The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

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Issue No. 18 May 2002 (£1.20)

Front cover of Issue 18 - Lenton TimesLenton's Boer War Memorial (3 pages)

It was late afternoon one Thursday in November 1901. Lenton's Parish Church was packed to capacity. Many of the nearby streets were thronged with people. All awaited the arrival in Lenton of one of the country's national heroes - someone whose public acclaim almost rivalled that of the new King and Queen. This was Earl Roberts, Commander in Chief of the British Army, whose successes in India and South Africa had led to him being considered the greatest general and finest military strategist since Wellington. He was in Nottingham for the day and his itinerary included a visit to Holy Trinity Church where he would unveil a memorial window to commemorate the seven Lenton men who had died while fighting in South Africa. Our article recalls this occasion and details how the memorial window came to be erected.

Lenton's Dead (1 page)

A brass plaque in the church provides the names of these seven men along with their regiment. We offer a brief biography on each man detailing what has so far come to light (*).

Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl of Kandahar, Pretoria and Waterford (1 page)

This article provides a short account of Earl Roberts' military career, which culminated in his successful campaign out in South Africa. A grateful nation, in the form of the Government, rewarded him with his earldom and a gift of £100,000.

The Background to the Boer War (2 pages)

In 1652 the Dutch East India Company established a provision station on the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of southern Africa. This brought Dutch settlers to the region who soon began to dispossess the native Khoikhois of their traditional grazing lands. The British acquired the Cape from the Dutch government during the Napoleonic Wars in order to protect the route to its possessions in India. This led to an influx of British settlers. In due course many of the Boers [descendants of the original Dutch settlers] migrated to new lands where they hoped they would be free of British rule. They established what became known as the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. However, the British did not leave them alone. Our article explores a little of the strained relationship between the British and the Boers which led to the First Anglo-Boer War of 1880-81 and then to the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

The Boer War and Nottingham: Part 1 (6 pages)

In the First Anglo-Boer War the British, with inadequate numbers of soldiers out in South Africa, suffered some major reverses which prompted the calling of a truce; the subsequent negotiations resulted in a favourable outcome for the Boers. When war broke out again in October 1899 the Boers felt confident they could achieve a second success. The British were once more seriously outnumbered and the Boers immediately laid siege to the British garrisons at Kimberley and Mafeking in Cape Colony and at Ladysmith in Natal. British reinforcements were being shipped in from India and the Mediterranean but it would be some time before they could arrive. More troops were mobilised including battalions based in Britain. Among them were the men of the 1st Sherwood Foresters (Derbyshire) Regiment. To bring the battalion up to strength reservists were called back into active service. Among them were some two hundred men from Nottingham. These reservists gathered in the Market Place before making their way to battalion headquarters at Derby. The huge crowd that turned out to see the men go gave them a tumultuous send-off. Men of the 4th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters who made up the Notts. Militia were also sent out to South Africa. Substantial crowds lined the streets to watch as a detachment of men brought the Battalion's colours to the Nottingham Guildhall for safe keeping prior to their departure for the battle front.

The Boer forces primarily consisted of mounted riflemen and their mobility gave them a distinct advantage in engagements with the British troops, most of whom consisted of infantrymen. To remedy this deficiency mounted infantry companies were formed from some of the soldiers already out in South Africa. In addition, in late December 1899, it was decided to assemble an Imperial Yeomanry from within Britain composed of suitable volunteers. The South Notts. Hussars had their headquarters on Park Row in Nottingham. Within twenty four hours of the announcement being made 160 men from the South Notts. Hussars had arrived at the Park Row headquarters to offer their services. After a period of training 121 of these departed from Liverpool along with their horses. In early January 1900 one officer and 29 local men in the 1st Derbyshire Volunteers, known as the Robin Hood Rifles, had been selected from almost 200 applicants to prepare for active service in South Africa. Following a civic reception at the Guildhall this proud body of men marched in full uniform to the Midland Station with thousands of people lining the streets to watch them pass.

As soon as the first Nottingham men had left for South Africa a fund was set up to provide financial support for their dependants. Collections were made in local factories, fund raising events were organised and the well-to-do sent in their own donations. Various comforts for the troops were despatched including tam o'shanters and scarves knitted by women and schoolchildren. Everyone rallied to the cause. However the initial news from South Africa was far from encouraging.

Attempts to relieve the British garrisons had resulted in abject failure and the loss of many troops. These setbacks led to Field Marshall Lord Roberts being sent out to take control of the British forces. There were to be further setbacks and more heavy losses but eventually Lord Roberts managed to relieve Kimberley. Back home there were scenes of jubilation in Nottingham with the arrival, at last, of some good news. The relief of Ladysmith soon followed and after Roberts' forces took Bloemfontain, the Orange Free State capital, the war seemed to turn in favour of the British - but there was still the matter of the garrison at Mafeking. The exploits of those holding out against the Boers at Mafeking were continually reported in the pages of the British press and the man in charge, Colonel Robert Baden Powell, had become a national hero. However food supplies were getting dangerously low. Roberts redoubled his attempts to bring relief and eventually on 16th May 1900 British troops made their way into Mafeking. Once news of this success was despatched to Nottingham church bells were rung and an exultant flag-waving crowd soon gathered in the vicinity of the Market Place. The following day the whole city was a mass of flags and streamers and in the evening a celebratory torchlight procession around the city was held. Nottingham had already made plans to mark the birthday of Queen Victoria on 25th May and these became combined with further celebrations for the relief of Mafeking.

At this point we halt our story of the Boer War and Nottingham. The concluding section appears in Issue No.19.

The Savoy Cinema & the Lenton Picture House Company (8 pages)

The 1930s were a boom time for the cinema industry and that decade witnessed the arrival of twenty one new picture houses to add to the thirty four already operating in and around Nottingham. Among that new contingent was the Savoy Cinema situated on the Derby Road in Lenton. Still going strong after sixty six years in business it is a veritable 'elder statesman' among Nottingham's present cinema outlets. With the recent closure of the Odeon on Angel Row the Savoy is now the sole survivor from those heady days in the 1930s when every part of the city had its own cinema. Our article explores the history of the Savoy Cinema and salutes all those who played their part in maintaining its presence as part of the Lenton scene. As an accompaniment to this article various contributors provide their memories of the cinema which encompass such topics as the opening night; a visit to the Savoy during the war; and the Saturday afternoon children's matinees.

Nottingham's cinemas at the time when the Savoy first opened & Nottingham's pre-war cinemas that came after the Savoy (1 page)

Drawing on research carried out by Rick Wilde we provide a list of Nottingham's cinemas operating at the time when the Savoy opened in 1935 and a further list of those cinemas built in the second half of the 1930s. We provide readers with the name currently in use in the 1930s and where there were subsequent changes of name we proffer their last known appellation. We also offer readers the year each one opened and the year it finally ceased to operate as a cinema. Those wanting more detailed information are directed to Rick Wilde's original material.

Our Sponsor's Story (1 page)

In 1994 the directors of the Lenton Picture House Company decided to sell the Savoy. It was bought by Pat Collington who already ran the Scala at Ilkeston. Since then her son James has joined the business and together they have overseen some major changes. Chief among these was the addition of a fourth screen created out of and old storeroom at the back of the building. There has also been an extensive programme of refurbishment which has included the installation of a new, larger screen in Savoy 1. The various alterations and improvements have cost in the region of £250,000, an indication of the financial commitment the Collingtons are prepared to make in order to ensure that future patrons continue to get maximum pleasure out of a visit to the Savoy.

The Savoy - The Manager's Tale (4 pages)

Alan Silvers' first job in the cinema business was as trainee projectionist at the Savoy Cinema. Six years later he came back to take up the post of manager. He was to hold this position for almost forty years. His astute management and dedication to the Savoy helped ensure that it remained in business when cinemas elsewhere in Nottingham closed down. This article allows him to recall some of those days (and nights) spent at the Savoy.

Lenton Times - Issue 18 - Downloadable PDF Version - £1.20

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