Mapperley Village

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John Martin
My Memories

The time covered by these memories is the time that I lived in Mapperley, from the time of my birth (1937) until the time of my marriage (1961); although I did little more than sleep in the village for the last few years of that time they are therefore mainly memories of childhood and teenage years. They also include some of the things of interest that my grandmother, Ruth Martin, who lived in the village all her life, and had a copious memory for all of the village happenings, told me. What a pity I didn’t make notes and ask more questions when I had the chance!  

I hope that the younger readers will be interested to see how the village has changed in one lifetime.


The Village

The appearance of the village has changed and the first thing that strikes you is the number of cars on the streets. During the period covered there were normally few if any to be seen. Mrs Hill of Mapperley Farm was the only car owner and Ted Bramley, of whom more later, visited once a week, and for a while Arthur Baker, a mobile greengrocer used to come. Otherwise for the most part the only motor vehicles were delivery lorries or the occasional driver looking for an address in Mapperley, Nottingham.

My Parents
Ron and Mabel

An exception was when the opencast mining (outcropping) was being carried out by a firm called Brands in the fields below Coachways and across to below the Rec. The coal was transported by lorry through the village.The boys would occasionally get rides in the lorries. Especially popular was a young driver called Ray who was handsome and was famous in the village for his very white teeth. Unfortunately he died young.

Another change is the lack of shops and the houses and bungalows that have been built since 1961. Where the bungalows leading up to the Mapperley Farm are was an orchard, Sycamore Close did not exist; there was a large well shaped sycamore tree at the end of Coachways.  The Limes were built soon after the end of the W.W.2. and Coachways in about 1948. The houses on Church Lane had not been built during my time.

There were no street names in the village, the addresses being, for example, 26 Mapperley, which is where I lived for a time. What is now Coronation Rd was unofficially called Walker’s Yard and the roads leading from the village were; Mapperley Lane, leading to the High Lane; Shipley Lane; ParkHall Lane leading to ParkHall (The lane from ParkHall to High Lane, now apparently known as ParkHall Lane was then known as Simon Lane) and the extension of Walker’s Yard out of the village was Slack Lane.

There is dirt lane leading from opposite the school to opposite what was known as Ma’s Garden (the garden between the semis opposite the Black Horse and Hill’s orchard) was known as the Pool or round Pool or even Cowmuck Row.

Another big difference is that as children we were allowed to play outside wherever we liked including in the fields and woods, the only conditions were that we did no damage to crops, which we wouldn’t have dared or even wished to do, and that we turned up on time for meals which we always seemed to manage even without watches. The children who lived out of the village were expected to come to school on their own whatever the weather.

The children from Mapperley Brook, ‘the Brook Kids’, used to walk to and from school over the fields on their own even through snow.

The accent is also different; I was of the age to see it start to change rapidly; although I suppose it has undergone change throughout history. As the accent varied slightly from village to village the nearest you can get to it is to read the book by Scollins Richard and Titford John. 2000, Ey UP Me Duck!  Published by Countryside books of Newbury.    Some of the older people particularly miners sometimes used ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ as in the greeting “Ey up ah Tay?” to which the answer was “Or rate ah Tay?” Or as my Uncle Joe would say to me “Theyn com unweshed” when he saw me in a dirty state which was probably a lot of the time when I was small. Talking of miners, you used to see them walking to Mapperley ‘Simon’ Pit with their snap tins fastened to their belts and their mash cans and their ‘mashings’, a screw of paper containing tea and sugar. They also walked back in their ‘pit muck’ as until just before the pit closed there were no pithead baths. The canteen at Mapperley Pit used to sell a fag (Robins) and a match, jam buns, and mugs of tea for a penny each. The cigarettes were to give the miners a chance of a smoke. As smoking materials were strictly forbidden underground and as they had to get to and from the pit in their working clothes they had nowhere to store any of their own above ground. During quiet times we would be able to get all three if we had enough money even as junior school boys. I remember not daring to ask for the cigarette and match and gave another lad 2d (2 old pence for the youngsters among you) to get one for himself and one for me. We hid in the fire hole of an old boiler to smoke and halfway through I felt sick and gave the rest away to be laughed at for spending 2d on half a 1d fag.

Win and Ron Martin, Win being the eldest, who married a teacher and moved to Gorleston

Two important events during this time were the installation of the phone box. Prior to that it would have taken a really big thing for anyone to ask to use a private phone, I can’t remember who might have had one thinking about it, and the starting of the bus service.

"Reading Bob Richardson's memories I had an experience similar to him. As a teenager I couldn't get to sleep,one night and counted all the people who lived in the village and came to either 235 or 247, memory fails me, and I thought that if 1 person died we would have 234 or 2, 4, 6 people living there depending on which was correct.  However as no-one volunteered and there were a couple of births soon afterwards this didn't happen. It is however an indication of the size of the population and the fact that everyone knew everyone else at that time. I must have been a hardhearted teenager."


Village Life

Looking back life seems to have been fairly primitive then as many houses had pan lavatories, often situated at a distance from the house. Toilet paper was rectangles of newspaper, a hole would be made through a corner of a pile of them; a loop of string inserted and hung up from a convenient nail. The seat was a wide flat piece of wood with a hole in it. It would be spotless and scrubbed to such an extent that the hard grain would stand out the soft having been worn away. The container would be emptied into a horse drawn “pan” cart and taken away, to where, I never knew. Chamber pots were a necessity, but not for Number Twos if at all possible! Rubbish, mostly ashes, was thrown into the ash pit which was a shed like building with a door in the upper half of the front wall for putting the rubbish and a covered opening in the bottom of the back wall for the removal of the contents which were taken away by a horse and cart belonging to Mr Lewis of Bridge Farm on Mapperley Lane and dumped in the moat which was on the far side of the farm buildings. There are probably some quite interesting things to be found there. As I was the same age as Noel, Mr Lewis’s son, I often played around the farm and in the moat, now dry.

Ron Martin
As junior school boys we sometimes thought of digging in the middle area and expecting to find swords, shields etc in reasonably good condition, but as there were mature trees and lots of roots we found it too difficult and when told that the building would have been a fortified hunting lodge and not a castle we lost interest.

The horse and cart were also used by the road sweepers. At various times they were Lija Joe, Huey and Edgar Waite, the last two not Mapperley residents. They used to sweep along the lanes until they had a pile big enough to shovel into the cart. It was said that the horse had learned to stand for a while and then move on the correct distance on its own and so ruled the pace of work. I remember Huey on being given a new pair of boots by Mr Lewis taking out a very sharp knife and cutting a hole in the side of one of them to accommodate a bunion -- a shocking sight to a young lad brought up in the war years!

Most houses had no electricity, lighting was by gas and cooking for most was on a gas ring or on the fire and in the oven at the side of the fire place which also provided hot water in the boiler at the other side of the fire. The fire, having a vertical front was ideal for making toast and for heating the flat irons that were still in common use then. The fire place was kept black by regular applications of ‘black lead’

Few wives went to work, but had to work hard to look after the home, not having in the early years, for example, vacuum cleaners or other modern appliances.

Clothes washing was a hard day’s work almost invariably on a Monday in a separate ‘Washhouse’. Washing machines with a hand cranked paddle; or a ‘ponch’ and dolly tub were used.   Clothes were boiled in, and hot water obtained from, a “copper” (see picture on right) which was a large container supported in a brick built surround with a coal fire beneath and a mangle was used to squeeze as much water as possible from them. If the weather didn’t allow drying outside the clothes had to be dried in front of the fire making the house damp and cold. After the clothes had been washed the copper was refilled and the fresh hot water used for the family bath night using a galvanised metal (tin) bath. In winter having your bath in front of the fire was a real treat but a strip wash had to suffice until the next week.

Few if any people had access to a phone until the phone box was installed some time during my schooldays. However did we manage?

The coming of the N.C.B. and the N.H.S. made a big difference to the people, with free access to medical facilities and better conditions for the pit workers, especially the face workers.

In 1267 Mapperley was granted a charter by Henry III to hold a market every Monday and a three day fair at the Feast of the Holy Trinity. I brought my children to the celebrations in 1967 when a fair was held on the “Rec”. There was a roundabout, and also archery, clay pigeon shooting and a deer roast with two deer being donated by Mr Drury-Lowe of Locko Park. Unfortunately the man who was to do the roasting was double booked and Stafford’s Butchers of Stanley Common roasted them and brought them ready roasted. A very well filled cob and a plastic cup of beer at 6d was a good and delicious bargain. One of the contestants in the Fancy Dress was draped in a fur carried a large club and a banner “Ban the Arrow”. This was very topical in the Ban the Bomb days.


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