Newspapers - 2013
The Lodges of Shipley Estate
An Almost Traffic Free Bike Ride
Bottom Gear by “Pedal Pusher”
In 1922 the Miller Mundy family of Shipley Hall sold their estate to the Shipley Colliery Company. While the Miller Mundys had been in full charge of mining they had left a pillar of coal underneath the hall itself, but the Shipley Colliery Co. had other ideas and the resulting extraction caused subsidence. By 1943 the damage was so great that the hall was demolished.
Sometimes the only visible signs of a former great country estate are the lodges, which often survive when the great houses do not. This is not entirely the case with the Shipley Estate as many other buildings remain from the days of the Miller Mundy family, including farms, estate houses, workers cottages, industrial structures and the colliery offices. Lodges were constructed at the entrances to estates as a form of security against trespassers and poachers. The striking thing about Shipley is the number of lodges: twelve in all, according to the leaflet “Architecture of the Shipley Estate”, an informative publication at one time available from the Shipley Country Park Visitor Centre but which now seems to be out of print.
This ride of about ten miles takes you past nine of the twelve Shipley Lodges and most of the route is within the boundaries of what is now the Country Park. To see the other three you would have to do more cycling on roads, though they are not far away if you want to complete the set.
Four of the lodges were built as pairs. The others are all different although most share some characteristic features which you will begin to recognise as you cycle around. They lodges are also distinct from the ordinary cottages of the estate, often having a date stone, the Miller Mundy spotted wolf crest, some decorative detail or other embellishments. At one time they would all have had gates to control access and in some cases the gateposts can still be seen. The lodges were well built. That is why they survived and why people still live in all of them except Derby Lodge which is a cafe. Please respect residents’ privacy as you cycle past.
The ride starts at Shipley Country Park Visitor Centre, but you can begin at any convenient point. For example you can get to this circuit by cycling up the Nutbrook Trail from the Ilkeston area. If you need to transport your bike by car you can park at Mapperley Reservoir as well as the Visitor Centre.
- From the Visitor Centre car park go through the gap next to the large green metal gate near the winding wheel, bear left and follow the path downhill. Turn right when you reach the cycle route NCR 67, which, once you get to Osborne’s Pond, runs parallel to a road. When you come to the junction with the road turn left. Beware of traffic.
You pass several estate cottages and other buildings constructed by the Miller Mundy family. On the right is the entrance to Michael House School which started life as offices for the Miller Mundy’s collieries. The lodge you are looking for is the last house on the right before Hassock Lane South, the main Ilkeston/Heanor road. A plaque on the wall has the initials AMM (Alfred Miller Mundy) and the date 1860. Note also the use of different coloured bricks for decoration. Retrace your tyre tracks to the point where you left NCR67 and joined the road. In front of you and to the right is Coppice House built as the colliery manager’s house, but much altered and enlarged.
- Turn left onto Woodside Bridleway taking you between Michael House School on your left and the former American Adventure site on your right. When you reach the winding gear of the old Woodside Colliery turn right through the car park of the former theme park. Just over the brow of the hill turn left on the track towards Shipley Wood joining a tarmac road through the wood to Heanor Road.
Cotmanhay Lodge is on your right. It was recently sold by Derbyshire County Council to raise funds for the restoration of Nottingham Lodge, which we will come to later. The new owners of Cotmanhay Lodge, which looks nothing like any of the others, have renovated it sympathetically. You can still see the curved wall and the remains of the gateposts, which made this an imposing main entrance to the estate. The lodge was built pre-1850 and is probably the earliest of the existing lodges. Go back to the old theme park and turn left downhill to the bottom end of Shipley Lake where you will see a Derbyshire Wildlife Trust board and, bearing left, you join the Nutbrook Trail/NCR67.
Shipley Lake was originally a reservoir for the Nutbrook Canal and later doubled as an ornamental lake for the residents of Shipley Hall.
- Keep left at Lodge Farm Cottage (not actually a lodge!) which is currently being restored and extended. Follow the winding NCR 67 until you reach a crossroads with a metal gate in front of you. Turn left, slightly uphill until you reach the third lodge which is on your right. Note the spotted wolf, initials and date of construction. Go back to the Nutbrook Trail and cross it continuing downhill along the Nutbrook Bridleway, over a wooden bridge and clockwise around the edge of the field. At the T junction with another track turn left. This is Slack Road which you follow all the way to Mapperley village, enjoying the view to your right over Woodside Nature Reserve to Shipley Hill.
- As you enter Mapperley, Slack Road becomes Coronation Road. Woodlands Lodge is on your left. There is no date stone, but there is a date on one of the gate posts which looks like 1925, clearly not when the lodge was built. Most of the other houses in the village were built by the Miller Mundy family. Turn right and go past the school (watch out for traffic between here and Mapperley Reservoir car park). Just past the school there are two lodges on opposite sides of the road, the only example on the estate. They were built in 1857 as mirror images of each other but have been altered. The gate across the road was removed in 1941. Both houses have the spotted wolf crest, but only one is actually on the building itself. Continue downhill and along the reservoirdam (toilets in the car park). Just before the gate across the road up to Shipley Hill turn left on Mapperley Bridleway and follow it through John Wood to the end where it meets Bell Lane.
Turn left heading out of the Country Park towards Smalley. The recently renovated Smalley lodge is on your left just past Manchester Wood. This is another more decorated lodge using different coloured bricks. It has the Miller Mundy spotted wolf crest as well as an unusual feature with the date (1861) and the initials AMM. In the 1980’s there was a proposal by the NCB to dismantle it brick by brick and rebuild it elsewhere. Obviously it went nowhere. Return into the park along Bell Lane until you reach Derby Lodge (café and toilets). Derby Lodge and Nottingham Lodge, designed by Walter Tapper, a renowned architect, were the last to be built in 1911. They were originally named Mapperley and Ilkeston Lodge respectively and guarded the final gateways to the Hall itself. They are identical and are of stone rather than brick like the others. Nottingham Lodge is further along the drive to the left of Derby Lodge known as Lodge Walk. The wall to the right is known as the Suffragette Wall, supposedly built to keep out the women campaigning for the vote. Both lodges are decorated with the wolf crest. Return along Bell lane taking the first right to get back to the Visitor Centre.
The early 1920’s saw the beginning of the end of the estate when the Shipley Colliery Company took charge. Some of the farms were sold off in 1924. In 1966 the NCB, which had taken over from the Shipley Colliery Co. in 1948 with the nationalisation of the mines, sold the rest of the estate. It was bought by Derbyshire County Council and most of it became what we now know as Shipley Country Park. The area around Shipley Lake was originally included in the plan, but was in fact leased to Britannia Park, which failed miserably. Eventually The American Adventure Theme Park was established, only to collapse in its turn. There is now a fairly well advanced plan for a development known as Shipley Lakeside including housing, business, retail, healthcare, education and a hotel. Public access to Shipley Lake will be restored.
Thankfully the network of paths and bridleways in and around the park has been preserved and enhanced making it possible for visitors to explore both the regenerated natural surroundings and the architectural heritage of the former estate. Please remember that cyclists share the paths with pedestrians and horse riders, and that you should warn them of your presence and give way when necessary.
If you want to tick off the other three lodges they are:
- Marlpool Lodge. On Ilkeston Road, Marlpool, almost opposite the church. Built 1879.
- The Lodge House. Top of Long Lane at its junction with Hassock Lane South. Built 1880.
- Shipley Gate Lodge. Now called Station House. Pedal Pusher is not entirely sure that this house was built as a lodge, and would be glad to hear from anyone with firm evidence. At the bottom of Long Lane, next to the footbridge over the railway.
This article was first published in the magazine Ilkeston Life in May, 2013. Recently Frank Bacon has shed some light on the mystery of Shipley Gate Lodge. Although it does not seem to have any of the usual Miller Mundy characteristics Frank has confirmed that this is indeed the twelfth lodge of the Shipley estate. I’m grateful to Frank for his help.
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