Ilkeston Town Walk - Stage 34 - "Albion"
w/e 15 May 2005
All this week's
pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
"Albion" is an archaic name for England or Great Britain
often used poetically, and in Ilkeston in days gone by, Albion
Place was the name given to an unmade thoroughfare linking Bath
Street with Burr Lane. It emerged onto Bath Street on the left
of this image and we will shortly be following the approximate
route of the old road via the Albion Shopping Precinct. We will
then return to Bath Street through an archway to emerge opposite
the building in the distance that has the words "Alan Wesson
Shoe Repairs" painted on the gable end. But before we turn
into the Albion Centre, the decorative cast iron shop front on
the right deserves at least a passing mention.
Not only does the Albion Centre follow the route of the old road
but the precinct also stands on the site once occupied by the
King's Cinema. There was a time in Ilkeston not so very long
ago when there were four picture houses and due to the midweek
change of programme you could easily see a different film every
night of the week. The Ritz (now a Bingo Hall) and The Scala
we have already seen in the Town Walk and they are both still in use.
The New Theatre on Lord Haddon Road has suffered a similar fate
to the King's, being demolished and replaced by a Nursing Home.
The King's was built in 1914, prior to that a row of cottages
fronted onto Bath Street, but it's life span came to an end well
before its 75th anniversary as the Albion Centre was advertised
at the town's Charter Centenary as a Borough in 1987 as "The
New Face Of Shopping In Ilkeston". It also said there was
free parking for 250 cars but since then charges have been introduced.
We can reach the car park by walking through the precinct (right).
Overlooking the car park but accessed from Burr lane is the factory
bearing the name in bold blue letters beneath the clock (left)
W Ball & Son Ltd although it trades today as Baltex Fabrics.
Francis Ball bought a plot of
land in 1805 and built a small house and Frame-shop to manufacture
lace and hosiery. The Albion Works (above) was built in 1843
to make hosiery and gloves and Francis took his three sons John,
Thomas and William into partnership submitting material to the
Great Exhibition of 1851. Believed to be Ilkeston's first large
factory, the building can claim to be have been occupied by the
same company for the longest continuous period in the town and
the company today, still a going concern as one of the leading
Warp-Knitters of Technical Textiles in Europe, was awarded the
Queen's Award For Enterprise in 2003.
Turning our back on the Albion Works, we can now follow a footpath
towards East Street to gain access to another car park at the
rear of the shops in the shopping precinct and in front of the
Albion Leisure Centre. This panoramic view shows our ultimate
destination and the start and finish point of our Town Walk,
the Erewash Museum. It is the building furthest away and towards
the left of the image. Next to it on the right is the Masonic
Hall and the white building behind the tree is the former Gladstone
Inn. We shall see these at closer quarters in the next and final
part of the Town Walk.
The Albion Leisure Centre which opened in 1986 according to the
Erewash Borough Council web site is "a dry side facility
consisting of a fitness suite, sports hall, spin room, bar with
catering facilities and three
function rooms." However the same site also states that
following completion of Phase 2 of the Sport Erewash facility
on the Rutland Recreation Ground, the existing gym at the Albion
Leisure Centre will be closed and the staff will transfer to
what will be a considerably larger gym of a higher standard with
vastly improved car parking facilities. What will become of the
Albion Leisure Centre will no doubt be revealed in the fullness
of time. From here we regain Bath Street via the right hand side
of the leisure centre passing through this archway (right) to
emerge opposite the shop mentioned earlier with the writing on
the gable end.
Looking back down Bath Street and just below one of the upper
storey windows we can see an Ilkeston Civic Society blue plaque
(inset) informing that "Bath Street formerly Town Street
acquired its present name from the Mineral Water Baths at the
bottom of the town built in 1831". At the right hand side
of the image is the entrance to Mount Street, apparently so called
because of its steepness. Mount Street used to lead to some terraced
dwellings called Club Row but the site is now occupied by yet
another car park. On the left of the picture is the shop next
door to "Alan Wesson Shoe Repairs", John and Sue Ingall's
Newsagent business. Before those words appeared above, "Simpson's
Mint Rock" was the message displayed there and could be
bought from the shop now occupied by the Ingalls.
Simpson's Mint Rock may well be a thing of the past but today,
besides buying a newspaper or magazine in the shop, you can still
choose from a large variety of confectioneries and see John weigh
them out in the traditional way from one or more of the numerous
jars that grace the shelves. There's a choice of Bon-bons, Pear
Drops, Dew Drops, Cherry Lips, Chocolate Caramels, Rhubarb and
Custard and more - the choice is endless. It's just like the
England of old - or should that be Albion? "OK John, let's
try the Sherbet Lemons please."