Bert's Town - Part 08 - Backtracking
w/e 27 September 2009
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
D H Lawrence's Eastwood

I've titled this, the final part in the series, "Backtracking" for not only does the route of the Blue Line Trail take us back to Durban House via the town centre but also means we have to take a step back in time to see the third of the four Lawrence family homes in which Bert lived before moving away from Eastwood.

View from Walker Street

The Blue Line Trail took us from the Lawrence's second home to their fourth and we left the previous part in this series overlooking The Canyons on Walker Street. As we backtrack to the third home we pass the ninth information board on the Trail just a little further along Walker Street. This one is titled "View from Walker Street" with a subheading of "the country of my heart" and recalls how the surrounding countryside influenced many of his works. The settings for many of his local stories could be seen from here and an extract from a letter Bert wrote to a friend from abroad which is reproduced on the board says "Go to Walker Street - and stand in front of the third house - and look across at Crich on the left, Underwood in front - High Park Woods and Annesley on the right. I lived in that house from the age of 6 to 18, and I know that view better than any in the world ... that's the country of my heart."
Piano Row

Walker Street PlaqueThe house that Bert referred to in his letter is in a block of six but it is unknown from which end to begin counting. The large blue information boards seen previously is reduced to a much smaller plaque here and can be seen above the door of one of the houses in the middle. The houses were brand new in 1891 when the family moved from The Breach (Part 07) staying until 1905 before moving on to Lynncroft (also Part 07). The plaque adds "It was yet another step up the ladder for the family and the houses were known as 'piano row' due to the prosperity of the occupants." It was whilst here that Bert's brother Ernest died in 1901.
The Three Tuns

Just around the corner from the Walker Street house is the Three Tuns pub and a short stub off the Blue Line Trail leads to the black board by the door of the pub. This is a walk that Bert's The Three Tuns boardfather Arthur often made but the heavy drinker would not have stopped at the door. He often called in for a drink at the Three Tuns, his favourite pub, on his way home from work at Brinsley Colliery. His drinking was the cause of many family tensions as his wife Lydia and the children were members of the Temperance Society. Lawrence called on memories from this period for characters in his novels and based the Moon and Stars in "Sons and Lovers" on the Three Tuns. Further details on the black board show that the large forecourt in front of the pub is unchanged from Bert's time and it was here that the "hill top wakes" or fair was held for three days each September. The area to the east of Eastwood before the road drops down into Giltbrook is called Hill Top.
Towards Hill Top

Returning to the main route of the Trail, the painted blue line now leads to the end of Walker Street where it turns away from Hill Top and back towards the centre of Eastwood along Nottingham Road again. At a crossing point we can again pick up the Literary Trail where the thirteenth plaque sunken into the pavement contains a quotation from Lady Chatterley's Lover and reads "The church was away on the left, among black trees. The car slid on downhill, past the Miners Arms. It had already passed the Wellington, the Nelson, the Three Tuns and the Sun... and so, past a few new "villas", out into the blackened road between dark hedges and dark-green fields, towards Stack Gate." This view is looking along Nottingham Road towards Hill Top in the same direction as the car in the quotation was travelling.
Eastwood Library

Library PlaqueThe fourteenth plaque (left) on the Literary Trail is on the opposite side of the road outside the library and here we can also see the Wellington referred to in the previous quotation. Outside the library the quotation comes from Nottingham and the Mining Country. It reads "To me it seemed, and still seems, an extremely beautiful countryside, just between the red sandstone and the oak-trees of Nottingham and the cold limestone, the ash-trees, the stone fences of Derbyshire." Inside the library is an extensive collection of Bert's works including many personal letters and first editions whilst outside a sculpture (right) depicts the mining area that influenced his writings.
Nottingham Road

Diagonally across from the library at the junction with Queen's Road is the final plaque on the Literary Trail but as we continue to backtrack and approach the town centre from the opposite direction this is in fact numbered twelve. (The Literary Trail for people not following the Blue Line actually takes in plaques 12 and 13 before concluding with number 14 at the library). This twelfth plaque has another quotation from Nottingham and the Mining Country saying "I was born nearly forty-four years ago, in Eastwood, a mining village of some three Bromley Housethousand souls, about eight miles from Nottingham, and one mile from the small stream, the Erewash, which divides Nottinghamshire from Derbyshire. It is hilly country ..."

At this point we are in sight of Nottingham Road's junction with Wood Street which is where the Blue Line Trail splits to take in The Breach, Lynncroft and Walker Street so a few more steps will mean we have completed the circuit. Avid devotees of the author though can make a short detour from here down Queen's Road and into Queen's Square to view Bromley House (right) which was the home of Bert's elder sister Emily.

Although we are now at the end of our exploration of the Blue Line and Literary Trails it is not the end of the story. D. H. Lawrence himself in fact would be proud of a cliffhanger such as this. The spur for starting this series earlier this year in February 2009 was the news of the possible closure of the Durban House Heritage Centre. Even as I write this nearly eight months later the future of the Centre is still in the balance according to this report in a local newspaper. Eastwood is currently in the middle of the D. H. Lawrence Festival with numerous events taking place and the Heritage Centre is at the heart of the events. Back in February I sought permission to take some photos inside Durban House but in my haste to upload the first part that permission was not obtained until after the deadline. Soon afterwards though the Cultural Services Manager for Broxtowe Borough Council, Sally Nightingale, not only agreed to my request but also provided me with a number of the Council's own images. So rather than repeat the process and with grateful thanks to Sally and the Council I have now added these images to this bonus page of Supplementary Images to bring this series to a fitting conclusion.
Back to Part 07
 Bert's Town Index

For more information about D. H. Lawrence I am also grateful to the following websites (in no particular order) that have proved very useful in the preparation of these pages:
Broxtowe Borough Council D. H. Lawrence section
Alan Rowley's Into The Breach
Gavin Gillespie's Eastwood Site
and the University of Nottingham

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