INSPIRE has been proud to present their annual Local History Fair since 2013, bringing local groups together to celebrate the variety of heritage activity in Nottinghamshire. This year the celebration will be digital, featuring a selection of photographs, videos, talks and presentations from groups and organisations from all over the county. The highlight will be a live, online interview with author, broadcaster, curator and former Nottinghamshire resident Lucy Worsley..
ONLINE INTERVIEW WITH LUCY WORSLEY
11am / Saturday 15 May
£5 Booking essential
Lucy Worsley grew up in West Bridgford and was possibly history’s most assiduous volunteer ever at West Bridgford Library, where she spent all her childhood Saturdays. She went on to study history, researching a PhD thesis about Nottingham Castle and Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, before making her career in London working in heritage and history television.
Below is a list of participants in the Great Nottinghamshire Virtual Local History Fair. The participants and their pages/content can be found on the INSIRE web page from 1 May – 31 May:
Bannister Publications £17.99 ISBN 978-1-909813-68-7
Why was I, approaching four years old, lying on cushions under my grandmother’s dining table with Grandpa outside the front door of their Spring Lane, Lambley, house on the night of 8 May 1941?
Fortunately for me I was not aware of the tumult of fear and destruction evident from the thundering of high explosives and the persistent glow of the incendiary inferno. (It was only much later that I realised how frightening it must have been for my grandparents, knowing that my parents were on ARP and fire-watching duties that night.)
And it is only since reading David Needham’s Battle of the Flames that I have grasped a true picture of the horror, terror, fortitude and heroism shown and experienced by the citizens of Nottingham and in particular the Fire Service, police and medical staff and the volunteer forces of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) officers, the WVS (now Women’s Royal Voluntary Service) and all those neighbours and others who did their best to aid and protect during the onslaught.
David Needham takes us through Nottingham’s wartime experience from the setting-up (and occasionally somewhat rocky settling-in) of the city’s defence structure, and the gradual unfolding of the impending fearful attack on Nottingham.
David’s very skilled and readable account, as well as giving us a detailed account of the city’s preparations, also manages to convey the feeling of apprehension as the Blitz on the United Kingdom developed.
On the night of the “Bomber’s Moon” – bright moonlight clearly illuminating vulnerable targets – the journeys of the firemen to their fire stations are vividly described:
“Alf Porkett had to leave his family in the care of a neighbour and then cycle as quickly as he could from his Wollaton home to Triumph Road Fire Station. The anti-aircraft guns were firing, and shrapnel was chattering to the street, searchlights were sweeping across the sky and the dark shape of the bombers could be seen in the beams, or as they passed across the moon.”
Truly evocative; and spine-chilling.
As the chapter progresses, incidents follow on top of one another, giving a sense of the urgency and chaos in the streets as fire engines battled to get through tangles of hose and avoid falling masonry: the battle was particularly difficult in the narrow streets of the Lace Market where Bishop Talbot, vicar of St Mary’s, beseeched the firefighters: “Will someone help me save my church?” which, threatened on all sides by explosions, the fire-fighting crews managed eventually to do, averting a catastrophe such as had happened at Coventry Cathedral just a few months before.
Amongst the unceasing efforts and courage (some fire-fighters worked for 18 hours with no break) there were the odd unexpected or bizarre moments. The caretaker of the Masonic Hall on Goldsmith Street was fire-watching on the roof when he heard a blast and suddenly found himself on the ground floor, concussed but otherwise unharmed.
A Government official in seeking to rescue a safe containing important documents from a top floor office in the Lace Market asked the firemen not to roll it down the stairs – as he didn’t want to spoil the carpet!
As well as a detailed account of the events in the Lace Market and city centre, the book also covers the destruction wrought in the suburbs, where Sneinton suffered considerably – with tragic losses at the Co-op Bakery.
Battle of the Flames is lavishly illustrated: this new and enlarged edition features both colour and monochrome images. In a number of cases the original building, its bombed ruins and its replacement are shown side by side.
Fortunately for Nottingham, the heroic efforts of the Fire Service and others managed to save the greater part of the city which we can still enjoy today.
One building which did survive (despite its proximity to a major explosion at what is now NTU’s Arkwright Building) is the original Central Fire Station, which remained in operational use until a few years ago. This building was surely a central player in the city’s twentieth-century and World War II heritage, and as such should be valued and conserved rather than being summarily replaced: I hope David Needham and his Fire Service colleagues will agree.
Much has been said recently about the “Blitz Spirit” and how it has been revived during the Covid emergency. There have certainly been similarities in the way communities have been supporting each other, but nothing more outstanding than the way in which the NHS, its staff and volunteers have courageously battled with the same determination and courage that the emergency workers of World War II fought the Battle of the Flames.
The Field Detectives are currently researching the history of RAF Langar airfield. They hope to provide a unique insight into the life of a Second World War airfield, which captures 207 squadron’s arrival from RAF Bottesford in September 1942, through to their departure to RAF Spilsby in October 1943.
Initial investigations had focused on Wednesday 25 November 1942, when five aircraft of 207 Squadron flew out of RAF Langar, each tasked with separate missions. The Field Detectives are attempting to piece together the day from the remaining fragments of written materials, eyewitness accounts and the results of our field surveys. It is a process that relies heavily on teamwork, collaboration and trust, which is slowly beginning to shed light on the shadows of a day from almost eighty years ago.
It has been a steep learning curve. When The Field Detectives first began looking into the life of Langar airfield c.1942-1943, the focus became fixed on the crews of those lost Lancaster’s, but now we have come to realise that every one of those aircraft was part of a much bigger human relationship to the airfield itself.
Each loss would have had a significant emotional impact on a wide range of airfield personnel. At this stage of the investigation, The Field Detectives are learning that those involved at the Station Sick Quarters would have had a strong emotional attachment to the crews who flew those aircraft.
After discovering the crash site of Ray Hannan’s Avro Lancaster last year (2020), The Field Detectives learnt sadly that Flight Sergeant John Kennerleigh Barnett Lee was the only one of R5694’s eight crew members who survived the crash. Tragically, he died the following day. His grave marker at St. Mary’s Churchyard in Bottesford gives his date of death as 26 November 1942, the day after the crash.
This then led to learnimg more about the Station Sick Quarters and the roles of the people who worked there. Ken would have suffered terribly after the crash, and the emotional impact of that suffering would have had a profound effect on whoever was there at the time.
Although The Field Detectives have identified the sick quarters’ location, nothing is knpwnabout the medical staff who worked there.The story of the women who served at RAF Langar as part of 207 Squadron is sadly missing.The story of nursing at Nottinghamshire airfields during WWII is an important story to tell .Can you help?
Ian Clarke is an alumni of the University of Nottingham who has lived in Nottingham since his graduation in the early 80s. After he retired in September 2019 he choose to spend time looking at the system formed by the environment and geography of North Nottinghamshire, and the politics of the crown, state and people of the region using the systems thinking skills he had developed during his career.
He set his time bounds from the start of the population of the county to the start of the industrial revolution with the intention of getting into the detail of those events that shaped both the county and our country. From a very early point in his research it became clear to him that the Nottinghamshire landscape of today is nothing like the landscape of the quite recent past and he paid a particular attention to the role of Nottinghamshire in providing one of only two viable routes between the north and south of the country for long periods of history.
Before he started his research he had little knowledge of the conflicts that shaped our country but he has come to understand how many of these have depended upon the route of the ‘Kings Great Way’ through Nottinghamshire for the transit of forces to areas of conflict, within and without, the borders of the county.
During his research ge gas discovered a number of topics which could be of interest for further investigation but has taken them as far as he can without help. He is now looking for help from anyone interested in discussing any of the following topics to gain further insights which could help share the conclusions he has reached over the past 18 months and prove or disprove his hypotheses.
The role of the string of Iron Age hill forts running from Burton Joyce through to Edingley Camp
The Roman advance through North Nottinghamshire including the farnsfield fortress and associated road.
The emergence of Nottinghamshire as a no-man’s land in the immediate post roman period, similar to the Scottish Borders during the period of the border reivers
The conflict between Edwin and Æthelfrith and formation of Northumbria
A potential case for the site of the battle of Brunnanburh in North Nottinghamshire
The role of the Cistercian monks of Rufford abbey in the defence of the north south frontier
At some stage in the near future he aims to publish a completed 86,000 word text containing 32 Illustrations covering the above and many more topics involving the people of Nottinghamshire. This is mainly written for popular interest with the aim of engaging other budding and amateur historians in their own investigations of our past
The following is an appeal from Collingham and District Local History Society [CDLHS] in support of the preservation of the Roman villa site and remains which lie just across the A46, opposite the Station/Potter Hill Road junction at Villa Farm, Folly Lane, Norton Disney. Lincoln Proteins has resubmitted an application to build a large industrial-scale animal waste by-products facility in the midst of this historical environment. We ask you to submit an objection to the resubmission to Lincolnshire County Council by 23rd April 2021.
What are we talking about?
You may already know something of the Roman villa site on Folly Lane and the recent discoveries which reveal that this was an active industrial area in the Iron Age. Along with the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group [NDHAG] and their lead Richard Parker (who has done most of the work on this) CDLHS will be objecting to the loss of the unique heritage aspects of this site and we encourage you to do the sam
The more objections received the greater the likelihood of stopping this unfortunate development.
For more information on the application go to http://lincolnshire.planning-register.co.uk/ and enter PL/0012/21 in the ‘Application Number’ box. On the page that opens click on the blue PL/0012/21 which will open the page from which you can view the current documents. If you go through the same process but enter PL/0036/18 you will see the previous application and objections. However, Lincoln Proteins would not have re-applied with so few changes unless they were confident of success. So, your pen and your words matter!
The villa site and its surrounds.
The villa site was discovered and excavated in the 1930s, the cost of which was borne largely by local subscription and support from Nottinghamshire’s Thoroton Society, The Duke of Portland and Newark Corporation. A number of the finds are in the care of the National Civil War Centre and the Newark Museum.
The villa stood in a prominent position above the Fosse Way looking towards the Roman towns of Brough and Newark with views across the Trent and Witham valleys. This prominent positioning is viewed as a sign of status. It is thought that the villa was the centre of an agricultural estate. The name Potter Hill comes from the large amount of pottery waste found thereabouts. This is probably the result of local production of low-grade pottery that was used for storage and to carry manure to be spread on the land. Placing a ruler on a map along North Scaffold Lane shows an almost perfect alignment between the villa, the lane, and the river crossing at Cromwell Lock. Therefore, the villa was placed in a dominant position in relation to this crossing point as well as the Fosse, both of which probably had pre-Roman origins.
Iron Age finds and the orientation of the villa led to suggestions that it belonged to a Romanised Celtic Briton and was built on an established site. Recent work by Richard Parker and NDHAG has revealed that a large area around this site was used for pre-Roman iron smelting which supports this theory. Furthermore, despite limited access, surveys suggest that there are further remains to be found in the area.
One result of Richard Parker’s work has been that designation by Historic England has been extended from just the excavated area to the whole of the field in which the villa was found. However, a comprehensive survey of the wider landscape has not yet been possible. The villa is situated between Hill Holt Wood and the proposed industrial site.
The proposal involves building on some 11.4 hectares (28 acres) for this industrial site, which will operate on a 24 hour basis and include a 10m x 30 m x 10m high building with chimney, two boiler houses, two 20m x 15m filtration beds each with an 8m high domed roof. There will also be a water treatment plant, two employee welfare buildings, stores and administration buildings, plus two large water lagoons with controlled discharge into local water courses and a clean water lagoon. There will also be temporary parking and a petrol station for 40 lorries to facilitate continuous 24-hour operation. At least 75 lorry arrivals and 75 departures per day were envisaged in the 2020 application. The plant will be floodlit
Some of the grounds for objection
You may wish to object as a group, such as a household, but individual applications carry more weight. Do not just copy the objections of others word for word but write your objections in your own words and present them in your own way. You may object on grounds of odour, traffic flows, visual amenity etc, but these objections will carry little weight as they will apply wherever the plant is built. We need to object on grounds which highlight that this location is unique.
Historical and archaeological context is important and should be emphasised in your objection. The proposed development will significantly destroy the context of the villa, for example, its position over the route to Lincoln from Newark and the Trent, and also its dominance over the Iron Age tribal and Roman villa lands.
The villa is an integral part of an Iron Age and a subsequent Roman landscape that we are only just beginning to discover and unravel. This includes Iron Age finds within the proposed site and in the area immediately surrounding the villa site, also the Iron Age Hill Fort at Brills Farm, examples of which are rare in Lincolnshire. The proposed development will also stand between the villa and Brough (Crococalana) which exhibits significant and continuous Iron Age, Roman, and Saxon occupation and activity.
The presence of Iron Age remains such as at Gallows Nook Common and Brills Farm were well known. It is believed that the villa site dates back to The Iron Age, but recent work has shown that there is much more to be seen and to be found here. Consequently English Heritage has extended its designation of the area to include the whole of the field surrounding the villa. Also, a possible Iron Age settlement has been found that would be destroyed should the application be approved. Who knows what more would be destroyed by this development, which is only 10 metres away from the designated Scheduled Monument. The development lies in a direct line between the villa and the Roman road of North Scaffold Lane and the Cromwell crossing on the Trent.
This greenfield site is unique in the region, whereas local brownfield sites that could potentially accommodate this facility exist that were not listed in the 2020 application as having been considered.
The proposed development would significantly undermine and detract from the iconic, Bomber Gateway Sculpture which has attracted interest and financial support locally and regionally. When completed this sculpture will be larger than the The Angel of the North and in the present landscape will prove to be (or not if this development goes ahead) a significant tourist and image asset to the City and County of Lincolnshire. The floodlit proposed development will significantly detract from this and will prevent any potential development of this landscape as a heritage and tourist asset spanning the Iron Age to the Second World War.
Objections are also being submitted on nature conservation grounds.
There are two articles on the Villa in Irregular 5 (November 2020). The Irregular is the journal of CDLHS and is on sale at Society events and at Gascoignes (the Post Office) in Collingham or from the Society for £5
An Obituary for our Friend and Colleague who died on 8th March 2021
Jenny was born in Papplewick in November 1946 and attended the County High School in Arnold. In 1967 she married Michael Page and moved to Grimsby where Michael was a serving Police Officer. After the break-up of her marriage in 1997 she returned to Nottingham and settled in Brinsley where she met the love of her life, Susan, at an action group meeting in 1997. Jenny worked for The Inland Revenue for 23 years and travelled extensively for her work before retiring early due to ill health.
Jenny was very active in her local community. As Chair of Brinsley village action group she led campaigns against building on greenbelt land and worked to protect heritage, wildlife, flora and fauna. She was also a parish councillor for Brinsley and in 2019 she stood as an Independent candidate in the Broxtowe borough local elections. In later years as a member of a writing group she became a published author for her memoirs and poetry, and she was very active in the LGBT movement. She came out in 2014.
Jenny was a former student of the University of Nottingham where she gained a Masters degree in Local and Regional History. She taught family history to community groups and gave local history talks. She was an expert on Grimsby fishermen and the village of Papplewick, and she also undertook research into Nottinghamshire’s mediaeval monastic sites for which she received a grant from The Thoroton Society’s Geoffrey Bond scheme.
Jenny had a deep-rooted love of local history and was a founder member and committee member of The Friends of Nottinghamshire Archives, as well as being a long-standing member, active supporter and trustee of Nottinghamshire Local History Association [NLHA].
She was concerned that we should all try to create opportunities for young people to get involved in local history through clubs, societies and education. Jenny liaised with The Samworth Academy in Mansfield to organise various events, one of which was an NLHA Local History Day School where she gave a talk on family history and other colleagues presented sessions on apprenticeships, oral history and archaeology. Her organisation and enthusiasm were key to a day that was a great success. Jenny was also a wonderful supporter of the NLHA Youth Heritage Conferences.
Colleagues recall meeting Jenny in 2005 at a landscape archaeology training week at Laxton Castle where she took pity on poor frozen students and allowed them to warm up in her campervan where she provided endless hot drinks. She was so enthusiastic about being on the course and helped to keep up everyone’s spirits despite the long days and foul weather. She had a superb sense of humour and was always such a kind soul. Latterly ill health had made it difficult for Jenny to pursue her interest in history, but local history was always close to her heart.
Jenny was a larger-than-life character who was passionate about promoting local history. She was very supportive of local groups and people where she encouraged them to achieve better things. She was a great problem solver, very forthright and open, and very caring to her friends and family. She was a walking encyclopaedia and knowledgeable about everything in life. Jenny had a great sense of humour, was passionate, determined, analytical, generous and demonstrative. She will be greatly missed.
Richard Rodger, FRHS, FAcSS Professor Emeritus, University of Edinburgh
Name’ and ‘Address’ are critical to tracking people, to linkages with property and legal documents, to understanding household structures, and to spatial analysis in times past, as now. For historians, nominal data linkage is impaired when access to Census data is restricted and this in turn weakens the utility of archival sources more generally where names and addresses are common elements. Social and economic history, family and cultural history, genealogy and local history are undermined as a result. The central theme here is that under present arrangements Scottish historians and the Scottish public are denied access a crucial publicly-funded historical source, and that a ‘pay-as-you go’ approach is inappropriate for access to archival materials. No other European country applies such a policy. Examples based on Edinburgh data illustrate how access to the Census can enhance historical analysis and enrich the productivity of other archival sources linked through names and addresses.
I believe local history societies deserve better access to the historical census ie those of 1861-1911, and of course 1921 in due course. There is a digitised resource, funded by The National Archives out of taxation, that has been limited in its utility by the paywall which is operated by Ancestry and others.
I have written an article explaining why this arrangement impairs local historical studies, and why it should be amended. The location of the data I have used to illustrate this argument has little to do with your area, but the principle is the same: making the public pay twice to see public records is no longer acceptable.
Civil War Petitions supports the project ‘Conflict, Welfare and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642–1710’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project began in June 2017 and will run until June 2021.
Petitioners on parade! We have a new blog out by Lloyd Bowen, which uncovers the physical presence of maimed soldiers in court and the very public scrutiny of their wounds during their applications for pensions during the #BritishCivilWars : https://t.co/IG8z5fMBzJ#cwpetitions
Dear NLHA member, I hope this email finds you well.
It has been three months since the 2020 NLHA AGM and Mayflower themed day school were postponed. A lot has happened in the world since then; a lot has happened in Nottinghamshire. You will be aware that, after over a decade of exceptional work, John Parker made the decision to step down as Chair of the NLHA. I’m sure you will all join with me in extending our thanks to John for his dedication.
At a committee meeting held on 9th July I accepted the committee’s nomination as Acting Chair, pending election by members at the forthcoming virtual AGM. Bob Massey agreed to be nominated as Acting Secretary, with the unsung hero David Anderson continuing as Treasurer.
Following on from Covid-19, lockdown and the rapid increase in online talks and events the committee is proposing that we undertake a review of the aims and work of NLHA. This will ensure that we are delivering the activity and support that you, our members, need and expect.
For those of you who don’t know me I have worked in heritage for over twenty years, currently working as the “County Archivist” managing Nottinghamshire Archives with oversight over heritage throughout Inspire’s county library network, plus the modern records service. I’m also in the 1st year of a part-time PhD at the University of Nottingham researching early modern sermons.
I look forward to sharing more information as soon as I can. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay safe.