The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 3 - November 1989

A Branch Of The Family - The Mitchells

David Mitchell was my great grandfather. Born at North Grimston in Yorkshire in 1826 he moved to the Nottingham area in the mid-1850s after leaving his employment at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. In the early 1860s Thomas Adams, the lace manufacturer who lived at Lenton Firs, appointed him as gardener and David Mitchell, his wife Rebecca, and their six children moved into Lenton Firs Lodge which had recently been built beside the Derby Road. Rebecca was to give birth to a further four children while they lived at Lenton Firs Lodge. The building is far from large, so quite how they all managed to fit in I can hardly imagine. From the accounts of older relatives I learnt that Thomas Adams was a very caring employer and even paid for the eldest son, Francis Mitchell, to be privately schooled. It must have been quite a blow when Mr Adams died on May 16th 1873.

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Rebecca and David Mitchell

As to when the Mitchells left Lenton Firs Lodge I am not quite sure, but in the 1881 Census returns they are recorded as living at 22, Church Street, New Lenton. David Mitchell had trained as a landscape gardener and horticultural engineer at Chatsworth under Sir Robert Paxton and great grandfather became much sought after by the folk who lived in the new houses of the Park estate. He was supposed to have been particularly successful with grape vines and peach trees. The Mitchells subsequently moved to 322, Lenton Boulevard (*). David Mitchell died in 1900 and was buried at Holy Trinity, Lenton. His wife Rebecca and their eldest son, Francis, who also became a gardener, lay buried alongside.

Their son David, my grandfather, was born in 1860 and served an apprenticeship at the old firm of Lewis & Grundy on Pelham Street in Nottingham. The directories list him as a 'whitesmith' and gas pipe fitter while his marriage certificate refers to him somewhat cryptically as a 'hot water fitter'. He married an Emma Trott at Holy Trinity Church, Lenton in 1883 and they eventually came to live at No.7 Hart Street, just off Lenton Boulevard. David became a prominent member of the Lenton Baptist Chapel. Their eldest son, Frank, was to die in 1918, a prisoner of war in Germany and his name is among those included on Lenton's war memorial. Their younger son, Arthur, born in 1889, was my father.

He worked his upholstery apprenticeship at Smart and Brown's shop on Angel Row, in the building that I understand now houses the County Library. He then left Nottingham in 1912, married my mother in 1913 and initially they lived at Harrow. In the war, father joined the army but was invalided out in 1916. After a brief stay in Rugby my parents moved to Spalding in Lincolnshire where I was born in 1925.

As a little girl I remember coming for visits to Lenton to see my grandparents, and I have a faint recollection of seeing Grandpa Mitchell, ill in bed in the front room of their house in Hart Street. I could only have been three years old as he died on Boxing Day 1928. Grandma carried on living there with her daughter Lily, until about 1933 when she came to live at our house in Lincolnshire. I remember the weekend when my father dealt with the Hart St. home. He brought back grandfather's flute and their 'grandmother' clock. He also removed the brass plate by the front door that was inscribed with my grandfather's name.

We generally came to Lenton on Goose Fair weekend when special excursion trains were put on. We never actually went to the Goose Fair, just to Hart Street. I well remember the tram journeys along the Derby Road to Lenton. The dazzle of the streetlights made a great impression on me. Hart Street and No.7 in particular are still vivid in my memory. The road was cobbled with granite setts while the pavement was covered with those blue bricks with a criss-cross pattern on their surface. The door from the street led straight into the parlour of No.7 The front sash window was dressed with a pair of white lace curtains; in those days hardly a window was without them. The kitchen was the main living room with its black leaded fireplace - the oven at one side and a water boiler on the other. You scooped the hot water out with a ladle, always kept nearby. Out at the back there was a tiny garden and of course the toilet.

A few years ago I visited Lenton once more and found the area greatly changed. Hart Street, however, was still there and if I squinted it was almost as I remembered it. Admittedly the granite setts and blue pavement bricks had all gone, the original door and windows of No.7 had all been replaced, and a modern extension had been built in the garden. There was one tiny survivor from my childhood - the plugs, which once had held David Mitchell's brass plate, could plainly be seen beside the front door!

Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland

(*) No.322 was later renumbered 30 Lenton Boulevard and is the property at the corner of Mettham Street, which presently houses a takeaway Kebab business.

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