Kirkby-in-Ashfield is a market town in Nottinghamshire, England, with a population of 25,265 (according to the 2001 National Census). It is a part of the Mansfield Urban Area. The Head Offices of Ashfield District Council are located there.
Kirkby-in-Ashfield lies on the eastern edge of the Erewash Valley which separates Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Kirkby-in-Ashfield, or Kirkby as it is locally known, was originally a Danish settlement (Kirk-by translates as 'Church Town' in Danish) and is a collection of small villages including Old Kirkby, The Folly (East Kirkby), Nuncargate and Kirkby Woodhouse. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and has two main churches, St Wilfrid's, a Norman church, which was gutted by fire 6 January 1907 but quickly re-built to its former glory and St Thomas's built in the early 1910s in neo-gothic style.
Kirkby-in-Ashfield was once an important centre of coal mining and railways in west Nottinghamshire, with three active coal mines and a several railway junctions. The former Mansfield and Pinxton Railway from the Erewash Valley Line was joined here by the later Midland Railway line from Nottingham. The Great Central Railway main line passed to the south west side of the town and had a double junction with the Great Northern Railway Leen Valley Extension line to Langwith Junction and the Mansfield Railway to Clipstone.
The town rapidly expanded during the Victorian era. However the closure of the coal mines in the 1980s and early 1990s lead to a major slump in the local economy and the area suffered a high level of socio-economic depression.
The town is currently undergoing a revival and is progressively changing from a traditional mining town to a commuter base of the Greater Nottingham area, however the transition from industrial centre to commuter suburb is in its infancy and will take some years to develop.
Local politics have been dominated by the Labour Party for much of the 20th century, however Ashfield attracted media attention in the late 1970s with a shock by election win for the Conservatives. The current MP is Gloria De Piero, best known for her work with GMTV. she took over from Geoff Hoon, former Secretary of State for defence during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She was elected to the seat with a majority of 192 votes.
The area around St Wilfrid's Church is designated a conservation area, and consists of former farm buildings built from local stone, some of which are listed. In the conservation area, at the junction of Church St, Chapel St, and Sutton Road, is Kirkby Cross. This is the remains of a thirteenth century village cross in dressed stone, and is a listed structure and designated ancient monument. It is thought the cross has been in place since 1218, some years before the village was granted a market and fair. It was nearly demolished by an articulated lorry in early December 1987, but has been restored.
On the edge of Kirkby is Portland Park (known to local people as "the quarries") a mixture of woodland and grassland areas which, together with a number of small ponds and streams, are home to a wide variety of wildlife. The visitor centre there was opened in October 1994, and is an environmentally friendly building and a centre of excellence for energy conservation.
The 1981 gentle Sunday evening programme 'Shillingbury Tales' was based on old Kirkby, as the writer Francis Essex's aunt lived nearby. The characters were based on locals who used to know his aunt. Filming was switched to Aldbury in Kent at the last minute because of costs and lack of space for filming.