Bert's Town - Part 04 - Contrasts
w/e 24 May 2009
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
D H Lawrence's Eastwood

Bombay SpicePheonix DiscPart 03 ended with a brief detour from the Blue Line Trail to take in the third plaque on the D. H. Lawrence Literary Trail outside the Sun Inn but on entering Nottingham Road the two trails come together again. The Literary Trail is indicated by small phoenix symbols (left) embedded into the footpath. The discs measuring approximately 3 inches in diameter are not as easy to follow as the painted blue line but they link the larger plaques which here, are on both sides of Nottingham Road. The fifth literary plaque is to be found outside the Bombay Spice Restaurant and Takeaway (right), a far cry from when Bert was a boy in the town and a butcher traded from the shop as he later recalled in 'The Lost Girl': "The curtain was down... it represented a patchwork of local adverts. There was a fat porker and fat pork-pie, and the pig was saying 'You all know where to find me. Inside the crust at Frank Churchill's.'"

The Gallery

The building next to Bombay Spice currently goes by the name of The Gallery but for how much longer is uncertain as several signs indicate it is up for sale or to let. Embedded in the footpath outside though is the sixth plaque on the Literary Trail which this time includes a quotation from 'Sons and Lovers': "Paul... crept up the stone stairs behind the drapery shop at the Co-op, and peeped in the reading room. Then he looked wistfully out of the window... The valley was full of corn, brightening in the sun." I'm not sure whether it is a sign of the recession or whether I had just visited Eastwood when it was half day closing or maybe just at the wrong time of day but it seemed that all of the shops fronting on to the plaques had their shutters down. The same was true of the Golden Pearl Restaurant on the opposite side of the road.
Plaque No. 7

It is outside the Golden Pearl that this seventh plaque with its quotation from 'The Lost Girl' also sits astride the blue line. "It was a vast square building - vast, that is, for Woodhouse - standing on the main street and highroad of the small but growing town." Bert called the building Manchester House in the story although in reality it was London House. The building on the site now (roll your mouse over to see the Golden Pearl) bears little resemblance to the fine building that once stood here.
Nottingham Road

At the initial planning stage of this series I had difficulty in identifying London House and if you compare the present building (with the blue shutters) with this 1968 picture at the Picture The Past website, it will be easy to understand why. So far we have seen seven of the literary plaques and there are still seven more to find but for the remainder of this section we will concentrate on the Blue Line Trail that links many of the locations where the Lawrence family lived. One of the most important and perhaps the best known of those locations is his birthplace on Victoria Street and this signpost on Nottingham Road points the way there.
Victoria Street

Information Board No. 4The contrast between the busy Nottingham Road and the quiet Victoria Street could not be more startling but as it says in the script on the blue information board visible on the building on the left and in close up on the right, "Lawrence was born into a town that was dictated to by the coal mining industry. It is inspiring to think that a miner's son became one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Although he lived much of his adult life abroad, he never forgot his roots and the contrast of beauty and ugliness of the area he had been born into. Eastwood and the surrounding countryside were a source of inspiration throughout his life."

Birthplace PlaqueIt was in this "flat fronted red brick house in Victoria Street" (number 8a) as he later described it, that David Herbert Lawrence was born on 11th September 1885, the fourth child of coal miner, Arthur John Lawrence and his wife Lydia (née Beardsall). Lydia had been born in Manchester although her father was from Nottinghamshire but when his work took him to Kent she spent her childhood there resulting in an accent that set her apart from her Eastwood neighbours. She came from a middle class religious family, Arthur was working class and their different backgrounds were a root cause of conflicts in Bert's early life.

Whilst Arthur was earning himself a reputation as a heavy drinker Lydia, a former schoolteacher, was responsible for their children's upbringing and education and deserves credit for Bert's early literary influence. Beset by poverty, Lydia sold haberdashery from the Lawrence's front room shop to supplement the family's income and she dreamed of owning a shop on Nottingham Road. Family matters though meant that this was to remain a dream but as the information board states this house on Victoria Street "was the first of the Lawrence's four Eastwood homes and fairly typical of the period." It goes on to add that the "family's progress through the houses of Eastwood reflects the 'improvement' of their situation." Scargill WalkAlthough the publication of Bert's works was later to alienate his townsfolk for the way they were portrayed, he is now recognised as a great writer and his birthplace has been renovated in the style of the time and turned into a museum.

The blue line continues around the corner along the road on the right which is Scargill Walk (right) leading past the Craft Workshops to rejoin Mansfield Road via the archway we saw as an alternative route to the museum in the previous part of this series.

Back to Part 03
 Bert's Town Index
Forward to Part 05

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