Ilkeston Town Walk - Stage 07 - Nottingham Road & Stanton Road
w/e 23 March 2003

We left Stage 6 of the Town Walk at the bottom of Graham Street but have now progressed to the top end and turned left into Nottingham Road.

Catholic Church

A little way down Nottingham Road we cross Orchard Street seen here on the right and from a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road we can look back on our route and take in the view of the Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Thomas. (Shame about the telephone wires!) Continuing across the road we now head along Field Road (left) and turn right into Havelock Street to reach Stanton Road.
Former Fire Station

On the corner of Havelock Street and Stanton Road this building was formerly the town's first purpose built Fire Station. From here we make another little detour from the main route of the walk to explore a little further down Stanton Road.
Stanton Road Cemetery

There are two places of interest I want to point out, the first we come to being Stanton Road Cemetery. A population explosion in the 1860s and a growing number of Non-conformists and Catholics unhappy about the lack of a non-denominational cemetery eventually resulted in the opening of this cemetery in 1866.
Headstones & Monuments
The last burial took place here in the late 1940s since when it has fallen into a state of disrepair (inset top right) but a group of people known as the Friends of Stanton Road Cemetery are now actively involved in restoring and tidying the grounds. They are also attempting to secure a lottery grant to assist with the restoration work. The cemetery contains several notable headstones and monuments and they are a valuable reminder of Ilkeston's past. Set against a soft focus backdrop of a general view of the cemetery here are just three of them. They are:
Top left - Builder's tools on the tombstone of George Henry Manners being reminders of his trade.
Bottom right - The headstone of 23 year old James Tilson's grave (Tilson of Ilson) features stumps, gloves, a bat and a ball marking his cricketing prowess tragically cut short by "inflammation of the brain".
Centre - A simple S.T. in the footstone of Samuel Taylor's grave hides the story behind the his career as an entertainer. Known as the Ilkeston Giant - he was 7 feet 4½ inches tall - he entered show business at the age of 16 and died in Manchester in 1875 aged 59.
I am indebted to the Ilkeston and District Local History Society for the above information gleaned from their publication entitled "Stanton Road Cemetery" and published in 1999.
July 2010 - See below for more about Th' Ilson Giant *#*
The Pines
Adjacent to the cemetery is this building that is now a Day Centre. Not so very many years ago it housed The Pines Youth Club which was a local haunt of Ilkeston's modern day entertainment equivalent to Samuel Taylor, Robert Stevenson. Better known as Robert Lindsay, this Laurence Olivier, Tony, Fred Astaire and BAFTA (among others) award winning actor and star of many television, screen and stage productions is as proud of his roots as the Ilkestonians are of him.
Stanton Road

But now we return up Stanton Road almost to the old Fire Station to continue our planned walk. With the tower of St Mary's Church in the town centre straight ahead, our perambulations will eventually lead us there but we now turn left into Union Road and we'll pick up the route again there in the next stage.

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Th' Ilson Giant

Anyone compiling a list of famous show business people born in Ilkeston would obviously include Robert Lindsay and William Roach but another literal giant in the same business was Samuel Taylor.

Sam was born in the Little Hallam area of the town in 1816 and grew to a height of 7 feet 4½ inches. His father too was a tall man standing at 6 feet 9 inches but his mother by comparison was only 5 feet tall. His height was the reason that Sam found it hard to find work in Ilkeston and he went to the Castle Donington Statutes hoping to find employment in service. Whilst there he visited a travelling show advertising a "giant" but the so called giant was over a foot shorter than Sam who was offered a position in the show and thus began a show business career. Sam died aged 59 in Manchester after suffering a fractured thigh.

Further full accounts of his life can be read on other web sites including the Friends of Stanton Road Cemetery. The cemetery is where the life-sized wood sculpture pictured above has been erected. Suffice it here to say that Sam's body was returned to Ilkeston and the Ilkeston Brass Band, as a token of respect, led a procession through the streets to Stanton Road. The impressive sculpture that now stands adjacent to his grave was created by Andrew Frost as part of a £47,000 lottery grant for improvements to the cemetery.

Added to this page July 2010

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