Mapperley Village

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Happy Mapperley Memories
Lyn Reeve (nee Pearson)
Sept 2012

Lyn Reeve (nee Pearson)

Back in the 50’s when I was a child we used to listen to a radio program called “Listen with Mother” where a rather posh lady with a very plummy voice began with…
“Are you sitting comfortably?-Then I’ll begin…..”


Well, I began in 1950 the youngest child of George and Edie Pearson and although we actually lived in the parish of West Hallam my heart and especially Mum’s always belonged to Mapperley. I lived with Mum, Dad, Anne and Richard at the top of Mapperley Lane. My maternal grandma Annie Mabel Lowe was part of the Hawley dynasty in the village. My granddad arrived in the village from Burton to train at Mr. Hill’s farm back at the beginning of the 20th century. They met, fell in love, and married intending to join granddad’s family in Canada with the hope of a rich and fulfilling life ahead. They had three daughters-Connie, Alice and Edie but sadly whilst grandma was pregnant with her fourth child granddad died of the influenza pandemic which was sweeping the country (1918). Can you imagine having 4 children with no money at all coming in? It was then that her family and friends in the village rallied round and helped her both emotionally and financially during this bleak time.

Grandma had attended the village school and a few years ago we were given one of the letters she had written to the family in Canada describing the help and love she was given by the villagers after his death; Mr Pleming the vicar was mentioned and his generosity and care was never forgotten. Her handwriting was beautiful and scholarly and a true testament to the education she received in Mapperley School all those years ago.

I was desperate to start school! Living at the end of the lane was quite a lonely existence and each day I would hang on the gate waiting for Mrs. Challons, one of the teachers at the school to walk past on the way to catch her bus home. I can still remember the thrill when she told me I could start school the next day - I think I was about three and a half/ four. Each day at 3.30 grandma who lived opposite school would be waiting at her front door for me. She’d take me inside to wait for mum to walk up the lane to collect me and there she would unfold the daily paper and while I scrambled on to her knee she would begin to read me the daily Rupert Bear serialised cartoon. In 2012 we still take the Daily Express where each day  Rupert still finds adventurous things to do in Nutwood and it always takes me back to Grandma’s back room and her old horsehair settee.

I loved school so much so that it was destined to become my chosen career (I taught for 27 years in a village school very similar to Mapperley). Mrs. Challons taught the Infants and Mrs. Foster, as Head, taught the Juniors. Looking back the curriculum was quite innovative-we always had visits with work based around these real experiences. I remember visiting York and Chester which at the time seemed at the other end of the world!

We had weekly visits from Mr. Truelove (yes we had a good giggle at that name!) who was called the “school bobby” to check on any absences but we were a happy, healthy lot so I always felt he had a doddle of a job. We also had visits from the “nit nurse” who was a formidable lady in a brown serge suit- not that we saw much of her as we had to keep our heads down while she inspected our scalps. I remember being fascinated by her shiny brown lace up shoes-very sensible!

Once I was in the Juniors I was allowed to walk home with my next door neighbour, David Morgan. We would race down the hill and, if lucky, be in time to see the 4.o’clock coal train thunder over the bridge. If we were REALLY lucky we’d watch as sparks flew off and set light to the bank! The train driver always waved and blew his whistle for us. Sometimes we would meet my Dad on his way home from the pit; Dad never learned to drive and worked between Stanley and Mapperley pits on his trusty Raleigh push bike. He often gave me a lift on his crossbar down the hill; seeing children ferried around in cars today makes me realize they really don’t know what they’re missing!

Mapperley 1st Brownie pack
There was great excitement when this was set up after school. It was run by Brown (or was it Tawny?) Owl, Margaret Lodge. We had proper uniforms with badges sewn on and we learned very important skills like laying the table and tying knots! Most of all though we had great fun dancing round the toadstool and we even ventured out to a competition at Ilkeston College. Sadly I never made it to the Guides as the group folded.
The Pit
The pit played an important role in our house-in fact, it paid the mortgage. Dad was Training Officer at both local pits and it was his responsibility to look after the young apprentices who worked below ground. They were very proud at Mapperley at the installation of the pithead baths which meant that men could arrive home clean and looking human again. I only saw Dad in his “pit muck” once and it scared the life out of me. He’d been doing one of his apprentice visits when one of the pit ponies bolted and went on a rampage. Along with some other men Dad tried to stop Blackie and was stretchered out of the pit for his endeavours. He arrived back from A&E just as I got home from school. Who was this stranger in the chair with ruby-red lips and teeth and eyes like monsters? I screamed and ran upstairs-Dad never came home again without having first washed off the muck and grime of the pit.

The pit yard at that time was a hive of activity and it so lovely to see the photos included on this site that just shows all that. Thank you! Today the pit yard is like a ghost town-nothing to show for all the work and activity that went on. At least two families lived in the yard but those houses too have disappeared. Thank goodness the stained glass from the colliery offices has been retained in church for us still to enjoy.

Church played a huge part in our growing up in Mapperley at that time. I’m still not quite sure how much religion came into it but we certainly had lots of fun. Dad ran the Sunday school along with Alan Burton; all my friends belonged and I still vividly remember the Sunday school outings and anniversaries which Joyce described in her memories. I always loved the Chapel anniversaries and was quite envious of being able to sit upstairs and watch them perform their recitations and songs on the platform-something we could never do in church. I was also in church when the lightning struck the building for the second time and saw the rubble cascade from the roof- it was really scary. We actually made the BBC Midlands news for that and we all sat round our black and white speckly- screened TV for our moment of fame.

Evensong was also attended but helped along by mum who invariably at the start of the sermon would pass along the mint imperials which had to be sucked very quietly.

Mum (Edie Pearson nee Lowe)
Mum had Mapperley written through her like a piece of Blackpool rock. Her stories and tales about the village folk kept us entertained until the day she died. Surprisingly she always talked respectfully about Gaffer Johnson, the school Head even though she always seemed to be on the wrong side of his cane. “A good hiding never did you any harm” – still not sure about that one mum! She found work at Morley’s factory in Heanor at the age of 14 and thus had to walk through the park everyday-even then a scary walk for anyone after a long day in the factory. After her marriage they moved to West Hallam but her dream was to return to the village she loved. She finally returned to live on Sycamore Close after dad became disabled and met up again with all her old friends particularly Jessie and Doris.

“Home time”
Mapperley is indeed a very special place; such rich memories.

Thank you to everyone who shared their photos and stories and especially to Elaine for initiating this fantastic site.

Lyn Reeve (nee Pearson)


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