Local History Talks for Societies and Other History Groups, Adrian Gray

Adrian Gray is based at Laneham, between Retford and Lincoln. He is a graduate of Queens’ College, Cambridge, in History and the author of more than twenty books on aspects of local and national history. He is historical adviser to Bassetlaw Christian Heritage and Pilgrims & Prophets Christian heritage Tours, both of which are community groups working to develop heritage tourism in Notts and Lincs.

All talks can be tailored to last between 60 and 90 minutes. They are fully illustrated. Options for Talks include:

Why did they all come from here?

This talk explains why the Mayflower Pilgrims and the linked group who formed the first Baptists originated in the region of North Notts and West Lincs. It is a good general talk for those wanting to know more about these groups as we prepare for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower in 2020.

Religious Liberty: A Gift to the World from Notts and Lincs

Ideas about religious liberty now enshrined in the UN declaration of Human Rights can be traced back through the US ‘First Amendment’ to the thinking and writing of men who came from north Notts and Lincolnshire, and whose thinking influenced the writing of early American settlers like Roger Williams, who had intimate connections with both counties. This story was almost forgotten until revived through the annual Bassetlaw Religious Tolerance Forum which has featured on radio 4.

Thomas Helwys: The Price of Freedom

Helwys, a Nottingham man, financed the move of the ‘Pilgrims’ to Holland and there became a Baptist. He risked his own life by returning to England and founding the Baptist denomination, where he wrote the first text in English that argued for religious liberty for all faiths – for which he was imprisoned. Helwys is also notable for his radical theological writings and is one of the most influential men ever to come from Nottinghamshire.

The ‘Black Prince’ of Scunthorpe

The extraordinary story of ‘Salim Wilson’, born a Sudanese prince, rescued from slavery by the British, and brought up in England to be a preacher. Quite probably the first black man to live in Scunthorpe, his marriage to a white woman brought film cameras to the town.

The Wrays of Glentworth: Radical Religion in Tudor and Stuart England

Lord Chief Justice Sir Christopher Wray’s memorial at Glentworth is one of the treasures of Lincolnshire, but he and his wife also founded a family that were supporters of radical religion across the country for fifty years. This is a story of rich and clever people, using their wealth to promote bright young men into key places – men like John Smyth, the founder of the Baptists – and their association with people like the Mayflower Pilgrims. Full of human interest, this is a fascinating tale of great wealth and great determination.

The Top Ten Scandals of Sherwood Forest

This is an unconventional approach to telling the story of Sherwood and the Dukeries. Rather than following it chronologically, we examine the tale through ten scandals – money, sex and political – that define what happened to Sherwood and the great houses that were built there.

East Coast Main Line Disasters

The East Coast Main Line runs through our region from Peterborough to Doncaster on its way between London and Edinburgh. As the author of a definitive book on the topic, Adrian Gray can explain how accidents and disasters influenced the gradual improvement of safety down the years with some graphic illustrations of what went wrong including famous accidents at Doncaster and Grantham.

Thomas Cooper of Gainsborough and Lincoln – Political Radical, Poet, Preacher

Cooper grew up in poverty in Gainsborough but through his own efforts became a school teacher, preacher and then journalist before turning to radical politics as a Chartist. After a spell in prison for causing a riot, he became a humanist lecturer until his sudden reconversion. From his house in Lincoln he continued his extraordinary travels across the nation and left an autobiography reckoned one of the best of the Victorian era. A church in Lincoln still bears his name.

The Christian Heritage of Notts/Lincs/Mansfield/Worksop/East Lindsey etc.

Groups with a specific local interest can commission a tailor-made talk to fit their ‘region’. These talks give an overview of the most interesting human-interest stories ranging across the saints and missionaries who came from your area. The emphasis is always on the people and their lives.


The group Pilgrims and Prophets Christian Heritage can plan and deliver guided tours for your group to Christian sites across the region. Popular choices include the ‘Mayflower Pilgrims’ trail, Wesley and Epworth, and ‘Hidden Churches of West Lindsey’. Contact us to arrange a tour for your group.



Read about our work at:

‘The Pentrich Revolution 1817– England’s Last Armed Rebellion.’

Exhibition at The National  Justice Museum High Pavement, Nottingham NG1 1HN. The National Justice Museum is an iconic museum based at Nottingham’s historic Courthouse and Jail.

From Saturday 21st October to January 2018 an important exhibition is being held at the National Justice Museum to mark the bi-centenary of a rising by working people in Derbyshire to bring down the government.

Led by a Nottingham man, Jeremiah Brandreth, and with many rebels ending up in the cells of the Shire Hall Gaol, the events are an important part of local history as well as being an important step in the long march towards the democracy that we have in the country today.

This free exhibition is curated by The Pentrich and South Wingfield Revolution Group a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Number 1166940) and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“…shards of personal memory, fragments of autobiography”

Try your hand at writing.

Scribe your story.

Tell your tales of travels at home or abroad!

Everyone can write!

Language is important but the emotion behind the words is most important. A good writer does not have to speak or write in the Queen’s English. Patois, local slang, street speech are all just as valid and often more relatable. Tell your story and just write!

You are invited to attend the exhibition free everyday (Monday to Friday 8:30am-7:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm, Sunday Closed) drop in anytime during the day from Monday 9th October – Tuesday 31st October 2017 at Nottingham Central Library, Angel Row, Nottingham, NG1 6HP, Tel- 0115 915 2828/0746 918 955

There are regular workshops and an advisor on hand to help you and a special writers workshop led by Nottingham Trent University and Leicester University Friday 20th 10:00am- 5:00 pm plus weekly story telling from the famed Madge Spencer.

Choose how to tell your travel tales. Consider poetry, fiction and non-fiction formats. You never know your story may make it into our new book on Travel Writing. We are encouraging people to share their stories whether it be of a physical journey, of overcoming adversity, of getting that job or promotion you worked so hard for, or moving from your home country to the UK. Put pen to paper. You don’t have to write pages, try a list poem, a tweet poem a piece of prose etc. Writing is your right!

For more information, please contact- Lynda-Louise Burrell Creative Director- Museumand, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum
Tel: 0746 918 9550 Email:

Museumand, The National Caribbean Heritage Museum formerly known as The SKN Heritage Museum.Is a social history museum, “Celebrating and commemorating the Caribbean contribution to the UK”. Our exhibitions and events celebrate the lives and experiences of ordinary people, in a way that all people can recognise and embrace. We are dedicated to preserving Caribbean history, heritage and culture in original and unusual ways, and are fast becoming known for our innovative exhibition events. We encourage visitors to get involved or tell your story? We are a museum “without walls” in all senses (literally and figuratively) and a
community museum where we take the museum experience out to communities that are not traditional museum


Promises…. Promises…..

There will be an exhibition in the Chapter House at Southwell Minster between 14th and 28th October 2017 which will give an historical, local and Christian perspective on the centenary of THE BALFOUR DECLARATION November 1917 – November 2017

A Conference on 28th October will explore this further

Greater Love by Ztan Zmith

Local author and historian Ztan Zmith  agreed, in 2014,  to research into the lives of the men from Brinsley who died in, or as a result of the two World Wars, and to compile this research into a book in their memory.

Unfortunately he passed away shortly before completing the work and it was left to his wife Christine to add the final touches. The completed work was passed to Brinsley Parish Council to be published,  and the paperback version recently came out and is available through Brinsley Post Office, at St James Community Cafe( every Wednesday from 10-00 am to 12 noon) , priced at £5-00, all profits will be donated to his chosen charity St James Church, Brinsley. Copies of this book along with all his other books are also available through the web site

During his lifetime he wrote 14 other books about the past of Brinsley and,  in memory of  the work that he did for the village,  a limited number of hard back copies have also been produced, the first of these was presented to Mrs Smith during a morning service at St James Church.

The second copy was then presented to the Rev David Stevenson, vicar in charge of St James, Brinsley to be held in the church for all to read.

The remaining hardback copies have been handed over to Brinsley Primary School, as a reference book for pupils to use in any future work undertaken in respect of the two wars, and added to Eastwood Libraries reference section.

Ztan Zmith was the pen name of Stan Smith of Brinsley, Chairman of Basford and District Local History Society and Vice President of the Nottingham Writers Club.

Ztan wrote many articles, short stories and poems, which have featured on Radio in the e-magazine The Nottinghamshire Times and in a wide variety of other publications.

He wrote about fascinating local characters from the past who lived in extraordinary times and this has led to the publication of six books for the Merrill Foundation’s Nottinghamshire Heritage Series, a further twelve books based on his home village of Brinsley, six books about nearby Underwood and Bagthorpe, several books on Basford, Cinderhill and Hyson Green and a Wedding Book that has proved to be extraordinary popular.

Ztan was also editor of The Basford Bystander a bi-monthly Community Newspaper devoted to nostalgia and local history in and around Basford and District in Nottingham. This publication is read in quite a few countries around the world.

The new book from the Wolds Historical Organisation, called Discovering the Wolds, is finally available!

The Wolds Historical Organisation is thirty years old in 2017. To commemorate this anniversary the members have compiled a book about various aspects of the history of the Wolds villages, from the Anglo-Saxon era onwards. The title is Discovering the Wolds.

There are twenty-six articles covering a wide variety of topics. Among the longer contibutions are:

  • Anglo-Saxon boundary shrines of the Leicestershire Wolds
  • John Noon of Burton Hall
  • The Inn at Prestwold
  • The Burton Parish Constable 1810–1836
  • Sale of a Wymeswold Farm in 1839
  • The Loseby family
  • The early years of the Wymeswold Bowling Club
  • The Lymeswold cheese myth
  • A look back at thirty years of the WHO

245 x 175 mm, 100 + iv pages, 28 colour photos, 79 b&w photos; 9 line drawings, 2 maps, paperback.

Cost £9.95

Phil Thorpe’s article on the Lowesby family is available as a free PDF. Additional information on earlier and later members of the family is also available as a free PDF.

Copies have been supplied to G G Granville’s in Wymeswold and the petrol station in Burton.  There are also copies available from Joan in Burton (phone 88055) and Bob in Wymeswold or 881342.

More information on  WHO’s web page:

East Midlands Coalmining Heritage Forum

The next meeting of the East Midlands Coalmining Heritage Forum is on Saturday 21st October 2017 and is being hosted by the South Derbyshire Mining Preservation Group at their HQ at Gresley Old Hall and later at the nearby Conkers Discovery Centre (ex Rawdon Colliery site).  Visits take place in the earlier part of the day from 11am with the Forum meeting taking place at the Conkers Discovery Centre from 2pm – 3.30pm.

The East Midlands Coalmining Heritage Forum is in the process of being formed mainly to help improve communication and networking between coalmining heritage groups and organisations in the region, establish links with higher education establishments and to try and ensure that important documentation and artefacts are not lost in the event of the worst scenario – think Snibston, the John King Museum and the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre, all of which have closed since 2015.

A steering group have been working on the main aims and objectives for the Forum which includes the setting up of a Constitution etc.  The Steering Group had a meeting with representatives from the National Coalmining Museum for England at the end of May 2017 and they are interested in working with the Forum as a proto-type for forming regional coalmining heritage hubs.  One of the early parts of this initiative will be the running of a Coalmining Heritage Day Workshop during the autumn / winter period 2017-18.

Arnold’s History

A new course led by Bob Massey and entitled ‘Arnold in the 19th Century’ will be run in four sessions on 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th January 2018 between 7.15pm – 9.15pm. The course fee is £20 and meetings will be held in Arnold Library Meeting Room (entrance via leisure centre)

Come and learn about Arnolds past

Old and new students welcome

No previous knowledge required

contact for details

Secret Beeston

Secret Beeston By Frank E. Earp and Joseph Earp
ISBN 978-1-4456-64880-0
96 Pages
Price £14.99
Published by Amberley Publishing, 15/08/2017

In this well researched and comprehensive review of history, buildings, landmarks, residents and famous visitors Frank and Joseph Earp provide a fascinating insight into life and times in Beeston starting with a review of the origins of the name and ending with a photographic tour round the town. The book is a mixture of a town guide, a historical review and a ‘Did you know’ and, in 13 short and well written sections, covers pretty much all there is to know. It is a book for anyone interested in local or urban history, or the development of 19th century industry or popular culture and entertainment but it is primarily for anyone interested in the area. It is richly illustrated with many historical photographs as well as current examples from the authors own private collection and contains a wealth of information about famous and not-so-famous Beeston people. A particular strength of the book is that it provides a photographic record of the significant buildings of the town; factories, churches, shops and pubs, and places them all within the context of growth and change. It also catalogues the individuals and families, residents and visitors, who enriched the life of the town, many of them recorded on blue plaques. This is an interesting and eminently readable book and a welcome addition to the body of work on the local history of Beeston and Nottingham.

After this there can’t be much about Beeston that is still secret!

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Mansfield to Pinxton Railway Line

This train line, of which a good portion is now incorporated into the Robin Hood Train line (Mansfield to Kirkby) was opened in 1819 and as such is possibly the oldest continually running line in England. We therefore feel it important to celebrate this fact and involve as many relevant people and organisations as possible. This proposed project aims to research and promote this train line and anniversary and would like your organisation to join with us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After many years of debate of how to connect Mansfield to the growing network of canals it was finally decided to make that connection via rail to the Cromford Canal at Pinxton, rather than constructing a new canal. Work commenced on the rail in 1817 and concluded in 1819, when it opened for business on Easter Tuesday. Initially it was used to transport heavy goods, such as coal into Mansfield and stone, sand and malt out of the town. As the years went by passenger travel was introduced. The early trucks were pulled by horses but, when fully laden, there was sufficient momentum generated for the trucks to propel themselves from The Summit, at Kirkby, into Mansfield town centre.

Several years after the construction of this line, steam locomotives were developed with a subsequent network of railway lines being built across the country. Now it became the turn of Mansfield to be connected to this new network. The Mansfield-Pinxton line was purchased by the Midland Railway Company, upgraded and extended into Nottingham in the late 1840s, where it joined the main network. Steam locomotives were introduced on to this upgraded line and continued to transport goods and passengers until they were superseded by diesel power. However, during the mid-1960s the passenger services were withdrawn but goods continued to be transported.

Fortunately, as the commercial side of transportation started to decline the passenger service was re-introduced. This continued use of the train line therefore makes it one of the oldest continuously running lines in the United Kingdom and possibly the oldest in England.

The Project Partnership

The partnership consists of the following local organisations and several dedicated individuals:

  • Dedicated Individuals
  • Kirkby & District Archaeological Group
  • Old Mansfield Society
  • Pinxton & South Normanton Local History Society
  • Sutton Heritage Society

The Project

As can be seen from the above historic overview, the Mansfield to Pinxton railway is one of national significance and consequently this important milestone needs to be celebrated. Therefore, the partnership will ensure that the heritage of this train line is celebrated and remembered. We propose to:

  1. Carry out further research to:
    1. Bring it’s known history up to date (The full 200 years)
    2. Write a celebratory leaflet (including a map and timeline)
    3. Write a booklet
    4. Create a website and post all material on to the internet
    5. Produce a mobile exhibition
    6. Compile an education pack
    7. Film a celebratory video
    8. We aim to install permanent interpretation panels at:
    9. Mansfield Train Station
    10. Sutton Parkway Train Station
    11. Kirkby Aldi
    12. Pinxton Wharf
  2. Write and perform a dedicated play
  3. Produce a three-dimensional model of the train line and rolling stock
  4. Hold public events to celebrate the anniversary, including:
    1. Major event on the actual day (17th April 2019)
    2. Launch event for the leaflet and booklet
    3. Public competitions
    4. Guided walks
    5. Talks/presentations
  5. Archaeological Research, to:
    1. Understand how the original track-bed was constructed
    2. Map out the exact route of the original train line
  6. Produce celebratory memorabilia (still to be determined but may include):
    1. Plate
    2. Mug
    3. Stationery
  7. As part of the project we aim to involve the following people and organisations:
    1. All local authorities
    2. Train companies
    3. Schools & college
    4. Public
    5. MP’s
    6. Media (including radio and TV)
    7. Place articles in relevant magazines

Volunteers in the project will receive professional training, where needed.

We aim to have funding and relevant permissions in place by June 2018 to give us plenty of time to organise the Grand Celebration. However, all the above activities and aims won’t be completed until September 2020.

More information from Trevor Lewis, (Secretary, Steering Group), Mansfield – Pinxton Bi-Centennial Celebration Project at