Old Ilson Blog 1853

January 1853

Jan 1st

I have to begin the New Year on a rather acrimonious note … a report of the latest disagreements within the Wesleyan Methodist movement.

A few days ago — Monday the 27th of last month — the Wesleyan Reformers met at the old Cricket Ground Chapel, at which meeting the future of the ‘new’ South Street Wesleyan Chapel was discussed. Since the split in the Wesleyan church, this chapel had been delicately shared by the Reformers and by the Conference (or the ‘Establishment’ or Anti-Reformers).
It appears that the Conference wish to sell the new chapel. The Reformers have offered either to buy the chapel or to sell their claim in it to the Conference — both offers have been rejected.
Where next for the Wesleyans ?

Jan 7th

I hear that Thomas Rossell Potter, F.R.S.L., was a guest speaker a few days ago at a tea held at the New Hall in Leicester, to celebrate the formation of a County Literary Union by the various Mechanics’ Institutes and Literary Societies of Leicestershire.

For those unaware of Mr Potter’s local roots, let me explain. He was born in West Hallam on this date 54 years ago, the son of John and Mary (nee Rossell), and then moved to Wymeswold with his parents when aged about 15. He has lived there since, and resides in Far Street of that town, being now regarded as one of their ‘gentry’ — although he has kept close contact with the area of his birth and has many fond recollections of his boyish days.

At the Leicester meeting Thomas was introduced as ‘the future historian’ of that county and spoke of a visit he made last week to our own town of Ilkeston. On that occasion he had been present at the schoolroom in the Market Place to address the Ilkeston Mechanics’ Institute, when his subject was ‘Reading and Readings’. I now recall attending that event and being much impressed by his silvery locks, — wishing that I had such !! — and by his buoyancy of spirit and energy of action.
I understand that sisters of Thomas — Letitia and Elizabeth — keep a young Ladies’ School at Hoton, a village close to Wymeswold.

Jan 9th

Sad news reaching us from Eastwood.
Last evening John Morley, the clerk to Christ Church in Cotmanhay, was sitting down to a supper at the Sun Inn when a piece of meat lodged in his throat. Before help could be mobilised he unfortunately expired.



The first of merry many ? An indication of what tradesman Thomas Merry sells at his Market Place emporium. No payment was received for this insertion.

Jan 20th

George Small, our parish constable, has once more been called into action .. this time following a ferocious attack by what appears to have been a gang of drunken Irish labourers, residing in the White Lion area, upon a defenceless and innocent framework knitter William Bowskill, alias ‘Jerry’. The latter was severely beaten last Sunday — the 16th — and has since died at his lodgings. The main culprit appears to have been an Irish iron miner, John Divney, who was identified by several witnesses and thus arrested by George on Tuesday.

It appears that in the very early hours of the Sunday morning the interior Irish inmates of a lodging house in the White Lion area of the town had been disturbed and annoyed by someone outside … they thus charged outside, seeking redress, and sought to blame the first person they came across — this happened to be the unfortunate ‘Jerry’ Bowskill who thus suffered a substantial beating.

At the conclusion of today’s inquest the jury returned a verdict of ‘Manslaughter’ against Divney and the coroner issued a warrant committing him to trial at the next March Assizes at Derby.

One final act remains for George — to safely lodge Mr Divney in Derby gaol.

The same inquest jury had a second, equally distressing case to consider immediately following — that of five-month old Joseph Goddard, the illegitimate son of Hannah. He died today and his enfeebled body was quickly examined by surgeon George Blake Norman, who reported to those present that death was occasioned from convulsions and water in the head. The doctor also examined the mother, who indicated that she had given the child laudanum on a regular basis from the age of three weeks — she had been prevailed upon by neighbours to use the drug to ease the child’s pain and did not know the effects likely to result. Mr. Norman concluded that the drug’s regular use had contributed to the child’s bodily weakness and his inability to survive.

The jury was then shown the bottle which had contained the laudanum — it had no label, no warning, no instructions. This should be a caution to shopkeepers to always use labels when selling such potentially harmful substances.

Hannah Goddard is only just 19 years old and lives with her parents, lacemaker John and Ruth, in Mount Street.

Jan 23rd

As usual at this time of year the local employers have been showing their beneficence towards their employees.
On the 20th, hosier and glove-maker Francis Sudbury provided a good and substantial supper at Elizabeth Bennett’s Wine Vaults in East Street for 51 of his workmen.
Two days later lacemakers Joseph and Matthew Fletcher gave a first-rate supper to their workers, dining at the King’s Head of William Woodroffe.
In passing I should also mention the Ilkeston Cricket Players’ Ball held on the 20th at the Sir John Warren — where else ?! – hosted by Mr Isaac Attenborough and his wife Sarah. The Ilkeston quadrille band provided the music.

Jan 24th

Another new chapel has opened — the Wesleyan Reform Chapel on Ilkeston Common — yesterday, on land donated by Mr. Richard Evans of the Ilkeston Pottery.

The first step in the journey of this chapel was taken last autumn when the Rev. James Everett, a founding member of the Wesleyan Reformers, arrived in town to lay the foundation stone. The final step was performed by another ‘expelled’ minister when the Rev. James Youngman arrived yesterday to conduct opening services in both the old and new chapels at Cotmanhay. He was joined in his ministrations by Mr. Seth Peace.

Tonight a tea will be held at the new chapel, followed by a public meeting and discussion, which is expected to be well-populated. Intended attendees include Henry West, colliery agent, who will chair the meeting, and framework knitter John Columbine, formerly of Mansfield but who has recently arrived in town, to live in East Street with his family. The latter is a staunch supporter of the Reform Movement.

Jan 31st

On Dec 14th of last year I reported upon the Parish Meeting during which it was proposed to set up a Sanitary Committee to inspect the town with a view to identify and institute improvements within the parish.

That Committee was duly formed, has been busy at work over the last month, fighting a battle against everything that was ‘foul and offensive’. Active scavengers have been abroad in the town, while bricklayers have been sought to improve old, and install new drainage.

It would seem however that the customs of the older inhabitants need to be challenged or altered before meaningful improvement is effected — many dwellers often feel it is normal to share their living space and even their bedrooms with their ‘domesticated’ donkeys, ‘prize’ cattle or milking cows !!


Feb 6th

Ilkeston has lost another of its old and distinguished inhabitants — thrice married blackmith of the Common, Thomas Bamford, aged 60.

He was buried today at St. Mary’s Church — coincidentally on the same date as his baptism there. More than 90 members of the Ilkeston Order of Oddfellows accompanied his funeral procession, Thomas being a loyal member of that society.

Feb 14th

Joseph Winson is — or was — an old tailor who has traded in the town for many, many years. A couple of days ago he visited Derby to sort out affairs for his wife Sarah, who has recently been confined in Mickleover Lunatic Asylum. He left Derby to walk home to Ilkeston at about three o’clock in the afternoon and then seemed to disappear for several hours. About ten hours later a voice was heard crying ‘Lost !! Lost !!‘ by some colliers going to work. .. they replied to the call and then moved on their way. And an hour later another collier came upon Joseph on the footpath at Mapperley .. he appeared very drunk and had to be helped to his feet as he had stumbled over. Once more he was left to continue his way home.
Unfortunately he did not complete the journey.
About six o’clock of that morning more colliers found Joseph on the same footpath, still close to Mapperley, and in a near-to-death state. Attempts to revive him proved fruitless and he died shortly after.
The weather during the night of Joseph’s last journey was extremely inclement … such bad luck for the tailor.

Feb 16th

The Ilkeston Mechanics Institute continues to flourish.

A few nights ago I attended the fifth lecture in the current season, held at the British School-room — this one given by solicitor Marcus Huish of Castle Donington on ‘The Elements of Geology’, and what a most interesting talk it was. Very cleverly the speaker managed to demonstrate the close connections between the facts connected with geological discoveries and the Scriptural accounts, to show that there is no discrepency between the two. This seemed to convince most of his audience … though one member of which I know for certain  left without being converted.


Mar 9th

Yesterday saw the trial of John Divney for the manslaughter of William Bowskill —  the crime which I included in the January Blog (20th).
It appears that there was no surprise in court when John was found guilty, despite his claims of being ‘as innocent as a child unborn’.
I have a friend who was present throughout the proceedings and he wrote down for me the concluding remarks of Chief Justice Sir John Jervis ..

‘You have been found guilty, without the slightest doubt upon the evidence, of a most savage and unprovoked attack. You seem to have exulted in what you did ; and you are a most fortunate man in not standing there on the charge of murder, for you must have been found guilty and in that case you would have been hanged. This is a case in which there are no circumstance of mitigation whatever, for whatever the provocation you received it is plain that the unfortunate person whom you killed was not a party to it, but rather that he offered a friendly remonstrance. If you have the slightest feeling you will for the remainder of your life lament that you have hurried out of the world a fellow creature unprepared for the dreadful trial to which he was subjected. I have looked into this case to see if there are any mitigating circumstances, and I do not find the slightest. I therefore feel bound to pass upon you the severest sentence which the law allows’.

Mr. Divney was sentenced to transportation for the rest of his natural life.

March 18th

There is talk in town of a new street being formed in Ilkeston. The suggested thoroughfare would begin at the south side of the Market Place, run by the Cricket Ground and eventually join the Nottingham Road, opposite the White Lion Inn.

If or when it is built, I suggest that it is called Market Street ? or the South Street detour ??

Traffic out of and into the south of the town might then be able to use the new road and this will, of course, obviate the need for the Toll Bar — at least in its present situation.

Ilkeston’s ‘Spirited Landlord’, Thomas Hives, asks me to publicise the recent improvements at his hostelry … I do so willingly and without payment.

March 25th

I understand that at the end of this month Dr. Murray, who at present resides in Bath Street, close to Mount Street, is to move into the house in Market Street, previously occupied by Dr. Edgar Henry Longstaff.


Apr 11th

Shocking news for the town .. and especially for Mr. Richard Smith Potts, respected grocer and druggist of South Street, and his wife Mary.
Two days ago their second son, Thomas, an employee for the Midland Railway Company, was working in the station yard at Nottingham. It appears that he climbed aboard a buffer of a carriage while it was moving, fell off and was run over, dying shortly afterwards, at Nottingham Infirmary. And of course it has been claimed that his death was brought about by his own imprudent actions.
However I have heard from sources ‘in the know’ that it is common practice for men, working on uncoupling carriages from the engine tender, to ‘ride’ upon the buffers whilst doing this. If so it would seem, in my opinion, to be a practice which needs to be outlawed by those in authority.
There is to be an inquest today at Nottingham … perhaps it will reveal more ?

Apr 12th

Yet another very poorly attended meeting of the Bible Society at the National School in the Market Place … even with George Blake Norman in the chair and with two visiting speakers.
At its end a collection was taken on behalf of Society funds.

Apr 13th

The Rev. Charles Hargreaves, minister of the Independent Chapel in Pimlico for nearly seven years, is leaving the town to become the the pastor of Cheadle Congregational church.
At present the Rev. Hargreaves is living in Boot Lane with his wife and daughters.

Apr 14th

An inquest yesterday into the death of James Goddard, and 11-year-old lad .. and what a sad set of circumstances was revealed.

The boy was employed as an ironstone getter at the Butterley Company’s pit off Bath Street and had gone  down the pit with a team of men to work for the night. They had been warned that there was a danger of sulphur in the pit; consequently they examined the area carefully before it was declared safe.  The party had been at work about three hours when the pit took fire and an explosion occurred, blowing out all the lights. A worker named Hunt had with him a lighted candle without a guard, and it appears that this was the immediate cause of the fire and subsequent explosion.
Now in total darkness the team started to evacuate the pit. What was not known was that the explosion had shifted a floor of wooden planks which had lain over a deep pool of water in the pit. James was making his way out in the dark, to be drawn out to the surface, when he suddenly fell into the now-exposed water  … and drowned.
Once more it seems that there were no safety lamps in use … indeed there were none on the premises !!

The inquest jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidental death’ and recommended that safety lamps should be immediately procured by the Company … too late for the young lad of course.
I believe that he lives in Burr Lane. His father is Samuel Goddard (a framework knitter like his father Jonathan who died a few years ago). The lad’s mother is Ann Smith … and I believe that she has yet to marry Samuel.

Apr 15th

The quarterly meeting of the Wesleyan Reformers of the Ilkeston Circuit has been held, at which complaints about the non-attendance of helpers from other circuits were aired. Such defaulters were not to be invited in future.

Also ‘in future’ it was decided that preachers should not automatically be afforded the prefix of ‘Reverend’ attached to their name.

The cause of the Wesleyan Reformers in this town is firm and growing, although the issue of the South Street Chapel — mentioned by me on New Year’s Day — remains unresolved.

Apr 19th

Henry Mantle Hitchcock, miller at Rutland Mill, and William Riley, butcher of Bath Street, have just been re-elected as churchwardens for the parish.

And we have a new collection of constables sworn in at the Smalley Petty Sessions yesterday …. Charles Haslam, framesmith of Cotmanhay; Ralph Shaw, saddler of South Street; Charles Chadwick of Bath Street; Joseph Severn; and Esau Hooley, cordwainer of Hunger Hill.

My old friend George Small, has already been sworn in at Derby.


May 1st

A great shock for Mrs. Sarah Burgin-Richardson, the butcher trading in South Street — she awoke yesterday to discover that someone had broken into her house and made off with a pork pie. Constable George Small has been informed and is on the case … a description of the pie has been circulated and I am sure that the culprit will soon be apprehended. I am not so sure that the pie can be saved however.

Only three months ago Sarah lost her husband Isaac who died at the age of 33.

May 3rd

The suspected pie thief has been captured. No doubt he will soon have his day in court.

May 7th

I have just learned of the death of Miss Hannah Straw. She died at her family home at Gedling three days ago, at the age of 34.

I remember her family well when they lived in Boot Lane, before she moved to Gedling a few years ago with her father Thomas … the latter had been appointed gate-keeper for the Midland Railway at that village.

Her older sister Maria is married to William Riley who keeps a butcher’s shop at the bottom of Bath Street. And the youngest child of the Straw family, Sarah, lives with them.

Her brother Norman still resides in Ilkeston, working as a shopman for Samuel Turton, the tailor in Pimlico.

And a younger sister, Helen, married coach builder and carrier Thomas Bailey in 1851 and both then moved to Manchester where the husband now trades.

May 17th

In December of last year I reported upon the wish of the Sick Club, meeting at the Mrs Bennett’s Wine Vaults in East Street, to rename itself the Cobden Free Trade Lodge of Odd Fellows, in honour of that renowned free-trader, Richard Cobden M.P. The latter gentleman declined the invitation to have his name attached to the Lodge but its members were determined to honour him thus.

And so yesterday, Whit Monday, the Cobden Free-trade Odd Fellows met once more at the Wine Vaults, to celebrate their anniversary, when about 100 members of the society sat down to a good and substantial dinner. Mirth and harmony were in abundant supply !!

May 19th

Ilkeston seems to be gaining a reputation as a place for argumentative violence, where disputes are settled not by friendly verbal ‘jousting’ but by resorting ‘to arms’, literally … the knife being the weapon of choice.

I have in the past reported upon quarrels which have ended in serious court cases … and there is yet another one to add to the list. The cause of this dispute was Mary Phipps who became a widow in April 1852 when her husband John died. A ‘mate’ of the deceased was Thomas Copestake  who then developed an attraction for widow Mary but found that he had a rival for her affections — Thomas Gotherage.

On Whit Monday evening (May 16th) Thomas G was out walking along Nottingham Road with Mary and her brother, when the group was approached by an irate (and jealous ?) Thomas C, acting in a most threatening way. A scuffle between the two Thomas’s resulted in Copestake pulling out a knife and stabbing his ‘rival’. The latter had to be escorted home where he was attended by Dr. Norman the next day … it appears that the knife had penetrated the lungs and there are fears for the life of the injured man; the attacker must pray for his recovery or he will face the most serious charge !! 

May 24th

Bringing together the opposite ends of the town — proprietor of the Bull’s Head Inn in Little Hallam, Thomas Marson, yesterday married Ann, eldest daughter of Robert Noon, proprietor of the Boat Inn at Shipley. The ceremony took place at Christ Church in Cotmanhay

This was the second marriage of Thomas … his first wife Mary died of typhus fever, less than a year ago .. in August, aged 35, leaving two children, John Thomas and Jane. I believe that his new wife Ann has a six-year old daughter, Elizabeth.

May 25th

I notice from the Perry’s Bankrupt and Insolvent Gazette that John Dearman Dunnicliff has dissolved his partnership with the Ball brothers — William, Thomas and John — glove and lace manufacturers of Albion Place in Ilkeston and Castle Gate, Nottingham. The dissolution formally occurred on May 16th.

I assume that the firm will no longer be referred to as Ball, Dunnicliff, & Co., … now simply Ball & Co. ?


Jun 16th

Yesterday, in a ceremony conducted at St. Mary’s Church by the Rev. Ebsworth, Mary Wigley, the daughter of Jedediah and Ruth, married Eliezer Paling of Newark.

Jedediah is, of course, landlord of the Market Tavern. I believe that Mr. Paling trades as a starch manufacturer in Hawton Road at Newark.

Jun 30th

On May 1st of this year I reported on the case of the stolen pork pie.
Yesterday at Derby Crown Court, Isaac Freeman of Ilkeston pleaded guilty to stealing the said pie, property of Sarah Burgin-Richardson, butcher of South Street.
Isaac has now paid for the comestible .. by sacrificing one month of his personal freedom.


Jul 1st

This card was passed to me about three days ago, by Mr. Wombell, the ‘entrepreneurial’ printer of Ilkeston’s newly-born newspaper, the Pioneer. He has heard that the threat of another cholera epidemic could be close and is thus anxious to popularise what Dr. Beardsley has written about how to ward off the disease.

Jul 6th

The two-day cricket match between  Ilkeston Rutland and Chatsworth ended yesterday … although because of confusion over the place where the match was to be played (!!) only one innings per side could be played.

The Attenborough brothers, William and Tommy, scored 61 of the 90 runs accumulated by Ilkeston, and took four of the wickets lost by Chatsworth … Tommy bowled 22 overs, of which 15 were maidens. John Paxton was, as usual, very effective for the Rutland and took four wickets.

Jul 16th

A few days of festivities have just concluded in the town. Where shall I start ?!

Several festivals occurred on the 12th …..

….  the Rutland Arms and Railway Hotel hosted the anniversary of the grand lodge of the Ilkeston Independent Order of Odd Fellows. One hundred brethren enjoyed an excellent dinner provided by the proprietor, Thomas Hives, who of course is one of their number.

… and Lodge No. 2 of the same Union celebrated the anniversary at the Market Tavern, 150 members being hosted by brother Jedediah Wigley.

…. while a new lodge of this Order was opened at the White Lion Inn of Bartholomew Wilson.

All these men enjoying themselves, feasting and drinking !!! But what about the ‘fairer’ sex ?!

Well, on the same day Messrs Ball, lace makers of Albion Place, gave 100 of their factory girls a splendid tea at their premises, followed by dancing and games on the lawn outside, until the evening darkened.

And on the 13th the scholars of the British Schools in Bath Street — 77 boys and 60 girls — were taken to Dale Abbey and Dale Hills, led there by Ilkeston Brass Band, to enjoy a day out. They returned exhausted but in excellent spirits.

July 20th

The Sunday School Union was established on July 13th 1803 at Surrey chapel school-rooms .. designed to stimulate the education and religious instruction of young people, to improve the talents of their teachers, and promote the establishment of new schools whenever possible.

The 50th birthday of that event in the history of Sunday Schools has been  celebrated at many places in the nation in recent days, and yesterday Ilkeston was included in that number.

The weather was favourable to welcome several thousand visitors from neighbouring towns and villages, joining with Ilkestonians, adults and children, at the Cricket Ground … to enjoy the singing, parading, feasting. Peace and harmony were rightly the order of the day.

Jul 23rd

Three days ago, at the Summer Assizes at Derby, Thomas Copestake appeared, charged with stabbing Thomas Gotheridge at Ilkeston on May 16th, with intent to do him grievous harm … an attack I remarked upon in an earlier entry…. May 19th.
The accused was undefended … perhaps he had no defence As it is, at the end of the hearing the jury unanimously returned a ‘guilty’ verdict. And the judge was scathing in his summing up … a worse case he had never heard; it was only by the mercy of God that Copestake was not facing a murder charge.
Thus he was sentenced to 15 years transportation.

July 25th

Caleb Springthorpe, Baptist Minister, is leaving Ilkeston next month. I am informed that he is to relocate to the General Baptist Chapel at Heptonstall Slack in the Halifax area.


Aug 1st

I hear that Bath Street auctioneer John Ross alias John ‘Robins’ will be selling  a portion of the field of Messrs George and John Crooks at the south end of Ilkeston. There will be 12 lots it seems. A new street is planned through this land from north to south, from the Market Place to Nottingham Road, and another across from west to east.

Aug 9th

On Sunday last (7th), William Sills died, aged 54.  He had long lodged in South Street with his sister Ann who is married to cordwainer Thomas Tomlinson.
I believe that William was related to many prominent families in Ilkeston, including the Carriers, Attenboroughs and Lowes. For many years he had served Mark Attenborough of the Sir John Warren  Inn as a brewer.

Aug 10th

Also on Sunday the Rev. Caleb Springthorpe attended his valedictory service at the General Baptist Chapel before his departure to Yorkshire.
And yesterday a public tea meeting was held at the chapel when Dr. Robert Murray, presiding, made some very kind remarks about the departing clergyman … remarks which were echoed by all those present. A small token of respect was then presented to the Rev. Springthorpe.

Aug 11th

This morning I was reading an account in the Nottinghamshire Guardian of the annual sermons on behalf of St. Mary’s Sunday school and the National Schools, which took place on the last day of last month. Three days after this the Rev. Ebsworth preached an afternoon sermon to the children of these schools. The account left me wondering if this ‘mighty organ’ of news was, in fact, owned by the aforementioned Vicar of Ilkeston or by a relative of his !!

So you may judge, I have copied part of it …

‘ .. after (the sermon and preceded by the Ilkeston band, the children) marched, in number nearly 500 scholars, to the lawn in front of the vicarage, where they were regaled with tea and plum cake; after which the teachers and friends adjourned to the boys’ school-room, and partook of tea. During tea the boys and girls of the choir, under the able and talented leader Mr. Ryder, of the National school, sung some beautiful pieces of music. Great praise is due to Mr. Ryder for his unwearied exertions in training them to the perfection they have arrived at; both their parents and the church in general ought to feel grateful to him. But to return to the lawn, the boys had all sorts of games, such as cricket, climbing a pole for a new hat, running in sacks, foot-ball, &c., &c. 
‘Too much cannot be said in praise of the esteemed and worthy vicar for his munificent kindness to the children, both himself and Mrs. Ebsworth spare no expense to make them happy. It is hoped that they may both enjoy, for many years to come, health and happiness to live amongst them, and no doubt the time will come when the fruit of their exertions will be seen by them.
‘The proceedings terminated after the band had played the National Anthem, and three cheers for the vicar and his family had been given in true English style, to the gratification of all present’.

Aug 12th

Since yesterday Eleazar Pickburn, tinman of Bath Street, is over 20 shillings poorer. Last month he was caught driving furiously around the highways of Kirkby-in-Ashfield and his appearance at Mansfield Petty Sessions yesterday led to a fine plus costs of that amount.

I know no more of the circumstances of the offence but I do know that his wife, Martha, was born in nearby Sutton, where her family still resides.


Sep 1st

The number of Odd Fellow Lodges in the town continues to impress … you can’t seem to turn a corner without walking into one !!

Yesterday I was wandering through town with an old friend  … we amused ourselves by identifying the Lodges as we walked … from the White Lion Inn of Batholomew Wilson where is housed the Free Man’s Lodge.

Into the Market Place, and the Duke of Rutland Lodge at the Sir John Warren of Isaac Attenborough, followed by the Nottingham Imperial Lodge at William Woodroffe’s King’s Head. Then the Market Tavern where the Protection Lodge lives.

Two lodges can be found at the Spirit Vaults of Elizabeth Bennett in East Street … the Earl Grey and the Free Trade Lodges.

Down Bath Street to the house of Thomas Hives at the Rutland Arms Inn and there we find the Granby Lodge while finally, out in Cotmanhay is the Lodge of Enoch Sissons.

Sep 18th

The Ropewalk by the Erewash Canal can be a dangerous place. And unfortunately the Neal family now know that.

Walter, aged 4, was the youngest son of ironstone miner William and Mary Neal whose family resides in one of the cottages by this canal. Two days ago the father had to leave the house for a short time, leaving the son alone. When he returned the child was missing
The distraught father organised a search and about an hour and a half later the body of the young lad was discovered in, and recovered from, the canal.

At the inquest yesterday it was pointed out the the occupiers of these canal-side cottages had only a badly-kept and narrow towing-path to access their homes, dangerous to navigate, especially for the very old and very young. The jury recommended that the private company which owns the canal should be contacted, urging the establishment of a proper road in this area and so avoid as much use of the towing-path as possible.


Oct 14th

Yesterday a meeting was convened at the National School-room in the Market Place to discuss the much-needed repair of the ‘ancient building‘ we all know as St. Mary’s Church. The gathering was chaired by the Rev. Ebsworth and he was the first to speak.

He began by pleading for the restoration of this ‘House of God‘, pointing out its ‘worn-out roof, the sloping walls, the battered windows, the decayed and mis-shapen pews, and the cold damp floors‘.
He continued by mentioning the recent history of the church. …
For many years, long before my connection with this parish commenced, the church had been suffered to fall into a most deplorable state of decay, and I believe that since the year 1714, when the old spire and one of the chancels were blown down, and the present tower and chancel wall erected, I believe that for a period of upwards of a century, nothing beyond a little patching has been done; of course I except the repewing of the chancel some nine years ago’ …  but this lack of repair has overseen ‘crumbling mullions, decaying rafters and coming dissolution’.

Now was the time for action, he declared, before publishing his request for contributions to finance the building work. A restoration  fund would be — and has been — set up and the Vicar has set the example by being the first to add to its coffers. He was sure that others would follow his path and when sufficient has been accumulated, ‘some qualified person of acknowledged experience — a skilful architect ? — can be employed to make the church be as beautiful as it once was’.

But the Vicar’s plans are more ambitious than a mere restoration of the edifice.
We should take advantage of the complete clearing out which must ensue, to introduce an apparatus for heating, provision for lighting by gas, and also to enclose that portion of land which has long since been conveyed to the church for the use of a churchyard’. 

By now the Rev. Ebsworth seemed to have usurped the role of the ‘skilful architect’ by explaining his own plans;
‘I believe that the enlargement of the church-yard will very materially improve the appearance of the town, to have iron railings in front of the church, instead of a blank wall, and we shall then possess one of the most eligible church-yards in this part of the country, as far as situation and soil is concerned: and if it be adorned with a few flowers, and shrubs, and other suitable emblems, it will commend itself as a fitting resting place for the bodies of our departed friends’.

The reverent gentleman concluded his remarks by soliciting others to pledge subscriptions to the fund for what would surely be a most expensive undertaking. It is thought that several thousand pounds will be needed in total; I am today informed that at the end of the meeting nearly £450 was raised in subscriptions and many more contributions have been promised.

** the quotes which you see in this blog are taken from a draft report of the meeting made by the ‘Venerable Whitehead’ who was present and has been asked to submit his report for publication.

Oct 17th

It appears that the town’s Board of Highways has a staunch ally in the Pioneer newspaper.

In this month’s edition the numerous improvements made by the ‘active and efficient’ Board has been duly noted and recorded within its pages.
If one travels from  Trowell, up the hill and  into the town, the newspaper notes that “that long, dangerous and unsightly entrance denominated ‘Nottingham Road’ is already literally metamorphosed and rendered one of the most pleasant approaches to the town”.
And into Bath Street it is pleased to see that “the greater portion of the foot-ways” are at last being improved by the ubiquitous gentlemen of the Board … while at the bottom of that road its sees “the preparations taking place for a complete reconstruction of the road in the locality of the Railway Station and the Baths”
And not a moment too soon ??
“The state of this road has been intolerable for years. Pedestrians and equestrians alike have anathematized it on account of its filthy state, and the numerous accidents it has occasioned .. ”
I remember reporting upon such an accident in my Blog of April last year. But now changes have started to appear !! “Already the offensive ditches have given place to capacious sewers, over which we are to have a good footpath; and one of the tramway crossings has been removed”

Can we expect more?

Oct 19th

A week ago a  farewell gathering was organised for Mr. John Ryder who has given up his post as School-master after nearly three years at the Boys’ National School in the Butter Market. Various testimonials were presented to the departing teacher who is regarded as a somewhat strict disciplinarian, especially by those who have felt his cane on their anatomy.


November 1st

The Cholera disease has once more struck Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

That city has seen a rapid growth in population in the last twenty years, the people being drawn in from the adjacent countryside by the prospects of steady employment and advancement. Sadly many of the newly-arrived citizens found themselves living in cramped, filthy and overcrowded conditions. And it has been argued by some ‘medics’ that such an environment is a breeding ground for the disease.
In 1832 that city lost just over 300 inhabitants to the same disease and then in 1848, when there was another outbreak, just over 400 people died. It is feared that the current epidemic may prove much worse than either of the predecessors.

About five years ago that well-travelled British Orientalist Edward William Lane was in Cairo when cholera was raging and where he received advice from a fellow Briton on how to treat and ‘cure’ this disease.  Mr. Lane has recently written to his nephew Reginald Stuart Poole, of the department of antiquities at the British Museum about this pernicious disease … the latter has passed on his uncle’s thoughts, in a letter to the London Times, which I copy here ….

“If the patient have not vomited the poisonous matter which is a characteristic of the disease, and resembles rice water, give a tablespoon of powdered mustard, in a tumbler of cold water, as an emetic. After the vomiting (whether produced by the disease or by the above means), within a few minutes give a wineglass of brandy with 10 grains of powdered capsicum (Cayenne pepper) stirred up in it. This generally produces almost immediate relief, and within an hour rest, perspiration and sleep. In a few cases it was found necessary to give a half-dose of the brandy and capsicum after half an hour or more. A second half-dose was never required but, should it be required it may be given. No other fluid should be drunk before recovery
“To accelerate convalescence, it has been suggested that 15 drops of a mixture of spirit of ammonia and sulphuric ether, in equal parts, may be advantageously given three or four times during the following day.
“The above quantity of brandy and capsicum is for an adult patient suffering a severe attack; in other cases two-thirds or half of that quantity may suffice, as I have proved by experience”.

Some of its residents would argue that Ilkeston suffers from the same lack of planning in its house building as Newcastle. And the threat of cholera once more looms in the not too distant future.

Fortunately for Ilkestonians, they have something which the people of the Tyne do not have ….. Ilkeston Baths !!! and its spa waters to protect them !!! 

Nov 28th

Yesterday the Vicar, the Rev. George Ebsworth, preached his sermon at the Parish Church during which he implored those present to contribute to the fund, recently set up, to restore the church and improve its heating.

A little under £10 was raised in the collection.

I am informed by someone present that the building was never more chilly than on this occasion. He told me that during very wet weather, the rain finds its way under the foundations, and that for weeks thereafter the damp will rise into the church. The vicar is aware that this is only one of the major problems faced, and that a significant and thorough restoration is required … which will cost many hundreds of pounds. The Rev. called on the collectors and subscribers to the Restoration Fund to renew their efforts … he was confident that within a year the workmen would be busily engaged on the Church’s improvements.


Dec 1st

Another fatal medical mistake in town involving laudanum !!

John Blake is a young framework knitter who lives in Nottingham Road. In April of this year he married Hannah Choulerton, a lass from Stapleford, and their son Richard was born just prior to that ceremony.

Last Sunday, the 27th of November, baby Richard was feeling unwell and his father went to the shop of grocer/baker George Hind, in nearby Kensington. He returned with what he thought was ipecacuana wine — though not being a chemist or qualified druggist, what he brought home was laudanum. The baby’s grandfather, Richard Blake senior, was left to administer the ‘wine’ to the baby … with fatal results.

At the inquest into this unfortunate accidental death, a couple of days ago, baker George was criticized for selling a poison without labeling the bottle. The father, John Blake, was also reprimanded for buying the ‘medicine’ at an ‘improper’ place … but as he could scarcely remember the names of common drugs, he was judged to have made a careless though fatal mistake.

Dec 10th

The town’s only local newspaper is now almost one year old and has already identified at least one permanent enemy …. the Midland Railway Company !!
Apparently numerous readers have persistently contacted the editor to vent their anger and frustration with this Company, and their complaints were, this month, listed in full in the ‘Pioneer’.
If these complaints are valid it would appear that the directors of the Company are following ‘Ten Commandments‘ which are provoking the ire of our local population and its ‘respected sounding board’.

      • Thy passengers shall always be late arriving at the Town Station.
      • Thou shalt provide a slow and unreliable connection between the Junction Station and the Town Station.
      • Thy goods delivered to Ilkeston from Derby shall require at least three, perhaps four and possibly five days in transit.
      • Thy goods from London to Ilkeston shall never arrive sooner than those travelling by canal.
      • Thou shalt not transport parcels directly from London to Ilkeston.
      • Such parcels must go via Nottingham …
      • … And for this ‘service’ thou shalt be obliged to charge an extra four pennies.
      • At the Town Station ‘waiting room’ thou shalt have only one seat per thousand for Ilkeston’s 7000 inhabitants.
      • At all times, at least one, and preferably more, of these ‘sacred seven seats’ shalt be occupied by employees of the Company, parcels and/or luggage.
      • Thou shalt ensure that the entrance to the Town Station is the dirtiest place in town, and is never cleaned.

The Pioneer is confident that if the Company can escape the shackles of these ‘rules’, then the town will have a railway that its ‘growing commercial importance’ warrants.

Dec 22nd

I note the passing of Sarah Potter  exactly one week ago.

She was the wife of coal master Samuel Potter of Ilkeston Park. This week I have seen her age recorded as both 61 and 63, but am reliably informed that she was born in February 1795 at Lowdham  in Nottinghamshire. She was a daughter of George and Ann East of that village.

Interestingly two of her elder sisters also married into the same Potter family … Ann East married George Potter in 1811, and Elizabeth East married Thomas Potter in 1814. George and Thomas were younger brothers of Samuel. And Samuel is now the only surviving member of this sextet.