Mapperley Village

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John Martin
My Memories



A car that was occasionally seen in the village was a green “Bull Nosed” Morris (similar to the one pictured on the left), but I think that it was a darker green and which was kept in immaculate condition, It belonged to a rather eccentric old lady, whose name escapes me, and who lived opposite the Newdigate Arms on the High Lane. Morris apparently was very keen to acquire it and offered a brand new car plus cash, but she refused to sell and the company had to wait until she died to get it. They were apparently in production from 1919 to1926. I hope it is still in good condition, either in a museum or in the hands of an enthusiast.


Civilian Clothing 1941

As mentioned in the “Wartime” section of these memories, clothes and items of furniture were made to standard patterns in the interest of efficiency and marked with the above symbol. It stood for Civilian Clothing 1941, the year of its introduction.

The National Health Service

When the National Health Service was introduced virtually everything was free, including prescriptions, dental work and also optical work although the National Health spectacle frames weren’t always popular, particularly with the ladies, and private ones could be obtained at a cost.

Children got free orange juice for the vitamin C and also free cod liver oil, which was not popular with the children!
At school we had free 1/3 pint bottles of milk and in winter had the choice of warm or cold. The appropriate number of bottles was stood on the hot water pipes and they were at a nice warm temperature to drink by morning playtime.

One memorable thing about Gaffer Johnson was that his hands were very trembly when I knew him and the explanation given was that it was “nerves” which was always a puzzle to me.

I remember 3 epidemics in the village:
 The first, about the end of the war, was impetigo and mine went to an abscess on my throat, so I was admitted to Derby Children’s’ Hospital. As it was after the last meal I was offered something to eat of my choice. I asked for ‘chase ith uvun’ i.e. cheese on bread cooked in the oven. As no-one understood I got bread & jam. After a couple of days I woke to find pus from head to foot and had a good telling off from the nurses. I found this very unreasonable as it had happened in my sleep and the first thing that I knew about it was when I woke up. My uncle Fred, who was in the R.A.F. and stationed on an American base came to see me and filled my locker with American sweets. Next morning, first thing, I opened my locker to find one solitary bar. That afternoon, sweets, ‘from our American friends’, were shared round the ward. Only fair I suppose.

The second a couple of years later was scarlet fever and for some reason my family was either the only or one of the few not affected. The patients were taken to an Isolation Hospital, where sadly, Thelma Hawley died. She and I had shared a double desk at school and as the only mixed desk we both hated it, but I soon realised that I would sooner share with her than what had happened and felt guilty for a long time.

The third was chicken pox, I felt really ill doing my ‘mock’ O'Levels at school and on the first day after they had finished woke up to the typical rash.

Mapperley Pond froze up hard enough to skate on at least once as I can remember, 1947 I think. My dad had a pair of skates which clamped onto his shoes and he skated on the pond. As he had acquired skates and was quite good I can only guess that the pond had frozen over before. One day lots of people were on the ice fairly near the side, with a few right in the middle when there  was a loud cracking sound right across the pond, within seconds everyone was on the side looking out, but it was decided that it was only the ice settling on the water and most went back on again, but all near the side.


The ‘pond’ is really a reservoir; built to feed the Nutbrook Canal, which had been dug to carry coal from Shipley pit. The canal was often short of water to the extent that, at times, the locks were not allowed to be emptied or filled unless there was a barge in them, often resulting in lengthy waits for the men, who were paid by the load.

Level with the lay by there used to be a 3 legged structure, known locally as the “three legger” supporting a platform, through which  a metal rod went down to sluice at the bottom of the pond and was used to regulate the flow to the canal. The railways took away the trade and the canal was disused in my day and the three legger slowly rotted away. Above is a photo with the remains to the right. The pond was reputed to be 30 foot deep there, which added to the experience of skinny dipping out and round the three legger at midnight.

On the other side of the road and at the far side of, and at the edge of the wood next  there is a brick built doorway leading down a few steps to something which was probably connected to the canal and which was reputed to be the home of ‘Teddy Greenteeth’, some sort of a monster who preyed on children, and was a ‘dare’ to the boys to enter.

Another ‘dare’ was to go through the overflow tunnel which runs from the corner of the pond nearest the village, turns a right angle and comes out in the wood where it has collapsed.

Newspapers were delivered by Mr Fry and then by his son Laurie. He carried them in a carrier on the front of a bike and delivered along the High Lane from about The Newdigate Arms to the crossroads at the end of Park Hall Lane and into Mapperley. At weekends, holidays and in the late afternoons he employed local lads to deliver, but it meant that a lot of papers were delivered quite late in the mornings and evenings.

Lightening never strikes in the same place twice
The old Mapperley church disproved the myth that “Lightening never strikes in the same place twice” as it was struck twice where the end of the roof of the nave joined the chancel which was a bit lower. Surprisingly it was not the tower at the other end, which was the highest point of the building.

Sludge Pond - Park Hall Was Flooded With Sludge

Reading through the memories on the website I was surprised to find no mention of the time the houses at Park Hall were flooded with sludge. 
As you entered Park Hall, from Mapperley, you were faced with the typical conical pit tip on the far side of which road formed the crossbar of the ‘T’ road, i.e. the road from West Hallam to the pit.  Between the tip and the road was the sludge pond which was raised 2 or 3 ft higher than the road by, as I remember, an earth bank. It had a thin dry crust, but was filled with liquid mud and was a no go area to even the most dare devil amongst us as we knew the crust would in no way support our weight.

One day in my boyhood, I don’t know the date, the top of the tip collapsed and the contents of the pond were forced out, flowing 2 or 3 ft deep down the road and in front of the houses. Every one from the village went to look, but we younger ones were quickly sent packing as the rescue operation got underway.

It would be interesting if anyone could add to this with either photos, further details, or an explanation as to the purpose of the sludge pond.

(I understand from Alf Shaw, the farmer who lives at Park Farm adjacent to the then sludge pond, that this incident occurred early May 1944.  Thanks to Mollie Skinner for obtaining this information)


Baptists in Mapperley.

My sister, Jenny, pointed out a book to me: The Baptists of Derbyshire 1650-1914 by Stephen Greasley,  Ilkeston, Morley’s Print and Publishing, which shows that the Ilkeston Baptists were preaching outdoors in some of the surrounding villages in the 1780’s and began to preach in Mapperley in July 1788, fortnightly on Sunday evenings. In most places this usually took place from April until September. Unfortunately there is no indication as to where in the village these meetings took place and neither for how long they continued, nor how successful they were in attracting new members.

There are however some interesting facts in that baptisms took place outdoors in convenient waters and that in the minutes of the Smalley branch of the Ilkeston-Smalley Church, wine and bread for Holy Communion were purchased as well as gin and also rum which, incidentally, cost more than 2½ times as much as gin at 1/- and 2/8d (5p and 12-13p) per pint respectively. It is suggested in the book that the spirits could have been used to warm the baptismal candidate(s) as the water could not be heated. I would also like to suggest that it could have also been used to warm the officiating minister as it is recorded that one minister specified among the terms of his employment at Smalley that red wine should be kept available in the church so that he could have a glass before and after preaching whenever he wished. Attitudes must have changed over the years as when I attended a Baptist Church in the 1970’s alcohol was very much frowned upon and the communion wine was non-alcoholic.

The book gives a detailed history of the Baptists of Derbyshire during those years with many photos and pictures and also some insight into the lives and attitudes of the people, especially the Baptists, of those times.

Chapel of Ease

old chapel
I lived in the old chapel from 1937 until 1944

I lived in the old chapel from 1937 until 1944, when I was 7. When I looked the other day I saw they had put an extension on the side. I have an embarrassing photo of me as a baby on the yard which unfortunately doesn't show any of the house. What I remember is that we had a cold water tap outside, the pipe came up about 3 ft and I remember that it froze in the winter, our only source of water, and that the walls were so thick that I could play on the windowsill. There was an old font in the garden which ran along side the roadway at the side of the church. There were ledges inside which we were told was where they put the coffins. As you look to the East window the fire was in the right hand corner. The coal house and toilet and presumably the ash pit still stand beyond the East end of the building.

That's about all I can remember except family things like when my uncle Tom came to visit, he had been abroad in the army and didn't know that we had left.

There was no one in and so he went in and sat down and got a very hostile reception when someone came home. I also stood in the doorway and a budgie flew onto my shoulder, it had escaped from the Rileys who lived opposite the Black Horse and probably thought that I was Barry Riley.

John Martin
25 October 2012

Mapperley 1940’s And 1950’s
(As I remember it)

The moat is situated just beyond the farm which is on the far side of the railway bridge in Mapperley Lane. During this period the contents of the village ash pits were dumped at the far end of the moat. It should contain lots of interesting finds. We were told that there had been a fortified hunting lodge there built by William de Peveril, of Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire.

He is also said to have owned Mapperley, Nottingham, and named after the village, he was said to be a relative of William the Conqueror, (? A cousin) with whom he fought at Hastings and was given the estates as a reward.

Mapperley was granted a charter for a weekly market and annual fair 700 years previous to the 50’s or 60’s. My father got post card copies from, I think, the Public Record Office. There was a fair and deer roast etc to commemorate this on its 700th anniversary. Stocks were made at the top the top of Mapperley Lane and are still there.

 Until I was 11 (1948) and moved into Coachways we had pan lavatories, which had to be emptied into a pan cart. Very few if any houses had electricity and we used battery operated wirelesses, flat irons and wash day was always Monday, and the copper (boiler) was filled and heated to provide water for filling a tin bath  for baths in front of the fire. A man called Ted Bramley used to collect the low tension batteries (accumulators) used in the wireless sets and charge them once a week or fortnight.

The streets in the village were not named, the one leading to Slack Road was unofficially Walker’s Yard and the unmade one opposite the school was known as Round Pool or Cow Muck Row.

Howitt’s shop was in Walker’s Yard and sold mainly sweets and tobacco and we also got yeast for baking bread there (a pennorth of balm) and blue for washing clothes. Ozzie Howitt used to make ice-cream at the weekends. Harry Stenson, a coal merchant from West Hallam, used to deliver a large block of ice wrapped in sacking on Friday afternoons and Ozzie used to make the ice-cream in a wooden churn to be sold on Saturdays and Sundays. Eventually both shops began to sell ice-cream, one from Wall’s and one from Pearce’s. One day they swapped suppliers.  

Wesley Derbyshire’s shop was at the crossroads, which was called “top of the street” and was the gathering place for people to meet and talk. He sold groceries and lots more. My Dad told me about the battle of the Tarantellas which took place in the 30’s between Derbyshire’s and the shop which had been just  below the Methodist Chapel, (a lot of which’s congregation came from West Hallam), when the shop keepers were undercutting each other by ½ p at a time. Wesley was married to Julie, who died young and then he married Eve Ballard a widow who had come into the area to be housekeeper to Mr Lewis of Bridge farm. She had a daughter Sonia.

The Post Office was in the first of the semis on the left side of Walker’s Yard and was run by Polly Boam, who was notorious for allegedly reading and telling what was written on post-cards. She became very infirm and used to lean on the counter, turn and fall to, and lean on, the bureau where she kept the stamps, Postal Orders etc. Polly had looked after her parents and married late, (in the 30’s, I believe) and was the first in the village to have a car to take her to church. The congregation were in church but no bride, when the usher looked the driver was settled in the car, to which the usher shouted “yone com wiout her”. There was a report in the Derby Evening Telegraph with the headline “Left at the Post”. (The date of her wedding could be found in the parish register). Gaffer Johnson, the headmaster, sent a lot of Postal Orders, which he used to send one of the boys to get and she always had to give more than one as she never seemed to have one of the correct value, which made him furious as it cost him more in poundage.
When anyone died the relatives and neighbours would close their curtains, the rest of the village on the day of the funeral, the coffin would be carried through the streets to the church by relatives or friends.

The teachers at the school were Miss Hunt and Gaffer Johnson. There was a rhyme which went ‘In Mapperley Village, round the pool, there is a school, and in that school, there is a stool, and on that stool, there is a fool, his name is Gaffer Johnson.’ He had come to the school from the army after WW1 and was very strict, although he had mellowed by my time. When he taught my dad he was very free with the cane and always caned his own son as well to prove that there was no favouritism. He often used to threaten us with the cane, especially the one that had split, but never used it. He still used to inspect hands and shoes at the beginning of each day. We would rub the toes of our shoes on our socks but obviously not the back and if the back of anyone’s shoes were not clean he would say, “You’d make a good soldier, a good soldier never looks behind”.

Miss Hunt was also strict, she often used to leave the room and we were told not to speak. Someone nearly always did and most of the girls would put a hand up and point to the culprit who would get caned on both hands. In Gaffer Johnson’s room we had to copy a passage in our best writing, show it to him, and rewrite any words that were not perfectly formed then show it to Miss Hunt who was even more difficult to please. Miss Hunt retired at the same time that I left the school, and at her retirement she opened a cupboard and gave every child a bar of chocolate, which represented months of sweet rationing coupons.

There used to be Whist Drives, Beetle Drives and other functions in the Institute, (Stute), officially The Mapperley Miners’ Welfare Institute, now I believe a joiners shop. In the 30s it had also been used as a changing room for football and cricket played on the field below. Mapperley Miners’ Welfare F.C., in my time played on the ‘Reck’ and changed in at one time the Black Horse and another the school.  

Mapperley did not have a church till the middle of the 19th century and had been part of Kirk Hallam parish, so a Chapel of Ease was provided on the left at the top of the slope leading to Mapperley Lane. I lived in there till the age of 7. The walls were so thick I could play in the window sill, and there was a ledge in the walls which was supposed to be a place to put coffins.

The village has a mystery, a miner disappeared, and there is a book about this which is worth getting. ‘The Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Severn, by Hector Tyler.

Charles Hill kept the farm on the edge of the village, on the road to Park Hall, he worked it with his nephew ‘Big’ Henry with extra help at busy times. ‘Little’ Henry, his son was a farm contractor, but didn’t look after his equipment and went out of business when combine harvesters came in and then became an egg farmer. We used to get milk from this farm, collected in galvanised ‘cans’ twice a day at milking times, served by the daughter, Molly, it was poured over a cooler and ladled out of a churn. Most people had galvanised ‘cans’ but my grandma had an enamelled one with a lid. We discovered centrifugal force in that we realised that if we whirled the can at arms length, vertically, the milk would stay in. One day whilst doing this I caught the can on the ladder bar of the short gas street lamp at the bottom of Ma’s garden, cracking the enamel, denting the can and getting soaked in milk. I had to pay for another pint of milk, face my grandparents (I was always afraid of my granddad, Amos Martin) and then my mother. Not the best day of my life!

Little Henry used to keep his machinery in what had been the yard of what had been a farm, the house was opposite the top of Back Yard. The yard was on the right at the top of the slope leading to Mapperley Lane.

When a calf was born we could get ‘beastings’ i.e. colostrum to make egg custards. Although Hill’s had a large orchard the only fruit they sold were William pears from a large tree at the bottom of the orchard, overlooking Ma’s garden (Ma Fensom). This was quite an event as most of the village would rush to buy them.  Wheat was reaped in sheaves, stacked and thrashed at the end of the year. Mr Hill used to have wire netting put round the stacks and the village boys would arm themselves with sticks and kill the rats and mice as they ran out. Most exciting was near the bottom of the stack as the rats would retreat there as the stack went down.

The farm round the Pool was kept by Reg. Udall, at one time Mrs Udall used to sell fish and chips several times a week, which were very popular. I was about 16 but we would buy chips and if we were lucky get ½ pint of mild to drink in the yard at the back of the pub. We often used to go into Little Henry’s buildings belonging to the yard with John Cooke, who worked for Henry, put slack in the fireplace in the workshop, pour on paraffin, and have a fire and spend the evening there.

In the winter evenings we played ‘Last on Stump at 40’, where the person ‘on’ would lean on the ‘stump’ (the lamppost in the middle of the village), count to 40 and then hunt for the others who could be anywhere in the village. Once one was caught they would be taken back to the stump, but could be relieved by some-one else touching them and shouting “Relieve-O”. The person on could either guard the captive or hope to catch the relievers or take a risk and hunt.

Holler was less popular, when some hid and others hunted. The hiders were supposed to shout to give a clue as to their whereabouts and if they didn’t the cry would go up “If yo dunna Holla, way shanna folla” We also used to make winter warmers, a tin can with holes in the sides and a long wire handle with burning coal in it. When spun overhead you got a nice blaze.

There would be crazes for kite flying in the Meadow, the field at top of the twitchell. You could easily make one by cutting a strip of wood from the fence, getting long twig of privet from ‘Nut’ Beardsley’s hedge, stripping the leaves and tying it at the middle to one end of the strip, tying cotton to one end, running the cotton round the bottom of the strip and tying to the other end of the privet so forming a rounded top and pointed bottom shape, This was covered with newspaper, stuck with flour and water paste and fitted with tailings made of bunches of grass.

We also made bows and arrows with hazel, catapults with ¼ in. rubber from a bike shop in Ilkeston and a shoe tongue for a pouch.

A few times we did ‘spirit rapping’ with a large button or washer hung with cotton from a pin stuck in the top of a window frame and a long piece of cotton leading to the bottom of the garden, which, when pulled made the button rap on the window. If you were lucky and someone came out to investigate the evidence could be removed by pulling in the cotton.


In conclusion I must admit that as these memories are very long and I hope that some of you have had the patience to read through, or at least dip into them. My excuse is that it has been an extremely pleasurable experience for me to sit and think about those times and an indulgence for me to write about them.

I have certainly been fascinated by some of the information provided by people older than me on this website; and also learning of the happenings after I had left.

As the period covered is from more than 50 years ago they are almost certainly incomplete, and inaccurate in some respects. It would be interesting to hear anyone’s comments, corrections and additions sent either to this website or to me.

Not only has writing these Memories been a great pleasure to me, but as I have seen the Website develop I also find it a privilege to be able to contribute to such an excellent project.

Tribute to John Martin

Today, October 27th 2012, I was given the very sad news that John Martin passed away suddenly this morning.

I have known John all my life and since I started with the History project and the Mapperley History website, he has been a most loyal and supportive follower and contributor.

He attended my history events with his wife Dorothy and his sister Jennifer.

John was always supportive and always so keen to learn more and to pass information on.

The last email I received was just a couple of days ago.

Roger Wood, Fionn Taylor and I are so very sorry that John has left us but we are so very grateful for the wonderful memories he has left behind on my website.

We loved receiving them and reading them with so much interest and excitement.

They are a wonderful legacy for his family too.

John was a true gentleman.

Rest in peace John, you will be very sadly missed

God bless

Elaine Sarson.


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