Durham to Calverton 1953

Dad told us to catch the train from Durham to Nottingham, walk through the tunnel at Victoria Station on to Mansfield Road and  wait at the bus stop for a Calverton bus.   He said we would not have to wait long. So Mam, my sister Kath and her boyfriend Mick and I arrived just in time to catch the red and yellow Bartons Bus.  It took about half an hour to reach the village. The driver called “This stop for Park Road,” and we alighted.  It was a lovely sunny day and we were still marvelling at the sights we had seen.  Big houses with long drives, green hedges, blossom trees.  The gray stone walls and endless fells of Durham were all behind us now.

We walked through the twitchel in to Lee Road. Going further along we crossed Collyer Road and halfway down Park Road found our new house.  We let ourselves in and looked around. Well, what a shock.  We had an entrance and the door immediately in front opened on to a coalhouse; to the left was the kitchen and to the right was a lavatory. An inside toilet.  Oh, the joy of it.  Entering the kitchen we had another shock; there was a Rayburn cooker.

“No more cooking on an open fire for me” said mother joyfully.  “What do you do with it?” I asked.  Mother demonstrated by opening the little door on the front.  She said “I put the coal in and close the door and it heats water that goes up the copper pipes and warms the whole house and it cooks dinner, the top gets hot and you put your pans on  and they stay lovely and clean.”

Dad arrived late, the little removals van had broken down.  I was sent to the village to see if there were any general shops where we could get some tea and milk.  I found my way to the Main Street and next to the Admiral Rodney Public House there was a little shop and when I entered it was cool and dark and on the counter was a dish of round red fruits piled up in a pyramid.  I looked for a label and saw they were tomatoes.  It was as if the War had never happened down here.

We were Catholics and  had to go to Church on Sunday.  Mr Bowers, one of the bosses at the pit lived on Hollinwood Lane and he tidied up his front room for us to have Mass said there.  We squeezed in the three rows of various shapes of chairs and Father Tuetto came over on his Lambretta scooter from the Good Shepherd at Daybrook.  Mam got the job of washing his altar clothes and on Tuesday mornings she could be seen hanging out his cassock and other bits on our line.

Kath found a job at Richard Stumps, a clothing factory in Nottingham and I went to school for my last few months at the Good Shepherd.  The other young people in the village went to the Comprehensive in Arnold.

The council had built two housing estates for the pit who then rented them out to the miners. More and more people were moving in  and there was a community feeling with all those people having lived in villages not many miles apart in the North East.  Collyer Road was the main street to the pit and the flats in blocks of four  were much admired.  

Sunday afternoon we would walk in a group down to the Lido, the sun always seemed to shine. Saturday mornings were taken up with trips to Nottingham on the bus for hair-dos and pots of mushy peas from the market.  We always had heavy bags to carry from the Main Street bus stop to home.

I left school and found a job at the British Oak Insurance Company on Friar Lane.  Dad was really pleased because I was the first in the family to have an office job.  We were paid a small bonus every quarter and that enabled me to have typing and shorthand lessons at Miller’s Business College on Wheeler Gate.  So twice a week I left for work on the 8.00am bus and returned on the 9.15pm from Huntington Street that went via Woodborough Road, through Lambley and other villages before arriving home.

Kath and Mick had married and moved to Gedling not far from the Grey Goose.  Taddy Ales were building pubs around the area.  The Cherry Tree at Calverton, The Squinting Cat at Clipstone. The Blue Tit at Ollerton and lots more.  They all had a big room from functions and always had a stage for the live groups that played rock and roll for the kids (us). Sometimes the guitar players electrocuted themselves.  There were no Health and Safety Regulations in those days.

Our neighbour bought a television set, it was black and white and if we knelt on our draining board we could see the reflections off the screen on the windows.  We begged Dad for one and reluctantly he said “Yes.”  Our biggest problem was, should we watch with the living room light on or off?

By now the Pit Club had been built and we went up there for a drink and a game of Bingo on Saturday nights sometimes. Bingo had just begun in those days and also a smashing new Miners’ Welfare was built on Mews Lane.  It was beautiful.  The entrance was off the Lane.  As you entered, to the right was the signing in book; you then walked out on to the balcony.  There was a grand spiral staircase leading down to the shiny dance floor.  Sadly the building had to be demolished to make way for new houses in later years.

In the early mornings I would lie in bed on Park Road and listen to the heavy footbeats of the miners as they walked to work for the early shift suddenly go silent as they crossed the road at our house and entered the field that took them towards the pit.  Dad was a cheerful man who liked his pint of beer, game of dominoes and a Woodbine cigarette.  We settled comfortably into village life.  The shops at the corner of Flatts Lane and Collyer Road were built.

Then on January 20th 1955 everything changed.  Dad went to work on that early shift and a roof fall killed him. We didn’t have counsellors in those days, you just had to get on with it and we did.  He was buried in the Cemetery on Mansfield Lane and Mam went down with flowers for his grave every week for a very long time. However, life goes on and we had a good friend and neighbour Mary Hardy who kept us smiling.  She now lives in Nabarro Court.

I started going to dances at the Palais in Nottingham.  Rock and Roll was the thing.  We wore stilettos, big skirts, big hair-do’s and the boys looked great in their Teddy Boy suits.

I met John Hennell, an Oxton boy, who had just finished his National Service and was now working down the pit with his pals Ray Hewins, Alan Nichols, Barry Kendall, Bob Bardill and Dave Morris to name a few.  John preferred to wear black trousers, white coat and red embroidered cowboy shirt.  He rode a motor bike an AJS with panniers, and with our friends Pete and Lynda Nettleship (Norton Dominator) and Dave and Pat Hunt (BSA Shooting Star ) we visited Taddy Pubs and rode to Matlock on Sundays for fish and chips.  After a visit to Earls Court we decided that a Velocette Venom Clubman would be nice to have and ordered the first one in Nottingham from Wings at Daybrook.  It was black and gold and arrived with  a racing fairing, drop handlebars, 5 gallon tank, alloy wheels. It had high compression starting and for a while I used to push it to help get it going. We had a good holiday at the Isle of Man TT that year.  The Manchester police caught us speeding late at night across the moors. We were issued with a fine, pleaded guilty and were fined £5.

I gave up my office job in town a few months before John and I got married and went to work at Morleys factory in the village in the knitting room (but that is another story). I am sure the scriptwriters for Coronation Street must have heard about it before the Soap started.

We were married at the Good Shepherd at Daybrook and then had our Wedding Reception at the Bridge Inn at Oxton.  We had a buffet.  It was one of the first.  A big change from a sit down meal.  I wore a lovely full length wedding dress that I bought off my cousin who had been married the year before and I then sold it to one of the girls in the knitting room at Morleys. We didn’t waste much in those days.