A pen picture of South Street in the late fifties

Adeline’s article appeared in the Ilkeston Advertiser (page 2) of Friday, March 13th 1931. After a few introductory remarks, she takes us along the west side of South Street, starting at Wharncliffe Road, to White Lion Square, and then back to the Market Place along the east side of the street.


The town of Ilkeston in the fifties of the last century was very different in many respects to what it is today. There was not any water provided for drinking or culinary purposes. The inhabitants had to rely upon private wells, cisterns, or the “parish pump”. If they disliked the smoky taste in their tea, etc., they had to fetch water from the “Oak Well Spring”, or the spring in the Park field. It was a serious matter to be obliged to fetch drinking water from such a distance, and my father, the late Mr. John Columbine (he was the manager for H. Carrier and Sons for many years) wrote a letter to the “Ilkeston Pioneer” under the nom-de-plume of “Aquilegia”, setting forth the necessity for a good water supply for Ilkeston.

At that time the streets were not lighted by gas, and when the nights were moonless, it can easily be imagined how uncomfortable it was for people to walk about on their business in the darkness of the night.

A few years ago I was staying for a time at Woolacombe, in North Devon. This small seaside resort was owned by a lady, and she would not allow gas to be introduced into the place. One night I chanced to see a man carrying a short ladder on his shoulder. I followed and saw him light the six oil lamps that illuminated the two streets of Woolacombe. This scene brought back to my mind the time of my childhood, when I used to see Jonathan Bostock, commonly called “Jonty Trot”, trot from one lamp to another with his ladder on his shoulder. Jonty was our first lamplighter.

In Bath Street one could walk along without any fear of being jostled, and South Street was so quiet that very often you could walk its entire length without meeting a single person.

The vehicular traffic was a very limited affair. In those days we walked more as we did not have a bus or charabanc to jump into if we wanted to go to the Dale, or any near-to village. Instead of motor-cars, motor-cycles, or even the ordinary bicycle, we had gigs, dog-carts, coal carts, and occasionally a four-wheeled carriage. Whitehead Bros. had carrier carts. But Cope was not in evidence until later.

South Street was a little different to the present time. Where Wharncliffe Road begins was Mr. John Mellors’ yard, shop and house. He was a butcher and a bachelor. His niece, Miss Bates, was his housekeeper. He had a large garden, and in the season, always had a quantity of apples for sale in his shop. One day I went with a message and he asked me if I would like some apples and told me to fill my pocket. When I had done so, he said “Suppose we weigh those apples”. I placed them on the scale, and they weighed a quarter of a peck. He looked at me and said, “That is a very useful pocket, Adeline!” When I told mother, she laughed and said, “Mr. Mellor will not ask you to have any more apples”. He did ask me to have more, but he never again told me to fill my pocket. On the same level was the cottage for the boys’ church schoolmaster. Mr Potts, chemist, grocer and postmaster, occupied the next house and shop. He had five daughters and two sons. Ball’s Yard with two cottages came next. A small shop fronting the street was Thomas Ball’s pork shop. Old Mrs. Ball lived in the top cottage, her son Tom in the lower one. Between Ball’s shop and the three shops below the present South Street Schools, was an orchard, the hedge standing out from the present building line, and a single flag pavement in front. Mrs. Samuel Lowes bought the middle plot of land, and built a house and shop upon it. This property was many years later the first to be acquired by the Co-operative Society. Mrs. Lowe had started a grocer’s business in East Street, and when the South Street building was completed, she removed into it. There were five daughters and one son. Mr. William Gregory, engine man at H. Carrier and Sons, bought the next lower plot, and built a shop on part, retaining as an orchard the piece that the South Street Schools are now built upon. Mr. Richard Daykin had the plot between Ball’s shop, and Mrs. Lowe’s property. He built two shops, living in one himself, and started a grocery business. Mr. Armstrong had the other shop as a cabinet maker and furniture dealer. Mrs. Daykin had two daughters and two sons. Fred, the youngest, became headmaster at the British School. Below Gregory’s orchard were three shops. The first seldom occupied, second, Mr. Mitchell, sen., shoemaker, two sons and two daughters; third, Miss Hannah Horridge, dressmaker, and her aunt, Miss Stanley. (This was where the large pocket originated). Here was an opening, and on the land beyond Mr. William Carrier built four cottages. They had four rooms, and the rent was half-a=crown per week. This was in 1856. The first tenants were (nearest Trueman’s orchard): my parents, three children, Mr. William Campbell, tailor two daughters, Mr. John Carrier, smith at H. Carrier and Sons, three sons, and Rev George Haywood, one daughter. Mr. Haywood was the first residential minister of South Street Chapel. He afterwards removed to Bacup, and was succeeded by the Rev. John Barrow, two sons. Mr. Barrow was the first minister to reside in the new house at the rear of S.S. Chapel. At this time Mr. Jas. Butt brought us one horse load of coal from the Manners Pit for half-a-crown per load.

Returning to South Street, the three shops between the opening and the new Queen Street, were also newly built. Tenants: Mr. Bostock, cooper, three children; Mrs. West, milliner; Mr. West, machinist at Balls, and, much later, Mr. William Green, shoemaker, four children. At the bottom of Queen Street, you went over a little foot bridge into the field, now a road, and I think it is called Queen Street Drive. After a time Mr. William Hawkins bought some land, built two cottages and outbuildings, afterwards transferring his foundry business from South Street to Queen Street. Mr. Edwin Whitehouse, The firs, bought the land next the Queen Street field (England’s) and built a house, and some kennels. Mr. Fred Flint, tailor, and a noted cricketer, lived in the house, three children. Mr. Hawkins had four sons and two daughters. The waterworks had not yet put in an appearance so the land between Sanders’ orchard and the foot bridge was still vacant, and in a rough condition. On the north side of Queen Street was the Baptist Chapel, built in 1858. the south side was clear until Mr. Frank Hallam acquired some land, and built six houses on it. First tenants: Mr. Mee, machinist at Ball’s; Tilson, warp hand at H. Carrier and Sons; Henry Wight, two children, miner; Mr. Frank Hallam, mining contractor, three children; Mr. Potter sen., two daughters; Mr. Elsey, painter etc.; Mrs. Walker, son and daughter. Mr. Francis Sudbury, sen., owned the remaining land on the south side, and he put up a cottage and a two-storey building in the yard as a warehouse and office. Mr. Fish (who afterwards followed old Whitehead as Parish Clerk), lived in the cottage. These two buildings were the beginning of the business of F. Sudbury and Sons, afterwards changed to C. and F. Sudbury. Some years ago these two buildings were converted into cottages. The remaining land up to South Street was for many years a potato patch. Afterwards Mr. G. Haslam built a house on it.

The old house facing south was occupied by Mr. Francis Sudbury, sen., and his family until he built the three houses and shop across the street. He removed into the one with the shop attached, and Mr. William Sudbury, his eldest son, went to live in the old house. When Mr. W. Sudbury left the old house and took over the Oak Well Farm, Mr. Flint, the shepherd, went into the old house, his sister, Miss Flint, being his housekeeper. One day mother sent me to Mr. Flint’s to ask for the loan of his church. When I had given mother’s message to Mr. Flint he looked at me and said: “Churn-n! Churn-n!” Miss Flint heard him, and came to the door, and we three stood looking at each other. At last Miss Flint had a brainwave. She turned to her brother and said “Ow manes T’chon”. So I got “T’chon” and went home in glee. Mr. Flint always wore a smock-frock, and an old top-hat. He could be seen every day going down Queen Street followed by his sheep dog. Next came Knighton’s at the Nag’s Head. Then the six cottages, first Clarke’s, Harrison’s, Rowley’s, wife a laundress, husband a gardener; and the last three I fail to remember. Two of the cottages have been converted into shops. The whitewashed cottage at the beginning of Wide Yard house Mr. Platts, the sweep, and his family. Over the door in South Street was a painting of the cottage, with the sweep’s brush appearing out of the chimney. I sometimes wonder where the old painting has gone. Mr. Platts was not only a sweep, he was a ventriloquist, and when he came to sweep our chimneys it was a treat for us children. Mother would say, “Now, Mr. Platts, will you tell the boy to sweep the top well”. Mr. Platts would reply, “Yes, Mrs. Columbine, I will”, and then there would be a delightful talk between Mr. Platts and the boy that we thought was up the chimney. We did not trouble that we had not seen the boy go up the chimney, we were quite satisfied to hear Mr. Platts and him talking.

The Wide Yard! Yes, we called it the Wide Yard in those days, for it was a yard pure and simple. There were gardens at the back, separated from England’s field – now Albert Street – by a thick hedge. Mr. Hodgett lived in the first house opposite the opening, and his shoeing forge and blacksmith’s shop stood on what is now the road into Albert Street. The houses were kept very tidy, and the tenants were quite respectable. The house and shop now owned by Mrs. Bacon, were occupied by Mrs. Scattergood and her daughters. One of them became Mrs. Moss, the pawnbroker’s second wife. Old Harrison lived in the old double-fronted house, then the S.S. Chapel, a plot of land next, afterwards a double-fronted cottage was built on it. Mr. and Mrs. Hithersay lived in this. Mrs. Hithersay was the second wife, she was a Scotch lady, a Miss Anderson, sisters to one of the Baptist ministers. Hithersay’s old house and shop, two or more cottages, an opening leading to a cottage and the gardens. Old Tomlinson, farmer and baker. Mr. Thomas Tomlinson lived in an old-fashioned house standing back from the road, a cobble-stoned road leading to a side door. The chimney was next the street, a small window on each side. The living room was a good size, but very dark and low, a long but narrow place at the back was where Mr. Tomlinson and his son Thomas made and repaired boots and shoes. The son later on became a U.M.F.C. minister. There were also two daughters. Two shops were built on the next land by Mrs. Wright and Ralph Shaw. Wrights were grocers, Shaw a butcher. Sanders’ old house was there as it is at the present time.

Now we come to the Toll Bar. On the pavements were posts forming stiles for pedestrians’ use. The long, white gates stretching across the roads were kept locked. The gate looking towards White Lion Square covered the Nottingham, Stanton and Park roads. The South Street gate covered Derby Road. The toll house was on the East side and between the two gates. Mr. W. Campbell had charge of the toll bar for many years. When Belper Street was opened a chain was put across Derby Road just below the present Albert Street, and Mr. Campbell had to unlock it when vehicles came Belper Street way. Returning up South Street, on the East side, there were two cottages between the toll house and Mr. Shaw, the saddler. His house was next, another cottage, and then Mrs. Hallam, a widow with her cripple son. He had a wooden leg, and the boys called him Peg-leg Hallam. We come to Mr. York’s house and shop. He was a marine dealer. This has been pulled down.

Robey’s Yard, with one or two cottages (now a funny-looking yard); Robey’s shop in front, greengrocer, an invalid wife, one son John. A long flight of stairs over the shop door led to a dwelling that went over the lower houses. The old Baptist Chapel, a yard at the side with several cottages. The public house and shops as now. The tenants were very fickle and did not stay long in them. Mr. Moss had two new shops and started in the late fifties in the pawnbroking business. Gladstone Street, a new road, was very muddy, and left severely alone. I believe Mr. Paling, wheelwright, of Trowell, was the first to put up a building in Gladstone Street. Mrs. Burrows had the old house next Gladstone Street, she did a good trade with her mangle. Flint Hawley’s butcher’s shop was approached by several steps, the window was an ordinary house one. I think the shop had been added on to the house, for it stood out from the two buildings on either side. Flint Hawley died rather early, leaving a widow, two sons and two daughters. The double-fronted house was tenanted by Mr. and Mrs. Finch. The next by Mr. and Mrs. Raynes and five children. Mr. Raynes was book-keeper at Stanton. After Mrs. Raynes left the house the two front rooms were made into shops for Mr. Amos Beardsley. Mr. Beardsley having one for bread, sweets, etc., Mrs. Beardsley having the other for millinery and drapery. The old building in the yard (now demolished) was where Mr. William Hawkins started his foundry. This place was used for printing later, and Mr. Beardsley had the back part for his bakehouse. Mr. Richard Birch built the next block of buildings, using one part for his workshop and sawpit (this, I see, has been made into a shop) and the other part for his dwelling. Here is the road leading to Weavers’ Row. George Topliss, basketmaker, Mason, a stockinger, and one or two Harrisons lived in the row. Mrs. Potts had the house that stood in the garden. She did a great deal of mangling.

We return to South Street through the archway, past Warner’s small plantation and the “parish pump”. There was a tiny cottage in the corner (a very dark corner, too). Harrison lived in it. (In those days Harrisons were very numerous.) We come again into South Street past the shop and house occupied by Mr. F. Sudbury; second, Mr. W. Merry; third, Mr. Charles Sudbury, who married Miss Marina Burgin. Warner’s garden was parallel with the street, the wall was low, and the front of Warner’s house facing south, stood in a very pleasant position. The block was built by old Mr. Warner; tenants: Mrs. Birch, her daughter Eliza; Miss Fritchley and her cousin Emma; Mr. Lane, builder, wife and two daughters, and last, Warners. These houses, with the exception of Warner’s, had not a vestige of back or front yard. Coal and water, in fact all the out-buildings were in yard at the side of the old cricket ground chapel. It seemed to me a very funny thing that house should be huddled together like they were without proper conveniences when so much land was available. The old chapel stood at the top of the yard and a large gate for horse traffic and a smaller gate for the use of pedestrians divided Warner’s Yard from the cricket ground. The Misses Birch and Fritchley were dressmakers. On the north side was Warner’s timber yard, and workshops then a tiny cottage with railings in front, and Mr, Fretwell’s shoeing forge. In the street was Fretwell’s blacksmith shop. Burgin’s old house stood back with grass plot in front, the garden parallel with the street. Then Burgin’s Yard. The two cottages, standing back from the street, had for tenants, old Mrs. Topliss and her grandson William, and Mrs. Farmer, tailoress. William Topliss was a pupil teacher at the BritishSchool, but later left to go to F. Sudbury’s, Queen Street. I believe he was their first clerk. He contracted smallpox and died. The house at the top of the yard was occupied by Mrs. Cresswell, widow, and her son Sam. She afterwards married Mr. William Green, shoemaker, and lived in the shop at the top of Queen Street. The five houses in South Street were also built by Mr. Burgin. Mrs. Fretwell, his daughter, lived in the first, Mr. Burgin later on adding a shop to this house. Mrs. Holland, two daughters and one son, did a good business with her mangle; Bob Burgin (*Mr. Burgin’s only son), one daughter; Mrs. Butt (Jas. Butt’s mother), and the last house in South Street was tenanted by Mr. Hayes, a tailor.

The Girls’ Church School was built in 1851, and when the wall was built round the playground, it formed a finish to South Street.

I would like to say that when at Woolacombe, I went to the village of Morthoe, a mile or so away, and in the churchyard I saw the grave of Miss Foster, daughter of the late Sir Walter Foster, who was for some time M.P. for Ilkeston. Miss Foster was drowned while bathing at Morthoe.


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