The letters

On April 2nd, 1937 the weekly Ilkeston Advertiser printed a letter in its ‘Correspondence’ column, under the title of ‘Memories of Old Ilkeston’, written by Adeline Wells of Eastbourne and prompted by an article which had appeared in the same newspaper two weeks earlier.
The letter began….

To the Editor, ‘Ilkeston Advertiser’
Sir, - The account of the 82nd annual report of the Ilkeston Permanent Building Society, which appeared in your issue of March 19th, interested me very much, much as it has recalled to my memory some incidents of its beginning. On the north side of East Street are two substantial looking houses. In the first one -- now occupied by a tradesman -- lived my parents, and in this house my sister, Lucy Eleanor, and myself were born. In 1853 Mr. Samuel Carrier, of H. Carrier and Sons, my father, the late John Columbine, and several other kindred spirits, met in our front parlour to discuss ways and means by which to form a building society, and in 1854, The Ilkeston Permanent Building Society was started. Mr. S. Carrier was secretary until his death in 1865. His brother, Mr. Joseph Carrier, grocer and draper, succeeded him, and held the office until his death in 1880. The monthly subscription meetings were held in the old parlour until the Town Hall was built, when a room for the monthly meetings was engaged. My father sat with the secretary to receive subscriptions on Ilkeston Statutes night, then held the last Thursday in October.

The letter continued to describe some of the history of Adeline’s first home in Ilkeston, particularly its use as a polling station. She then added a postscript…

With the Editor’s permission, I would like to send in the near future, a contribution on Ilkeston and its inhabitants in the fifties of last century.

The Editor replied that he would be pleased to receive such contributions.

Adeline had contacted the same newspaper a few years earlier when she wrote a few short articles on her memories of Bath Street, South Street and Weaver Row, as well as writing several letters on other issues.
And true to her word, she did subsequently submit a series of further recollections, each one under the heading of Ilkeston and its inhabitants in the Fifties of last century’, the first one appearing on June 11th, 1937.
The articles were of varying length and appeared at irregular intervals in the Advertiser until January 6th, 1939 when the last one was published.  At some times they appeared weekly while occasionally several months passed between one instalment and the next.
In total Adeline submitted 17 accounts.

No introduction to the series was provided by either the Advertiser or by Adeline, and no background information on the author appeared.  Nor were there any concluding remarks.
The articles were allowed to appear, presumably as they had been written. Therefore, at first glance, it is difficult to judge how accurate or reliable the contents are, although hopefully this may become more apparent later. What is clear, however, is that Adeline seemed to have a remarkable recollection of people she had known and encountered in her life at Ilkeston, and of events that surrounded them.

The title for the articles – ‘Ilkeston and its inhabitants in the Fifties of last century’is somewhat misleading.
Adeline was born in 1854 and many of the people, places and events that she describes relate more specifically to the 1860’s and 1870’s.
The people she is familiar with tend to be tradespeople and their families, artisans, shopkeepers, tavern proprietors, factory owners and their managers, gentry — the sort of people whose names tend to appear in trade directories of the time.

Theses people inhabit the main thoroughfares of the town — South Street and Bath Street, and several of the streets off them.
Adeline’s memories of the extremities of the town are brief and sketchy. How many times would she have wandered beyond the bottom of Bath Street (its north end), onto the Common and into Cotmanhay, up Workhouse Hill (Heanor Road), or past Hunger Hill (Kensington area) and further down Nottingham Road? One suspects that these were places she wouldn’t spend much time in. Although she does mention their inhabitants occasionally, they are not major characters in her accounts.

Adeline’s recollections – her words appear in bold type — are the basis for this part of the site.
The content of her letters has been rearranged in an attempt to avoid overlap, to develop continuity and to fit a geographical sequence. Information from Adeline’s earlier articles on Bath Street, South Street and Weaver Row has been incorporated into the main narrative at appropriate places.

Off we go, up the east side of Bath Street                                                                                                             Home Page