The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 2 - May 1989

Society Snips

Frank Barnes Part Two

Frank Barnes has spent a number of years researching the history of the land that now makes up the campus of Nottingham University and last October gave the second of his talks to the Society on this subject. The site had initially made up the fields of the home farm of Lenton Priory, but had become Crown property following the Priory's dissolution in 1538. The estate then passed into the hands of a succession of absentee landlords who rented out the fields to local farmers living elsewhere in Lenton. The whole area remained uninhabited at least until the 1730s when a farmhouse was built on the site of the present 'Lenton Abbey' house, to be found just off the Derby Road up near Charles Avenue. Mr Barnes could only conjecture as to why, but originally this building had been known by the name of 'The Odd House'. In the 1790s the estate passed to a Miss Milward, resident in London. In order to pay off some debts in 1798 this lady was forced to sell to two bankers, Messrs. Pears and Paget. These gentlemen quickly broke up the estate and sold it off in plots. On these plots a number of large mansions were built for well-to-do Nottingham townspeople. It was these houses and their subsequent occupants, which formed the main part of Mr Barnes' talk.

Lenton Hall (now part of Hugh Stewart Hall of residence), Highfield House (the present residence of the vice-chancellor of the University), Lenton Firs (until recently Wortley Hall of residence but now the School of Architecture), Lenton Grove (the School of Music) and their various residents were all dealt with in considerable detail. Brief details were also given for Lenton House, Lenton Fields, Lenton Eaves and Lenton Abbey. (The last mentioned was in fact acquired by the University as an investment property but properly speaking is not part of the campus.) There simply wasn't sufficient time left for anything but a few passing remarks regarding those properties built in more recent times. And as for the University and all its purpose built developments they didn't really figure at all. Those eager to learn of the development of the campus will have to wait for the third of Mr Barnes' talks, which he generously offered to give sometime in the coming year.

'The Leen Valley'

The waters of the river Leen have a fifteen mile journey to make from their source up in the Robin Hood Hills above Newstead to the river's junction with the Trent opposite Wilford parish church. Beside the river are such places as Newstead Abbey, Papplewick, Bestwood, Bulwell, Basford, and Radford and, of course, Lenton. Each of these areas featured in the slides shown by Claude Bartholomew at our November meeting. Many of the shots may have been fairly familiar to those present, but Claude also included others which few may have seen before and he accompanied all with a chatty commentary mixing information with personal reminiscence in a pleasing combination.

Channelling Our Efforts

See in Lightbox
Lenton Lodge 1935

In Issue No.1 readers learnt of Bryan Bailey's family connection with Clayton's wharf, here in Lenton. Living in Melton Mowbray it is fairly easy for Bryan to pop over and meet up with anyone who might help him with his enquiries. It is not, however, quite so easy for Mrs Martin, who recently wrote to the Society. She lives in St. Peter Port in Guernsey and is trying to piece together her family tree. One branch of that tree appears to lie here in Lenton and she wondered whether anyone in the Society could help her by examining entries in the parish registers for the 1720s. We anticipate being able to oblige, but wonder whether any readers might be interested in helping out when we get other similar requests.

Lenton Lodge

Our last issue had a photograph of Lenton Lodge showing the outward signs of neglect. We can now report that the situation has improved; the building has been repaired and now houses the headquarters of Zodeco Homes. The photograph left was recently given to the Society and shows the Lodge in 1935 lit by gas floodlighting. At this time it housed ordinary families and the curtains visible at the windows give a hint of this.

All Our Own Work

The meetings in December and February were both ones where the Society chose to entertain itself. For the Christmas meeting a quiz was prepared and those present challenged to answer questions on a range of topics including general knowledge, twentieth century history, aspects of Nottingham's past and, of course, Lenton. A similar event was held at Beeston Local History Society's Xmas Social to which we were all invited. Our Lenton team eventually proved the winners, overtaking Beeston on the very last round.

The February meeting opened with three members reading extracts from the Society's index of Lenton news items found in the local papers for the years 1832 and 1833. Those listening joined in with comments and queries and everyone began to see how the material, slowly accumulating in the Index, is shedding light on some aspects of Lenton's past and also throwing up more puzzles needing solution. After these readings, the lights went down and Jack Hall showed slides of the Lenton area, many of which he had taken over the last thirty or so years. Jack was followed by Steve Zaleski, who spoke briefly about Thomas McClean, a Notts County footballer, who lies buried in Holy Trinity's graveyard. He wondered whether members knew of any surviving relatives who might just have a photograph of the footballer taken during his playing days. No one did. The evening was concluded with Mrs Mickie Shaw providing a most illuminating account of the activities of the Castle Ward Labour party. She explained how Ward members played a significant role during the inter-war years in the social life of the community and also helped out many a local resident when they hit problems. Other talks were waiting in the wings, but we simply ran out of time. So they will all be put into cold storage until the next time.

Priory Street Portrait

Someone else who has a family interest in Lenton is Geoff Roe. Several generations of Roes have lived in Lenton, arriving here in the early 1700's. One particular member of the family was Henry Roe who initially worked at Bayley's tannery, but went on to become a Methodist preacher and missionary out in Africa. In 1903 his autobiography was published entitled 'Amos Deer'. This book gives details of his early life in Old Lenton with several sketches and photos, including one of the Boat Inn on Priory Street. The Boat Inn that we know was rebuilt in the 1920s so this photograph shows how it originally looked. Some might be mildly surprised to learn of a photograph of a pub in a book written by a Methodist preacher. The explanation is simple. To the left of The Boat was a building that housed the Primitive Methodist chapel and is now the Priory church hall. It was the chapel that was being illustrated; the pub just happened to be next door! A family copy of 'Amos Deer' has been passed down to Geoff Roe and he intends to allow the Society to borrow the book so that copies of the illustrations can be made.

The Good Old Days?

'Health and Hygiene in 19th Century Nottingham' was the title chosen by Bernard Beilby for his talk to the Society this march. Back in the 17th century Nottingham had been described in glowing terms as the garden town of England; by the nineteenth century it was well on the way to acquiring some of the worst slums in the whole country. This sorry state of affairs had been brought about because Nottingham's population increased dramatically but the size of the town had remained the same. As a result most of the gardens made way for housing. Builders squeezed in as many dwellings as they could, often arranging them around a narrow yard and building 'back to back'. Mr Beilby had slides to show of some of these properties and a tale to tell of how their occupants were made to suffer the consequences of the most insanitary of conditions.

Eventually the situation was to improve. Much of the credit for this Bernard gave to Marriott Ogle Tarbotton, who became Borough Surveyor in 1859. Tarbotton saw to it that new sewers were laid and a sewage treatment plant built out at Stoke Bardolph. New pumping stations, which tapped into clean sources of drinking water, were also constructed. Victorian Nottingham had much to thank Tarbotton for and it was a slight sadness, Mr Beilby thought that the City had never thought to name a building or street after him. At the conclusion of his talk Mr Beilby answered queries from the audience and related anecdotes regarding some of the many local archaeological digs that he had been involved with. It was an evening when much was learnt and many were well entertained.

On The Right Lines

In January our speaker at the monthly meeting was Jack Cupit whose topic was 'the Railways of Nottingham'. Jack briefly outlined the early origins of the railways, pointing out that the earliest known railway in the country was here in Nottingham - a two mile wooden track built to transport coal from the Strelley pits to a spot on the Old Coach Road in Wollaton. Mr Cupit then described how the rail network around Nottingham gradually developed during the Victorian era. He concluded the first part of the evening with a quick rundown of how that extensive network underwent a major diminution during the twentieth century, principally at the hands of Dr Beeching in the 1960s. After the break Jack showed a number of slides, among them views of the various station buildings which could be found in the city centre. It could all have been as dry as dust - but it wasn't and all who were there clearly agreed with Peter Holland, our chairman, who expressed the opinion that Mr Cupit's talk was among the very best the Society had ever had.

The Willoughby Street Area

Our appeal for photographs and recollections of the Willoughby Street area is slowly beginning to bear fruit. Mr Taylor, now living on the Ilkeston Road, sent us his memories of growing up in the area in the 1930s, which we might be able to incorporate into a future article for the magazine. Miss Woodward of Puddleton near Dorchester sent a snapshot of the building that was to become the first home of the Monty Hind Boys Club, situated at the corner of Church Street and Willoughby Street. Mrs Anderson, who still lives in Lenton, dug out an excellent shot of Fox's fruit and vegetable shop. Unfortunately there isn't space to include either photo here - but perhaps next issue?

All material on this site not covered by other copyright and not explicitly marked as public domain is Lenton Times 2010 and must not be used without permission