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West Nottingham Township

West Nottingham township municipal offices are located at 100 Park Road, Nottingham PA 19362; phone: 610-932-4072.

A Brief History [1]

West Nottingham Township was originally part of the land grant given to William Penn, establishing Pennsylvania (and Chester County) in 1682. In 1701 a group of Penn's followers settled in the Nottingham village area. This group of 20 families headed by Cornelius Empson settled 20,000 acres, which was divided into 37 parcels, all less than 500 acres. This settlement became known as the "Nottingham Lotts".

A feud between William Penn and Lord Baltimore resulted in the establishment of the Mason-Dixon line, which left about 1,300 acres of the original settlement in Pennsylvania. The area eventually became Nottingham Township, but was merged with a much larger area of land, previously known as land "back of Nottingham", which extended north up to what is now Londonderry Township. East and West Nottingham Townships became separate municipalities sometime between 1715 and 1718, making them two of the oldest municipalities in Chester County. Development of these two communities was slow throughout the 18th Century. West Nottingham was an exclusively agricultural community, and had only 47 taxable residents in 1722. By 1774, the number of taxable residents increased to 105.

West Nottingham was the location for some military activity during the Revolutionary War. In addition to numerous troop movements through the Township, a large division of the American Army under the command of General Smallwood occupied the area around Nottingham, where the Nottingham Friends Meeting was used by the soldiers as a hospital.

The abundance of minerals and valuable geologic deposits brought development and growth to the Township during the 19th Century. In 1820, a survey team sent by Isaac Tyson of Baltimore discovered chrome ore (chromite) in the Chester County Barrens in the southern part of the Township. Soon chrome mines sprang up in the Township, with the two most successful mines being the Scott-Engine-Kirk mine in the area that is now Nottingham Park, and the Moro-Phillips mine in the eastern part of the Township. But the discovery of larger chromite deposits in South Africa and Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia) in the latter half of the 1800's brought reduced demand from local mines, and the production of chromite eventually ceased around 1900.

In addition to chromite, mining for feldspar, iron ore, magnesia, serpentine rock, and corundum brought additional growth to the Township, and with it the creation of several small settlements including the villages of Glenroy, Fremont, Nottingham, and Chrome. Adding to the local economy of these villages were several paper and grist mills. Many of these mills operated in the Northeast Creek area, where the water provided the source of power for the mills. Nottingham village grew significantly after August 1866 when the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad built a station in the community, and additional commercial activity was brought to the village with the extension of a telegraph line and opening of a telegraph office at the train station in April 1877.

Like many small communities in Chester County, the early part of the 20th Century, the advent of industrialization of the big cities and towns in the Northeast prompted a migration to these large urban areas in pursuit of employment. The result was a sharp decline of the population of the Township. The Great Depression of the 1930's increased the difficulties of the local economy. The construction of U.S. Route 1 through the Township and the advent of the automobile for primary transportation purposes caused the elimination of passenger rail service shortly after World War II. Freight traffic on the rail line ceased in the early 1970's but was reactivated so that in the early 1980's two trains per week pass through the Township. The Nottingham (Oxford) Airport, a grass strip field, was founded in 1939, but ceased operations in the late 1980's.

Today, West Nottingham remains a rural, agriculture-oriented community. The establishment of the Nottingham Park in the early 1960's enhanced the rural recreational character of the Township, and the addition of the Herr's Foods plant and offices in 1961 provided a stable commercial production operation to the Township's economy. Population growth in recent years due to suburbanization and dependable and inexpensive transportation increases the Township's diversity and desire to protect rural resource areas and historic sites.

  1. West Nottingham Township, Comprehensive Plan Draft,, October, 2005
**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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