This article by Adeline Wells, ‘an old Ilkestonian’, appeared in the Ilkeston Advertiser (page 2) on Friday, March 24th 1933.
It is a description of the development old Bath Street and of some of its inhabitants in the 1850’s.
The first part is a romanticised fictional description of the early development of Ilkeston.
On December 4th 1908 Sheddie Kyme contributed his last article of his “Reminiscences of Ilkeston” to the Ilkeston Pioneer, in which he also described some of the inhabitants and features of Bath Street.
This street has undergone many changes during the last forty years. At the corner of East Street was a butcher’s shop kept by a Mr. Small. This was an old-fashioned, colour-washed structure with a roof of thatch, and adjoining this was a very dilapidated looking inn. Vastly different looks that corner today, with its more modern hostelry. But the greatest improvement effected in this part of the street was carried out by the late Mr. Joseph Carrier, when the present business premises took the place of the antiquated buildings which constituted the grocery and drapery departments of years ago. Mr. Joseph Carrier was for years one of the most prominent and active members of the Wesley Chapel, South Street, and for some length of time officiated as superintendent of the South Street Sunday School.
On the site of the new Wesleyan Chapel was a road leading up to Fletcher’s factory, which was demolished to give place to the old chapel. A little lower down the street, but on the opposite side of the way, was once an old block of buildings in which resided the renowned Bess Turton, well known as a nurse. It mattered to Bess little whether it was a case of “laying-in” or “laying-out”, her services were in great demand for either.
But lower still the alterations of the street are more marked. Just below the Poplar Tavern (the tree has long since disappeared) was Potter’s stackyard. The Potters here alluded to are those who resided for years at the Park, and whose offices were down on the wharf, near the old flour mill owned by Mr. Adlington. Opposite this was apiece of pasture land tenanted by a Mr. Twells, where beasts and sheep might have been seen grazing leisurely. Looking across this pasture, a glimpse of the Durham Ox Inn (kept by Mr. John Trueman, a noted crack shot) could be obtained).
About opposite the Town Station was situated the old Bath House, an antiquated looking building, as many will testify. But history says that these baths were once famous, and hundreds of people came to take advantage of the waters found there, many finding relief in cases of rheumatism, lumbago, and other kindred ailments. The grounds of this place adjoined those of the Rutland Hotel, the proprietor of which was Mr. Hives. There might have been seen in those grounds, one of those old-time notices, nailed to a tree, warning would-be intruders to “Beware of man-traps and spring guns”. A level crossing ran down by the town station utilised for the conveyance of coal and ironstone from the Pewit and Old Boswell mines (the latter being situated in close proximity to the Manners Colliery) to the CanalWharf, where it was loaded in boats and taken away. The trucks came down the incline, which ran along the side of the Manor House, then the residence of Mr. John Taylor, near which was an old beam engine, used for the purpose of winding the trucks laden with coal from the Boswell Colliery. Near the Bath House was a wharf where coal hauliers loaded their carts, after which they would be taken on the weighing machine, attended by Mr. Steer.
A character of some note in the town was the late Mr. James Chadwick, who was well-known for his jocular remarks.
Jonathan Bostock (Derby Trot), who carried on the business of a bill-poster, was also well-known in and around Ilkeston. He obtained the name of Derby Trot through having made the journey on foot to Derby and back to Ilkeston, three times in one day, for a wager, a distance of sixty miles.
And then, wandering away from the main thoroughfare, ….
Another character, equally well-known, was old John Watkinson , who belonged to the army of unwashed. But John, notwithstanding his other defects, professed to be a man of learning. He mostly had a grotesque way of expressing himself.
On one occasion, having used the word quandary, someone put the question, “And what is a quandary, John?”
“A quandary is this”, says John. “ There’s a woman her making bread, and her hands are covered with dough, and “, added John practically, “she’s got a flea on her back – that’s a quandary”.
Another character of some repute was Mr. Charles Fritchley, of Cossall Marsh. After a deluge of rain, on one occasion, the Marsh was flooded, and the lady of the house, it is said requested Mr. Fritchley to at once get the piano upstairs. “After the pigs”, replied Charles, “after the pigs”.