Old Ilkeston Logo

A tribute to an old acquaintance

This article  appeared in the Ilkeston Advertiser (page 4) on Friday, June 7th 1935.
It describes Weaver Row, off South Street, as recalled by Adeline.

WEAVER ROW
Over a hundred years have passed since thy erection in one of the fairest spots in Ilkeston. Thy surroundings were pleasant and unique. On the North was the old Cricket Ground, St. Mary’s Church on the hill, and the dear old Cricket Ground Chapel. On the East were Gardens, and a field leading to the Hilly Holies, those relics and reminders of the time when the Romans governed this country. On the West was South Street, with its cottages, Wide Yard – now West Street – and the old Baptist Chapel. And on the South were Gardens reaching to White Lion Square.

The glorious sun shone on thy walls, and the health-giving spaces were before thee. When the wind caused the ripples on the Weavers’ Pool, or intense sunlight sent the shimmering heat upwards, and the sunbeams danced through thy latticed windows, thou must have been a picture of happiness and beauty.

The Weavers who lived within thy walls were a happy and contented people, and the rattle of their shuttles, as they plied their trade beside the Weavers’ Pool, must have been as music in their ears.

But time does not stand still. The Weavers and their trade passed away, and another generation took their place. Buildings sprang up around thee, the Weavers’ Pool disappeared, and gardens took its place.

During our childhood we often passed up the causey, and looked in at thy doors. In one cottage we should see old Joseph Mason working at his stocking frame, his daughter Jane busy with her household duties, and the cat sitting on the rug in front of the fire. Sometimes we were invited into the house, and very soon we should be sitting on the squab, nursing pussy, and listening to Jane’s chatter.

At another door we should see George Topliss, the basket maker, busy with cane and withy; he always welcomed us with a smile and kind words. Then there were the Aldreds and Harrisons. Sometimes we would go to see a new baby, and as a treat be allowed to sit on a stool and hold it in our arms.

In the further cottage lived Mrs. Fox. She had a mangle, and each week we took a basket of clothes to be mangled. As we turned the handle of the old box mangle we watched her delicate hands fitting the clothes on the sheet, then placing the bright rollers across, which wrapped the sheet tightly. Then we would turn the handle until we reached one end of the box, and Mrs. Fox would lift out one roller, and slip the fresh one under. Sometimes we would turn the handle quickly to see how many times we could get from end to end before Mrs. Fox was ready with a fresh roller. When we did this, she would say in her quiet way: “If you would turn the handle slower, the clothes would be mangled better”. After paying 2d., 2½d., or 3d., according to the number of clothes mangled, we would pass down the causey going to our own home.

That generation has passed away, and others have come and gone that we knew not.

Thou, Oh Weaver Row, hast had a long life, and now it is feared that thou hast outlived thy usefulness; thy rooms are too small, thou art not healthy, in fact thou has been called that odious name “A Slum” and may be condemned some day. But when the chisel and hammer in the hands of the housebreaker have done their work, and the place whereon thou now standest knoweth thee no more, we shall still have a niche in our memory for thee.

And now, Weaver Row, thinking of thee as thou wert in those far-off days of our childhood when attracted by thy freshness and beauty, also by the friendliness of those homely people who dwelt within thy walls, we bid thee farewell.