First Impressions
No. 03 - Part 05 - Nottingham Road
w/e 24 April 2016
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

On our journey up Nottingham Road we have now reached the area known as Kensington, the name being derived from William Tatham's Lace factory that was established in 1824 in what is now the Kensington Business Park on the western side of Nottingham Road. Kensington is also the area where I grew up so from here on it is home territory and this part of the First Impressions series on Nottingham Road is actually a trip down Memory Lane.

Landscaped Area

As a child I never ventured much further down Nottingham Road than here except for an occasional walk for a lesson in the hall at the rear of St John's Church but back then this landscaped area just above the entrance to the Business Park was occupied by public toilets. The toilets were demolished, the site landscaped and seating provided. The extension to the building above was originally added as a restaurant area to the pub.
Tesco Express

That pub was The White Cow but now the whole building has been converted to a Tesco Express supermarket. I would walk or run past here every weekday four times a day on my way to and from school.
Kensington School

The school in question stands opposite the pub/supermarket and is Kensington Junior School. It opened in 1886, not that I was there then as three separate schools, one for boys, one for girls and one for infants. The girls' school was situated closest to Nottingham Road but by the time I attended in the 1950s it was a combined school. With the baby boom after the war, this was a time of severe overcrowding and resulted with as many as 50 children in one class at times. That was the reason why some classes had to be held in St John's Church Hall and why additional classrooms were built on a site off St John's Road to the right of the image above.
Top Class

In the 50s we often stood at the railings at the corner of St John's Road talking to the lollipop lady who made sure children crossed the road safely and especially in October we would stand and watch the lorries and caravans struggling up the hill as they made their way to the town centre for the annual Charter Fair. Those railings have now been replaced by security fencing, play equipment has been installed in the playground where we used to kick a ball around or play "tick" but the classroom on the corner where Mr Jackson prepared children in the top class for their 11 plus exam still looks pretty much the same.
Hargreaves Court

Moving up Nottingham Road and next to the former pub is Hargreaves Court, a sheltered housing scheme for older people but before that was built it was normal for children, myself included, to run up a grassy bank and along the top before dropping down to cross Kensington Street.
Needlemakers' Arms

Kensington Street provides another access to the Business Park where the Kensington Needle Works and Lace Factory stood. Not only did the factory give its name to the area but the pub on the right of the street is The Needlemakers' Arms, obviously taking its name from the industry. Another business that was familiar to children of my generation was the wood yard off Kensington Street where Jimmy Walters did a good trade in wooden stilts for all the youngsters in the area. Many years before that, in 1864 in fact, some parents took exception to William Sudbury and Richard P Howard who noticed some "dirty and ragged children" playing on a Sunday morning. It was from their observations though that a Sunday School was formed which proved a great success. It was held initially in a room in a nearby cottage, expanded into a second cottage and then into a room in the Needlemakers'. For many years cottages stood on what is now the car park at the pub. Eventually the Sunday School moved into purpose built premises further up Nottingham Road in 1869.
Nottingham Road

The site of the new Kensington Mission was opposite Park Drive seen here in the middle distance on the right, the road on the left being Whitworth Road which was name after the Whitworth family who owned land on the western side of the town.
Whitworth Road

Like many places around here Whitworth Road holds many memories for me. I remember skidding round the corner one frosty Christmas morning on a brand new scooter and it was where I first learned to ride a bike. I also had a trolley made with old pram wheels and a wooden platform probably made from Jimmy Walters' off cuts. It was guided by a cord from the waistband of a pair of pyjamas that had a nasty habit of snapping and turning the wheels to the right. It happened one day when I had two younger friends on the trolley which meant I tipped them into a bed of nettles at the far end of Whitworth Road. I fell off the back of the trolley but avoided the nettles, something for which I don't think they forgave me for quite a while.
Gnome Island

Next up is the end of Park Drive, an area that has changed significantly in the last couple of years. A new traffic island has been installed and a new access road to Morrisons Supermarket. The island has been officially named Gnome Island by Erewash Borough Council after a short campaign following the mysterious appearance of several garden gnomes on the island overnight. The supermarket has been built on the former site of the South East Derbyshire College of Further Education, an establishment that formed the backdrop to my early life living in a property just beyond the white building. Kensington Mission stood where the grassy bank is and a pedestrian crossing was roughly where the new island is as can be seen in the picture below.

Kensington Mission

The Mission was built in 1869 at a cost of £300 and became affiliated to the Congregational Church but when the Congregational movement became the United Reformed Church, the Mission decided to remain independent. It was here that my wife and I first met when we were still both toddlers but in the 1960s we started and ran a Youth Club in the building in an attempt to encourage more young people to join the church. Some years later with an aging congregation and mounting repair bills, it became impossible to keep the chapel open and it was forced to close. An even earlier picture of the chapel from circa 1910 can be seen at Picture The Past.
Pedley Street

That white building I mentioned stands on the corner of Pedley Street and in my youth it was a greengrocer's shop. The door and windows facing Nottingham Road have now been bricked up but I used to call in most days at lunchtime for a packet of nuts and raisins before riding my bike back to school. Everyone knew the shopkeeper as Curly but I always called him Harold having grown up with him as a neighbour. For the first 22 years of my life I lived in a two-up, two-down cottage in the middle of a terrace of three cottages that stood on the site now occupied by a single detached house. The pedestrian crossing from the end of Park Drive has been relocated to the corner of Pedley Street.

Pedley Street was my playground and became my Wembley, my Wimbledon and my Lords depending on the season but at the end of Part 4 I promised to tell you about an event of October 15th 1963. My bedroom was at the back of the cottage and on that particular night as I went to bed, the room was lit up by a flickering light. Looking out of the window, I could see a red glow in the sky down the road. The lace factory which by this time also housed a coffee factory was on fire. All the neighbours in the area went out onto Nottingham Road to view the proceedings, many in their night attire. It's surprising how many people you don't recognise when they aren't in their day clothes and have their hair in curlers, aren't wearing glasses or have left their teeth at home in a glass. I think it must be from that night too that my addiction to roasted coffee can be traced. So as you can see, whilst a newcomer to "Kensington" will have their own "First Impression" of Nottingham Road, this area has made a lasting lifelong impression on me and that will continue as we conclude with the remainder of Nottingham Road in Part 06.
Back to Part 4
 First Impressions Index
Forward to Part 6

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