RIDDINGS, a township and ecclesiastical district, in the parish of Alfreton, union of Belper, hundred of Scarsdale, N. division of the county of Derby, 3 miles (S.) from Alfreton; the township containing 1841, and the district 4500 inhabitants. This place, with Watnall in Nottinghamshire, formed the half of a knight's fee. It was anciently the property of the Chaworths, and subsequently of the De Ryddinges, who, in the early part of the reign of Henry III., were resident here: the old manor-house was pulled down about the year 1809. The manor is now vested in James Oakes, Esq. Here are extensive iron-works and furnaces for smelting iron-ore, immense quantities of which, and of coal, are obtained in the immediate neighbourhood, affording occupation to a large portion of the inhabitants. The population of Ironville, which is part of Riddings, are employed in the adjacent mines, forges, &c., of Codnor-Park. At the iron-works in Riddings, called the Alfreton Iron-works, large quantities of ordnance stores are manufactured for the service of the British government and the East India Company. These works were established about 1801, and have greatly increased the population, which prior to that period was but small, although in early ages Riddings was of considerable consequence. The coal formation surrounds the hill on which the village stands, in the shape of an inverted basin, having a dip on every side. There are six workable beds of coal, and at least twelve separate mines, or rakes, as they are technically called, of ironstone: a sandstone rock, very low in the series, yields a large and constant quantity of water, containing about twelve per cent. of common salt, which is not at present applied to any use. The blast furnaces here were the first at which metallic titanium, in the form of brilliant cubic crystals, was found to be produced; and another curious product of these works, of late years, is cyanide of potassium, in a state of great purity: it oozes out of the sides of the furnaces, about three or four feet above the part at which the scoria, or cinder, as it is called, is allowed to escape. The source of the potassium is the peculiar kind of ironstone in use here, which, on analysis, has been found to contain potash: the titanium has a similar origin. A branch of the Cromford canal, connected with Mansfield by a railway, passes through the village.
The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patron, the Vicar of Alfreton. The church, a neat edifice with a tower and spire, in the early English style, dedicated to St. James, was erected in 1830 by the Parliamentary Commissioners, the inhabitants subscribing £1000; it affords accommodation to 1000 persons. A parsonage-house was subsequently provided; and schools in connexion with the Church were built in 1844, for about 600 children. The schools are in the Elizabethan style, and are very ornamental to the neighbourhood: they comprise three rooms for the separate instruction of boys, girls, and infants, as also a master's house; and are provided with all the modern improvements for perfect warming and ventilation. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans; and Sunday schools attached to them. A piece of land called the Chapel Yard, adjoining the residence of the proprietor of the iron-works, indicates the site on which a chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene formerly stood.