The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 3 - November 1989

Society Snips


Tim Preston was guest speaker at the April meeting. His subject was Wollaton Hall, its park and the village, but Tim began a little closer to home. A number of his family had lived in Lenton and Mr Preston told us about William Bexon, his great grandfather, who had been Lenton's policeman and who lived at No.11, Gloucester Avenue. On his retirement in 1902 the local people gathered at the Grove Hotel and presented Sergeant Bexon with a gold watch, which is now one of Tim's most treasured possessions. Mr Preston also recounted the Lenton of his childhood observed while visiting his grandparents on Harrington Drive.

The Preston camera operated by Tim's wife, Pat, has clearly had regular 'outings' to Wollaton Park and Tim had many excellent shots to show us. While they were on the screen he related the history of the Hall and pointed out interesting architectural features to be found in and on the Hall and out in the parkland. The deer, the donkeys and the park's most recent acquisitions, the white cattle, all got honourable mentions. The village itself featured in the last part of Tim's talk and no doubt served as an appetiser for the walk we hope Mr Preston will lead for us sometime in the coming year.

Cavalcade to Calverton

After an education at Cambridge University William Lee returned to his home village and became curate at the parish church of St. Wilfrid's. While there he constructed a stocking frame. The invention bought William himself little fame or fortune, for Queen Elizabeth I repeatedly turned down his applications for a patent to exploit his machine. Eventually William and his brother James departed for France where they hoped for a better reception. It was not to be and William died in Paris in total obscurity. His brother, however, returned to London and started the manufacture of silk and woollen stockings. Even though William Lee wasn't there to see it, his invention was destined to usher in the modern hosiery industry.

1989 is the 400th anniversary of William Lee's invention and this summer Calverton has been at the centre of celebrations. The Society's visit to the village this June came just before the festivities proper got underway but we did view the new stain-glass window in St. Wilfrid's recalling William Lee and his stocking frame. Our main port of call, however, was the Calverton Folk Museum established some ten years ago in a tiny four roomed cottage. Here a stocking frame stands in the front room and around it samples of knitting and various artefacts relating to the hosiery industry. The rest of the house has been furnished with all the things necessary to create the atmosphere of the days when a stocking frame was the lifeline for a man and his family. The museum is a splendid achievement and all those in the Calverton Preservation Society connected with its establishment are to be congratulated.

Steaming into Nottingham

The history of Nottingham's railways was the theme of Jack Cupit's guided walk put on for the Society this July. Some forty people assembled at Weekday Cross, above the tunnel that once gave access to the Victoria Station, now replaced by the shopping centre. From here we made for Carrington Street and the Midland Station. Jack showed us the sites of the two stations that preceded the present building erected in 1904. Then it was across to London Road, and the station designed by T.C. Hine for the Ambergate, Nottingham, Boston & Eastern Junction Railway, which soon became subsumed within the Great Northern's empire. The building has recently been restored but lacks occupants at present. Sneinton Environmental Society would like to see it used as an industrial museum with a rail link out to Colwick Park - a suggestion that would certainly put the building back on the map. We walked past various warehouses that once belonged to the railway companies that came out on Manvers Street. From here Jack led us up to Newark Crescent, a housing estate built on what had previously been the London & North Western Railway's goods station. At this point Mr Cupit concluded the walk but not before recommending the Civic Society's recent publication The Development of Nottingham's Railways by J.P. Wilson (1.25) as an excellent introduction to the subject.

Maths for All in Lenton

A few of those who came along to Cliff Voisey's September talk to the Society must have done so despite somewhat unpleasant memories of maths lessons. In the course of the evening Cliff touched on quite a number of topics familiar from school days; yet he did so in a manner all found of interest. It undoubtedly helped that he set his mathematical problems within the context of the local neighbourhood and wove in aspects of Lenton's past. Cliff looked at 'ringing the changes' in the bell-tower of Holy Trinity; the flight path of aeroplanes as they pass over Lenton; and we were introduced to a fool proof method of ensuring a first dividend on the football pools, which only required an outlay of 1,775,618 (always supposing that you can still get 8 lines for a penny). Rods, poles and perches all got an airing when we looked at documents showing the size of certain fields in Lenton. Various calculations were also carried out regarding 'Billy' Rickards who once took bicycles off Raleigh's production line and test rode them out to Skegness and back in the early part of this century.

'Maths for all in Lenton' proved a most enjoyable night out and a second instalment is planned for next May, with the promise that no homework will be set at the end of it.

University Walkabout

On one of the fine Sunday afternoons in September Frank Barnes led a walk around the University campus and took twenty-five members past eight of the older houses situated near the Derby Road and Beeston Lane. Most of us were reasonably well acquainted with two or three of these buildings, but others came as a complete surprise. Such properties as Paton House, Red Court and Lenton Fields are all rather concealed by trees and lie slightly off the beaten track. Unless you had occasion to seek them out you wouldn't realise they were there. Frank told us about their history and the various people who had once resided there. He also pointed out various features of the landscape - such as old quarry sites, the line of an ancient packhorse track, and the depression in the ground, which marked where the Sawley turnpike had once been. It all went to show there is still much to learn even in our own neck of the woods.

Nothing on the Nag's Head

The Society recently received a telephone call from a Mrs Wolvin of Clifton enquiring about the Nag's Head, Lenton. She was particularly interested because she had recently acquired a small pewter tankard on which was engraved the name of the pub. There was little we could tell her other than its location on Willoughby Street and that it came down in the general demolition of the area in the late 50s. If you know any more about this or any of the other old pubs in the New Lenton area do get in touch with us.

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