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Welcome to Old Ilkeston, compiled by Dave Johnson (helped by many other contributors)

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I will be more than happy to try to answer any question you might have or respond to any comment. .

Please scroll down to the bottom of this page where you will see the place to leave your contribution.

There are places I remember all my life ... ... the crossroads of North Street and Station Road, a stone's throw from the site of my first home, where -- in the pre-Chalons Way Era -- stood the Erewash Hotel, Starr and Brookes carpet shop, Wright's the gent's barber, and Wards the butchers who supplied the Tuesday tea of shop-made faggots for most in the neighbourhood. ... Little Dustpan, which I walked up and down on my way to and from Chaucer Infants' school, and then the Junior school, to hear the wise words of Ma Gormley and Mr Bateman, Polly Virgo and Jack Syson. ... the sardine tin that was Doug's Coffee Bar standing in the corner of the Market Place, next to the Church Institute where my mates and I would meet to listen to Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly, Beatles and Kinks, Yardbirds and Fleetwood Mac (Mark 1), Dylan and Byrds, after a hard day's graft at the Grammar School (Mark 3) listening in a different way to Gibbo and Kenny Bettle, Ma Selby and Mr Shaw, Derek Akers and Dilys Gough, Max Payne et al. ... the old Buffalo Head pub in Durham City where I spent my first of several visits preparing for a next-day admissions interview (successful) at the University up the road. ... the Student Refectory at Nottingham University where the food prices were too high and the queues too long so that between lectures the pinball machine was cheaper and more attractive than eating. .. and despite it all, my formal education did provide me with some academic success to allow me many years of dishing it out to others.
  1. Fred Pringle Reply

    Ilkeston’s hosiery industry

    Hi Dave,

    I have the Booths booklets from the printer. It is 88 A5 pages in length. It covers; Ilkeston`s early hosiery roots, the foundation of Booths after WW1, expansion during the inter-war period, the development of technology and machinery, the impact of WW2, the work of the knitters, the mechanics and the finishing skills, the Booth family and the management structure, the products and the trade marks, the marketing strategies, publicity via celebreties, the human resources and the welfare regime,and an assessment of the reasons for decline. Many families and key persons involved with Booths figure so it may be of some interest to viewers of your web site. Ilkeston Library have a few copies for sale or anyone interested could contact me.

    Thanks for your help and advice,

    Fred (frederickpringle@blueyonder.co.uk)

  2. Sue Marshall Reply

    The Severns at Strelley

    For Alan Smith, re John Severn. For interest, there is a John Severn buried in All Saints churchyard, Strelley village. He was buried on 16 Dec 1916 and his wife Sarah on 5 Jun 1898. The burials in the old churchyard surrounding All Saints (as against the ‘new’ one immediately across the road) are listed in “A Short History and Guide to All Saints Church, Strelley” by David Clifford. It is a fascinating and well-researched read in itself; it is available from All Saints (see open times on website) or from Moorley Printing via Amazon.
    From Sue Marshall, All Saints congregation member

    • Alan Smith Reply

      Thanks for that Sue, your time and information is much appreciated. Alan

  3. Jan Le-Van Smith Reply

    Henry Smith, senior and junior, of Bramcote
    Hi Dave,
    Jan Smith here again from sunny France, I’m doing quite nicely with my Smith branches, although Henry Smith circa 1819 is still alluding all attempts to find his parents.
    His son Henry married Emma Luckcuck and lived in Ilkeston, they had 4 sons, John Henry, Fredrick, Percy & Frank.
    I think Frank was killed in France 6/11/18 but how can I check its the right Frank Smith, is it possible to find a copy of his joining up papers and if so please can you point me in the right direction of where to look, and if it is the right Frank would I be able to find a war grave do you think?
    Thanks in advance and hope all is well with you.. Jan Smith

    ps I noticed someone was asking about Eyers. Percy married Martha Eyres is that anything to do with the person they are looking for?

    Dave replied …
    I recall Henry Smith … a Smith from outside Ilkeston as I remember.
    I have just checked again and his son Henry junior with his wife Emma Jane and family aren’t living in Ilkeston after the marriage. They lived in Marlpool on the outskirts of Heanor (again not my ‘speciality’)
    Heanor and Ilkeston fall into the same Basford Registration District although they are separated by several miles.

    I attach some enlistment papers for Frank Smith … the key is that his birth was registered as Frank Miller Smith in 1892 (brothers Frederick Sabin 1884 and Percy Claud 1890) … they were all baptised at St Laurance Church, Heanor on June 1st 1893.

    I think that Frank survived the war (he may have won a gallantry award).
    There is a marriage for Frank Miller Smith to Doris Wood in 1921 at St Mary’s Church, Ilkeston.
    They may have had a daughter, Ann Cerise Miller Smith, born in 1927 at Stratford, Warwickshire.
    On the 1939 Register the family is at Stravon, School Street, Rugby, where Frank is headmaster (his birth date given as Nov 15th 1892)

    PS There are a few further references to headmaster Frank Miller Smith on the newspapers of the 1930’s and 1940’s … if you have Findmypast or a similar site.

    Best wishes,

  4. Lynne Warren (Rigley) Reply

    William Hawkins and Rutland Iron Foundry

    Hi Dave,

    I’ve just read with great interest the article on William Hawkins and the Rutland Iron Foundry. William was my grandfather’s grandfather, and although I’ve not had great success in finding anything out about the Foundry on the internet, I was inspired to look this evening after visiting the Erewash Museum today. I went to see the photograph of William Hawkins (while visiting Ilkeston), but unfortunately it is currently in storage. Your article has so much information in one place, and that was wonderful to see!

    By a strange coincidence, I am from Ontario where some of the other Hawkins descendants were born, and I’m wondering if it’s possible to connect us? S Hawkins is a great grandchild of William and Ann, and their first child Eliza was my great grandmother. It would be wonderful to share information and make a family connection. (I have seen a copy of William’s will, and he died in 1919.)

    Thank you for your site!

    Dave replied…

    I am pleased to see that you found this site of some use Lynne. Sadly I have lost the email address of ‘S Hawkins’ .. I would gladly have tried to put you in contact.
    I will of course post your comment and hope that some contact follows … with any ‘Hawkins’ connection.

    P.S. If you have any further detail on William’s death or on his will, please do feel free to share it

  5. George Robey Reply

    John Robey of Robey’s Yard

    Hi Dave & Team

    very interested in your article about Robey’s yard. I’m researching my family name (Robey) and the connection between my side of the family and its Trent Valley origins. Can you share with me the information that you have about John Robey and his parentage as I had previously had him as the son of James Robey and Mary Sylvester rather than John Robey & Mary Dunnicliffe (whose son William (1819-1906) moved to London sometime around 1841) and is my 2x Grandfather.
    The link back to John & Mary Dunnicliffe has proved to be very troublesome so I’m naturally very interested in the information that you have.
    Thanks for an excellent site.

    Reply … George,

    If we start with the John’s marriage … this was to Hannah Bower on Nov 17th 1844 at Radford Parish Church in Nottingham. The details describe him as a gardener of Hyson Green, the son of John, also a gardener. Hannah was the daughter of Gervis/Jervis and Hannah (nee Bower), a cattle dealer living in the Little Hallam/Kensington area of Ilkeston at that time (Gervis was born in Trowell, Notts)
    The first (and only?) child of John and Hannah was born in Ilkeston … he was John Bower Robey, born on Aug 13th 1850 and baptised at St Mary’s Church on Sept 12th 1850. On that same day father John was also baptised .. the records of St Mary show he was the son of John (another gardener !!) and Mary, born on June 8th 1824.
    So we have three Johns … grandfather, father and son. From census returns it looks like grandfather was born in Melbourne, father was born either in Melbourne or in Nottingham while son was born in Ilkeston.
    Hannah Robey (nee Bower) died in March 1881 and I believe that widower John remarried to widow Frances Hargreaves (nee Lowe) later in that same year … at Babbington Chapel near Awsworth, Notts. (I don’t have details of that marriage).

    Does this help? If you need more information and I might be able to add it, please do ask.


  6. Alan Reply

    William Toplis/s

    Very interesting blog and atrove of information.
    I was wondering if you had any further information on William Topliss who was a Pupil Teacher at the British School on Bath Street. From what I can gather William was the Great Uncle of Percy Topliss – the so-called Monocled Mutineer. I have found William in the census of 1961 (1861?) living at 61 South Street with Ann Topliss (widow) and Herbert Topliss (Percy’s grandfather). Ann was their grandmother (her husband George appears to have died) According to the 1871 Census he appears to have moved to Marylebone, London where his profession is listed as ‘Butler’. This seemed such a departure I was wondering if there was some logic to it. He was living at Seymour Place which I believe has some links to the nonconformity/congregationalist movement under Wakefield’s John Goodwyn Barmby. His young family shared a house with a Benjamin Mordecai – a Covent Garden ‘fruit merchant’. Happy to share the census info.
    Witnesses said Percy was very fond of religious hymns and they made up the bulk of his repertoire on the piano.

    Thanks for sharing this information.
    If you look again at the information on William Toplis on the Old Ilkeston site (at Burgin’s Yard and Row) you will see that William died in 1866 while Herbert moved to Oldham, Lancashire.
    I believe that the William Topliss living at Seymour Place on the 1871 census cannot therefore be the ‘Ilkeston William’ … your William was born in Shardlow (not Ilkeston) and you can find him on the 1861 and 1851 census, the latter showing him living with his parents William and Mary, and his siblings, at Shardlow. You will find that he was baptised at Shardlow St. James Church on Mar 24th 1844.
    In sum therefore, I believe that the ‘Monocled Mutineer’ didn’t have Ilkeston connections.

  7. Alan Morris Reply

    Ball and Davis families

    It’s fascinating to have found such a well organised and researched website as yours. Thank you
    After more than 20 months of research and two mistaken trails I finally found the lineage of my Great-Grandmother Caroline Davis. Her father who I identified courtesy of Census and Ilkeston Non-Conformist records was Frank Davis, born 1817 of John and I think Ann (Riley). Her mother Sarah Ann Ball was born in Loughborough in 1820 and married Frank in Nottingham in 1838.
    Given that there are so many Balls in the Ilkeston website and that it is clear that both her family and that of Frank were engaged in the Lace industry (he had moved to Loughborough by 1841 and is described as a Warp Machine Engineer in later census records in South East London), I am trying to establish the connection of the Loughborough Balls to those of Ilkeston.
    I’d also like to know of any lines of research that may better establish the family line of Frank who was apparently born in Shipley Wood.
    One other question that someone may be able to help with are the names Alexander and Rueben (sometimes together) that crop up across the Davis family and their descendants for at least 3 generations.

    Reply from Dave …
    At present, I can’t see a connection between the Balls of Loughborough and any of the families in Ilkeston.

    I agree that Frank was the (youngest) child of John and Ann (Riley) who married in February 1805 at Heanor.
    His older siblings were Joseph (b1806) who married Elizabeth Bradley in 1825; George (1808) who married Mary Ann Bradley, Elizabeth’s sister, in 1827; James (1810) who married Charlotte Beardsley in 1828; and Mary Ann (1813) who married Benjamin Simpson in 1833, then John Williams in 1838, and then George Dutton in 1840.

    I know that there are others much better informed than me about families in Heanor/ Shipley/ Marlpool etc. Let’s hope they might help ?

  8. Janet Pritchard Reply

    John Wigley from who knows where ??

    Good Morning,
    I am from Australia and searching for a John Wigley born around 1796 he was a Commercial Clerk by trade, married a Harriott Porter in 1824 Birmingham with children in the 1841 Census born out of county, can’t find him and where he came from have all other details. Their son George Henry Wigley married a Mariam Cross from Stebbing and came out to Australia onboard the Vessel Netherby which was wrecked near Kings Island at the bottom of Australia, no lives were lost a truly great story. Your Web page is truly remarkable.
    Kindest Regards,
    Janet Pritchard

    Reply from Dave ….
    There is no obvious connection between your John Wigley and the Wigleys of Ilkeston.
    I have located him on the 1841 census, with his family, and then his children on the 1851 census, living as a group, without their parents … presumably dead ?
    With the exception of John they all have Birmingham connections …. really John could have been born anywhere.
    Sometimes marriage details show if one of the parties was a ‘foreigner/sojourner’ and might show their parish ?
    Sorry to perpetuate your brick wall.
    Perhaps someone else reading this has an idea ??


  9. Pip Reply

    The grave of Samuel Whitehead.

    I was very interested in your Samuel whiteheads story..I have looking for the graves of old WATERLOO local veterans .I have looked around St Mary’s Ilkeston but couldn’t find the graves. Have you any idea where it might be.?

    Reply from Dave.

    The grave of Samuel was located not in the main churchyard of St. Mary’s but in the extension Churchyard. This is to be found on the other side of Chalons Way. It can be accessed by a variety of routes.

    I remember seeing the grave several years ago when it was in plain sight and the stone was relatively easy to read. The extension has been neglected in recent years I believe and the stone may be overgrown or have disappeared.


    Pip replied ….
    Thank you .I will try and have another look.

  10. Zena Joyce nee Duro Reply

    The Nag’s Head and the Duro family
    This is a brilliant website, I have been working on the Duro family tree and found William and Lucretia who owned the Nag’s Head. I used to go drinking in there with my girl friends in the 1970’s and never knew that my ancestors had been Landlord and Landlady in around 1865. This website has also given me the next generation as William’s parents were Richard and Mary nee Beardsley so I am hoping to go back further than 1813 which is when William was born.
    Thank you so much.

    Thank you for these supportive and kind comments.
    I think I visited most Ilkeston pubs in my teens but I can never recall gracing the Nag’s Head with my custom — or the Prince of Wales opposite.


  11. beverle Tracey ne henson Reply

    The Henson family

    I’m new to all this but I’ve been searching family on my dads side .there seems to be a lot my dad George was one of nine children his dad Richard Alfred was born in 1896 married Harriet Waterall .Richard a dad is also called Richard and his dad is Richard most of my family are from Ilkeston or surrounding areas
    I didn’t know dad well but have recently found his siblings families
    We are having a reunion of the Henson line in July
    I was wondering if you know of any stories relating to any of the Henson’s
    It would be great to get an invite into there lives as I know very little at the moment x thanks for reading x

    • Dave Reply


      As you can see I have put your post on the site, in the hope that someone may be able to help/reply with information.

      Looking at the records on line, it seems to me that your dad George was born on Oct 12th 1929 and at the beginning of the Second World War was living with his family in the Eastwood district.
      At that time his father Richard Alfred (born Jan 3rd 1896) was a coalminer. With him was wife Harriet (Dec 18th 1894) and George’s siblings, Richard Alfred junr (May 4th 1919); Isaac (Apr 30 1921); Reginald (Aug 30th 1923); Jasper Melbourn (Oct 18th 1924); Dorothy (1932); June (1934); Barry (1938) (There was another child, Joan, born in 1927 but she appears to have died in 1929?)

      It seems that Harriet Henson (nee Wateral) was an Ilkeston lass, the daughter of coalminer Joel and Mary Eliza (nee Hardy), and lived most of her early life in Grass Street, Ilkeston.

      Perhaps there is someone who could add more detail for you?


  12. Dawn Turner Reply

    Heanor Road industries

    Hi Dave

    Firstly thanks to you and everybody else who’s helped put this great resource together. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting it many times.

    I wonder if you can shed any light on something for me. I am based in Shed 2 Studios which the middle of three buildings up an alleyway to the left side of Norton Plastics old factory on Heanor Road.

    I understand that these three buildings belonged to the factory, certainly in the WW2 days, and that our particular unit was ‘British Restaurant’ as well as school dining for Holy Trinity and Granby.

    I can find a reasonable amount of history on the factory, and even found evidence that the first building (now Jane Stapleton Photography , was the plumbers) was built prior to our building and the one next door which adjoins across the back – I came across a map online showing only that building, but later maps show all three.

    What I cannot find is this – at the apex, all three buildings have a round window. The first building has been modernised, so haven’t seen it’s original. The third building’s window was boarded up a long while ago.

    Ours has a six pointed star, looks like the Star Of David. I can’t find if this is significant in any way, and wondered if you could shed any light?

    I don’t actually know whether all three buildings were built whilst owned by Baileys, or subsequently under the Hewitt’s or Carriers.

    Many thanks if you can help!

    • Dave Reply


      I can’t help with your specific question but I have put your comment onto the web site.
      Perhaps there is a reader who might be able to provide some answers.
      In the meantime I will send you some ‘general’ information on this factory complex off site.


  13. clare sharp Reply

    George Clay Smith

    I have been researching George smith who murdered his father in 1861 and came across Early/mid-Victorian Ilkeston and its people. in it you state that georges brother married lizzie riley. I have him marrying ruth Hutchinson and is with his wifes father on the census records in 1871.
    Henry Smith

    Age:28 /Estimated birth year:abt 1843 /Relation:Lodger /Spouse’s Name:Ruth Smith /Gender:Male /Where born:Ilkeston, Derbyshire,England /Civil Parish:Ilkeston /Ecclesiastical parish:St Mary /Town:Ilkeston /County/Island:Derbyshire /Country:England /Registration district:Basford /Sub-registration district:Ilkeston ED, institution, or vessel:11 /Household schedule number:277/Piece:3482 /Folio:68 /Page Number:56 /

    Household Members:
    Thomas Hutchinson 59
    Sarah Hutchinson 55
    Catherine Hutchinson 17
    Henry Smith 28
    Ruth Smith 26
    Annie Smith 5
    Obadiah Smith 3
    Agnes Smith 1


    Dave replied …

    Henry Smith, the son of cordwainer Joseph Smith, married Elizabeth Riley on Nov 27th 1867 at Christ Church, Cotmanhay. If you look at the marriage details you will see that they fit. Like his father he was a shoemaker all his working life.
    There were other Henry Smiths born in Ilkeston around 1842/43/44.
    The Henry Smith who married Ruth Hutchinson did so at Ilkeston Baptist Chapel on June 20th 1865 (I believe) … I think he was the son of William but you would need to see the marriage details to confirm that .. he was a coalminer and lived with his in-laws and then eventually moved to Hunslet, Leeds with his wife Ruth and family.

    And Clare replied …
    Thanks for the reply and I worked it out I was wrong. I am a relative of theirs so was important for me to figure it out. thanks anyway.

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