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Last update, October 2018



Angela Gilbert writes: Fanfare please! Wollaton Dovecote Garden has been awarded a Green Flag Community Award. The judge’s assessment visit was quite intense and considers community involvement, environmental issues, sustainable material, and the events and activities which take place there. The site must look inviting, be a safe place for visitors, and there should be an appropriate amount of maintenance. A Management Report had to be presented supported by photographs, alongside documentation such as the Society’s Constitution, Health & Safety assessment details, insurance information and details such as the number of volunteers.  We satisfied all the requirements and are proud to receive this prestigious award. Well done! The photo shows Angela receiving the flag from Fliss Hogg of the City Council.


A very special Birthday Celebration

It is not often that one celebrates the 200th  anniversary of someone's birth. Perhaps it occurs with Kings and Queens, but this was a celebration of the birth of Elizabeth Chambers a "lace mender" who was born in Wollaton in 1818, just 3 years after the Battle of Waterloo. Since then the family has continued to live in Wollaton and her great grandson Ron Cruxon was born here and has lived here all his life. Ron at 95 is also our oldest member and so the Society decided to commemorate this long connection with Wollaton with a special celebration at the Dovecote. We also invited members of Ron’s family and some other “senior” members who were near or over 90 to join us on what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday in July.

Ron addressed his fellow guests and kept us enthralled for nearly 20 minutes, outlining his family history and his recollections of Wollaton in the 1920s. This is part of what he said:

"It was only a village then, there were only 80 or so cottages all of them tied to estate workers of Lord Middleton. The postal address was simply “Wollaton" as everyone knew each other, and in any event my uncle was the postman!

My great grandfather James Davis (see next article) was a collier until he was paralysed as a result of an accident in the pit. My grandfather was originally a farm labourer, each time they moved farm they had to move cottages, which is why they had so many different cottages. Each cottage was tied to a certain job.

In later years my grandfather worked down the pit. My mother was born in Wollaton in 1890. She entered domestic service as was customary and in 1913 was working as a laundry maid at Chatsworth for the Duke of Devonshire. It was there she met my Father who was the "boots". He was also in the Territorial Army and in 1913, after a training camp in Nottingham, at Clifton Pastures, he was called up and sent to Palestine. By 1917 the Army was that short of infantry that they called for volunteers for France. Volunteers were told they would be given 10 days leave, so my Dad came to Wollaton where he lodged with my Grandparents. On the first morning home my Father and Mother walked to St Leonard's Church at 8.30 in the morning and got married by the Rector, the Rev. Russell!

What was Wollaton like in 1922 when I was born? It was part of Basford Rural District Council, outside the City boundary. There were no cars only horse and cart, or a horse drawn carriage if you lived at the Hall. Drinking water was drawn from wells. Water for all other purposes was rain that ran off the roofs and was caught in tubs. Lighting was by paraffin lamps or candles. There were no street lights.

In 1920 a cottage on the Main Road (Trowell Road) came empty and from the Estate Office my Father learnt that this was let to the Landlady at The Admiral Rodney. My Father went to see Mrs Hogkinson at the Rodney. Can I have your empty cottage?  Yes, ‘course you can, but you will have to work for me! So Mum and Dad moved into the cottage (which survives to this day and it was here Ron was born, only a few hundred metres from where he now lives!)

Dad worked at the Rodney, brewing the beer.

The first Co-op Shop came to Wollaton in 1918 and became No 5 Branch of the Stapleford and Sandiacre Co-op Society.” (The shops awning can be seen behind the cart in the picture. The shop moved in 1925 to new premises opposite the Rodney’s car park. Ron worked for the Co-op all his life, apart from when he was in the Army during the Second Would War, as a Gunner, fighting from Normandy, through France and Belgium, into Germany.)

He continued: “The Doctor lived in Stapleford and came by pony and trap to the first surgery which was held in the coal house at the King's Head at the top of Colliers Row (now Bridge Road). Before patients came the coal was taken out and the place whitewashed! Dr Kingsbury paid one of the Allen boys 3d to hold his pony whilst surgery was held."

It was a most enjoyable afternoon. Special thanks to Ron who is a mine of information. He and our fellow quests exchanged recollections and sometimes argued, such as who was the teacher at the school in 1935. Ron invariably came up with the right answer! Not bad at 95!

One of the guests who would have been invited was another 95 year old Harry Bland (see right). Unfortunately Harry died earlier this year before he could be told that he and Ron, who had known each other all their lives, were in fact related, being distant cousins. This information was uncovered in research being done by Steph Johnstone, one of our members researching the family histories of those who lived in Wollaton Village before 1925.

Harry’s father bought Moss Cottage, 338 Trowell Road, in 1925 and Harry lived there all his life, except when he was in the forces in India during WWII. His daughter Pamela, who now lives in Oxfordshire with her family, kindly showed me around his cottage. It solved a mystery about the bricked up doorway, referred to in the last newsletter. We know that sometime before 1848 James Taylor the Colliery Agent (or manager) moved in and, presumably to make it a suitable residence for him the two cottages had been knocked together. A new front doorway was built between the two former doors which became windows and the second staircase was removed to form a hall and extra bedroom. It just shows how important it is to examine the interior of these cottages to establish their history.


1.    Children at work



Because of the public concern in the 1840s about the use of child labour, particularly in the mining industry, the Government in 1843 appointed Commissioners to enquire into the “moral and physical condition of the young persons and children” so employed. Evidence was taken not only from those responsible for the management of the individual mines, but also the local vicar and some miners. Amazingly, one of those miners to give evidence to the Commission we have now discovered was James Davis, Ron Cruxon’s great grandfather!

The Colliery was then located, just to the south of Balloon Houses, on the Nottingham Canal (at what is now the junction of Grangewood Road and Latimer Drive). The Manager was then Henry Taylor (see above and Spring Newsletter). His evidence was that “the pit is 100 yards deep, the headway 3ft 6 in and the bank 150 yards. They employ five under 13 and 12 under 18 – the youngest being 12. They go down at seven to half past eight, an hour is allowed for dinner. He thinks that boys of 12 could not do the work necessary at the pit and that 12 hours is quite long enough for man or boy to be underground. He has worked for Lord Middleton for 35 years and his Lordship has never allowed very young boys or females to be employed.”

James Davis (who then lived in the Square with his family) stated: “He is 27 years old and has worked in pits since he was eight: he first opened and shut the door for a month for 1s. per day(see illustration below). He helped to wagon (see above, waggons are drawn by a man and the boy pushes behind). When he was 15 he came to Wollaton and had 2s. 6d. per day, but it was much harder. He then holed and had 3s 9d. The youngest in the pit is 10 or 11. There is not good ventilation; he never uses the Davy lamp. The pit is always tried by a man going down with a naked candle. They allow four men or six boys to go down at once. It is not an unpleasant heat, excepting when the black damp is coming. Nearly two years since two men were killed by a fall; not aware of any other accident. He believes that the pits might properly be worked by children above 12, but parents are mostly glad to send them before then, his brother went before he was 7, it was his own doing; he does not know that it did him any harm. Some of the children do not know a letter; some can read a little; some attend Sunday schools, but many do not; He thinks it is due to the neglect of the parent.”

Evidence was also taken from William Mather who said that he “was rather more than nine when he first worked in a pit,” Joseph Pedley, who was 12, and John Levern. “12 years old; they work from half past six until eight o’clock (all have about a mile to walk to the pit); they are obliged to work at night every five weeks, for a week, but then they do nothing during the day.”

Charles Chouler, Lord Middleton’s Agent, stated that “there is no sick fund, but in case of serious accident, Lord Middleton allows 2s 6d a week at least, and finds medical aid.”

One can only hope that James Davis was to receive such help when he received the injuries that paralysed him in an accident at the pit over 35  years later.

To us today, it is quite amazing that none of the people giving evidence thought that children should not be sent down the pit at all!  However, 1s. a day was quite a very substantial sum, bearing in mind that an adult farm labourer would earn about 12s a week and the rent on a cottage was £2. 10s. a year! No wonder parents wanted to get their children down the mine as early as possible!

2.    Children’s Education.

The Commission was also required to consider the moral condition of the children, which would include their education, or lack of it. So we read that: “William Mather learns to read and write, reads the Testament and is in small hand. Before he worked in the pit attended the free school. Joseph Pedley reads in the Testament, but does not write. He has been at Sunday school since he was five: Mather and Pedley do not go to play, but are glad to go to bed, - Levern likes a bit of play: does not know his letters.”

The Commission refers to the “free school that is open to 15 children from Wollaton, 10 from Trowell and 5 from Cossall. They used not to allow children who did not attend regularly to remain in the school, but within these few months the master has rather relaxed, and if there is a vacancy teaches Lord Middleton’s collier children on the days they are not employed in the pit”

We know more of this free school from a rather flowery article in the Nottingham Mercury, three years later, in 1846: “There is a free school founded by the munificence of the noble proprietors of Wollaton Hall for the education of those children whose opportunities allow them to devote a longer time to their studies.   Children of all the different classes of society in the village together; farmers, cottagers, labours, colliers, all send their children to the same foundation for instruction, and all sit as one family side by side, without any distinction other than what merit confers; and as all are obliged to attend equally clean and neat in their persons and apparel and all are equally restrained in the use of vulgar and offensive language.  About 20 children from Wollaton attend the free school, which is situated mid-way between the three villages, so as to be convenient for all” Unfortunately the site of this school is not shown on any map, but we suspect it shared the premises of the Workhouse on Trowell Moor, just beyond Balloon Houses (see photo and 1835 map above).

The other school, the Day School, met in the barn of The Admiral Rodney (see below). It then had 80 pupils from 3 to 11 years “and there were two or three somewhat older, who served in the capacity of monitors”. The reporter was much impressed; “by the excellent preceptress, through whose zeal and unremitting industry in the discharge of her duties, it has  seldom been my good fortune to witness, as on my visit to the schoolroom at Wollaton, for a school-house there is not yet, though it is impossible but that the excellent clergyman,  whose exertions, I understand, the present school is mainly owing for its establishment, can allow his good work to rest where it does not, or that Lord Middleton should be satisfied to have so excellent an institution carried on in the old Banqueting Room of an inn. There is likewise a Sunday School attached to this establishment for the benefit of those children who have been necessitated, through the circumstances of their families or otherwise, to be removed from the day school.”

Despite this prompting, it would be nearly nineteen years before Lord Middleton would finally build the new school on Bramcote Lane (left) which opened in 1865 and was extended in 1894.


An application was made in January for outline planning permission for 110 houses on the, now vacated and locked up, Siemens offices site (see right). The sole access for the new houses will be from Woodyard Lane (shown in grey) which is very narrow and quite unsuitable. The road over the railway bridge having been closed to motor vehicles many years ago. However the applicant believes that most of the new residents will walk to the shops over the railway bridge in Beechdale, rather than driving to the Co-op on Lambourne Drive or to Waitrose, which may be rather wishful thinking! The area marked green is to be open space, but who is likely to use it? Overall it seems to be a rather over ambitious scheme, which squeezes as many houses as possibly around a circular road.

There is also a suggestion that there should be a cycleway, which might connect with the remains of the old canal to the south, shown in orange shading.

Originally this was the location of two locks, Lock 15 and 14, (which can be seen on the 1881 OS map, below left) on what was the Nottingham Canal. Built in 1792 and abandoned in 1943, this is the only remaining part of the canal that survives in Wollaton.

It is now owned by the City Council. Little or no maintenance has been done over the last few years and the area is now very overgrown. What remains of the stonework is rapidly being destroyed with self-set trees.

WHaCS believes that the area should be properly displayed to show the remains of these two locks, so that the public can understand their historical significance. It may be possible to incorporate a cycleway as part of this.

Unfortunately we only became aware of the application after the time for comments had elapsed, but we should be able to make further representations once the full application is made. We shall be watching how matters progress and if possible we hope to work with the North Wollaton Residents Association for a satisfactory outcome.



The formal opening took place in May when Malcolm and Mary Stacey formerly opened the Dovecote. We have certainly taken advantage of the hottest summer of the century! See below the effect of the sun on the lawn, where Keith dinsdale has cut around an FW (Francis Willoughby).

Group visits this year have been especially successful and rewarding for both volunteers and visitors. These included Ilkeston U3A History Group, the Newlife Friendship Club and Nottingham HF Ramblers who started their walk with a stroll around the museum. The WI ladies enjoyed afternoon tea in the garden and held their excellent market.

Our exhibitions this year was about those in Wollaton who gave their lives in WWI. Also of particular interest to all our visitors has been the amazing collection of recreated Tudor clothes by Daryle Greaves. She is an extremely talented lady with a wealth of knowledge about life in Tudor times and admirably holds everyone’s attention. We are delighted that Daryle will be speaking at the Society’s meeting on 27th March, next year, revealing “What were the Willoughbys Wearing in the 16th Century?”

Visitor numbers this summer have been average for the traditional 2nd Sunday of the month opening times, but visitors on other public open dates in July have not been as good, with slightly fewer visitors that month, despite our new leaflet which was widely circulated.  We suspect this was due to the distraction of other activities such as the events in Wollaton Park and particularly the World Cup.                       As mentioned earlier, the Nonagenarians’ party in July was a great success. Visitors sat in the garden in shade under gazebos enjoying soft drinks (too hot for tea!) and home-made cakes. The whole afternoon was so entertaining and enjoyable that we will definitely be repeating this event in 2019.

Rain held off for the WI market in August, a brilliant success with 100 visitors. Refreshments served outdoors under a gazebo meant that visitors could sit in the garden and enjoy a cuppa and home-made cake. Money raised from refreshments, booklet sales and donations contributes towards Dovecote costs such as printing research material, laminating exhibition panels, conservation of display items, printing leaflets and so on. The WI ladies’ sales raised money for their Charity of the Year, Nottingham Playworks.

Whilst on the subject of awards, by the end of September we will know how the Britain in Bloom assessors rated the garden this year. In 2016 and 2017 on a scale of 1-5 we achieved Level 4 “Flourishing”. Dare we hope for the top Level 5 this year “Outstanding”?


A way forward by Councillor Steve Battlemuch

We know the Walled Garden has been neglected for far too long and there is a growing consensus that we need to ensure it can be restored to its former glory. The problem we have as ever is money, or more clearly the lack of it! To restore the garden in its entirety and make it a functional place again open to all will cost millions of pounds. The only source of that kind of money is unfortunately from lottery grants – unless someone wins the actual lottery and donates it all to it!

I wish the City Council had the money to help, but we don’t. We can bid for lottery funding and we will when a workable plan is in place, but we have to aware that Nottingham has had a fair slice of lottery funding for other projects so a successful bid may take some time.

What I am happy to announce is that we have a Stage 1 plan – that is to use around £20,000 to ensure the area can be made safe and a number of the walls repaired, graffiti cleaned and a new gate installed. This is based on a report which shows exactly how many bricks are needed and how the repairs can be carried out. £15,000 of the £20,000 needed will come from the City Council and we have the other £5000 pledged from local councillor’s individual funding allocations (£2000), with the rest made up from donations from the Historical & Conservation Society, the Civic Society and some individuals.

We are hoping this work can be completed as soon as possible and once done we will at least be able to open up the garden for more visitors as we develop longer term plans.

I believe we need a wide ranging consultation about the future use of the space and then develop an exciting and creative bid for funding to make it happen. I’m sure this will have to include ways to make the area sustainable in the longer term through some sort of income generation. I really appreciate the care and dedication that has gone into this issue from both the Historical Society and the Friends of Wollaton Park Group. I also understand the frustration felt by people at the slow pace of change. However I personally believe that with good will on all sides and the council working together with the voluntary sector we can restore the Walled Garden to its former status and leave a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.

Stage 1 plan includes three areas shown on the photographs. (1) Replacing 160 bricks, see photo above, at a cost of £1,838.47. (2)  A further 80 bricks to a hole, photo right, at a cost of £701.95 and (3) To “rebuild wall to full height, ready for a new gate”, below, £4,015.75. The other 4 schemes are similar and total in all £19, 490.59. The work is to be carried out by Bonsers, hopefully using bricks that can be recovered from other walls that have fallen down. We do not, as yet, have a proposed start date.

Your Chairman would add: The work clearly needs doing to save these walls from deteriorating further or collapsing. However although one of the walls near one of the gates is to be repaired no provision is to be made for a new gate, or securing the whole site. So how will this stop the vandals who enter, daub graffiti on the walls and push them over?

Steve Battlemuch talks about “a wide ranging consultation about the future use of the space and then develop an exciting and creative bid for funding. We agree with all that, but why hasn’t that happened over the last 4 years?

We support Stage 1, as this clearly is a step in the right direction. Fortunately we are able to put £1,500 towards the shortfall of £5,000 as a very generous Wollaton resident, who wants no publicity, has given us £1,000 towards the Walled Garden and we are committing £500 of our own funds.  We welcome Steve’s positive comments and now expect the Council to start the consultation process and to hold regular meetings of the working party, which has met only once in the last eight months. It is only by working together that we may at last see some real progress.



By Graham Piearce

The most notable tree in Wollaton Park is the magnificent oak that stands atop Arbour Hill, near Beeston Lodge. It is a hugely impressive, pollard specimen with heavy, level limbs that give a spread of 40 metres. The flared bole has a girth approaching 7 metres as measured around its distinct waist. The best estimate of its age puts it at just over 550 years, so it began life as an acorn in the 1460s and substantially predates the building of Wollaton Hall, completed in 1588. It would then have already been a noteworthy landscape feature, enjoying an exchange of views with the Hall. This has long been interrupted by tree planting on the north side, now mostly coniferous species introduced from the mid-19th century, possibly to provide a dark, evergreen backdrop to the Arbour Oak.

It is interesting botanically because it is not a true species, but rather a hybrid between our two native oaks, the locally most familiar and common English or Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) and the Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea), of which a few examples can be seen elsewhere in the park. It is technically named Quercus x rosacea, though our tree is regarded as having most features closest to those of Q. petraea. It regularly produces male catkins in the spring, but in my experience it does not bear acorns, probably because of its hybrid nature.


The Society’s June walk included this magnificent tree, older than Wollaton Hall!

Photo Ashley Jones

It is officially listed by the Tree Register of the British Isles as a Champion tree, being an exceptional specimen and the largest of its hybrid kind in Nottinghamshire. It is sometimes loosely referred to as a veteran tree, being bigger and older than usual and so has special historical, aesthetic, cultural and biological significance.

The Arbour Oak is currently in robust health and has clearly enjoyed little interference over its long life, but recent plantings of an odd miscellany of deciduous trees on the southern hillside are now rapidly encroaching. Those competing trees include some large species such as limes, Sweet Chestnut, beech and other oaks, several of which will before long completely overshadow the Arbour Oak. Other, curiously chosen, smaller-growing species there include Norway Maple, Swedish Whitebeam and Indian Horse Chestnut. Already what used to be a delightful glimpse of our treasured tree from a bus travelling along the A52 has practically disappeared. Some judicious thinning would help to ensure the Arbour Oak retains its splendour for many more centuries yet.



The Hidden Cottages on Trowell Road

Trowell Road runs from Balloon Wood for nearly a mile to Doctor’s Corner, where it joins Russell Drive. Anyone driving along the road, or walking for that matter, could be forgiven for not realising that on its full length there are no less than eleven surviving 18th century cottages, because many of them are set well back from the road and, as a result, are very difficult to see, others have been rendered to disguise their historic features.  

Over the years members of the Society have been trying to identify and photograph these cottages and to see what, if anything, remains of the original fabric. We have now been able to see the interior and the rear of a number of these cottages and so to appreciate their size, and what it must have been like to live in them. We are also fortunate to have other documents (listed at the end of this article) and in particular the Rent Book for 1863 (RB). This means we can now identify who lived in each cottage and so give you an idea of what their lives may have been like.

                 THE COTTAGES

Plan showing Trowell Rd: Balloon Wood to Dr’s Corner, surviving cottages shown in red.  

These eleven cottages were all built by the Wollaton Estate under the direction of Lord Middleton’s Agent. They appear to be brick built, no doubt using local bricks made in the Estate brickyard. They were mostly intended for agricultural labourers or for miners at the colliery, which was then located to the west of Balloon Wood. As such they were very small, with usually only two small bedrooms, with sloping ceilings. None, of course, had running water (even in 1925), but they all had access to a well nearby and had a cinder closet in an outbuilding.

Each cottage was  allocated by the Agent, but some were let to local farmers and employers and so were effectively “tied”. The term of the tenancy ran for a year from Lady Day (25th March). If you lost your job you lost your home as well. There was a strict policy of not letting cottages to miners, unless it was one of the “tied” cottages, or unless the family already lived in the Village, or were able to pull strings, particularly with the Rector, who was during most of the 19th century related to Lord Middleton! Unfortunately it has not been possible to date the cottages because many of them have now been rendered, so the brickwork has been covered. Since nearly all the timber used was pine (a soft wood), it is not possible to use dendrocronology. So it is necessary to look elsewhere for dating purposes.

 We know that in the 18th century the Middleton Estate were building new cottages, including those off Woodyard Lane, called “New York” (now. So it is necessary to look elsewhere for dating purposes. We know that in the 18th century the Middleton Estate were building new cottages, including those off Woodyard Lane, called “New York” (now demolished). These are referred to in the 1787 local census. The number of households in the Village did not increase greatly between then and the 1841 Census, so it is a fair conclusion to draw that the cottages on Trowell Road were built some time in the mid 18th century.


So I now invite you to join me in a “walk” down Trowell Road, then known as Main Road, see the cottages and meet the people who lived  in them in 1863, when Wollaton was still a village.(The number in brackets is from the 1863 map, modern addresses are shown in italics.) If you do actually do the Walk please respect the privacy of the the property owners.

On leaving the Village in 1863 on the Main Road (Wollaton Road) with The Rodney on our right you would pass Pig Lane (Rectory Avenue) and then there would have been a field (123) on the right, before you would have come to the first cottage (124) which was demolished in 1930 for the construction of the new road, Russell Drive. (Which you need to cross.) Next door and surviving, is No2, Dairy Cottage, (127) a substantial rendered cottage  with pantiled roof. It was the village butchers run by  John Smith, who had taken over the business from his father who had been the village butcher for at least 20 years. He also rented the three adjoining fields comprising 12 acres and he lives in the cottage with his  sister who is acting as his housekeeper. By 1871 she has gone and John is now married with a son and they have a “butcher’s servant” living in. He remains the butcher for well over 30 years. The cottage then becomes the Village Dairy at the turn of the century, run first by Alexander Burrows and then by 1911, by Richard Francis (42) who continues to run it until his death in 1925. He lives here with his wife and six children, his eldest Richard (15) who is working for him on the farm,  before serving and surviving, in the Machine Gun Corps during WWI. At that time there were a number of outbuildings, including; Stables for 2, Cow House for 8, Mixing Room, Fowl House, Dairy, Two Pigsties and Cart Shed. The cottage itself had; “living room, kitchen, small lobby and dairy” downstairs, with 3 bedrooms and 2 attics. The cottage and land was sold in 1925 for £960.

 Unfortunately, many years later, in the 1960s it was damaged by  fire, but has been sympathetically restored. The room next to the kitchen, which is in a single storey extension, has a stone flagged floor and it may well have been the original Dairy or the butcher’s shop. The pantile roof was replaced after the fire and has bands of plain tiles before the gutter, reproducing the original design.The outbuildings were used as a motor repair garage in the 1950s and are used now as sewing rooms which were featured this year in the BBC4 programme “A Stitch in Time”.

Next door is a modern house, No 4. Beyond, we come to a pair of small cottages (130a & b) No 6&8. The first, No 6 has has now been greatly extended and rendered (not shown on the photo), whereas No 8 appears not to have been altered at all and is in its original brick. These cottages both have two very small bedrooms, partly in the roof with sharply sloping ceilings. Downstairs there is a Parlour in the front with Kitchen in the rear.

In 1863 living at No 6 was Ann Moult (b1797) a laundress, the widow of William, formerly  a collier, later a “rat catcher”. She remains here until her death in 1872 at the age of 75.

Next door in No 8 is another branch of the Moult family; Joseph Moult (b 1796)   a miner working at the colliery,  wife Elizabeth who has had eight children, including Joseph Jnr.  By 1871 Joseph (76) is still here, still described as a miner, with his wife (72), and daughters Mary (29) and Emma Newman (32), a widow with two children aged 5 and 1. Neither daughters appear to have any occupation and it is dificult to believe that Joseph can still be working as a miner at 76. One wonders how  they survived, perhaps he was being helped by his son Joseph Jnr who had moved to No28. He dies in 1873 and soon after the family move out.

We now have to pass several new houses before we come to Nos 28&30 the next pair of cottages set well back from the road and now accessed by a passageway. Originally this pair of cottages had large front gardens and No30 also had a substantial rear garden with a wash house and closet outside and large pigsty (right), which still survives. Brick built, though now rendered, they have eight windows in the front with two doorways. They comprised (SC); parlour and living room at the front with kitchen and scullery to the rear. They each have two bedrooms, which have no rear windows at the back as the roof slopes down to the ground floor. There are two sets of chimneys on on each end gable and a central chimney serving the rooms in the centre of the cottage.

It was to No 28  (right) that Joseph Moult Jnr. (a gardener) has moved by 1863 with his wife Caroline. In the eleven years between 1864-75 they have seven children.  They also have in 1871 two lodgers who are building the new railway nearby. They are all living, and sleeping, in this two bedroomed cottage! Presumably the four children sleep top to tail in the same bed as their parents and the two lodgers share the other small bedroom. Joseph is still here in 1901, a widower living with his eldest daughter Julia (37). No 30 (left) is rented in 1863 by Samuel Slack (b 1797) a “cordwainer” or shoe maker. He rented the cottage for the standard 3 guineas a year and he also rented the two adjoining fields for 4 guineas (RB). Although his father William (b1779) is described as a pauper in the 1851 census it seems his son was doing sufficiently well to rent this cottage and land. We can not be sure when or if he moved in. He may have sub let the property. We know that in 1841 he was 44 and his wife Ann was 40 and they were probably living on Pig Lane (RL).  They had five children living with them, one of whom appears at some stage to have been an “inmate”, presumably at an asylum, and a grand-daughter Kesiah (1), of whom more later! By 1851, Samuel has a lodger (21) a shoemaker, no doubt an apprentice. Samuel dies in 1871 aged 73 and his daughter Ann still a dress maker has now moved to the Square and has an assistant living with her.

Equally set well back and concealed from the road is No 50, now only accessed by the passage,  almost opposite Arleston Drive. The b&w photo shows it in 1983 standing in its own grounds. It has a central doorway with windows on either side and chimneys on the end gable walls. This cottage had (SC); Parlour, Kitchen, Back Kitchen, Scullery and three bedrooms. However in 1863 it was two cottages, presumably with one and two bedrooms. The Eastern cottage was ocupied by the Walker family and the other part by Sarah Woodward (57), the widow of the former publican of The Admiral Rodney, her 8 year old grandaughter and her former domestic servant aged 67. They presumably managed with the one bedroom.

Next door was John Walker (57) a woodman  and his family comprising seven people in all, his wife (a laundress), three children (one a miner), his widowed father-in-law (79) and sister in law (a milliner and dressmaker).  Despite the cramped conditions with four incomes they must have been fairly well off. In fact the Walker family had lived on this part of Trowell Road since at least 1841 when William Walker (70) of “independent means” lived with his wife Ann (50). He had died by 1848 but Ann (67) “ annuitant” remains here in 1851 and aged 75 in 1861. Perhaps they rented No 30 from the Slacks.  By 1891 the two parts of the cottage had been united and the Anderson’s had moved in. William Anderson was a bricklayer and by 1901 he had four children, the youngest Winifred being only 1 year old. In due course Winifred would marry Harold Crompton and they continued to  live at No 50. Their son John was born in the cottage and he still lives in the house to this day! Even more suprising, their then neighbours at No52 were the Cruxons and their son Ron (see below), now 95, is still very much alive, the Society’s oldest member and still lives no more than 300m from where he was born!

On the other side of the road is No 65  (242).  formerly Bridge Farm. Unfortunately we have not, as yet, been able to see beyond the gates and it is only possible to say what was there in 1925 (SC). Then it comprised two sitting rooms, kitchen, scullery, dairy room, two staircases and five bedrooms. There were also a substantial number of outbuildings including; cow house for 8, cow shed for 6, stables for 3, a calf house and two pigsties. From at least 1841 this house and farm of 26 acres had been rented to Edward Kirkland (47) who was paying £55 15s 0d p.a. rent in 1863. In 1925 it was rented by Mr Ascough  when it was  sold for £1555 and the fields subsequently disapeared under Arleston Drive and the school.

Crossing the road again we see Nos 52&54  behind a wall, beyond the derilict land. One would be forgiven for thinking they were modern houses since appalling conversions have almost totally destroyed any semblance of their cottage origins. Fortunately we have black and white photos (over) which show how, in 1983, they still had  substantial gardens in the front and rear, and the coloured photo of 1990 (over) showing original brickwork, on No 52 though No54 had had the chimney removed and had been rendered. In the centre is a blanked out window, this appears to have been a piece of decoration (and is also used in Nos 131&133).

Originally (SC) this pair of cottages had kitchen and parlour downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. However these rooms were not in the roof and they had the great advantage of having an attic, so providing an additional bedroom. They were in fact very similar to the pair of semi-detached cottages on the other side of the road, now opposite the entrance to Waitrose, No111.

These two cottages, Nos 52 and 111, play an important part in Ron Cruxon’s  family history. His great great grandmother Mary was born in Wollaton in 1818. Her daughter Elizabeth married James Davis a collier in 1843 and they were living in the Square in 1848. By 1863 they and their five children and a grandchild were living at No111 (RB) and they were still there in 1881, James being recorded as being paralysed as a result of a mining accident.  One of their sons was also called James (Ron’s grandfather) and by 1891 he and  his family, including their two daughters, Julia (3) and Evelyn (1), had moved to No 52. The family later moved to Trowell, but subsequently James met the Rector at a garden party. “Why can’t you come and ring my bells?” asked the Rector, to which James replied, “you find me a cottage and I will ring your bells!” they were then offered the cottage next to No111 (167 on the plan - now demolished).

 In 1918 William Cruxon (Ron’s father) was offered a ten day leave whilst serving in Palestine if he voluntered for the Western Front. He took the leave and married Evelyn, before going to Flanders. After being de-mobbed he was looking for employment and somewhere to live with his new wife. He discovered that No 52 was empty. It was in the gift of Mrs Hodgkinson, the landlady of the Rodney. So William asked and, on condition that he  worked at the Rodney, he got the tenancy! Ron was born in No 52  and lived there until he was called up in 1941. Subsequently Ron and his wife Florence, lived in the Square and later moved to No 54 and, when his mother died in 1989, they moved back into No 52. This perhaps is a good example of how families frequently moved from cottage to cottage and explains how difficult it is to locate them from the censuses alone. To make matters more complicated in this case the modernised Nos 52&54 are now known as Nos 2&3 Cottage Walk!

On our right is Bridge Road. It was just before this that Trowell Road narrowed as it went over the canal bridge, built in 1790. It was removed in the 1960’s and Trowell Road was lowered and widened. Bridge Road was formerly called Colliers Road on which five pairs of three bedroomed houses (now much altered) were built in the 1870’s for senior colliery staff, though the colliery was not sunk here for another ten years. At its junction with Trowell Road there were three older cottages, one being the former pub, The King’s Head, where “ Middletons” is now. They were all “tied” to the colliery and occupied by miners. Ron recalls that one of them was occupied by the Allens, who had eleven children, and another by the Hardy’s who had thirteen! These were all demolished after 1933 when Wollaton became part of the City and they were condemned for lack of running water. A similar fate was to befall the cottage (156) occupied by the Bland family (of which more later) which was where the entrance to Waitrose is now. It was from this cottage that three young Blands left to serve in WWI. Sadly only one was to return.

Opposite Waitrose  is No111, (165) originally a pair of cottages until 1925, it has now been so heavily rendered that its history has been almost entirely obscured. It is  another example of overcrowding. In 1871 we had the Davis family of eight in one half and the Rodgers family in the other half of this semi detached cottage. Henry Rodgers(51) was also a collier, so presumably the whole of this property was in the gift of the Colliery Manager. The Rogers family comprised two adults and seven children, so in all there were seventeen people in 4 bedrooms and 2 attic rooms all in a cottage that is now in single family occupation!

Further up the road is No129. Until recently it was rendered, but the owner decided, when adding the rendered extension, to remove the render from the original cottage. It revealed fine and undamaged brickwork, which suggests that the only reason this cottage, and possibly the others, were rendered was to “modernise” them in the 1950s. It was originally two very small one bedroomed cottages (168&170) and it was to here that the widowed Elizabeth Butler came in 1848 after the death of her husband James a miner (RL). He may have died in a mining accident leaving his widow with seven children. In 1851 she must have been in a desperate situation as she  is described as a pauper aged 54, with three children and a grand-daughter living with her. Her son William (16) is a miner as is Isaac (11), another example of the use of child labour in the mines. They were presumably doing everything to manage and to stay together. They may not have succeeded as she is not here  in  1861, perhaps she had been forced to go into the Workhouse on Trowell Moor. Thankfully she has returned by 1863 (RB) and by 1871 she is 75 living here with her son William an “engine smith” and a grandson.

In the other half lived James Hooley Jnr (57) an agricultural labourer and his wife Ann. In 1891 Ann (78) now a widow  is living here on her own. After that it appears that the second front door on the right was bricked up (now concealed behind an evergreen bush) and the two cottages combined. A rear extension must also have been added, as by 1925 the cottage then had living room, kitchen, scullery, pantry, two bedrooms and also a boxroom. (The photo shows the angle of the ceiling on the upstairs landing.)

Next door Nos 131 and 133 (171&172) both have rear extensions. In the garden is a former pigsty with an exceptionally fine tiled roof. They were sold seperately in 1925 and have remained separate thereafter. They comprised; living room, kitchen pantry etc and three bedrooms. They have eight windows on the front, with the “blank” window similar to Nos 52&54. The living room is at the front and the kitchen  behind. They have chimneys on either gable end and a central chimney for the kitchen. Both are rendered. The two front doors are side by side in the centre and inside there are two bedrooms, under the eaves with sloping roofs, and a third room at the rear (SC).

In 1863 No 131 was occupied by  Edward Shaw(55) a “woodman” and his wife and son, an “apprentice engine smith”. To the side of this cottage is an outbuilding which was the village coblers in the 1930’s. Ron recalls the cobbler, Mr  Upton, who despite the loss of a leg, during WWI, managed to make it to the Gallow’s Inn in Ilkeston for a drink or two, and back!

No 133 was rented to “J. Hooley”. The Hooley family had lived in Wollaton for many generations and were listed in the 1637 local village census taken by the Rector. In the 1841 there were six cottages with the head of family listed as “J. Hooley”, they were either miners or labourers and three of them had wives named “Mary”. This makes finding the resident of this property almost impossible!

The cottage next to the railway bridge has now been replaced by another semi-detached house. Over the bridge there were no further cottages until you arrived at Balloon Wood. The pair of cottages that formerly stood either side of the road have long since gone (see Newsletter Spring 2016), but two other cottages remain just before the junction.

Nos 330 & 332 (179&180) have both now been extended at either end. Originally the chimneys stood at each gabled end of the cottages. They appear not to be dissimilar to Nos 131 & 134 with eight front windows. Unfortunately it has not been possible to see inside but presumably the layout is the same, with the living room in the front and kitchen to the rear. Each cottage had two bedrooms (SC) and there was no attic.

From at least 1841 until the 1860’s No 330  had been the home of Joseph Edwards, a colliery labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, but by 1861 she was living here as a widow with her daughter (38), a laceworker, and her 22 year old son, an agricultural labourer, and his wife.

In No 332 at this time were the Burrows, another mining family. In 1851 William Burrows (58) is a miner as is his eldest son aged 17 and his youngest at only 11, though his fourteen year old son is listed as “scholar”. By 1861 William is dead, his widow is 65 and the younger son has survived and is still a miner, whilst the scholar has become an agricultural labourer.

There was another pair of cottages next door, but these have now been demolished and replaced by three houses. Beyond these is the final, the finest and best preserved cottage on the road, No 338, Moss Cottage (183). It is also the least altered having been effectively lived in by only two families in the last 170 years, The Taylor family from 1848 to 1912 and the Bland family since about 1925.  Amazingly Harry Bland (94)  was born here in 1923 and still lives here! We have also discovered, that unbeknown to both, he and Ron are distant cousins!

The cottage has eight windows on the front and the orriginal brickwork is still exposed, with chimneys at each gabled end. At the rear the roof comes down to the ground floor and there are no rear windows in the bedrooms (similar to No 30).  There are  two front rooms (living room and parlour) with, uniquely a hall between them, with kitchen to the rear with scullery etc. Upstairs there are three bedrooms. The layout is very similar to Nos 131 & 133 and there is  here some evidence of a second doorway which has been bricked up, so it is possible that this cottage was originally a pair of cottages. However by 1863 it was one cottage (SP, RB) and was occupied by James Taylor, described in 1861 as “colliery agent”.

James was born in 1817 in Wollaton and was one of seven children, living with his parents who rented Cedar Cottage (right), which formerly stood on the site of the garage on Crown Island, and the two fields behind it on “Long Plantation”. In 1841 he is described as “agent” as is his father and is still living at Cedar Cottage, but he was having an affair with young Catherine Slack (b. 1821), the eldest daughter of Samuel Slack, the “cordwainer”. She gives birth at the age of 17 to the first of two illegitimate children by him, Sarah born in 1838, though she may have died soon after, the second is Kesiah born in 1840. She was baptised by the curate and was subsequently adopted by her grandmother Ann Slack after Catherine married James in 1845.  By 1848 they are living in the cottage and also renting the two adjoining paddocks. He is, according to the Rector a “coal bailiff”(RL). Catherine was to have six further children in the six years between 1846-52. However something must have happened to James, for in 1871 he, now aged 52, is described as a “bricklayer”in the census, as is his eldest son. Was he having a joke with the enumerator, or was it true? By 1881 he is a “colliery clerk”and the family now include some grand children and daughter Anne. He dies before the next census leaving his widow Catherine (69) and Anne (31). By 1901 Anne is still living here with her niece, who is “waitress at Restaurant”, and she is still there in 1911, claiming to be aged 50. In fact she was born in 1849, so she was 62! Perhaps she does not want to admit her age to her 53 year old widowed lodger! That census also refers to the cottage as “Moss Cottage” a name that remains to this day. This cottage is Listed Grade II and hopefully will avoid some of the horrific alterations that we have seen on some of the other cottages on Trowell Road.

The sale of the Estate in 1925 saw the end of patronage. No longer was the Rector able to provide cottages to those of whom he approved. Which probably explains why there were no Dissenters or Methodists then living in the Village. A cottage with a job all sounds very good, but the disadvantage of this system was that if an employee was sacked, he lost not only his job but his house as well. It was a completely different life, yet it is less than 100 years ago!  It really was a feudal society which had not changed much for hundreds of years, with an underclass beholden to His Lordship in his Hall and to his  Rector living in his large mansion by the Church with his wife, nine children and six living in servants!

The documents relied on:(1) A list of all the residents of Wollaton draw up by the Rector in 1848 (RL).  (2) A very detailed Survey Plan (SP) of the Village showing each cottage, drawn up by the Middleton Estate in1863. (Lord Middleton was then the owner of all but one acre of the Parish of Wollaton.) (3) The Rent Book (RB) for 1863 which identifies the tenant for each of those cottages. (4) The Sales Catalogue (SC) for sale by the Middleton Estate in 1925, which identifies the rooms and outbuildings of each cottage. (5) Censuses from 1841 to 1911, though unfortunately since none of the cottages were then numbered, this may sometimes be conjecture. (6) We also have black and white photographs of the cottages in 1983 and colour photographs from about 1990. Finally, (7) we have the work of members over the last 40 year on the family history of the people of Wollaton.

The Society would like to thank all property owners who have welcomed our team into their homes and the Cottages Survey would be delighted to visit and examine any other cottages in Wollaton. Please contact Andrew Hamilton: 0115 9255476 or anrhamilton@hotmail.co.uk Thanks to Nottingham Civic Society and Thoroton Society who are sponsors of “The Wollaton Cottages Survey”




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