Letter 2

Continued from Letter 1

July 16th, 1937.

Ilkeston in the early fifties of last century, was a small Market Town with approximately three thousand inhabitants. Its chief industries were lace and stocking making. The man who had a frame at his home and worked it himself was often in a very poor way. The pay he received was not equal to the time occupied in making those single stockings, and he was very fortunate if he had a wife or daughter who could scam the stockings for him, as that was an extra expense.

My paternal grandfather, who lived at Mansfield, had two rooms full of stocking frames, and he employed a man for each frame. He took the work every week to a firm in Nottingham, and certainly made a very comfortable living, but I cannot say whether his men did the same.

In 1857 H. Carrier & Sons added a wing to their old lace factory in Bath Street, built an engine house, equipped the whole factory with shafting and installed stocking frames in the new part. Men and their families came from Basford and district to work the new frames. Their names were Anthony, Benniston, Kirk and Whites, and by degrees the old stockingers were taken into the factory. Many women and girls were employed in seaming the hose, for where it had only been possible to make a single stocking on the old frame, on the new ones dozens could be turned out. The price of stockings went down, as the output was up, and soon a very poor quality was on the market. The old-time stocking was made with good material and workmanship, but the steam worked frames, in many instances failed to give a satisfactory article to the wearer.

I believe the last man to work a frame at home was John Burrows, an old bachelor, who lived alone in a room over a house in Burr Lane, approached by a long flight of steps. When at last his work was not required he was employed at Carrier’s factory.

The lace business of H. Carrier & Sons was, I believe, commenced by Henry Carrier in the late twenties or early thirties, but as I have no access to either deeds or records I cannot say which. H. Carrier had four sons; Henry, William, Samuel and Joseph; also one daughter. Henry, the eldest, went to Nottingham to manage the Mount Street Warehouse, William and Samuel being with their father in the East Street Warehouse and the factory in Bath Street. Joseph, the youngest son had the grocery and drapery business in Bat Street. This business has ceased to exist, and the premises are used by H. Carrier & Sons. Mr. William Carrier died in 1858 or 9, leaving his brother Sam sole master. When Sam died in 1866 my father became manager for the Ilkeston branch and remained as such until 1879, when he severed his connection with the firm and started in business as a lace manufacturer in Stoney Street, Nottingham.

Henry Carrier, of Mount Street, Nottingham, married in middle life Mrs. Gadd a widow, who had a life interest in Gadd’s factory, Peveril Street, Nottingham. William and Samuel were bachelors. Joseph married Miss Jane Attenborough, sister of the late Isaac Attenborough, landlord of the SirJohnWarrenInn. The daughter married Mr. Macdonald. She died in early life leaving one son, Henry Macdonald, familiarly called Henry Mac. He married the eldest daughter of the late Thomas Hives, for many years landlord of the Rutland Hotel. Henry Mac died in the seventies, leaving a wife and two daughters.

In 1857 Mr. William Carrier built four houses in Pleasant Place, off South Street, and about the same time Extension Street, off Market Street, was opened. Mr. John Childs was the first to build houses in it. These were called Little Peck Row. Mr. Childs had sold large quantities of potatoes, and unkind people said that he had been able to build these houses because he gave short weight.

There was a nice large house in the Queen Street Field, the entrance to it being through a white gate and a grove of trees on Derby Road. Christopher Harrison had lived in it — he was commonly called Kester Harrison. For some time after he died it remained empty, then it was divided, and Anthony’s and Benniston’s lived in it. Kirks lived in Pleasant Place, and White’s in the house in Burr Lane under the room occupied by John Burrows.

‘Bailey’s Factory,’ as it was called was situated on the Common and was built in 1856 by Mr. Bailey and his son, in conjunction with Mr. John Taylor, a gentleman farmer who lived in the Manor House. It was expected that a good trade would be done, many people employed, and that Ilkeston would reap a rich harvest from the speculation. But these great expectations were not realised. There was a slump in the lace trade. The factory was closed. Baileys’ left the town and Mr. Joseph Taylor, who was the chief financier, lost a great deal of money causing him financial difficulties. He had one son and daughter. The son, who was fond of shooting, was out one day in heavy rain, he took a chill which developed into rheumatic fever from which he did not recover. He was about sixteen years old when he died. Young John and his sister, who was older, attended the BritishSchool when Mr. Holroyd was the head. The Taylors were often called the Cocker Taylors. Mrs. Taylor was the last of the Cocker Family. Miss Taylor and her mother used to drive each morning in their pony carriage to their farm in Kirk Hallam. Mrs. Taylor always wore a velvet bandeau across her forehead. After Mr. Taylor’s death Mrs. Taylor and Miss Taylor left the town, and so ended the line of Cockers.

Fletcher’s factory, which stood on the site now occupied by the WesleyanChurch and School in Bath Street, was a very old building. House and Factory were incorporated under the same roof. Three brothers were in business together, Matthew, Joseph and Samuel. Matthew left the business and became the first landlord of the new Havelock Inn in Stanton Road. Joseph retired and lived by himself in a house built by himself next door below William Wade, the grocer. Samuel was left to carry on the business. He made fine hair nets for H. Carrier & Sons. He was also an inveterate poacher, not because he could not maintain his family, but solely for the sport. He was caught once and hauled before John Radford Esq., Magistrate at Derby. The poaching fraternity called him ‘Jackie Radford’. When Sam was asked why he had been poaching, he said he did it for a lark. Jackie said we have a cage for larks, and so Sam was caged. Sam had three daughters and two or three sons. Matthew had two sons and one daughter. The two sons were noted cricketers and played in the Gentlemen’s team of that time. The daughter married William Blench, stepson to Mr. Wright Lissett, late Town Clerk. Joseph had not any children.

Ball and Dunnicliffe had the factory in Burr Lane. The old house was close to the factory, with its back to Burr Lane. Francis Ball lived in it. When Dunnicliffe severed his connection with F. Ball, he started as a lace manufacturer in the Lace Market, Nottingham. When Albion House was built young William lived in it until he built Dodson House, when he and his family removed into it. Francis Ball had two sons, Thomas and William, and three daughters, Mrs. Baker, Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Lings. Thomas was a lace manufacturer in Nottingham, and was Mayor of the town for one year. William succeeded his father. He also had two sons and three daughters. The eldest, Susan, married young Bailey and lived in the house built by Bailey & Co. on Heanor Road. Mary married Mr. Fry, of Dunn and Fry, stationers, South Parade, Nottingham, and Elizabeth Ann who married Dr. Wood.

When Queen Street was opened Mr. Francis Sudbury, father of the late Francis Sudbury, first Mayor of Ilkeston, bought  apiece of land in the new street. The part fronting South Street was kept for many many years as a potato patch. On the lower parts he built a two-storied building and a cottage, and here he started the business which eventually became C. and F. Sudbury. The back part had a small building for a warehouse and office. These buildings have been converted into cottages. William Topliss, who was formerly a teacher at the BritishSchool, was their first clerk.

Mr. and Mrs. John Fish lived in the cottage. Mr. Fish was Parish Clerk at St. Mary’s. Mrs. Fish took in work from outside workers. F. Sudbury senior and his family lived in the old white house in South Street opposite Weaver Row. He had three sons. William, who became a butcher, married a Miss Gamble, of Nottingham. Charles married Marina Burgin, daughter of Richard Burgin, who lived in the old house against the blacksmith’s shop in South Street; and Francis, who married Elizabeth Bennett, eldest daughter of Mrs. Bennett, of the Wine Vaults, East Street. Mr. F. Sudbury senior built the three houses and shop at the entrance to Weaver Row, and he and his family removed from the old house to the house and shop opposite. Mr. Charles Sudbury lived in the end house. Mr. William Merry, who had married one of Sudbury’s daughters, lived in the middle one, and William, the butcher, lived in the old cottage. Some years after he went to live at Oak Well Farm. One of F. Sudbury’s daughters, Carrie, died suddenly in middle age, another became Mrs. Evans, of Spring Farm, Kirk Hallam, and the youngest Helen, married Herbert Tatham, eldest son of Amos Tatham. When F. Sudbury died the firm became C. and F. Sudbury.

Mrs. Cope, who with her husband lived in the cottage opposite the first water works reservoir, worked for Sudbury’s, and it was a regular thing to see her coming down the Twitchell bringing her work to Mrs. Fish. Her pussy-cat accompanied her mistress, and it was a fine sight to see tall Mrs. Cope walking stately along in her pattens, and pussy walking behind her. When they reached the cottage in Queen Street, pussy would vault over the wall into Green’s garden (now Walker’s), and wait there until Mrs. Cope came out of the cottage, when pussy would reappear and fall into line behind her mistress. Mrs. Cope was an old Ilkestonian, and very often had some quaint sayings. I remember one day, mother and I having been for a walk, returned past the Cope’s door. Mrs. Cope, seeing us, came out, and began to chat. Presently she turned to mother and said, ‘Isn’t mother on’t dot yit?’. Seeing that we could not understand her, she said ‘I mane is’t mother livin’ yit?’ Mr. Cope was a quiet old man, and both he and his wife were regular attendants at the South Street Chapel. ‘Daddy’ Cope, as we called him, sat upstairs in a pew against a south window. Mrs. Cope sat downstairs on a form. One Sunday morning the sun was shining rather strongly on Daddy’s bald head, so he got up to draw down the blind, but unfortunately it came off the rack and fell into Daddy’s arms. Poor fellow, there he stood with the blind in his arms, not knowing what to do with it. At last a kind friend went and relieved him of his burden.

Continued in Letter 3