Modern street names - Stripes View, Mere Avenue, Thorndale Road, Broom Road - recall old field names now almost forgotten. A number of families and many elderly Calverton people can trace a family tree back through several generations of farmworkers and stockingers, or alternatively, blacksmiths, carpenters or wheelwrights. The picture is of a settled, self-sufficient rural community.
The Romans failed to alter the fundamental way of life in Britain despite their 400 year occupation. Their own methods of agriculture were not adapted to British conditions and ultimately the Celtic methods triumphed. The heavy Celtic plough, drawn by oxen, cultivated the land in long strips.
Fifty years ago the old ridge and furrow pattern could still be seen in the fields below Foxwood. Remnants perhaps of continuous strip ploughing from Celtic times through to the Parliamentary enclosures of the eighteenth century.
The open-field system of strip farming dictated the shape of the village. In the days of peasant farming the village was the hub for the working of the surrounding fields and it is remarkable that today the map of Calverton still retains the imprint of its early development. Some gardens behind cottages on Main Street are clearly remnants of the medieval crofts or homesteads detailed on the 1609 map of Calverton. The medieval villager tended his own small plot of land whilst at the same time working his numerous strips scattered around the two or probably three large 'open' fields.
Calverton, developing along Main Street (or 'Town Street') to the west of its church and with trackways giving access to the open fields, forest and wasteland, probably had a nucleus at the Nook. Here in the 16th century a trackway gave access to the two great open fields to the north of the village. When those parts of the open fields close to the village became enclosed, this trackway afforded access from crofts to fields and became Crooked Doles lane. Today both Crookdole Lane and Collyer Road owe their origins to the contour of the old croft boundaries.
Similarly, Dark Lane and Keenwell Lane are shown in 1609 dividing crofts from enclosed fields to the south of the village. This trackway remains today much as described in the Enclosure Award of 1780 when it gave access to 'old' enclosures such as Stripes Closes. Another access point off Main Street to the south would eventually become Georges Lane.
'Old enclosures' dominate the text of the 1780 Enclosure Award. Enclosures occurred in Calverton as early as 1347. The enclosure movement began as a means of enclosing stock.
It gained momentum as farming changed its emphasis from corn to wool production. Sheep raising saw the old self-supporting feudal system replaced by a new approach which farmed not for a livelihood but for profit. To make way for the production of wool the inefficient open-field system was swept away in what has been described as the first great revolution in farming. By 1700 roughly half the arable land had been enclosed by private enterprise. The way was now open for the agricultural 'improvements' of Tull, Townsend, Coke and Bakewell. Robert Townsend's 'fourcourse' rotation of crops formed the basis of future agriculture.
Field Names Remembered and Forgotten:
An interesting feature is being lost to us now that we are becoming urbanised and industrialised and, sadly, small fields are being enlarged for prairie-type farming. Calverton has its share of fascinating field names. Who amongst us can identify Sod Close or Bull Meadow; tell me where is Little Lucy or even who Little Lucy was? Some will recall with pleasure Bindy Bells and the Cowslip field. Many sledging enthusiasts know where Monk's is. How evocative is the term Swallow Tops. Where now is Whitedale Close, the Stonebridge Field, Thorndale and the'T' Field, Peat More and Pump Close.
One would have to look for a long time, and perhaps be unable to find, Water Porridge Hall, but it was there - one might visualise a mean farmer's wife feeding the sadly undernourished farmworkers a watery gruel - hence the name, and these appellations do stick for many years.
Residents may be unaware that the area known as Broadfields should have been called Broomfields because of the wonderful displays of Golden Broom which grew in profusion before the houses were built there. The change of name was in fact caused by a typing error. Lamp Wood, Fox Wood, Leila's Plantation, Foxcovert, the Gorse (Goss).......names which create an atmosphere of times not so remote when Calverton was enfolded in quiet, when one could wander through fields rich with wild flowers and beautiful trees alive with birdsong. However, change passes over the countryside, as does everything. There are memories which must be recaptured before they are lost forever.
A lot of roads have tended to be named after old Calvertonians. Lee Road is obviously named after William Lee, the inventor of the stocking frame. Labray Road, Jonathan Labray, a stocking-frame operative in Nottingham who owned land in Calverton and gave a huge amount to charitable causes. Roes Lane is named after John Roe founder of a dissenting religious sect in the village. Pepper Road is named after Jane Pepper, founder of a local charity, in the south wall of St Wilfrids the chancel records her many gifts to the church and parish. Seely Avenue is named after the Seely family, huge contributors to village life over the years.
Marshall Close, just off Lee Road, was named after the old Councillor Ron Marshall. Hoyle Road was so called in honour of Thomas Hoyle, who was once the Vicar of St Wilfrids church. Bartley Gardens is named after Harry Bartley a fine man who was once a manager at Calverton Colliery, indeed the road is built on the site of Mr Bartleys old house. Nabarro Court is named after David Nabarro, the man who for some years ran the hugely successful Calverton brass band. Collyer Road was not named because it leads to the old mine, but after W. and J. Collyer, two of the villages finest shopkeepers. Renals Way is named after the devoted churchman George Renals. Dunelm Drive gets its name from the Roman name for Durham. Old Hall Close is built on the site of the Old Hall (vicarage). And of course Plumtree Gardens was so named because Plum trees used to be found there!!
Some recently built roads have interesting names......Williams Drive (previous occupants of the land), Stonebridge Way (a nod to the old Field), Whitedale Road (the Close) and Coggan Walk named after Charles Coggan, the man who ran the successful Main Street hosiery factory in the early part of the 20th century..............