A Kirk Hallam Visitor
Bounty Office - 2 September 1841
By Sheila Klymko (nee Boswell)
Looking back to the time when I frequently visited Kirk Hallam, during the 1930’s and 40’s, I remember a village where people always seemed friendly, always helping each other. Perhaps the grown-ups saved the less kindly remarks until we children were out playing in the fields, now covered by houses. Some of the concerns of the adults were known to me, though, such as unemployment and three day weeks for miners, long before Edward Heath was heard of! Nowadays, I am aware of how difficult life must have been for my aunts, the lack of shops in Kirk Hallam and the lack of bus services at convenient times meant heavy loads had to be carried from Ilkeston. No doubt there were vans delivering bread, milk and other necessities, also there were a few shops at the bottom of Stanton Road, and a Co-op on the corner of Catherine Avenue, and vegetables were grown at home, to some extent. Uncles would have to depend on bicycles to get to work, or shank’s pony, there were no cars in those days. Two of my Father’s sisters and one brother lived in Kirk Hallam from the late 1920’s, and my grandparents moved there from Ilkeston in the early 1930’s. All lived in bungalows. In later years I learnt that they were all built by my Uncle Cal (Boswell), helped by Uncles Jack and Haydn. Uncle Haydn and Aunty Fanny lived in a bungalow standing well back from the road, reached by a long drive, and near the church. I recall a huge barn, bigger than any other I had seen, possibly belonging to a farm in earlier years. Uncle Jack and Aunty Lily’s bungalow was further along Ladywood Road, on the other side, where the road began to go uphill, there was a pond by their gate.
Granny and Grandad Boswell lived at the top of the hill, on the opposite side, and Uncle Cal and Aunty Lillian’s bungalow was a little further along, on the same side, and when built was the last dwelling before the Cat and Fiddle Mill on that side of the road. For me, the great attraction of Kirk Hallam was the number of cousins I had as playmates there, and the freedom to play in the fields, the grass springy underfoot. The journey to Kirk Hallam was an adventure, sometimes we caught the Felix bus from Ilkeston Market Place to Straws Bridge, and walked uphill over the fields, passing part of a disused canal, and finding wildflowers, some, Wild Scabious for instance, which I did not see in my home village of Cossall. Do they still grow in Kirk Hallam, I wonder? This walk ended at a five-barred gate, opposite Aunty Lily’s bungalow (Goole Avenue is now built nearby). Although I went to Sunday School in Kirk Hallam for a time, when we sometimes stayed overnight with Granny Boswell, I remember little about the church itself, although I do have a vague memory of being there with my cousin Marian and feeling the peace and calm. Later, I must have been there for Granny’s funeral, in 1949, but recall nothing of this occasion. Sunday School was held in the cosy little village school, just downhill from the church, on the road to the Beauty Spot. One other memory I have is of the Sunday School treat, a sunny day and the Rev Dallimore throwing sweets to be scrambled for, on the Vicarage lawn. This would have been some years before he was made a Canon. Other memories are of going errands with cousin Joyce to farms for eggs or cream, one farm being Parkin’s farm, the other a black and white building, built “around a square” and situated at the corner of Ladywood Road and a little lane, leading south.
Wet and cold days there must have been, these survive in my memory as warm times indoors, reading a variety of comics, including “Film Fun”, if I remember the name correctly, and the chance to learn such ditties as “Hark the Herald Angels sing, Mrs Simpson’s pinched our King”, not heard previously, in sedate Cossall. Then home, if lucky, by a ride on a late running Barton’s bus, travelling back empty from Spondon, or, if unlucky, a walk up Bull’s Head hill, to catch a bus at the corner of Stanton Road, which took us up to the Market Place, tired but happy.
From The Parish Box
Restoration in 1859
The Nave of Kirk Hallam Church having undergone a complete Restoration, it is proposed to Re-open it for Divine Service on Sunday, August 21st, 1859. There will be Divine Service in the Morning at Half-past ten, when the Sermon will be preached by the Rev. Samuel Hey, Rural Dean. The Holy Communion will be administered. In the Afternoon, Service will commence at Three o’clock, and the Sermon will be preached by the Rev. H. M. Scott, vicar of Ockbrook. The works already completed comprise the erection of two new buttresses, a new porch, underbuilding and laying solid new foundations to the south wall, two windows completely new, and the others restored, a new tower arch, floor paved with Minton’s tiles, open seats, warming apparatus, and restoration of the ancient font, and internal walls. - Mr. Street of London, is the Architect. The Chancel at present remains in its former state, but it is intended at once to commence its restoration, F. Newdigate, Esq., and Lieut.-Colonel Newdigate undertaking the entire cost.
A new pulpit and other fittings are greatly needed, but are of necessity postponed, as there is a large deficiency upon the works already completed. To meet this deficiency, a Collection will be made in the Morning Service at the Offertory, and after the Sermon in the Afternoon.
A Kirk Hallam Association
By J. D. Evans
My association with Kirk Hallam began with my Grandmother’s second marriage to Sam Wilkinson, the owner of Poplar Farm. Over the years Sam reminisced about the village to us. As my parents lived in Leicester, my visits to Poplar Farm were infrequent, only high days and holiday weekends. On these visits I was no doubt tied, as other visiting babies, in the armchair that was in later years donated to the Vicarage, for the use of the Vicars, and which I have discovered is still in use. In 1935 my parents took over the running of the chemist shop at the corner of Nottingham Road and Manners Street, and our visits to Poplar Farm were more frequent, and I began to take more interest in it and the surroundings. In those days, the parish of Kirk Hallam consisted of the village itself and part of Little Hallam. A cottage above the Bull’s Head Public House was used as Kirk Hallam Vicarage and was occupied by Rev Dallimore. The Hall, now demolished, was occupied by the Huish family, (Mr Huish, I believe, was a solicitor in Ilkeston) until the Church Commissioners took it over in 1932 and turned it into the Vicarage. The family at the Hall was fairly self sufficient with fields round about which were grazed and mown to feed the coach horses and house cow. The coach house was adjacent to the Hall, with other outbuildings standing in the area of the present Kirk Hallam Nursing Home. I would imagine that the married staff lived in the Hall Cottages (still standing) and the single and domestic staff lived in at the Hall. Behind the roadside brick wall there was, unseen by passers-by, a well laid out garden, which was a picture for most of the year, probably due to Rev Dallimore having connections at Kew Gardens. We, at Poplar Farm, were privileged to see this as a road-side window overlooked it. When the Huish family left the Hall an auction was held and a nursing chair, which is still in possession of my family, was purchased by my Grandmother.
The old school, when built, had a cottage at the back where, presumably, the school master or mistress lived but latterly it was occupied by the Caretaker, Mrs Lings, and her family. I remember Mrs Bramwell, the Headmistress, who at some time built the house at 75 Ladywood Road, “Lytton”, this could have been at the same time as the sale of the Hall. Where the bungalow is now built, the school children came for games. I also remember Mrs Shorthose, who was from Little Hallam, teaching at the school. My step-Grandfather, Mr Wilkinson, was a Governor at the school for a while. Bridge House Farm was a smallholding occupied by the Pounder family until it was demolished with the coming of the Council Estate and the widening of the road. I would suspect that this was built in conjunction with the building of the Nutbrook Canal as it was an integral part of the bridge and like the bridge, built of stone. The bridge would, like most of the early canal bridges, be humped backed and also span the Nut Brook as the original road at this point would follow the natural contour of the land. The banking that can be seen today would come when the railway was built. Like the canal, the railway was built to carry coal from the collieries at West Hallam, Mapperley and Shipley and there was a siding into the Oakwell Brickyard. The railway has recently been turned into the Nutbrook Trail. To the south, further along the canal there was evidence of coal mining and when the drain and sewer trenches were dug for the new Estate, seams of coal were exposed quite near the surface.
At this point I shall mention the Waterworks (as Mr Wilkinson always referred to them), later to be known as the Beauty Spot. Built to supply Ilkeston with water, it later fell into disuse as it could not supply the increased quantity required. The Yews, below the old school, a cottage still standing, was a smallholding. The Eaton family lived there, hence Eaton Avenue. Mr and Mrs Latham then followed. The various farms in Kirk Hallam were either rented or owner occupied and mainly family run, with houses with attics for single staff living in. Each had traditional buildings to house stock and produce, and the cow-sheds were single storey except Vine Farm which had a loft, as did all of the stables, for the storage of fodder, with hatches for feed to be dropped through. The barns had two large doors to the eaves and one smaller opposite, this would be where the sheaves of corn were threshed with a flail, the straw then forked off and the corn and chaff tossed. The draught between the doors separated the corn from the chaff. This would be done until the coming of the portable threshing machine and supporting tackle such as chaff cutter, straw binder and later, a baler. When Mr Sam Bown, of Ockbrook, arrived with this tackle, it was pulled and driven by a steam engine, then later by a tractor. All of the families of the farms helped out in turn.
All of the farms were traditionally farmed, the pastures being permanent grass for grazing and hay, the arable for a corn and roots rotation. Many of the pasture fields were lanted (giving them an appearance similar to corrugated iron sheets). These lants were approximately 10-15 yards wide and ran with the natural contour of the land and served as drainage, leading to a man-made watering hole. The milk from the farms went to various dairies in Ilkeston, and the fat cattle and pigs also were sold in Ilkeston as being walked to Derby would result in a loss of condition. Spring Farm, as the name suggests, was where the village spring was, and no doubt it was the duty of the tenant to maintain it. This farm was also associated with the Newdigates and their agent Mr Evans, the father of Mary Ann Evans, better known as the 19th Century authoress, George Eliot. I hasten to add that I am not related to the Evans family. For some years, Mr Rice farmed at Spring Farm and he was also the Sexton/Verger, and he was followed by Mr H Moss, who farmed until the demolition of the farm. Sowbrook Farm was (and still is) some way from the centre of the village and was reached via Dark Lane, through the gated fields of Spring Farm, and past the spring. It was farmed by the Blood family, followed by Mr Jeff Barker, and, on his return to Foxholes Farm on his father’s retirement, Stanton Ironworks Company took it in hand, having lost land due to the expansion of the works during the War. The dairy herd moved there, the milk going to the various canteens and the herdsman, Mr Hooley, served and held office in the church. After a change of policy due to nationalisation, it returned to the rented section. On the other side of the lane from the farm is Sowbrook Pond, which was to gain notoriety from an incident that took place in 1939. (A man from Ilkeston murdered his wife and two children and was later convicted as insane - Ed’s note.)
This pond, together with others, were probably not natural ponds but the result of clay being dug for brick making and furnace lining, etc. One of the ponds was owned by Stanton Ironworks and furnace waste was tipped near it (I believe this can still be seen on the edge of the Estate near Wirksworth Road). When this tip was being used, the wind blew some of the lighter spoil over the Poplar Farm pond and this being of a corrosive nature it killed the trees around it. This resulted in a claim for compensation, which was settled by the Company and the tip was abandoned. Those who own their property on what was Poplar Farm have a clause in the deeds indemnifying the Company from any further claims in respect of damage from the tip. Vine Farm was farmed by the Reeves family, followed by Sam Parkin, Senior and on his retirement, by his son, also Sam. On his death, the farm buildings and paddock were demolished and Vine Farm Close was built. The village, in the early days, was serviced by J Bramley of White Lion Square, Ilkeston, who travelled with horse and dray and later a lorry, with chandlery, pots and pans, and paraffin for the oil lamps. His daughter Ada accompanied the vehicles and eventually married Sam Parkin. As the name suggests, at the side of the road in the garden at Poplar Farm, there was a Poplar tree, which over the years suffered damage from the weather before it was cut down when the farmhouse was demolished. This was the largest of the farmhouses in Kirk Hallam and had an extension which was most probably added at a later date.
The part along the side of the road had beamed ceilings and attics, it also had a cellar (I slept in this, during the early part of the war). The front and somewhat newer part which had a gable end to the road was of only two storeys with no beams. On the roadside gable end was a plaque, an insurance mark, which was the cause of much interest and is now, I believe, in the Museum in Ilkeston. As mentioned earlier, Sam Wilkinson was the owner of Poplar Farm. His association with it began with his father, Walter, who was a Pork Butcher at the corner of Nottingham Road and Park Road, in Ilkeston. On Walter’s death in 1919, all his property was put up for sale, of which I still have the Catalogue. Sam more or less ran the farm for his father but his main role was to breed, rear and fatten pigs for the shop. Then the opportunity arose to buy the farm which included Bunkers Hill Cottages. In the Catalogue, the then tenants were listed as W. Parkin and F. Parkin, who had lived-in at the farm during their youth and on marriage had set up home in the cottages. William lived at the cottages until his death, his family and Frank (who often reminisced about early Kirk Hallam) remained there until demolition. From a simple ledger (in my possession) kept by Sam, it was obvious that, as money become available, he set out to renovate and add to the existing buildings. Most of the loose boxes and yards were made dual purpose for cattle or pigs, and when the pigs were in the larger ones, they were often self-fed from hoppers, quite an innovation at that time. There was a row of specialist pig sties with a paddock (near Hemlock Lane) and backing on to these were dual purpose sheds for pigs and other stock but unfortunately, due to the war, these were not completely finished.
Most of the ingredients for the pig-meal were bought in and mixed to Sam’s own recipe, and he also purchased boars from notable herds to improve the breeding, these boars were also to stand at stud for other farmers. Obviously, with the loss of the home shop trade, other outlets were sought and from his repute many finished pigs went direct to a wholesale butcher in Nottingham. Also in the ledger there are recorded Church Commissioners ‘Tithe’ payments which were paid by all the farms. A tractor was purchased for £200, although, as in many cases at the time, most male farm staff could drive horses and not tractors, and I would imagine it only did the heavier work, such as ploughing, as photographs show horses with the binder cutting the corn. I suspect that the main reason for its purchase was for driving the barn machinery, as the main shaft protruded through the wall with a pulley for a belt to the tractor (no electricity). The tractor and plough were sold to Winrow Cliff of Dale Abbey, during the early part of the war, who did contract work for farmers in the neighbourhood. Horses still did a lot of the work. A cost is recorded in the ledger of two mares going to the stallion. A wagoner with a horse and cart was contracted out to the Council, as were others from around the district for the road sweeping gangs.
Also recorded is the purchase of two Flock Houses at £40 each, from Vic Hallam of Marlpool. These must have been some of the earliest that he was to make. They were set up in the orchard which had been divided by wire netting into several runs, the smaller ones each had a suitable hen coop, also from Vic Hallam. The eggs from these were used for breeding, with an incubator, although I do not recall it being used. The chick brooder was purchased at a later date when day old chicks were purchased. The netting was showing signs of wear and tear at the outbreak of the war and could not be easily replaced, and as livestock food was rationed, so the flocks were reduced and went free range, those wandering off and late returning after the dropping of the shutter were much to Mr Fox’s delight. I remember before the war that this original cow-shed and dairy were guttered and brought up to a high standard by local builder Allan Wheatley. A local plasterer remembers working on this project in his apprenticeship. A milking machine was installed at this time. As with the pigs and horses, the cattle were also improved by breeding. Among the bulls purchased was one, of which we have a photograph, from the then Prince of Wales’ farm at Lenton in Nottingham, which was later to become the headquarters of Boots Horticultural Department, and is now part of the University Campus. As the farm was steadily improving with the times, World War II loomed and was subsequently declared, this was to change many things roundabout, with the blackout, rationing which included livestock, and maintenance of buildings etc, was very much curtailed with new building virtually non-existent because everyone was working for the war effort.
Early in the war, the Army commandeered approximately five acres of land on the highest part and established a searchlight unit there, the generator for this was adjacent to Bunkers Hill Cottages. Sadly, in March 1944, Sam became ill while milking and died within twenty-four hours. This was a big shock for the family and to all who knew him. The church was full for the funeral, and although I was only fifteen at the time, I remember the farmers lining the church drive and following the mourners in. However, things could not stop and my Grandmother carried on, with help and advice from the War Agricultural Executive Committee. This was the time that I lived at the farm, and on leaving school, worked there. Things were just beginning to pick up when the Borough Council intimated their plans to develop the village. This again put the farm progress on hold, as the planning and subsequent compulsory purchase orders had to be confirmed. As the development took place, all the farms concerned gradually lost their land. When they started on Poplar Farm, after the Harvest, I left, as more land was to be taken. My Grandmother eventually retired to a house in the village until her death, and my Mother remained there until ill health forced her to leave. The family donated the stone pillars and gates on the church drive in memory of Mr and Mrs Sam Wilkinson. In writing these memories I hope that they give some insight to those now living in Kirk Hallam of what it was like in times past.