  here . There is also a newspaper article which refers to men using a quarry at one end of the village to have musket practice during the Napoleonic Wars. As it was at the end of the village, this probably refers to the 'Bannis Hole' or 'Ballis 'Ole' opposite the junction of Shenton Lane and The Green.
 
Agriculture
In 1843, a tithe map of the village was drawn up, in order to calculate the amounts landowners had to pay in tithes on their land and properties. The map shows that there were a number of farms in and around the village, with the field patterns fairly closely matching those of the present day. The 1841 census shows that, apart from the publican at the Dog and Hedgehog, there were three occupations of villagers: farmer, agricultural labourer and framework knitter. Apart from the outlying farms, the houses of residents was just around The Green and on the eastern side of Shenton Lane, then called Shenton Road.
 
In 1869, work began on this railway which again served the North West Leicestershire coalfields, linking them to Nuneaton. The line was jointly owned by the Midland Railway and the London & North Western Railway. It opened to freight traffic in 1873 and continued until 1971 when it closed. Part of the line now forms the Battlefield Line Railway . In order to construct the line, much stone was quarried locally from both the village green and from the site near Hall Farm adjoining Shenton Lane, known as 'Bannis Hole' or 'Ballis 'Ole'. A small mineral railway line carried the stone to the canal and the route of this was still visible until recently, running along the back of the houses on the east side of Shenton Lane.


 
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