Ilkeston Town Walk - Stage 31 - Bottom Of Town
w/e 20 February 2005
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Bottom Of Town Header

It has often been said that the English and the Americans are two peoples separated by a common language. In America for example "uptown" means "a residential part of town away from the central commercial district" whilst "downtown" is "the business centre of a city or town". In England, or perhaps I should say in Ilkeston, "up town" means the area in the centre around the Market Place; "down town" refers to the middle part of Bath Street whilst the area at the lower end of Bath Street that we are going to look at in this stage of the Town Walk bears the somewhat disparaging monicker of the "bottom of town".

Orchard Kitchens

To reach Bath Street from where we left the last stage, we must first turn off Rutland Street into Lower Granby Street where on the left hand side we see a building now occupied by a local business, Orchard Kitchens. The upper floor has been converted into a large factory showroom with many kitchens on display but over a hundred years ago the building was home to a temperance church. HippodromeAfter being purchased by Leonard Rogers and the proprietors of the New Theatre Royal on Lord Haddon Road in 1909, it became the Hippodrome offering a mixture of variety acts and silent films twice nightly. The small picture on the right has been scanned from a photo loaned to me by Paul of Orchard Kitchens and shows the building from the rear before this view was obstructed by the erection of a new building. In the days of the Hippodrome, there were entrances at both ends of the building.
Charter Centenary Paper

Continuing along Lower Granby Street and turning left into Granby Street we can now approach what was, before the road alterations and the construction of Châlons Way, the junction with Bath Street and Heanor Road. Under the heading "Bath Street then and now" a Nottingham Evening Post special publication to mark the centenary of when Ilkeston received its Borough status in 1887, featured on its front-page two photos taken, many years apart, from approximately the same position.

Bath Street

This 2005 image also from that position illustrates just how much the area has changed since 1987. The most noticeable building to have disappeared is the Rutland Hotel on the right.
Rutland Hotel Site

For a while in recent years the hotel became Kristies Night Club but it has now been demolished and replaced by a cut-price supermarket. The Rutland Hotel was built about 1820 as a stagecoach inn on the Nottingham to Sheffield route and thrived with the arrival of the railways in the 1840s. Adjacent to the hotel, Thomas Potter built the Spa Baths about 1830 where people were able to take the waters, both internally and externally, until the end of the century when the baths were demolished. The waters were reputed to be "the most powerful yet to be discovered in the kingdom" and even in those days, the advertising men were not slow to come up with a slogan - "If you're doubled with pain and thin as a lath, Come at once, then, and try the famed Ilkeston Bath." Although all signs of the baths have gone, the legacy that remains is in the name of the street as it was previously called Town Street.
Vauxhall Gardens Site
Prior to 1850, at the rear of the Rutland Hotel and Spa Baths were the Vauxhall Gardens that were named after the famous London pleasure gardens. Here Ilkeston residents and visitors could enjoy quadrille bands, hot air balloon ascents and firework displays. Later on the site of the gardens on land belonging to the Manor House, a football ground was built and was home to Ilkeston United - later to become Ilkeston Town F.C. There were several accesses to the ground, one being via a path from Bath St which now looks like the image top left. Steps that once led to the entrance gate are now used mainly by shoppers. The football club played their home matches on Manor Ground for well over a hundred years until March 1992 when they moved to the New Manor Ground on Awsworth Road (see Stage 29). Since then the ground has been redeveloped (bottom left) into a retail outlet that has housed at least three different companies in the intervening years.
Coal Wagon

But now we must make our way to the bottom of the foreshortened Bath Street and as we cross Manners Road we are treated to a good view of the coal wagon that sits on the traffic island at the end of Châlons Way. This serves as a reminder of two of the area's major industries - coal mining and ironmaking. The wagon, restored in Stanton Ironworks livery by volunteers, was donated by the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley. It is also situated close to the site of the old Town Station which can be seen below.

Site of Railway Station

The station was at the end of a branch line from Ilkeston Junction opened in 1847 by the Midland Railway. For thirteen years carriages were horsedrawn along the line and returned by gravity but the station closed in 1870. Nine years passed before the station re-opened to steam engines in competition with the rival Great Northern Railway and their station on Heanor Road. It remained open this time until 1959 but it had closed to passengers during 1947. No railway stations remain in the immediate vicinity of Ilkeston but there are moves afoot for one to be opened a few years from now.
Bottom Of Town

Now we return to Bath Street and here at the bottom of the hill, a combination of a shopping centre, large retail outlets, the economic climate, road alterations, the pedestrianistaion scheme and no doubt many other factors created a shopping backwater and many small businesses were forced to close their doors. Funding has been allocated to renovate the area and many of the buildings, some of them ornately decorated (above left) have been refurbished and small businesses are being encouraged to move back into vacant shops. One such enterprise is "The Ilkeston Coffee Bean" (above right) which will bring back memories to people of a certain age who remember a coffee bar in the shop next door when rock'n'roll was young.


Despite its location at the bottom of the hill, or perhaps because of, that coffee bar of the late 1950s was called the "Mountain Top". In those days when juke box music and frothy coffee were strictly for the young, the "Mountain Top" was THE place to be seen. Now the juke box has gone but the cappuccino coffee has survived and is enjoyed by all ages - and that includes me. This one was delicious! Or as we said back then "Dig this! It's real cool, Daddio."

 Back to Stage 30
 Town Walk Index
Forward to Stage 32

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