Mapperley Village

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Peter Harper

My Grandma (Hannah Bridges) went to chapel in Mapperley village, when it was sold, (someone lives in it now) they built a new one next to Bottle Kiln on High Lane and had a celebration. Because grandma had gone to the old one for so long she opened the new one.  My mother was Evelyn Hannah Bridges and her sister Gladys had a double wedding at the original Mapperley church in 1946.  My sister Pat was born in 1947 and they moved to Birmingham for a year or two and then moved back to 22 Mapperley village when dad went to work down the mine. That was next door to grandma who lived in 24 until Auntie Gladys moved in with Uncle Les and grandma moved to a two up two down next to the school. Unfortunately because of the mine work the original church had to be taken down, but they built a new church to replace it.

We still have the original Lych Gate (covered gate), at the entrance to a churchyard although the actual gates have recently been stolen!. The term lych evolved from the Saxon word for corpse, and the lych gate was traditionally a place where corpse bearers carried the body of a deceased person and laid it on a communal bier. The priest would then carry out the first part of a burial ceremony under the shelter of the lych gate roof.

Grandma liked to see me go to Sunday school and watched me walk through the door.  Then I slipped out the rear vestbury door and ran to dad who was driving field Marshall tractor with a black funnel on the farm nearby. Later she told me she knew about my deception, but thought it was better for God to see me for a minute every Sunday than not at all.

My sister Pat lived with mum and dad in Mapperley four years before I arrived, she remembers canaries in the parlor, living in homemade wooded cages, they were for the pit. A lot of miners had canaries in sheds in the garden to take down the mine with them; we were the only family to have them in the parlor. Mum wanted to have a best room like everyone else, but the birds made a mess and she kept asking dad to build a shed for them.  One day it all became too much for her so she opened the windows and let the canaries out. Dad could not believe it.

Each morning mum made dad sandwiches to take down the mine and a marmalade sandwich for his pit pony, which pulled the wagons full of coal out; when dad had his break he always gave the donkey a sandwich too.  He said they could count, because if you tried to put an extra truck (miners called them tubs) on the end the donkey would pull forward and stop until you took it off.  The miners loved their pit ponies and no-one was allowed to ill treat them.
At the end of Mapperley village was a pub called the Royal Oak, but it was known as Candlesticks to locals because it had no electricity. They had hinged candlesticks on the walls to pull out at night, it was very spooky with dark wood floors and everyone told you it was haunted.  Unfortunately a gas leak was found in the cellar and with all those candles it was closed down.

Mapperley Pond used to have a wooden out flow valve, by the time Pat was 4 all that was left were 3 stumps at which point it was 12 foot deep, which they called the 3 legger. The big boys would swim out to them to see if they could, or make rafts and float on the water.  Pat and her friend June Slack used to visit Daffy Down Dilly Field with a brook running through it and a hill to roll down and millions of daffodils to look at. One day they decided a visit to the sea side sounded a good idea, as they strolled down the lane towards Mapperley Pond a local stopped them to ask where they were going and of course they told him to the seaside.  He quickly found dad and told him, he ran all the way to Mapperley Pond in time to see Pat & June in the water and waded out to rescue them.

On the Mapperley website, Gallery 5, you can see a picture of my dad, Les, digging a ditch for the football pitch, a deep dyke that went so far down they reached clay. Les is 3rd from the left.

If you look at the photo he has a tattoo on his chest of Jesus on the cross with an angel on each side it was never finished so you can only see the angels wings on his back is the soldiers pray which people used to ask to see if we went swimming it was done in Indian Ink and faded as the years past, but Dad knew it off by heart so when he was an old man he could tell it to us even though it had almost disappeared from his back.  Back to the Football Pitch Dyke, we used to try to make pots out of the clay and got very dirty. Mum always seemed to know and have the tin bath ready beside the fire.

In July the mine closed for holidays, and they brought the pit ponies out with hankies tied round their eyes because they had not seen day light for so long.  They took them to a field and let them go, they told all children so we could watch the donkeys going mad jumping and running with joy.

We had our holidays in Skegness miners camp and they had separated sleeping arrangements for boys and girls, but there was so many people from the same mine there you knew everyone.

There was a beauty spot at Kirk Hallam with a lake.  You could hire a canoe and row around it, or lie on the grass at the edge. There was afternoon tea in a wooden shed.

Peter Harper   May 2018
 (Hopefully photographs to follow)


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