The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 1 - October 1988

Mrs. Lowe Remembers

Photo courtesy of Mrs A Lowe

Mrs. Lowe with her son and his friend playing on the building site in 1926

Almost opposite Lenton Lodge, the gatehouse to Wollaton Park, is Hillside. On this street there used to stand a row of almost thirty terraced houses. No. 42 Hillside, towards the middle of the terrace, housed the shop, which back in the early 1920s I ran. There I sold the usual range of groceries, bread and cakes, cigarettes, sweets and ice cream, which I made myself. My customers came predominantly from the houses on Hillside, plus some from the Spring Close area, although they had their 'own' shop at the corner of Commercial Street run at that time by a Mr. & Mrs. Griffiths. One special customer I did get, however, was Tommy Shipstone, who lived up on Adams Hill at Lenton Firs. Each morning he would walk along Derby Road and call in at my shop to buy a cigar. Often as not he would give my young son a shilling, in much the same way as other people would hand out a penny. Once the cigar was purchased he used to get into the car which his chauffeur, Matthews, had followed along in and be taken on to his brewery office across at Basford.

In early 1926 quite a lot of new faces began to appear in the shop. These belonged to the workmen, many of them Irish, who were employed across on the other side of Derby Road on the construction of the Wollaton Park Estate. At their request I began to make sandwiches which were bought in large numbers. Every so often I would take my son and his young friend across to watch these men at work. We saw how the steel framework of the Crane houses was put up and how they made the concrete building slabs out of a mixture of ash and cement. A cement mixer was a luxury the men didn't seem to possess and all the mixing of materials and subsequent shovelling into wooden shuttering was all done by hand.

The City Council had these Crane houses built with the intention of selling them, but their unusual design didn't prove popular. A rumour went around that the houses wouldn't last ten years and a lot of people must have believed it because the Council had considerable difficulty selling them. As a result it was decided to call a halt on the erection of Crane houses and finish the rest of the estate with houses built with more traditional methods. When we heard this, my husband and I decided to try and buy one of the brick bungalows. Ideally we would have liked a house on the new boulevard that was going to be constructed but as detached properties weren't proposed for any of the land alongside the boulevard we plumped instead for a house on Hawton Crescent. Once it was finished we sold the shop on Hillside and in May 1926 moved into our new home. That was sixty years ago and I am still here. I wonder how many other houses on the estate still have any of their original inhabitants?


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