The birth of a street

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.

The history of England during the Christian era has been a chequered one. Invaded in turn by the Romans, Saxons, and Danes, and finally by the Normans, each have left their mark upon it, and it is small wonder that the present race is a cosmopolitan one.

In the fifth century England was invaded by the Saxons. Many of them went into Norfolk and Suffolk, and others made their way to the Midlands. One band of these invaders, coming to a long, steep hill, pushed their way through the dense undergrowth and on reaching the summit commenced to make a clearing in the Forest. They put up wattle huts and made a fence round them to keep out the wild beasts that infested the forest.

The Saxons were a nature loving race and kept an open space in the centre of their clearing, where they could meet in the evening to talk together, also where they could worship their God.

Years rolled on and the Saxons led a peaceful and happy life in their clearing in the Forest, but by and bye the news came to them that a new religion had been brought to England and that the people were no longer worshipping in the open-air. Churches were being built up and down the country, and very soon the little community on the hill top were anxious to have a Church for themselves.

As only wood was available, the stone for the little church would have to be brought up the long, steep hill. But nothing daunted their ardour, and the long and tedious task of bringing up the stone was commenced. But when the heavy rains came and the water ran down the track like a river, or when the snows and frosts lasted for many weeks, the bringing up of the stone was obliged to cease, as the hill could not be climbed. The task was a tremendous one, but courage and determination overcame all difficulties, and after patiently toiling and enduring great hardships, the last stone was brought up and the little church was finished.

It was a joyful day for the Saxons when they entered their church the first time for religious service. True, the inside was dark, having no windows, the walls were rough and bare, and the altar was a rough stone; also they had to stand and kneel on the bare earth. But it was their own little church and all hardships and tedious labours of the past were forgotten.

After many years of peace and happiness a great calamity fell upon them. A fire broke out in the forest, and reaching the clearing, consumed the fence, their huts and all their possessions. The people fled in panic to the nearest towns and never returned to their former abode.

For two centuries the hill top was left to desolation and decay, then one day a band of Danes appeared on the summit. Under the direction of their chief they cleared away the ruins, enlarged the clearing, and put up wooden huts and a strong fence round the clearing. The Danes were a hard-working people, and the hill-top very soon became a prosperous, agricultural settlement.

Time passed on. In 1066, Duke William of Normandy landed with his army at PevenseyBay, marched on to Senlac Hill, where they were met by King Harold. Here the Battle of Hastings was fought and Harold the last Saxon King was slain.

After Duke William became King a great change took place in the land, castles and churches were built and abbeys and monasteries founded.

In the 12th century the little settlement on the hill – which had taken the name of Ilchestune from its Danish chief – were to have a church built on the site of the little Saxon church which had fallen into ruin through neglect and decay.

But this time the people were more ambitious. They wanted a large church, so more stone would have to be brought up the hill. The Danes had made some rough wooden carts and these were to be used to bring up the stone, but the track was in such a dreadful condition that when the rain came the wheels sank up to the axles in the mud, and again the stone had to be brought up the hill by manual labour. It was a very long business, many difficulties were encountered and great hardships endured, but the men toiled bravely on, and at last all the stone was up the hill, and once more a church stood on the summit.

Great was the joy of the people as they worshipped for the first time in their church, which was dedicated to St. Mary, “The Mother of God”. True, the walls were rough and bare, and there were only slits in the walls for light to come through, the floor was bare earth, so the people brought long grass from the forest to stand and kneel upon. The rough stone altar was replaced by a wooden one.

After the church was finished more wooden huts or houses were built round it. As a rule these wooden houses had only one room, and sanitary arrangements were not all that could be desired. The track up the hill was in a very bad state, and the people made great complaints about it. At last the gradient was made easier, and the track itself had stones laid on it which were fastened together by a rough cement. This path was called “The Caussey”. One or two houses were built on the bank, and the track was called “The Strait”, which soon developed into “The Street”.

In the eighteenth century the banks were once more cut back, the caussey widened and footpaths made, and “The Street” became “The Town Street”.

About 1830 an alkaline mineral spring was discovered and it was hoped that the town would become a spa like Matlock. So baths were erected. Hives’ Inn was enlarged, and called Hives’ Hotel. The Town Street was re-named Bath Street, and everything was in readiness for the expected influx of invalids and otherwise, who would take the waters. But alas! their expectations were not realised, so the baths were closed, and the Bath House became a private house.



Bath Street in 1850 was very different to the Bath Street of today. There was no carriage road leading from Bath Street to Cossall. All such traffic went through East Street, Burr Lane, along the narrow road, over the Canal and Erewash. The streets were not lighted by gas until 1857, so when pedestrians were abroad on the dark nights it was customary for them to take a lantern with a tallow candle inside to light them on their way. As there was not any town water the people had to depend upon private wells and cisterns. The parish pump that stood at the back of Weavers’ Row near the old cricket ground, was in great demand. If nice drinking water was required, it had to be fetched from the Oak Well Spring, or from the spring in Park Field, below the Hilly Holies.

(I have altered the original print design of the following section and added some bold print).

Firstly Adeline takes us down the east side of Bath Street, south to north.

Starting at the top of Bath Street, the shops and houses, in 1850, were as follows: —

Mr. George Small’s flowers and vegetable shop, one small bow window facing East Street, the other in Bath Street, the door on the corner;

Mr. John Wombell’s stationery and printing shop (here in July, 1855, was launched “The Ilkeston Pioneer”);

Mr. Joseph Carrier’s garden with high wall in front, his house and two shops, draper and grocery – two small bow windows to each shop, doors in centre. These shops were very old. The front room of the house below was used by Mr. J. Carrier as a hat shop. The back and upper part was occupied by girls embroidering lace gloves, mitts and falls. The factory yard,

three modern shops, first tenants, Mrs. John Barron, general; Mr. John Wilson, boot shop, and Mr. Joseph Carnell, watch and clock repairer; he also worked a warp frame at Carrier’s.

Fritchley’s farm yard, stables on right with joiner’s shop over them, their butcher’s shop, double fronted house, and grass plot stood on the bank, with wall in front of them.

Jack Lee’s Yard”, now Albion Place. My maternal grandmother – she was born in 1796 – told me that she visited Ilkeston in 1823, and at that time, the houses in “Jack Lee’s Yard” were nicely whitewashed, and the yard altogether looked very tidy and respectable, the only entrance to the yard was in Bath Street, the drying ground with pump in it, belonging to Jack Lee’s tenants, ran parallel with Bath Street.

The bank, and some steps leading up to Smedley’s Alms Houses; tenants: Mary Widdowson (a nurse), an old lady who made small custards and disposed of them at a stall on Saturday night, and a blind man who was called Blind Billy.

Three new shops; first tenants, Mr. Isaac Gregory, grocer, he also worked at Ball’s; Mr. Riley, glass and china shop; Scales and Salters, boot shop.

Again the bank, a flight of steps to Matthew Baker’s double-fronted, white-washed house, he worked at Carrier’s. Another flight of steps to three cottages, looking north.

The Queen’s Head Inn stood back, on the top of a long slope. The house was old, the rooms were low, and dark. The landlord was Aaron Aldred, he had two sons, Aaron and Joseph.

Maria and Bessie Alcock’s three-storey house came next. The parlour was used for a straw bonnet shop.

Two very old three-storey houses level with the road, standing a distance back, were next.

Mrs. Kitty Beardsley, or Beasley, as she was often called, was both a grocer and draper. Her draper’s shop was called “The London House”, and was the leading shop inn the town for millinery, etc. Then her private house.

Mr. Wass, outfitter,

Smith’s Yard, with two or three cottages in it. Mr. Smith’s double-fronted white-washed house, standing a little back, with low wall in front.

A small public house, a cottage, and then

Chapel Street. The Primitive Methodists had a chapel in this street until the new one was built in Bath Street in 1852. Old Mr. Smith built two or three cottages in Chapel Street, and Mr. Flinders, a cattle slaughterer, also built a small row of cottages. There was not any pavement, and it was a very muddy and unpleasant street in winter. Chapel Street was a cul-de-sac.

Again in Bath Street, the bank, two whitewashed cottages stood right back on the top of the bank. Mr. Henshaw lived in one, his son Bob in the other. Father and son were miners.

Three or four cottages level with the street, and quite new. Tenants: S. Aldred, Baker, J. Aldred and Tilson.

Here was New Street, now Station Road. This was an extension. George Riley, who worked at Carrier’s, built four cottages, he lived in one, Mrs. York and Levi Webster lived in two others. Levi worked at Carrier’s. Further down Henry Carrier built a double-fronted house, using part of it for its lace frames. The south side had only one or two cottages. New Street was a cul-de-sac.

Returning to Bath Street, the land in Bath Street and the lower side of New Street was acquired by Mr. Joseph Fletcher, retired lace manufacturer. He built two shops and a house on the land. Mr. Haynes, ironmonger, had the corner shop. Mr. William Wade, grocer, the other. Mr. Fletcher occupied the house.

The land between Mr. Fletcher’s house and Mr. Moses Mason’s was not built on for some years.

Mason’s picturesque old house, standing on the bank, with its grass plot in front, was next. Moses Mason, like his father and grandfather before him, was a tallow chandler, and did the candle-making for Ilkeston and all the villages round. At that time there was no lamps or gas, everybody used candles, so the candle trade was a very lucrative one.

The Rev. Richard Moxon was preaching in IlkestonChurch one Sunday, his subject being “Moses and the Israelites”. Having reached his peroration, he exclaimed: “And what did Moses say?” Old Tunnicliffe, the parish clerk, who had evidently been asleep, started up and said, “Hey sez they’ll be no more candles till tothers are peed for”.

Below Mason’s was Mr. Twell’s butcher’s shop and house, also his field which ran parallel with Bath Street.

Three or four new cottages.

James Chadwick’s two shops and house, one shop general, the other grocery, at the rear he carried on a marine dealer’s business.

The Midland Railway branch line, with its small station house, was down a long slope. The railway carriages were open from end to end, and were taken down to the Junction by horses.

Rutland Street was merely a road which led into fields.

The Common was next. The last shop and house that stood on the Common was owned by Mr. William Mellor, butcher, and it looked very picturesque as it stood under the trees.


A brief excursion up and down Heanor Road.

The factory on Heanor Road was built by Mr. John Taylor, gentleman farmer, of the Manor House and Little Hallam, and Mr. Gilbert Bailey. It was a lace factory but trade was very bad at the time, and as they lost a great deal of money the partnership was dissolved and Bailey’s Factory, as it was called, remained empty for many years.

There were no more buildings on the East side of Heanor Road except Bradley’s Inn.

At the entrance gate at Shipley was the lodge. This was built in two parts, the living rooms being one side the gate, the bedrooms on the other side. It must have been very uncomfortable having to turn out into the open on cold, wintry nights before being able to go to bed. William Offen and his wife lived at the lodge. William was a smith at Carrier’s, his wife attended to the lodge gates.

There were no other buildings between the lodge and Workhouse Hill.

Wheatley Straw lived in one of the cottages. He was a miner.

Gilbert Bailey built his house lower down, it stands back some distance from the road.

One or two very old cottages, then Manor Road.


Now Adeline takes us back up Bath Street, along its west side, from north to south.

Mr. John Taylor lived at the Manor House.

Hives Hotel.

The Bath House, where Mrs. Bostock and her two daughters lived.

Slack Road Gardens.

Then an old white-washed cottage in a garden, facing south, where old Mrs. Straw and her daughter lived.

Other gardens, then Isaac Whitehead’s old cottage. Isaac was parish clerk after Tunnicliffe.

The Poplar Inn with its poplar tress in the front of it.

A low bank with garden on it.

Adcock’s Yard, two houses occupied by Sidney Adcock and his brother.

A house used as a Girl’s School by the Misses Straw, who lived at the old Moor Brig, on Derby Road.

Harrison’s house, three houses, Chadwick’s, Bailey’s and Sowery’s,

Kelly’s furniture shop, Calladine, greengrocer.

A road leading to the fields, a waste piece of ground level with the street. On top of the bank, at the back of this ground, were two old cottages.

Next the land on which the Primitive Methodist Chapel was afterwards built in 1852.

A high bank with garden on it, then the long slope up to Sam Fletcher’s house and factory.

The three-storey house, with quaint-looking windows facing Bath Street, was Mr. Tapley’s school for boys.

The a slope with two or three old cottages.

A double-fronted house standing back on the bank, with iron railings round it, was occupied by a deaf and dumb photographer, Mr. Machin. He took two daguerrotypes of my parents, and they are as fresh today, as when taken in August, 1858.

The high bank with garden on it, steps leading up to Club Row, and field.

Again high bank, Pickburn’s, plumber’s shop, private house (afterwards Clarksons, the herbalist);

William Henshaw’s fish shop, this was a very old and dark place, rooms were very low, and the bank was close to the back door, so that candles had to be used during the day.

A space, then a shop, Hickinbotham, draper. Hickinbotham was followed by T.H.Small, draper, who in turn was followed by the late G.H.Barker.

Then the British School with its two flights of steps,

next Mrs. Boy’s School for girls, and Mrs. Burgin’s butcher’s shop (Mr. Paxton the cricketer lived here).

Here is Mount Street.

Jonathan Bostock, commonly called ‘Jonty Trot’, Bellman and afterwards lamplighter, lived in one of the two houses at the top of Mount Street.

On the right side of Club Row were the boys’ and girls’ entrances to the British School. Tenants in Club Row were William Lee, Jos. Tilson, Grimleys, Wutherd, Waters, Moores, Jos. Lee, Aldred, Harrison, Neals, Farnsworth, Shaw, Stevenson, and several others.

A piece of spare land at the top, looking down Mount Street, was bought by Mr. Fox, a retired mechanic, who built two cottages, right back from the road. His daughters, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Woodruffe, lived in them. At the side leading to the field, were two cottages, and Mrs. Burgin’s slaughter house. Tommy Irons, a deaf and dumb man, with his wife, lived in one of the cottages.

Going down Mount Street we passed Mr. Purcell’s house and side entrance. In Bath Street was his chemist’s shop. He and his wife attended the Independent Chapel.

Next came two whitewashed cottages, standing back from the road, on a low bank, Joseph Hallam, baker, lived in the first, John McKenna, the owner in the other. John was a bachelor, and was book-keeper at Edmund Tatham’s needle factory at Kensington. About 1864 John decided to have some alterations done to his house, and the lower front part was taken away, during the following night the upper part gave way and fell into the yard, leaving John’s bedroom to the view of passers-by. Fortunately for John he had stayed that night with some friends. The house was not repaired, and after some time the cottages and land passed into the possession of Mr. Elijah Higgitt, outfitter, who built his second shop on the site.

The land next was bought by Mr. E. Higgitt about 1856, he built his first shop on it and removed from East Street where he had commenced business as a tailor and outfitter.

Charles Chadwick, greengrocer, had the shop next to the spare land.

Then came White’s Yard. Stephen Rose lived in the first house, Joseph Aldred next, and old Betty Carrier lived in the furthermost cottage; her daughter, who married John Foster, the cattle drover, lived with her. The first house on the south side of the yard was Joseph Turton’s, the hairdresser, etc.

Next up Bath Street was Mr. White’s private house.

Next came Mrs. Joseph Scattergood’s fancy shop,

then Solomon Beardsley’s bread and cake shop, and the yard leading to his new bakehouse.

Then Mr. Fritchley’s private house,

and next Mr. W. Rose, the rate collector, had a boot shop; his daughter Mrs. Phillips, lived with him, her husband was in India.

Then, Turton the tailor

and last but not least, the “Old Harrow Inn”. At that time the only entrance was up the slight slope from the Market Place. The wall in Bath Street was a blank one. The old Harrow Inn sign hung at the corner of the two streets, and the inn itself stretched further out into the roadway. The landlord was Mr. Joseph Aldred, and he had two sons, Joseph and Aaron. I think the Aldreds in Ilkeston came from one common stock, for another family of Aldreds had four sons named Isaac, Joseph, Aaron and Samuel.

And now having reached the top of Bath Street, we see before us on the summit, the noble church of St. Mary, which is not only a landmark to the country round, but is also a lasting monument to those brave men who many centuries ago endured great hardships, and toiled so patiently, when bringing the stone up that long and steep hill, so that they could have a meet and proper place in which they and their descendants could worship the God of their fathers.


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”.

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