For much of the second half of the 1800s and first half of the 1900s, Beckingham was home to a willow working, cottage industry. The willow industry in the village is likely to have predated the building of the willow works. In the early 1900s, so many people in the village were involved in the work that the school held an annual celebration of the willow production (which meant a day off for the children). There were, at the peak of the operations, two willow works. One was on the west bank of the Trent, near Dog Island, the other where its remains still stand, half way from the village to Beckingham Yards. In addition, work was carried out in houses in the village. This included stripping bark and weaving the willow. The willow works on the Trent bank, which seems to have been more associated with Gainsborough than Beckingham, is no longer in existence. Overall there was probably an area of 50 hectares used for growing willow. Fields to the north of the remaining willow works were filled with willow and, at some point, fields on the south side of the road. There were some further to the north west (which used to be called Beckingham Holt). None of the willow plantations remain
The products from the willow operation included many everyday artefacts such as chairs and baskets. It is not known how many genuine Beckingham willow products remain in the village, but it would be interesting to discover. Likewise it would be interesting to know what other remains of the willow operation remain in the village - for example there may be, lying around in outhouses, curious Y-shaped pieces of wrought iron. These were a tool used for stripping the willow bark.
The willow works is built in a style unknown elsewhere in Nottinghamshire and it is unlikely there is another similar building in the whole country. It is a unique feature of the village's, county's and, probably, country's agricultural and industrial heritage.
From the road, the building may look rather forboding, with its long, windowless south wall. Outbuildings at the two gable ends are either in ruins or else completely removed. The north wall, however, has many windows and two large doors - one to the ground floor and one opening straight into the upper floor. This pattern of fenestration is the opposite way round to that in many of the older cottages in the village. These are aligned with the gable ends at west and east, a north facing wall with few, small windows and a south facing wall with more, larger windows which catch the warmth and light of the sun (they certainly knew about solar power in those days). The willow works was built deliberately so that the sun's heat would not overheat the inside of the building and this would prevent the willow from drying too quickly. The north facing windows allowed enough light for working.