Kimberley - Part 03 - Victorian, Before & After
w/e 06 February 2011
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

SignpostThe signposts point to the Victorian Shopping Area in Kimberley but the street in question that they point to was there long before Victoria's reign. In fact in this part of the series we will be looking at the area of the town that was at the heart of the village before it expanded during the Industrial Revolution. Prior to that, the properties in the village centre on what is now High Street were in the midst of a rural, agricultural setting. A map dating from about 1765 shows two more streets running in a north-easterly direction off High Street. These are Greens Lane and James Street and it is James Street that is now labelled the Victorian Shopping Area and is where we begin this continuation of our walk through the town.

James Street

James Street rises gently uphill from Main Street and is a mix of small independent businesses and residential properties. Whilst it is good to see these small businesses side by side, in the current economic climate how long the existence of such shops in the face of competition of national concerns can continue must surely be a worry for their owners.
Greensmith's Stores

One particular shop looked more "Victorian" than any other in the street with the name Greensmith's Stores in embossed letters above the window but somehow it didn't exhibit the appearance of a thriving business venture.
St Paul's Chapel

St Paul's ChapelAt the top of James Street where it meets High Street is the former St Paul's Methodist Chapel. Built in 1884 it was one of several Methodist chapels in the town To Regent Streetbut by 1973 it had been converted and was being used by Kimlon Holdings as can be seen in an image on the Picture The Past website (click here). Since then the frontage has been obscured by a number of trees and the building has undergone further modifications to become residential accommodation (left).

A little further along High Street a footpath (right) leads through to Regent Street at the bottom of which another chapel is visible on Main Street.
High Street

High Street seen here looking back from near to its junction with Greens Lane is a continuation of Church Hill where we began the first part of our walk through Kimberley. This section of the narrow road was the centre of the village shown on that 1760s map and was then known simply as The Street as it had been since at least 1653.
Cherubs Nursery

Greasley Board School commemorative stoneAnother track meandered in from Nottingham roughly where Main Road is now situated but The Street continued up the hill to Swingate (to the right in this view), Knowl Common and on to Strelley. James Street and Greens Lane were just rural lanes that linked to the track from Nottingham. By 1883 however the Greasley Board School, Kimberley had been built at the junction of Greens Lane and High Street. Board Schools were established after the 1870 Education Act and required the attendance of all children. Although the buildings still exist, they are now used by the Cherubs Day Nursery which opened in 2003.
Little Oaks Nursery

Another nursery, the privately owned Little Oaks is a little further up the hill towards Swingate. This is housed in a purpose built structure within the footprints of a farm building that was originally part of the neighbouring Manor Farm. Manor Farm was the most important farm in the area and was marked on that old map. In an estate survey of 1765 it was described as "Ann Clay's Farm" having come into her hands via her father-in-law (which probably in today's parlance means her step-father).
I walked only a little way up the hill for the above image but our route is along Greens Lane (left) and returning to its junction with High Street, the road name signs indicate that it was "Formerly Factory Lane" (right). I remember travelling by bus along Factory Lane when visiting relatives at Swingate in my youth and suspect that many locals will still refer to the road as Factory Lane.

Shopping Precinct

A small shopping precinct now stands on the site of the factory that gave its name to the street and the modern shops are in stark contrast to those of the Victorian area. With the Industrial Revolution, framework knitting developed from a cottage industry to become a major employer in the knitting, lace and stocking trade and the Victoria Mills factory was built here in 1880 by Richard Birkin, one of the most important names in the industry at the time. Originally built for the manufacture of lace, the factory was eventually taken over by Wolsey's a name well-known for quality hosiery but cheap foreign imports resulted in its closure and it was demolished in 1983.
Primitive Methodist Chapel

Cutting across the car park at the shopping precinct to the top of the steps down to Main Street provides a good view of the chapel we saw earlier from a distance along the footpath to Regent Street from High Street. This was the Primitive Methodist Chapel which opened in 1876 with seating for 608 people. Since its closure in 1962 the building has been used for various businesses including a supermarket and a bar and restaurant. The yellow and white sign outside shows that it is once again up for sale.
Back to Part 02
Kimberley Index
Forward to Part 04

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