Ilkeston Town Walk - Stage 34 - "Albion"
w/e 15 May 2005
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Cast Iron Shop Front

"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.
The Albion Centre

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 Shopping PrecinctWalk 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).
Albion Works

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 W Ball & Son Ltdof 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.
Albion Leisure Centre Panorama

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.

Leisure Centre

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 Archwaythree 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.
Bath Street

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."

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