The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Spring Close / Commercial Street - Lenton

Photographs | Memories


Photo courtesy of Lenton Local History Society

Photo courtesy of Lenton Local History Society

Photo courtesy of Lenton Local History Society

The following views of the Spring Close area were taken in the 1960s from the University tower building. In this particular shot Spring & Elm Tree Terraces are visible in the foreground and on the other side of Spring Close are the properties that make up Spring Close Gardens. The Traveller's Rest public house is the white building on the right but all the domestic properties on Commercial street have already been demolished.

In the foreground are the premises belonging to Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd. Beyond them on the left are the set of industrial properties on Commercial Street occupied by the Textile Finishing Co. and Albert Carter Embroidery. To their right is the building with the white roof which was built in the 1960's by Simms, Sons & Cooke to house the Canal Sheet Metal Co. which relocated there from premises on Wilford Road.

This photograph shows much the same scene as the previous shot but includes, on the right, a bit more of the site then occupied by Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd.

Photograph from the late Reg Meakin's collection

Photo courtesy of Lenton Local History Society

Photo courtesy of Lenton Local History Society

This photograph, dated 1920, was taken from the sandstone escarpment looking eastwards with the city centre just visible on the horizon. The Spring Close roadway can be seen running off to the bottom right as it approached the junction with Sandy Lane. On the right of the photograph are the properties which make up Elmtree Terrace with the tall chimney belonging to Coates ropeworks immediately to their right.

This shot of the Spring Close area includes a portion of Clifton Boulevard. The petrol station in the foreground was operated by R. Cripps. Also visible are the set of houses on Abbey Street that were built by Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd. Both the houses and the petrol station eventually 'disappeared' to make way for the Queens Medical Centre site.

This photograph was taken in June 1963 to show the current stage of construction of one of the university buildings fronting on to Clifton Boulevard. However, in the distance, you can see the junction of Spring Close with the Boulevard hence the reason why the photo has been included on this page.

Photograph courtesy of Robert D. Gardner

Photograph courtesy of Robert D. Gardner

Photograph courtesy of Robert D. Gardner

Violet Gardner with her son Robert posing for their photograph outside their home at 3 Snowton Terrace on Spring Close in 1953. Immediately behind them is the corner shop at the junction of Spring Close and Commercial Street which was then run by Mrs Hopkinson.

Robert and Valerie Gardner sitting on the back step of their house at 3 Snowton Terrace in 1952.

Robert Gardner, Ian Hunt and Keith Smith, who were then in the 47th Nottingham cub scouts posing for their photograph on the abandoned allotments at Spring Close in 1959/60. Visible in the background is the tower of Bayley's tannery building on Leengate.

Photograph courtesy of Palma Stokes (nee Belfield)

Photograph by Paul Bexon - 2004

A view of Snowton Terrace taken on 3rd June 1953. The reason for the bunting is the Coronation of Elizabeth II.

Taken the same day as the Snowton Terrace shot this shows children and adults of the area posing for their photograph on Commercial Street.

Travellers Rest Outing late 1950s

Photograph courtesy of Derrick Norris

The outing, one weekend in the late 1950s, was to Great Yarmouth. The party from The Travellers Rest pub are standing outside the entrance to their hotel in Great Yarmouth.

Albert Carter Embroidery Ltd.

Photograph courtesy of Derrick Norris

Albert Carter Embroidery Ltd. - Outing probably early 1950s

Photograph courtesy of Palma Stokes (nee Belfield)

 Photograph courtesy of Palma Stokes (nee Belfield)

Albert Carter staff outing to Skegness - date unknown.

Albert Carter Christmas staff function - date unknown.

Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd

A photograph taken inside the sawmill at Simms, Sons & Cooke at Spring Close. Although we have no precise date the photo is thought to have been taken during or soon after the end of the Second World War.

Textile Finishing Company

Photograph courtesy of Textile Finishing Company

Photograph courtesy of Textile Finishing Company

Textile Finishing Outing 1950s.

Shot looking into Textile Finishing premises, Commercial Street - date unknown.


Palma Stokes née Belfield

I started work at Albert Carter's as a trainee embroiderer in 1951. Most of the young females who lived in the immediate area started work at Albert Carter's as there was not much of in the way of an alternative for female school leavers.

The factory operated on three floors. The office and canteen were on the ground floor, while the first floor was the lace repairing area where the older ladies sat repairing holes or small tears on huge rolls of lace that was made for table ware or bridle fabric. On the top floor were the single head embroidery machines. I was based on one of these working mostly on ladies blouses and underwear. There would have been at least fifty women working on this floor. Those working on the patterns and marking out the designs were also based on this top floor.

The pantographing room was located in a separate building at the rear of the main one. Here were five or six huge and very noisy lace machines and there would be a head girl who would work the pattern from one end of the machine and a couple of others to keep the bobbins full. They produced beautiful Nottingham lace that went around the world. There was even a suggestion that some of the lace had been made specifically for the royal family. The yard in between the main building and the pantographing room was shared with another business involved in dyeing and sometimes the smell that wafted over from dyes and the bleach they used would be almost unbearable.

Albert Carter had two sons, Alex and Brian (who was a couple of years younger). They both worked at the firm which Alex took over when Albert died. Brian would do office work and deliveries and sometimes maintenance while Alex was in charge of the lace room. Most Monday mornings the sons would come to work with black eyes or swollen faces as they played rugby at Highfields at the weekends.

Albert Carter was a character who was never without a cigar in his mouth. He was quite a one with the ladies. He was very easy going and always good for a laugh. He looked after the people of the area and would loan out the canteen or the tables and chairs for any function they might want to put on.

Quite a few of the women who had worked there for years used to travel in each day from as far afield as Mansfield, Rainworth and certainly from around the outskirts of Nottingham. Clearly they thoroughly enjoyed their time working at Albert Carter's.

Alan Foster

Mr Colin Hardy (see below) mentions a natural spring adjacent to the canal overflow. I think it was probably a leak from the canal. We used to drink from that spring and when we scooped sand out of the spring small snail shells could be seen but the canal was unused at that time and the water was crystal clear and many times we lay looking at the sticklebacks with their bright red chests building nests in the weeds.

Colin Hardy

Something that wasn't mentioned in the articles on Spring Close in Lenton Times No.20 was the natural spring that used to rise at the back of 53a Commercial St. It appeared near a small dyke close by the canal. There was a small waterfall-like construction - an overflow from the canal - and a wooden walkway that allowed people to cross it. Water went down the overflow and into the dyke and then went into a small tunnel, which went back to where the spring was situated. I think the water ultimately flowed into the river Leen. As a youngster I used catch newts in the dyke.

David Vinter

In the 1940s my father was a maintenance foreman working for Simms, Sons & Cooke, when they constructed the Binbrook aerodrome, a bomber base situated near Louth Lincs. As a very small boy (born in Louth in 1936), I was 'smuggled' into the wartime base and shown around the dozens of Lancaster bombers. I can remember the sound of their Merlin engines as hundreds nightly flew over our small bungalow, fully 'bombed up' on their way to Germany! Not exactly a Lenton memory but it provides a snippet of information about the activities of Simms, Sons & Cooke during this era.

Glenys Carter (née Schoolar)

I was born at No.35 Commercial Street in 1942. My dad, Bernard Schoolar was the local chimney sweep and I expect lots of people will remember him. I remember Carter's factory very well as our house was exactly opposite it, while further along the street on the same side was The Danish Bacon Company. On the corner of Commercial Street and Spring Close, opposite the Traveller s Rest pub, was a shop run by a Mr and Mrs Hopkinson and known to us all as Hoppo's! None of the previous recollections mention the sand hole. I can't believe this as this was where every kid in the neighbourhood went to play. We had some great times up there and a huge communal bonfire would occur every November 5th. At the age of 17 we had to leave Commercial Street when the houses were demolished. One link with the Queen's Medical Centre that now occupies this area is that my brother, John Schoolar, worked on its construction. I have good memories of a great childhood spent here. I initially went to Lenton Church School and then on to Cottesmore and sang in the choir at Lenton Church for five years. I stopped once I left school when work and other interests took over!

Between the houses on Commercial Street and the canal were the allotments. My dad had one of these and grew flowers and veg on it. In our back garden dad used to keep ducks and periodically would let them out on to the allotments. From there they would make their way to the mini dyke, swim along to where it ran at the end of the street, get out and waddle in single file back down to our house. Then they would go up the entry and back into the garden There go Bernard's ducks! was a regular comment of the watching neighbours.

We all learned to swim in the canal and every little community had their own patch . The kids of Dunkirk named their part, Dunkirk Lido; the Abbey Bridge and Gregory Street locals swam at Clayton's Wharf,just up from the Red Cow pub; and our lot swam in between the two locations at a place we called by the rather macabre name of Coffin Locks . Whole families would make a day of it in the summer, building a fire on the canal bank alongside the towpath and taking a picnic lunch. I recall that after a heavy downpour of rain the water was always warm for some reason. One of the local lads I grew up with was John Cunnington and I bet a few people will remember him. He and I were bitter rivals, always falling out and vying with one another. One day he challenged me to a swimming race, starting at Dunkirk Lido, passing through Coffin locks and on to Clayton's Wharf. Somehow I managed to keep up with him and he was so enraged to find me still there at Clayton's Wharf he promptly pushed me under and sat on my head! It wasn t that bad though as I m still here to tell the tale. Another memory is of myself at a very young age sitting in the gutter in the summer and picking out the melting tar from between the cobbles to play with. Mum later had to use some of her precious butter ration to get the tar off my fingers. It was a very safe street to play in as no-one owned a car. So no traffic! I remember a man dressed in full Scottish costume used to come and play the bagpipes in the street and people gave him money, likewise a man with a fine voice would come of an evening and literally sing for his supper. Can anyone remember the Donkey Man ? This curious misnomer was given to the greengrocer who brought his fruit and veg down the street on a horse and cart. There was always someone ready with a dustpan in case the horse deposited some free manure before leaving.

Some of the people I remember very well were Doug and Gerald (Butch) Hardy, Ray Meese, Jimmy Elson, Terry Belfield, Sandra Gabbitas, Barbara Redgate, Janet and Beryl Cunnington, Linda Howitt and Geoff, Alan and Ray Shepherd. These latter youths were some of the Big Lads who tended to keep us younger ones in line. Very happy days all in all.

Claire Perry

After leaving Spring Close when The Traveller's Rest was pulled down the licensees, Fred and Joyce Perry, were given The Grove Hotel in Arnold Notts. They were there until December 1987 when they moved to a place called Barrow in Tralee, Co.Kerry, Ireland. Joyce Perry nie Limb passed away in October 1990 and Fred Perry died in February 1992. I am married to their son Paul who still lives in Ireland where we have six children.

Elizabeth Ann Jones (née Hodges)

In about 1950 my brother, John and a friend who I think was called Graham decided to go and play in the timber yard belonging to Simms, Sons & Cooke over on Spring Close. Having built a den from the piles of wood they then decided it would be a lark to light a fire there. As it happened they were apprehended before they could cause any damage. A little while later the police bell on top of the squad car rang out as the vehicle pulled up in front of our house on Beeston Road. The policeman, holding on to my brother's ear, got out of the car and conducted John up to our front door where he was handed over to my mother. She assured the officer he would be suitably punished. No doubt his friend Graham received similar treatment. John was happy to accept his punishment as it wasn t everyday that you got to ride in a police car.

Let us know your past and present memories of Spring Close / Commercial Street

Do you have any historical information or other photographs of this area? If so, email us with the details or write to us.

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