WOLLATON HISTORICAL & CONSERVATION SOCIETY
MEMORIES OF WOLLATON PAST
Written by Ron Cruxon
who celebrated bhis 100th birthday in December 2022
This page created on 12th February 2020
"The first bus seen in the village, I am told, was driven by Charlie Banner who lived at the farm house, now known as the Old Post House. Prior to this it was the odd open top charabanc with solid tyres. Usually to take a church outing or the long alley skittle team from the Rodney to play an away match. The first service bus from Nottingham to Ilkeston was two small green buses, owned by Nobby Clarke.
Next came Bramley’s with large single deckers.
Then there was the Prince of Wales buses followed by Trent for a short time, who gave way to Midland General who ran all during the war years and after.
Now we are back with Trent-Barton.
After Mr Clarke was run off the road by Bramleys he ran a mobile fish and chip which ran through the villages until it caught fire one Saturday night just over the Canal bridge. Later Mr Clarke became a newsagent with a shop at the top of Russell Drive.
When the buses started running the fare from Wollaton to Nottingham was one shilling and six pence for a monthly return. The return ticket late increased to two shillings and three pence.
As time went on it was realised by the bus company that the monthly return tickets were being handed from neighbour to neighbour, so that put a stop to monthly returns!
Most of the time I remember using the buses before the war, the fare was Wollaton to Nottingham 3d single and 5d return".
DID YOU KNOW?
“The Pump in the square was erected to commemorate the 21st birthday of a son of Lord Middleton. The pump however never drew water.
The people who lived round the Square got their water from a pump in the field where the Community Centre now stands. The pump however did serve one useful purpose. Carters tied their horses and carts to it while they went for a drink.
The Stone Cottage opposite the church was once a hospital called St Aidans and was for people taken ill while on pilgrimage to Lenton Priory.
The cottage next to the church gateway was where the village policeman lived and had a plaque over the door saying County Police. The first policeman was P. C. Joe Wilson. When he retired it was P.C. Joe Cutall who was there until it became part of the City.
The village had a notice board which was fixed to the side wall of the first cottage in the Square which announced all the goings on. There was also a church magazine run jointly with Cossall. The Wollaton news was printed on the front and the Cossall news was printed on the back cover. The inside pages arrived pre-printed.
At the bottom of Church Hill (near to the entrance to Hurst Crescent) was a mortuary which was a wooden structure and sometimes you could see through a gap in the woodwork and see a body that had been pulled out of the canal.
In the back yard at the Old Rectory were two parish rooms where the Parish Council met. The Mothers Union also met there as did the Scouts and Guides later on. There would be whist drives, tea parties, jumble sales; even the village football team changed there once they had moved to playing on Parson’s Field. Previously they had played on a field lower down the Main Road.
The first schooling in the Village was held in the clubroom at the Rodney when the pupils were asked to pay one penny per week to cover the cost of slates and pencils.
The Village school, being a Church of England school, would walk in file once a year for a service in the church. Every Friday morning the Rector would attend school to give the scripture lesson. There were two playgrounds at the school; one for girls and one for boys. In the boys’ playground there was a huge conker tree in the middle which didn’t help when you was trying to play football. In 1928 when the Royal Show was held on fields where Russell Drive is now, the school children were allowed to assemble inside the entrance to wave little Union Jack’s to welcome King George and Queen Mary who attended on the Wednesday.
The school had a May Pole which was fixed up in the school yard for practise prior to the main performance at the Annual Fete. And Garden Party held on the Rector’s lawn.
At the Fete there would be skittling for a pig. Knocking six inch nails into a block of wood (the hardest bit of wood they could find at the sawmills). The Mother’s Union would be there with their tea and cakes.
Guess the weight of the cake.
Guess the name of the doll.
Stalls of all kinds!
Later on the Scouts and Guides would contribute with Various activities. Annual Shrove Tuesday Concert. Held in the schoolroom. Anyone who could sing, tell a monologue, dance, do the hornpipe etc. took part. I made several appearances but my best part was being carried onto the stage in a sack by Father Christmas (Mr Saul) I would have been about seven at the time and appeared out of the sack to make a speech and present a Westminster Clock to Miss Booth to mark her retirement as infants teacher. The proceeds from the concert paid for the church choir boys outing. Usually a day at Skegness.
Oakey, Oakey Nettle Day. This took place every Ash Wednesday when the boys would arm themselves with the biggest stinging nettle they could find, and anyone not wearing a sprig of oak would be subject to an attack.
The canal which ran through the village was owned by the Railway Company. The tow paths being freely accessible to all and very pleasant it was too !. However, to prove it was private property, on one day a year the gates giving access were padlocked for the day.
The Village had a thriving fishing club for men and boys with annual matches fished on the canal. There would also be outings for the men to fish the Trent and other waters. Once a year there would be a Sausage and Mash supper held in the Rodney clubroom when the prizes were given out. The Secretary of the fishing club was Mr James Newbury, who lived in the Pig Yard. Day tickets were available for nine members at 3d a day. Jugs of tea were sold from a cottage on the canal side.
The Village Cobbler lived with his two brothers and a sister at the family home, a cottage close to the Railway Bridge. Jack Lepton carried on his business from a shed in the garden. As boys we would sometimes sit with Jack watching him work. Although he only had one leg, Jack could be seen keeping up with his mates on a night out to the Gallows Inn at Ilkeston or the White Horse at Radford.
The first Daily Newspaper delivery service in the Village was carried out by Gladys Upton also from a shed in the garden. Gladys was sister to the Village cobbler. Previous to Gladys starting her business the nearest Newsagent was next door to the White Horse at Radford. On pit working days one of the miners would bring a paper for us, otherwise we had to walk to Radford for one.
The Village milk-maid, Ascough’s, lived at the farm now called Bridge House close to the canal bridge. When the Estate was sold, Mr Ascough was able to buy a couple of fields the other side of the Railway. As the daughter married a builder they were able to build two new houses next to the Railway Bridge and continue to run a milk herd. Young Mrs Ascough (daughter-in-law) could be seen each morning trudging around the Village with two pails of milk, ladling it out into jugs for the Villagers.
There was also a second dairy herd in the Village at the Old Farm House at the top of Russel Drive run by Mr and Mrs Walker (who had earlier been hosts at the XXXX? (Barley?) Mow in Nottingham. Milk from this herd was collected in bulk by Weldon’s Dairies.
On many occasions my father would be called upon to milk either of these herds before going to work.
The Ancient Order of Oddfellows. There was in the Village a thriving Lodge of Oddfellows who met first at the Rodney clubroom and later at the Institute. The Secretary was Mr Whiting who was the Chief Clerk at the colliery. The Lodge had a beautiful large Banner, blue and gold, with two poles and four rope stays which was paraded on occasions. On Founders Day we would parade with the Banner from Market Square to High Pavement Chapel for a service. The last two carriers of the Banner were George Falconbridge and myself.
The Wright Memorial Institute. This was erected for the benefit of the Estate workers as was the custom on large country estates. The workers could gather in the evenings and enjoy a game of billiards, dominoes or cards.
The Institute was in memory of Mr William Wright who was the agent for the Estate. Mr Wright lived in a large house half way up Church Hill and could often be seen checking on the village by riding round on a white horse.
The Cricket Ground. This was excluded from the sale of the Estate, it being left to the Village by Lord Middleton”.
MEMORIES OF MY FATHER
"My father was born at Burrington Herefordshire, and still only a small child, the family moved to Sutton Maddock, Shropshire.
His father was a gamekeeper.
My father had three brothers and three sisters.
I never knew my grandparents, there being no money to spare on train fares.
My father was a good talker and we would spend many dark night sitting by lamp light listening to tales of the countryside. I never remember much talk about school but I used to think what a knowledgeable man my father was. We would go for a walk on a clear night and he could tell all the stars by name. Things his father had told him. He knew every bird and other wild life. He would say – ‘stop and listen, that’s a night jar ‘or ‘there’s a nest in that bush, what colours are the eggs? Yes, that’s so and so’.
One day we were walking in the park, that is Dad and Mum and three lads, when we reached the top of the drive, something fell from a chestnut tree. Dad picked it up and put it in his coat pocket. When we arrived home we found it was a baby Jackdaw. So we put it in a basket on a piece of flannel by the fireside like we did with chickens when they were hatched. When it was able to fly Dad built it a wire mesh cage which stood on the top of a shed and that bird lived on for years. Jack as we called him never came into the house except through the bedroom windows. He would pick things up like clothes pegs off the line or pearl buttons from my sailor suit and neatly hide them under the folds of the sheets on the bed.
Dad would open the cage in the morning and Jack would fly around happily all day long.
Dad had a black and white sheep dog named Joe named after Joe Stalin who was in favour at the time. Joe always knew when it was nearly a quarter past three in the afternoon. Joe would stand at the back door with his ears pricked listening for the buzzer sounding for the Pit to knock off. As soon as the buzzer was heard, mother would open the door and Joe would be tearing down Colliery Row to meet his master coming home from work. On seeing Dad, Joe would jump up and Dad would knock his cap off which Joe would catch and would say now go and tell Mother I am on my way and put my dinner out. Whereupon the dog chased back home still carrying his cap.
As time went on Jack (the Jackdaw) picked up the habit of following the dog and Jack also met his master coming home from work. He would fly on and off his shoulder, walking up Colliery Row where there was a low brick wall in front of the houses. The bird would be flying from Dad’s shoulder to the wall and back till one day a dog was hiding behind the wall waiting for the bird and jumped up and grabbed the bird, which was the end of poor Jack.
To get back to the beginning, the children left school. Uncle Tom followed his Dad and became a gamekeeper also. My father went into service. Uncle Fred became a Farrier and Uncle Percy had a pig farm.
Dad was in service at a number of places including Bradgate Park before joining the staff at Chatsworth House. Dad was Boots at Chatsworth and of course lived in at a time when Royalty were regular visitors. He tells of many times going out on shoots, sometimes acting as loader for the King.
They also had many happy times at the Institute at Edensor. The Duke also encouraged his men to join the Territorial Army. Dad was part of the Army Service Corps (later RASC) at Chesterfield attached to the Derbyshire Yeomanry. The annual camp of 1913 was held at Clifton Pastures and at the end of the fortnight the unit moved away to prepare for war. The unit was moved to Palestine still with the Derbyshire Yeomanry.
In 1916 it appeared on Army Orders that as the Army was so short of men in France that anyone volunteering would be given 10 days leave before being sent to France. Dad was already on friendly terms with my mother who also lived – in at Chatsworth as a laundry maid. Mother packed her job in and was waiting at home for Dad to start his 10 days leave.
On the second day at Wollaton Dad and Mum walked down to church at 8 o’clock in the morning and the Rev. Russell married them. When war ended in 1918 Dad didn’t go back to Chatsworth but decided to take his chances at Wollaton. Next door to my Grandparents on Trowell Road (opposite Waitrose) was A.A. Hayard who also had a field and stabling and paid men to run his horse and cart business. Dad applied for a job and started work at 1d per hour.
It wasn’t long before Dad discovered that the other men were getting 1 1/2d per hour so he went on strike. His next job was with a road repair unit belonging to the Basford Rural District Council, which consisted of a tar spreader, loads of grit and a steam roller. That didn’t last long. He then went to work for Smith’s Flour Mill at Trowell driving a team of four horses and a flat dray, delivering sacks of flour to wholesale grocers such as Farrards, Marsdens etc.
In 1920 a cottage came empty near the canal bridge and from the Estate Office Dad learned the cottage was let to Mrs Hodgekinson at the Rodney. So off to the Rodney went Dad. ‘Can I have your cottage Mrs Hodgekinson?’ ‘Course you can but you’’ have to work for me’.
So Dad and Mum moved into the cottage and Dad went to work at the Rodney. His main job was brewing the beer and working behind the bar. The cottage was a semi and stood ninety yard back from the road. The frontage was all garden and kept us going in vegetables.
There was in the Village two dairy herds at this time. Ascoughs at Bridge Farm (later moved to Railway Bridge) and Walkers at the dairy further down the road towards the Village. Dad was often called out to milk the cows at either herd before working at his other jobs.
The year is now 1925 when everything changed for the Village with the sale of Lord Middleton’s estate. In the meantime, the boys had been born in the cottage. Harold in 1920, myself (Ron) in 1922 and Arthur in 1924. The family continued to live in the cottage which was bought at the sale by Mr C Allcock at a rent of 3s 4d per week.
The Estate of the Right Honourable Lord Middleton comprising 4,164 acres were sold on 23rd and 24th March 1925 at the Mechanics Lecture Hall, Nottingham.
Included in the sale were 19 farms, 29 small holdings, 800 acres of building lands, 14 residences, 141 cottages, 313 acres of woodland, a sawmill, a pub, a Brick Yard and clay pit.
Not sold were Wollaton Cricket Ground, Wollaton School, Wollaton Village Institute, Trowell School and School House and Cossall School.
The Cricket Ground was left to the Village and the Cricket Club still play there. Some years later an adjoining part field was added to the Cricket Field so that the football club can play at the address. The football team had previously used a field attached to the Old Rectory let to the Rev. J G. Thornton. One of the Parish Rooms was used as a dressing room.
Also at the Cricket Ground was the Wollaton Tennis Club and later the Wollaton Bowls Club.
The Cricket Club was always well supported and as a small boy I and others were kept busy putting up the scores on the scoreboard as called out by the scorer who was Percy Ping.
About this time the Raleigh Cycle Company bought a number of fields on the Coach Road to site the Raleigh Athletic Club playing fields. The senior football team played in the Notts. Alliance League and was captained by Ted Saxton who played full back. The team contained a number of ex pros. You could always get a job at Raleigh if you was a good footballer as with other big firms. As it was free a number of other Village boys became Raleigh supporters.
The Admiral Rodney was sold to the Home Brewery Company at Daybrook so Dad lost his job.
The Home Farm was closed down so the Manager and his wife Mr and Mrs Carrington moved to Bulcote to run another farm. Their son George, had just become established as Under Gardener at Col. Formans who had bought the Estate Managers house, stayed in Wollaton and lodged at my Grandmothers.
The Kitchen Gardens were sold to a nursery firm named Hogsons.
Dad got a job on Pit top and stayed there till he retired.
The Pit only only worked 3 days a week in those days. So every Tuesday and Thursday Dad had to sign on at the dole office on Castle Boulevard, corner of Wilford Street. They were excused on Saturdays.
Dad would walk to Nottingham and if there was no school one of the boys would go with him. If we were lucky we would get a lift on Jim Smith’s coal cart as far as Lenton Boulevard when a penny (1/2d for the lad) would take us to Walter Fountain, corner of Greyfriars.
Dads wages from the Pit were 19s – 11d plus 3 days’ dole so he was always for odd jobs to earn a few coppers. He became a window cleaner, cleaning windows at the houses on Colliery Row at 3d a time. He cut the grass at the Church Yard and the Cemetery. Dad and I would spend all afternoon sawing wood for the Head Forrester and would be given a plate of bread and jam and a mug of tea.
I was paid a shilling a week by the Fishing Club to pick up all the litter along the Canal, two path from Pit Lock to Raymore Bridge.
I also earned half a crown a month to deliver a copy of the Wheatsheaf to every house in Wollaton, by the Stapleford and Sandiacre Co-op.
All money was handed over and we were glad to, for we lived well. We always kept chickens and any spare eggs in the summer months were preserved in Water Glass for the winter to make sure we always had fruit cake.
Uncle Tom would send a brace of Pheasants and Partridge at Christmas.
It was now 1932 and the Village was incorporated into the City of Nottingham. One of the first happenings was the roads were all dug up to lay water pipes and gas and electricity.
About a year later they started to connect all the cottages with water and electricity. Any house not connected was condemned by the Council and pulled down.
Two semi – detached cottages on the main road, where the Landlord said he could not afford to have them connected were pulled down and my Grandmother and her neighbour Mrs Clark were moved to houses on Beechdale Road when they were first built to house slum clearances.
At the same time street lamps appeared for the first time. There was 19 lamps erected in the Village and my father was appointed part time lamplighter at 10s per week. During the summer the lamps were taken down and stored in the attic of our cottage".
THE LIGHTING OF WOLLATON
“Prior to the Village of Wollaton being taken into the boundaries of the City of Nottingham, there was no electricity, gas or water laid through the Village.
Heating was by coal fires.
Cooking was by pan over an open fire or by a side oven (part of the kitchen range).
Lighting was by paraffin lamps or candles.
Drinking water was drawn from the well.
Hot water was obtained from a boiler at the side of the kitchen fire.
The first street lamps were erected shortly after the laying of cables pipes etc. through the village. The lamps were a hanging type gas fired through a single mantle ignited by clockwork There were 19 lamps in all being erected between the Woodyard at one end and the Tottlebrook on what is now Trowel Road.
The first lamp lighter was Mr Will Cruxon (Part -time) who was paid 10shillings per week, whose duties included evening inspection to make sure the lamps came on and a morning inspection to make sure the lamps had gone out. Once a week all the lamps had to be cleaned by ladder carried round by the lamp lighter.
During the summer months the lamps were taken down and stored in the garrat at Mr Cruxon’s home.
In the years ahead as the lighting was extended the running of the lighting was taken over by the Lighting Department and the full time lamp lighter for Wollaton became Bill Hollingsworth who lived on Berrisford Street, Radford”.