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The High Road in Beeston - Wollaton Road to Villa Street
Up until 1903, when the silk mill property was sold to developers following its financial failure in the previous year, this important High Road frontage was commercially undeveloped. The whole frontage and the almost all the land to the rear, extending
as far as the smithy, was owned by the mill owner, Samuel Watson. At that time, Watson occupied The Villa, a substantial residence on the site. After 1903, everything was to change and it is that transition that we will explore here,
telling the story of the personalities and businesses who lived and traded in this key part of the High Road.
At the time of the silk mill property sale in May 1903, all of Samuel Watson's property, on both sides of the High Road including, of course, the frontage we are now examining, was acquired by a consortium headed by Albert Ball, later to become Sir
Albert Ball. Originally a plumber in Lenton, Notts he had, by the early 20th century, become very well established as an estate agent who speculated in distressed or outdated stately homes and other similar property throughout the area
and, in this role, he was well placed to put together a syndicate to purchase the Watson property. His offer of £15,200 - in the order of £1.5 million in today's values - included the mill, house, and all the land, was accepted. Ball took a 9/24 share of the
deal with other syndicate members being Arthur William Black (the local lace manufacturer) who took a 8/24 share, Frederick Ball, Albert's brother (a Nottingham architect) with a 3/24 share, William Thomas Norris (a Lenton builder) who took a 2/24 share and
James Holroyd (a Nottingham estate agent) who also took a 2/24 share. The ultimate success of this sizable investment would depend on the timely development of the site. In the event, it was to play a major part in transforming the High Road into the mature
shopping street that it became.
This photograph, dated from about 1905, shows the frontages on both sides of the High Road, viewed from what is now Wollaton Road/Station Road, looking east. On the right of the picture is the south side of the High Road which has already been partly
re-developed with a row of shops, very soon after the silk mill sale in 1903. While progress on the north side is not so obviously dramatic, there are some signs that things are underway and, ultimately it would see perhaps the more dramatic changes. It is these changes.
on the north side of the High Road, between Wollaton Road and Villa Street which we will examine here.
For the purpose of this study, the frontage seen in the photograph can be divided into five sections which, at this early stage can be described (west to east) as follows :
Section 1 - The corner of Wollaton was then vacant but was already reserved for a key development - a major bank.
Section 2 - A recent development consisting of a pair of retail shops with living accommodation above.
Section 3 - A vacant frontage of about 25 yards. What appears to be a 'For Sale' sign is displayed above the boundary wall.
Section 4 - A further frontage of about 25 yards, behind which stands The Villa, previously Samuel Watson's residence.
Section 5 - A frontage running up to the corner of Villa Street.
The development and history of each section will be described in the order they were put to new use.
First to change was The Villa (Section 4), now no longer the residence of Samuel Watson which, in June 1903 became the home of the Beeston Constitutional Club - later
The Beeston Conservative Club. It is shown right in its final years after it had remained as a Club for about sixty years, and just before much of the north-side frontage was comprehensively redeveloped. The Club itself then moved to a purpose-built building on
Acacia Walk (itself now demolished as part the Tesco development and the Club repositioned on Station Road) and its position on the High Road is now the site of Boots the Chemist.
It is not always understood that Conservative Clubs are not the same as the local political organisation, the Conservative Association, although, as was the case locally until relatively recently, the Association often has an office at the Club. The Beeston club, like most,
was and is a largely social organisation and has been, over the years, a place where members - just men until relatively recently - meet, have a drink, play a game of snooker and sometimes talk business. Certainly, that's why many of the High Road tradesmen, have been members
over the years and it must have seen many important deals made.
The pair of retail shops (Section 2), like many of the new buildings in the overall project, was designed by Frederick Ball who, as we have seen, was also one of the overall development scheme's principle investors. They opened
in 1904, shortly after the developers had taken over, as the first new development on the north side. As such, in their early days, standing on their own in the north-side frontage with all the 'action' on the other side of the
High Road, they do not seem to have been too popular although, as we will see this was to change as the development matured as a whole. In these circumstances, the identity of any tenants in the very early days has been elusive and it has not been possible to link
even those named on the plan made when the High Road was renumbered in 1908 1 ('Bexton' and 'Longland') have not proved possible to identify. However, from that date, we are able to identify the shops by their street numbers, west to east, numbers 21 and 23 High Road. In
practice, the story of this pair of shops and their tenants begins in 1911 when we have the clear evidence of the Census.
21 High Road - by 1911 the premises were occupied by John William Barnatt who traded there as a furniture dealer. Born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire in 1869, he moved, with the rest of his family, to the Radford area of Nottingham when only four years old.
Several start-up companies were making early bicycles in that area and he found work as store keeper in one of these. After marrying Priscilla Mary Tennyson in 1890, they moved to Beeston where John William continued as store keeper and later in the receiving and dispatch department
at the Humber Company works there. When Humber moved, somewhat abruptly, to Coventry in 1908, he did not follow but tried a number of alternative ways to make a living, working for a while as a commercial traveler and, for a while, as manager of the Three Horseshoes public
house. His occupancy of the shop did not last long as, by the time of the Great War, he had found more work as a stock clerk and store keeper and he, his wife and their family of two had moved to live at 53 Park Street, Beeston where they lived for the remainder of his life and that of his wife.
In 1914, although he was 45 years of age, he enlisted with the Royal Army Service Corps in various defensive roles on the Home Front and, remarkably, attained the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant, stationed at Woolwich Dockyard. After demobilisation in November 1919 he
made a living as a furniture repairer for the remainder of his working life. During his many years in Beeston, with full support from his wife, he made a considerable contribution to the community, as a Councilor in the pre-WW1 years, as the founder of Beeston Friendly Societies'
Council which worked for many charities and maintained a bed at the Children's Hospital, was Secretary of Beeston Garden Holders Association and of the Beeston Liberal Club. His rich baritone voice is said to have enriched many local charitable concerts. He died in May 1950, shortly
after his wife who had died earlier in the same year.
Appearing in 1907 was the property on the corner of Villa Street (Section 4), four shop units with living accommodation above, built in an attractive style, reminiscent of those seen in shopping streets in Chester, with a jettied area overhanging and sheltering the shop fronts, mock-timbered upper floor and gabled roofs (see below right). It was a popular
addition to the street scene that soon found tenants who became popular, long staying occupants. The units still remain today, numbered 41 to 47 High Road, essentially in their original form.
By 1913, these premises had been taken over by Oliver Tailby, a butcher. Born in 1883 in the village of Gurnley in Leicestershire, one of eight children born to Walter Tailby, a tailor, and his wife Mary Jane (née Dunkley), he had, as a young man, joined the Army
and been involved in the Boer War. By 1905 he had traded as a butcher in Gainsborough and, in that year, had married Dorothy Richardson (née Welbourn), a widow who had two surviving children by her first short marriage. After joining Eastmans Limited, a national company that
traded in foreign meat, the family moved to Beeston where Oliver held the position of manager for the company's local branch, at 69 High Road, Beeston. Frozen meat imports from America - notably from Timothy Eastman and his son Joseph's large abattoir in New York had started in the 1860s.
Without the need for the local slaughtering facilities that were the norm with more traditional local butchers shops, they had done much to make cheaper meat available to a growing population. Eastmans Ltd had been formed in 1889 by Henry and James Bell the British agents who had already begun
to establish a chain of butchers shops and now took in the American company as well. By 1900, with increasing interest in Argentine and Australian beef and New Zealand lamb, the American connection was terminated. From about 200 shops at the turn of the century, the chain opened around
1200 more - including the Beeston shop - over the next decade and they were supported by regional cold stores having a massive capacity. But by then, the problems of rising prices and decreasing demand hit hard, even before the war years - when almost 500 of its shops closed - proved
disastrous. In 1920, the company was acquired by Vestey Brothers who already controlled the cold store network and had founded the High Street staple, Dewhursts.
Although, the Beeston branch of Eastmans was to continue until at least 1925, Oliver was to demonstrate his tendency towards self-determination, also, it seems, supported by his wife, that was
also to be evident later. By 1911, he had opened his own butchers shop, selling imported meat, at 21 High Road. As his advertisement shows, he offered a personal service to attract customers in what was a very competitive marketplace. In 1914, when war came, life became difficult for
everyone, including those trying to keep a business going, particularly when they were dependant on imported products and things became particularly acute when conscription was extended to married men in May 1916. After appearing before the local Military Service Tribunal he explained
that he had served in the Boer War, had brought up a step-son who had enlisted and that he had a business to run. The Tribunal had a history of being sympathetic to local tradesmen and did grant him exemption providing he joined the "Citizens' Army" - the domestic volunteer force, similar
to the Home Guard in WW2. But by August 1916, despite this lifeline, Oliver again demonstrated his independent streak and chose not to join the local volunteer force. As a result, his exemption was withdrawn and he enlisted and, in January 1917, joined 2nd/6th Battalion North Staffordshire
Regiment after it had returned to England, after its involvement in the Easter Rising in Ireland. After further training, he left with the Battalion for France, landing there on 25th February 1917 where, along with his colleagues, he faced over nine months of trench warfare during
which he earned promotion to Corporal. Early in December 1917, however, he was severely wounded and died at a military hospital near Rouen on 11th of the month. He was buried in the Boisguillaume Communal Cemetery Extension just outside the city.
During Oliver's time in the Army, Dorothy had continued to maintain the butchers business and, despite the deep sorrow she undoubtedly faced she was able to continue it until at least 1921, clearly showing the same determination that her husband had demonstrated. She never remarried
and remained close to her children - who often used 'Tailby' as their own and their children's middle names - for the rest of her life. By 1939, she was living with her son Joseph's family at 41 Lower Road, Beeston and died, aged 75, in July 1945, probably at that address.
In 1925, the shop is recorded as occupied by the butchers, Burrows & Son although they have not otherwise been identified. By 1939, another butcher, Samuel Albert Marlow (b. 1897, Nottingham, the son of Albert, also a butcher) and his wife Greta Jane (née Burton) were trading
at the address and continued to so into the 1950s, before they retired to live at Toton, Notts. He died in January 1958, aged 60.
After about 50 years as a butchers shop, the shop was then combined with the adjacent shop that had been occupied by Fred Hallam and his family, the greengrocer for many years that still trades today as Fred Hallam Limited. An account of that well-known family business will be told as part of the story
of 23 High Road.
23 High Road - By 1910 this shop was occupied by William Edwin Wheeldon who was trading there as a watchmaker. Born in Nottingham in August 1879, he had worked as a telephone mechanic, had married Mabel Ethel Kirk in 1903, moved to Beeston and they had four children before, it seems,
he began this business venture. However, this was not to last long and the family left to live in Sherwood with William working in engineering and William and Mabel were to end their lives separated. By 1920, the shop was occupied by Fred Hallam whose family greengrocery and fish business operates
there to this day.
Fred Hallam (pictured right) was born in Beeston on 27 August 1888, the son of John Hallam and Sara Ann (née Lees), his second wife. He was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 5 September 1888. John, his father, had begun selling fish as a 'hawker' before his marriage to Sarah Ann in 1882 and, together,
they were able to progress to opening a fish shop on Middle Street West, Beeston. It also appears likely that he had opened a greengrocery on Queens Road, Beeston, between the time of his wife's death in 1897 and his own death in 1899 as, in 1901, it was being operated by Charles Hallam, Fred's half-brother
and, incidentally, the grandfather of the owner of this site. By 1901, Fred was living there with Charles's family and, as a 12-year-old, was likely to have already played some part in the workings of the shop and would continue to do so for a few more years - to at least 1904 - after which Charles went
back to his job as a heating engineer at Foster & Pearsons. Family legend has it that Charles then gave Fred 10 shillings and he promptly went out and hired a barrow for 6 pence and filled it with vegetables - and the rest is history!
Fred wasted no time making progress and, certainly by 1908, he had established himself in the fruit and vegetable trade. At first he lodged with his elder sister Elizabeth's family on Lower Regent Street, Beeston but after his marriage to Charlotte (often known as Lottie) Salmon in 1911, they
were able to open a shop at 3 Wollaton Road, Beeston where he continued throughout the war years until, by 1920, he was in a position to move to 23 High Road which became the basis of the shop that continues to this day, now with the fourth generation of Fred's family in control.
Fred and Lottie had four sons, all of whom were to play their part in the business:
John Frederick Hallam - was born on 14 September 1911 in Beeston and married Annie Bittles (or Brettle) on 2 May 1932 at Beeston Parish Church and set up home at 28 Ensleigh Gardens, Beeston, later moving to 10 Marlborough Road, next door to his parent's home at no 12. They had two children, the eldest
of whom, Ronald Frederick Hallam, would eventually take charge. John Frederick died in February 1988, aged 76.
Arthur Hallam - was born on 18 May 1914 in Beeston. In 1938 he married Barbara Smith Storey and they were to live at 30 Fellows Road, Beeston. They had one son. Arthur died in March, 1985, aged 70.
George Hallam - born on 16 August 1919, married Constance Joyce Jackson on 24 February 1941 at Beeston Parish Church and made their home at 12 Marlborough Road. They had two children. He died in April 1996, aged 76.
Frank Hallam - born in 1924, married Delsea Margaret John from Pembrokeshire in Wales in 1947. They set up home in the house at 28 Endsleigh Gardens but, sadly, Frank died in 1953, aged only 29. They had no children and his widow returned to live out her life in Wales and died in Tenby, aged 88 in
2010, having remarried in 1966.
Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, Fred continued to grew his business, which increasingly specialised in fish alongside fruit and vegetables. As the sons grew older, each in turn joined the business and learned the trade alongside their father and in due course they were ready to support an expansion
of the business and were able to take advantage of one of the parade of shops that had recently been built opposite what was the Broadgate Recreation Ground. Accordingly, in May 1936, they opened a branch at 123 High Road which was well placed to serve the residents at the eastern end of Beeston, Around that time
too, John Frederick, Fred's eldest son took overall management of the business and was soon to face the uncertainties of the war years. In March 1943 Fred passed away, age only 54.
Now the success and progress of the business rested entirely with his sons and would eventually be with future generations. As we can see today, they proved they were worthy of the challenge and the people of Beeston have benefited from the service they have provided. In 1954 the business became Fred Hallam
Limited, controlled by family members and, in or around 1960, the business took possession of the shop at 21 High Road and amalgamated it with its existing shop at number 23 to form the shop, with changes over the years, which we see today. The shop at 123 High Road was by then run by Fred's son, George Hallam
with other family members and was eventually closed but the main shop continued having passed through the overall management of Fred's grandson Ronald Frederick Hallam and then to two of his sons, the fourth generation of Hallams, Miles Frederick and Andrew John Hallam.
After over 110 years, the shop remains a valued part of the High Road, as we can see in the photograph above, contributing colour to the street-scene and first-class service to its customers.
41 High Road was soon taken up by Arthur Edward Nevett who, assisted by his wife Alice Edith and, identified by a prominent shop sign, were to operate a confectionary and tobacco shop here, up until his death in 1939.
Next to appear was the property on the corner of Wollation Road (Section 1), a branch of Nottingham & Nottinghamashire Bank, incorporated excellent living accommodation for the manager and his family, which opened in 1908. The bank itself was foundered in Nottingham in 1834, based at headquarters on Pelham Street Over
the next 75 years its branch network developed stongly, growing to around 20 with a similar number of sub-branches in communities throughout Nottinghamshire and into the surrounding counties. The bank paid particular attention to the architectural quality of its buildings, many of which were designed by the renowned
Nottingham architect, Watson Fothergill who, in 1881, designed the bank's then new headquarters on Thurland Street, Nottingham. The Beeston branch which opened in 1908 was designed by the Coalville-based architect Thomas Ignatius McCarthy (1880-1951). With its art nouveau detailing that is characteristic of that era,
it is undoubtably one of Beeston's finer buildings. It is shown below, in about 1910.
Born in Nottingham in about November 1870, he was the third of six children born to cordwainer, Frederick Thomas Nevett and his second wife Emma (née Seaton). In 1878, when Arthur was barely eight years of age, he and his father's other eleven children - including one yet unborn - by his two marriages were left orphaned when their father died, followed
within weeks by the death of his wife, Arthur's mother. Although it is known that Arthur's younger brother and sister were placed in Beeston Orphanage, what happened to Arthur is less clear as for the next twenty years, little evidence has been found of his life other then his baptism at St Stephens, Sneinton, Nottingham when he was aged 18 and described as
a saddler. It seems likely though, that he served an apprenticeship as a saddler and harness-maker after which he found work with Thomas Bennett who had a well established business as a saddler on Beeston High Road. It seems highly likely that that is where he met Alice Edith Cudworth (née Lydall), the widow of Joseph Cudworth who had died in 1890, aged only 24.
Alice was a younger sister of Clara who was married to Thomas Bennett and living at 90 High Road. As a girl, she had trained as a tailoress and now continued as a dressmaker.
Arthur and Alice were to marry on 12 June 1897 at St Thomas Church, Nottingham and were to set up home at 14 Harcourt Street, Beeston and each of them, for the time being, continuing with their existing jobs. For her part. Alice had progressed her dressmaking business such that she was employing others but continued working from home. On 21 August 1907, their daughter,
Dorothy Margaret Nevett was born. She was to be their only child.
But, the arrival of the motor car meant that the future prospects of saddle making was fast diminishing. Tom Bennett, as we will see later, had already begun to diversify and Arthur and Alice were not slow to look for alternatives for their own future. In 1908, they became the first occupant, selling sweets, ices and tobacco and moved into the first floor
accommodation. From that base, Arthur, no doubt encouraged by his wife, began to further his network of friends and business acquaintances as a member of the Constitutional Club, next door, while serving the community as a hard-working local councilor, following his election in 1913. And. the couple were continually looking for new business opportunities that they could fit
in around their shop. By 1913, Arthur was collecting rents and managing properties as a house agent - (see below) - but this was curtailed after war came in 1914 and, despite his age - he was 44 - Arthur was quick to enlist, doing so in March 1915 and serving with the Royal Engineers on the Western Front before being transferred to the Royal Flying Corps for a total of
four years service during which Alice was able to keep the business running. He had been re-elected to the council in 1914 and continued to receive notices of Council matters while posted abroad, and found time to contribute his views by mail and in person while on leave. After the war he became Chairman of the Council's General Purposes Committee and worked strenuously
for the provision of allotments for Beeston residents. He was also one of the founders - and one-time Secretary - of the Beeston Ex-Servicemen's Victory Club.
Although the 1920s brought some degree of normality, Arthur and Alice continued to strive to add more to their business and, by 1923, recognising that, in changing times, domestic servants were no longer easy to find, Alice was offering a domestic help agency (see above).
On 10 September 1930, their daughter Dorothy married Jack Clement Oakesford, the son of William and Rose Hannah Oakesford of Nottingham, at Beeston Parish Church and moved into a bungalow that Arthur and Alice had had built at 57 Bramcote Drive, Beeston, likely in anticipation of their own retirement which, by around 1937 was certainly something they planned. Sadly, however,
it was not to be. Arthur became ill and was admitted to the mental hospital at Radcliffe-on Trent and died there on 12 August 1939 and was buried in Beeston Cemetery four days later.
By then, the sweet shop had been closed and Alice, then aged in her 70s, had moved to live with her daughter's family at the Bramcote Drive house. However, resilient as ever, she had transformed the High Road premises and opened there as a ladies hairdresser and, when war came, she and her assistant, Doris Tusstall who also lived with the family, worked as evacuation helpers. Jack Oaksford also helped
with the war effort as a Sergeant with the Special Constabulary.
Alice Edith Nevett died on 16 November 1956, aged 90, while still living in the Bramcote Drive home that she and her husband had built. Dorothy and Jack Newett went on to retire to live in West Beckham, Norfolk in a house they named "Bramcote". Jack died there in December 1978, aged 75, followed by Dorothy in August 1988, aged 81.
43 High Road - became occupied quickly as a milliner's shop by Sarah Ann Toyer and her husband William who continued in his employment as a postman. Sarah and William were each born in 1871, in the small village of Lilley, between Hitchin and Luton in Hertfordshire, both children of farm labourers and married there in 1896. They must have known each
other for their whole lives. For Sarah this area of Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire was to be particularly significant as it was here that the making of straw hats was a cottage industry - one that Sarah, her mother and each of her sisters had been part of, with Sarah working as a straw hat finisher before her marriage. William was a railway signalman by the time of their
marriage and is likely that it was a transfer within the rail network that was to bring the couple to Beeston.
Shortly after their arrival, Sarah was able to fulfil what had probably been her dream - her own milliner's shop - when she opened one at 69 Wollaton Road and, in 1908 was able to move to the newly built premises at 43 High Road which she called "Luton House". Her advertisement - shown left - dated 1913, one of a long series around that time, gives an idea of the range of her
offering, which includes both ladies and children's clothes as well as hats. In the meantime, William had taken a job as postman which meant that transfers were now behind him, giving Sarah the confidence to concentrate on the business. She was helped too in that the couple were to have no children - though, no doubt, this in itself would not have been without its heartbreak.
In June 1930, as this newspaper notice shows, the business was sold to 'Mrs Spencer' and the Toyers retired to live, first in Lowestoft and then in Luton, where William died in December 1945, aged 74, followed almost 15 years later by Sarah in November 1960, aged 89.
In fact, the new owners were Constance Amy Spencer and her husband Arthur John Spencer (shown right). Constance (née Thacker) was born in Retford, Notts in October 1893, the oldest of eight surviving children of John Henry, a baker, and his wife Ellen (née Pashley). By 1911, she was working as a shop assistant in Retford although it is not known in what trade or, indeed, where she had gained the
experience in the millinery trade mentioned in the notice. In February 1926, she had married Arthur John Spencer at St Pauls Church Carlton, Notts. Although it is known that Arthur was born in January 1891, other details of his early life are not currently known. Two daughters, Barbara Ellen and Audrey June, were born to the couple and, by 1930, the family was living at 20 Chilwell Road, Beeston
before moving to live over the shop after taking over in June of that year.
The couple continued to trade at the shop until after the war - the writer has a clear memory of the unusual bead screen that covered the door opening in these later years! Constance died in May 1953, aged 59, by which time they had moved to live at 13 Elm Avenue with her husband still described as a shop proprietor. In retirement, Arthur moved to live at 15 Deepdale Road, Wollaton, Notts and died
in November 1975, aged 84.
45 High Road - opened in around September 1907 as a branch of The Farmers & Cleveland Dairy Company, and operated for upwards of fifty years by George Sheffield and his wife Ellen. The company, based in North London, operated for many years and claimed to be the largest retail dairy company in England. At a time when the purity of milk was a constant issue for consumers, the
national company's claims that "they only sell milk from proven healthy English farms" and that "no foreign, condensed or skimmed milk was sold or dealt in" were important assurances for customers.
George was born in 1856 in Wigton, Cumberland, the son of George, a butcher turned innkeeper, later pawnbroker, and his wife Bridget (née Davidson). Except for a period when he helped at his father's inn, George junior worked as a clerk and appears to have had no experience in the dairy trade until he met his wife, Ellen Hopewell, the daughter of Thomas Hopewell, a Mansfield grocer,
and his wife Mary Ann (née Hudson). Although she was working as a dressmaker, Ellen may have had some contact with the milk trade and with the dairy farmers in the surrounding communities by the time she married George in Mansfield, Notts in August 1899.
Whatever their background, the chance to manage an attractive dairy shop appears to have been a perfect opportunity for them and, again, having no children, they were able to give it their undivided attention, through the difficulties of two wars, for each of their respective lives, as managers up to at least 1930 and, possibly, on their own account thereafter - though the "Cleveland Dairy" name
remained on the window until the end. After George died in 1937, aged 81, Ellen - then aged 68 - continued trading with the assistance of Fanny May Farnsworth, the unmarried daughter of John Thomas Farnsworth, who had run a dairy farm in Greasley, Notts, and his wife Fanny. When Ellen died in October 1958, aged 89, it appears, being childless, that she left her then substantial
estate to Fanny Farnsworth, who had supported her to the end.
47 High Road - is the shop unit that stands on the corner of Villa Street and, accordingly, was and is perhaps the most attractive of the four units. Its first tenant was the River Plate Fresh Meat Co Ltd, another of the meat shop chains that specialised in selling imported "dead" meat which was prepared in and shipped from Argentina in refrigerated ships and distributed to its British
shops - over 400 by 1914 when it was acquired by Vesteys. This method of distribution bypassed the methods of the traditional butchers shops which almost invariably slaughtered its own meat in adjacent or nearby slaughter houses. It was one of several companies that appeared at that time, dedicated to providing cheaper meat for the growing population. In Beeston, it competed directly with
Eastmans at 69 High Road - which brought in frozen meat from America - then, as we have seen, managed by Oliver Tailby who was later to set up his own chilled meat shop nearby at number 21.
River Plate's Beeston branch manager was Leslie John Ford Fothergill who had been born on London, Ontario, Canada in June 1885. Otherwise, little is known of him prior to his arrival in Beeston in about 1907 when the shop opened. In 1908 he married Edith Arnold who was born in 1889, in Luton, Bedfordshire where her parents continued to live out their lives, leaving another unknown as to how she
came to live in Beeston and what brought them together. In February 1910, their only child, Leslie Arnold Fothergill was born in Beeston. But, by 1915, when problems of decreased demand and the effect of the war on sea transport were having their inevitable effect, the shop was the victim of the rationalisation in the imported meat sector. The Fothergill family then left Beeston, to live with Edith's widowed mother in Luton and later, it
appears likely, keeping a shop on Dunstable Road, Luton before moving to Woking in Surrey. By 1930, Leslie senior had become the landlord of The Bee Inn in Windlesham, Surrey and stayed there, assisted by his wife and son, for upwards of ten years. Tragically, this was brought abruptly to an end in 1939 when he was convicted of the fraudulent conversion of funds from the pub's 'tontine club' and was imprisoned for four months.
He died in November 1962 after settling in Woking. Surrey.
Then began a period of nearly 50 years during which a popular traditional butchers shop was operated there by members of the Elliott family. Alfred Elliott, was born in Bradford in 1879, the eldest of six children of Alfred Elliott and his wife Elizabeth (née Burnham) who had run the Royal Oak pub on Villa Street, Beeston from 1884, when they had taken over from Elizabeth's father,
Edward Burnham, until Alfred's death in 1912. He had started his career as a butcher with William Herbert George who then operated two shops in Beeston - at 62 City Road and at 127 Queens Road. In 1909, Alfred married Sarah Eaton, the daughter of the late Richard Eaton, a farmer, and by 1913, he had taken over both of George's shops and was trading on his own account. Although staff shortages during
the war forced the closure of the Queens Road shop it seems that, by 1915, he had taken over at 47 High Road. By 1920, he was trading exclusively from this prime-location.
Now Alfred was on his way to building a business which was to become a firm favourite with Beeston families. It was well located, had an attractive appearance and offered an attractive product, prepared by themselves.
Certainly, it was well patronised and appreciated by the author's mother, so much so that she retained a paper bag, with an image of the shop (shown right). Alfred and Sarah had
a daughter, Marjorie (b.1909) and two sons, Alfred Richard (b.1914) and William (b.1918) all of whom were, in time, to play their part in the success of the business. Both sons joined their father in the business straight from from school and, except for their service during World War 2, they worked in the business all their working life. After early employment in the millinary trade, Marjorie
began to help her father in the shop and became an indespensible part of the family team, particularly after her mother died in 1933.
Alfred senior died suddenly in February 1947, apparently after clearing snow during the very hard winter of that year, and his two sons continued running the business in partnership with the continued assistance of their sister. The photograph (left) shows Alfred and Marjorie (on the right) with their assistant, Vera Heard (née Blacknell) in the shop in that era. In 1964, after almost 50 years
in the hands of the Elliott family the shop was closed. Alfred went on to open a butchers shop on Chilwell Road at the corner of Hall Croft while Marjorie and William, both of whom never married, retired to Whatton-in-the Vale where Marjorie died in 1975 followed by William in 1995. Alfred died in 1989.
More details and photographs of the Elliott and Burnham families may be seen here
The first manager at the bank was Ernest Stanley Pierrepont who already had strong Beeston connections having been born there in 1874, the son of John Pierrepont who was very well respected locally. It was undoubtably an inspired choice by the bank.
There then remained, in this stretch of the High Road, just a plot of land with a frontage of about 25 yards (Section 3), between no 23 and the Constitutional Club. The first decade of the new century had seen a huge increase in popular interest in motion pictures and local entrepreneurs were keen to satisfy the demand for somewhere where
they could be seen locally and considerable competition developed between rival groups. One group, headed by one John (or Louis) Parker, used this as the site for a simple, single-storey structure, 60' x 40' which it named the Beeston Electric Picture Pavilion. Erection of the structure began in November 1911 and it opened in the following
February and was an instant success, despite its very basic interior. But when another group opened at the old Wesleyan Methodist chapel on Chapel Street in October 1912, Parker's operation was challenged, such that he decided to build a permanent structure on the site of the Picture Pavilion while continuing to show films during construction,
in a temporary structure at the top of Regent Street which quickly became known as 'The Tin Trunk'.
John Pierrepont was born in Ollerton in 1847 the son of George Pierrepont, then an agricultural labourer, and his wife Frances (née Ostick). George was himself able to better his life, a trait that was be demonstrated in later generations. He died in 1904, a farmer in his own right in Kneesall, Notts.
John was the middle child of seven born to George and Frances. While most of his four brothers followed their father into farming, John took a different path as a teacher beginning, as was then normal, as a pupil teacher. In 1869 he was appointed to the post of Headmaster at the National School on Brown Lane (now Station Road),
Beeston. He proved a hard-working teacher, valued by his pupils, an assiduous churchman and a popular figure in Beeston. In his early days he lodged on Chapel Street, close to the school, and this brought him into contact with Sarah Towle who was then also living on Chapel Street with her parents, the lace manufacture, Edmund
Towle and his wife Sarah (née Foster, the sister of Robert Foster, the horticultural builder). John and Sarah married on 30 August 1871 at Beeston Parish Church and were to go on to have eleven children, of which all but four were to survive infancy. Ernest Stanley was their first child, one of three born in Beeston. The second
was Francis Helen who was to go on to become the Head Teacher at Nether Street School.
In 1878, after nine years at the Beeston school, John was appointed Headmaster at the Holy Trinity School on Burton Street, Nottingham, at first living at the school house before moving to live on Arboretum Street and then to 23 Gedling Grove, Nottingham. By then, in about 1890, the young Ernest Stanley had started work as
a clerk with Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Banking Company, most probably at its Thurland Street headquarters. Now, some 18 years later, aged 34, he had moved to Beeston to take up the management of the bank's latest branch. Less than two years earlier, towards the end of 1906, he had married Lillie Maude Hall, a daughter
of the then late Robert Arthur Hall and his wife Hepzibah (née Jeeves) who had ensured that she had received an excellent education. After Brincliffe Girls School she gained a place at University College, Nottingham where, in 1898 she gained a BA from London University. By the time of their move, they were already expecting their
first child and she was born in Beeston as were the three further children who followed:
Sarah, Ernest Stanley's mother, died in February 1915 at Jessamine Lodge, a property on Middle Street, Beeston near Wood Street which, it appears, had been occupied by her and her husband's family when they lived in Beeston and was still used by family members. It seems likely that she had moved there so that she could be cared for, in her
final illness, by her daughters, particularly Mary Beatrice who became a State Registered Nurse. It would have been comforting to her that she would have been able to see all of her Beeston grandchildren before she died. John, her husband, Ernest Stanley's father, remained active in charity, church and school matters, carried out in his
characteristic kind and sympathetic manner, right up to his death in June 1937. He had earned tremendous respect from those whose lives he touched, particularly the many in Beeston who were taught by him and were always quick to attribute to him the excellent grounding they had received. It was entirely fitting that his last resting place
should be at Beeston Cemetery.
- Beatrice Mary, was born on 16 October 1908. In 1938, she married Leslie George John Deverell, who worked in banking in London where they were to make their home. They had one son. Beatrice Mary died in 1969, aged 60 and her husband in 1982, aged 73.
- John Raymond was born on 7 January 1910 and also followed a career in banking. While working in Leamington Spa he met Marjorie Barff, the daughter of the then late Revd Henry Foard Banff who had been Vicar of St Chads, Derby for 21 years before becoming Rector of Fritton, Norfolk where he had died in 1934. By 1939, Marjorie
was living in Leamington Spa with her widowed mother Hattie while working as kindergarten mistress at the High School. John Raymond and Marjorie married in January 1942 at St Philips Church, Dorrige, Warwickshire. They went on to have two children and to move to Derbyshire where John Raymond died in May 1995, aged 84. Marjorie died
in the following month on the Isle of Wight. They are buried together in St Annes Churchyard in Over Hadden, Derbyshire.
- Ruth was born on 10 December 1910 and married Rupert Wallis Spencer in July 1931 at St Michaels Church, Malton, Yorkshire. Rupert was an auctioneer and valued in Retford, Notts and the couple had met there while her father was manager of the bank in that town, before he had been moved to the branch in Malton earlier in 1931.
The couple made their home in Retford and went on to have three children. Rupert died in Retford in March 1991, aged 87 and Ruth in 2006, aged 96.
- Margaret Helen was born on 11 January 1913. She became a school teacher, remained unmarried and died in the Chicester area on March 2004, aged 91.
The Nottingham & Nottinghamashire Bank was acquired by London County Westminster and Parrs Bank in 1919 and this became Westminster Bank Limited in 1923.
In 1921, Ernest Stanley moved with his family to take the position of Manager at the Retford, Notts branch of Westminster Bank and in 1930 they moved again to live at Borderside, Middlecave Road, Malton in North Yorkshire when he became the manager of the Yorkersgate branch in the town. While there he was elected to represent the
Cleveland Archdeaconry, in the House of Laity of the Church Assenbly for the York Diocese. He died in the York area on 1 February 1938, aged 63. His widow moved to live with their son in Lemington Spa, Warwickshire and died there on 7 June 1949, aged 75.
After Ernest Stanley Pierrepont left Beeston, his place as manager of the Westminster Bank was taken by Edwin Topham who had been born in Alfreton Derbyshire in February 1877, the son of John Topham and his wife Eliza. John ran a substantial cabinet making factory employing about 50 men, women and boys and was well able to ensure that
his son received a private education at Parkhurst School in Fairfield, Derbyshire where he was a boarder. After leaving school, he had joined the Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Bank as a bank clerk.
By 1906, he had progressed sufficiently with the bank to consider marriage and had become engaged to 24-year-old Jessie Briggs, daughter of George Briggs, a retired draper and his wife Betsy. Tragically, on 20 September 1906, she was amongst 18 or more killed and others injured in a train wreck when the train she was on failed to stop at
Grantham Station. Edwin was waiting at Victoria Station, Nottingham for her arrival back from a holiday in France when the tragic news was received and he immediately travelled to Grantham where he found that she was amongst those killed and that it was his sad task to identify her badly mutilated body. She was buried in Gedling Churchyard on 22 September.
In 1910 he married Mabel Hilda Walker, the daughter of William H Walker, the headmaster of St Philips School, in the Sneinton area of Nottingham. They set up home at 47 Bingham Road in the Sherwood area of Nottingham and were to have four children. John Edwin, born in 1912, became a Chartered Accountant, William. born in 1917 became a
representative for Players Cigarettes. Marjorie was born in 1918. After Edwin moved with his wife and family to take up the Beeston appointment and to move into the adjoining accommodation, a further son, Herbert was born in 1923 in Beeston. By 1939, Edwin had retired from the bank and was living with his family at 30 George Road, West
Bridgford. Mabel died in 1956, aged 65, followed by Edwin in 1961, age 84.
Later managers at the bank were Frederick Richard Glossop Appleby (b.1882 d.1952), who was transferred from the bank's Thurland Street, Nottingham office and had previously lived at the address at 30 George Street, West Bridgford which was then taken over by his predecessor. He was still in post in 1939 but, by 1952, he had been
replaced by Frank Scott.
In 1968, it was announced that Westminster Bank and National Provincial Bank were to merge, a process that was complete by the beginning of 1970 when branches, including the Beeston Westminster Bank, opened as National Westminster Bank - widely known as NatWest, a name in general use today. In Beeston, it also meant the closure
of the branch of National Provincial Bank which had stood in the Square at the corner of Station Road only since 1931 and was now demolished as part of the Central Area Redevelopment Scheme.
The permanent building on the site was designed by Frederick Ball, who we have already seen as an investor in the overall ex-silk mill scheme and the architect for the adjacent shop units. During construction, Parker found that the costs would exceed the resources that he had been able to put together and he lost control of and all involvement in the project in favour
of the local lace manufacturer, Sam Weller Widdowson and his brother (or nephew), Edwin Widdowson. The building was completed by January 1913 and Beeston's first purpose-built cinema opened to delighted audiences. Named at first, 'The Picture Palace' it was later shortened to 'The Palace' and was go on to serve audiences for 37 years, through two world
wars, fierce competition, two ownerships and several major renovations until, as we will see, it too made way for a new era. But now, some ten years since developers took over the wider silk mill site, this stretch of the High Road was complete and, as we can see below, had been transformed to take its proper place in Beeston's main shopping street.
A more complete story of 'The Palace' cinema may be seen here
The Post-War Period - the war years had been difficult for everyone but somehow most of those who traded in this section of the High Road - and indeed elsewhere - managed, somehow, to keep going and to emerge into a post-war world, rightly pre-occupied by more urgent priorities. The Palace cinema, which had done so much during the war years
to keep up spirits, was able to decorate and renovate in 1947 and, by the 1950s, things began to improve generally, notable by the opening of a branch of Lloyds Bank in the unit that had been Nevetts and, in response to a growing demand, by the opening of a radio and television store to replace Spencer's millinery shop.
But, it was in the 1960s when big change came. First, in February 1960, the Palace closed and was quickly demolished. Changing habits by the public, which was now finding its viewing entertainment on the television, meant diminishing audiences resulting in the inevitable closure. Also to go was the Conservative Club building - with the Club itself
moving to purpose-build accommodation on Acacia Walk. Now, the whole 50 yard section, where the cinema and the club had been, was replaced with shop units (shown below) in the style of the day which, in many ways, were an exciting new addition to the shopping experience.
The new tenants (left to right) were:
Fine Fare Supermarket - not the first experience of self-service for Beeston shoppers, but one on a larger scale than the earlier arrivals. Before the advent of self-service, shoppers - then almost invariably housewives - expected personal service from small shopkeepers or from the co-operative stores which were then no-less labour
intensive. The supermarket revolution, which started in the 1950s in the United Kingdom, began to change that and it was not instantly and universally popular although that soon began to change as housewives got used to them and began to welcome the convenience and savings that they were seen to offer. The first self-service grocery store in Beeston was
opened by Burtons (the large Nottingham grocers) at Christmas 1957, in what had been the silk mill building at 14-15 High Road and is now occupied by the hairdressers, Harven. Burtons Supermarkets was taken over by Fine Fare after a relatively short time and its Beeston store was closed down in 1963 in favour of the new store once it had become established
on the Palace cinema site. By then Fine Fare had over 200 stores throughout the country and, in 1963, the company was acquired by Associated British Foods and, twenty years later by The Dee Company which closed the stores or rebranded then as Gateway. By then the Beeston store had become a branch of the stationery chain John Menzies and is now a branch of
WHSmith following its acquisition of Menzies in 1998. Today, it also houses Beeston main Post Office. A section of the original store, the right of what is now WHSmith, was until recently, occupied as a Vodaphone mobile phone shop.
The group of four units with the mock timbered, sheltered frontages, numbered 41-47, have had several tenants since those that traded there up to the war or shortly beyond, including, as we have seen, a branch of Lloyds Bank. They are presently occupied as a Sue Ryder charity shop (41/43), a pet shop (45) and Saint Property Services (47).
The next unit, now the site of New Look, a womensware store, has had several earlier tenants. In the 1980s it was a branch of the Rumbelows chain of Electrical appliance stores.
Boots - a branch of the well known heath and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain, relocated to this site in the 1960s, from the prominent location it had occupied in Beeston Square since 1908. Its former site, with its mock-Tudor facade characteristic of many of the Boots shops of that era, was much-loved by Beeston residents at that time but was
demolished as part of the Central Area Redevelopment Scheme of the 1960s. Today, the shop continues to trade from its then new site.
The rightmost unit has had several occupants over the years and is now occupied by Savers Health & Beauty.
A full range of footnotes will be added in due course
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© David Hallam - 2020