Hinckley has a history going back to Saxon times. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, Hinckley was quite a large village, and grew over the course of the following 200 years into a small market town—a market was first recorded there in 1311. To the west of Hinckley lies Saxon Paddock where in 2000 archaeologists from Northampton University discovered a Romano-British settlement and later Saxon items.
At the time of the first national census in 1801, Hinckley had a population of 5,158: twenty years later it had increased by about a thousand. The largest industry in the early 19th century was the making of hosiery and only Leicester had a larger output of stockings. In the district, it was estimated ca 1830 that 6,000 persons were employed in this work.
Castle Street is the first known location of ‘Luddism’, where disgruntled workers, replaced by machinery in their jobs, took sledgehammers to the machines. Joseph Hansom built the first Hansom cab in Hinckley in 1835.
Hinckley was known to its residents for many years as “Tin ‘At” (tin hat). It is reputed that, many years ago, one of the itinerant sheep drovers bragged that he could drink a hat full of ale. The local landlord put this man to the test by getting the local blacksmith to make a tin hat, which he then filled with ale. Thereafter, the town became known as “Tin ‘At”. Another explanation is that the people of Hinckley used to place buckets on water pumps to keep them clean and prevent the spread of illness, the bucket obviously being the “Tin ‘At”. A tin hat can be seen on top of the flag pole which sits on the roof of the building society at the corner of Castle Street and Market Place. There is also a pub called The Tin Hat.
Famous residents to Leicester and Hinckley are Englebert Humperdink,Nigel Lawson and Bill Maynard who can quite often be seen on the main Castle Street doing his shopping.