Issue No. 20 October 2003 (£1.20)
All the articles in Issue No.20 focus on the Spring Close area of Lenton. Now the location for the Queen's Medical Centre the history of this area from the late eighteenth century onwards is recounted in various articles along with personal recollections from three of the people who used to live there.
With the aid of an Ordnance Survey map dating from 1930 this article describes the physical layout of this part of Old Lenton and provides a brief synopsis of the history surrounding the various sets of industrial and domestic properties built here in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Commercial Street Recalled (4 pages)
Born at 24 Commercial Street in 1932 Arthur Timms lived there until his marriage to Jean Tring in 1953. He recalls growing up here with much to say about life in Commercial Street during the Second World War. After several years out of work his father, George Timms, had managed to obtain employment in 1936 helping to erect the showground for an agricultural show held in Wollaton Park. The company involved was based in Nottingham and George got taken on to their permanent staff engaged in erecting show grounds all around the country. After leaving Cottesmore Boys School in 1946 Arthur Timms was also employed alongside his father. Arthur continued to work for L.H. Woodhouse until a serious injury sustained at work in 1962 meant he had to seek alternative employment.
The Traveller's Rest Public House (2 pages)
Positioned at the corner of Spring Close and Commercial Street the bar staff of The Traveller's Rest dispensed drink to local residents and those who worked in the vicinity from the 1840s onwards. However the facilities available to its patrons underwent major changes in 1886 and 1926. Drawing on plans now lodged at Nottingham Archives we demonstrate how the building was modified better to meet the needs of the publicans and their drinking public. We also provide a complete list of the publicans from 1842 onwards.
Spring Close c.1925 (2 pages)
These two pages feature a large aerial photograph, provided by Stewart Coates, in which the Spring Close area is shown in considerable detail. Various features shown in the photograph would indicate it was taken in the mid-1920s.
Hopkinson's Corner Shop (5 pages)
In 1945 Freda and William Hopkinson took over the shop situated at the corner of Spring Close and Commercial Street directly opposite The Traveller's Rest public house. Their only son, William I. Hopkinson, then aged eight was called upon by his parents to help out in the shop in various ways. These he relates in an article which also features some of his post-war memories of the Spring Close area.
Albert Carter Embroidery (1 page)
In 1927 Albert Carter acquired the premises and equipment belonging to Frank S. Smith, an embroidery manufacturer. Thereafter his business remained a permanent feature of Commercial Street until it was forced to relocate to Warser Gate in 1971. His embroidery company employed many of the female residents of the Spring Close area and Albert Carter was always ready to loan out his facilities if there was a local celebration taking place. After outlining the basic facts relating to the business this article chiefly focuses on the Carter family themselves.
W.J. Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd. (2 pages)
Formed out of a number of local businesses in 1915 W.J. Simms, Sons & Cooke quickly grew into a major building firm with a nationwide profile. In the late 1930s it acquired most of W. Coates & Sons' property in Spring Close and based its joinery department there. It used the Spring Close works to manufacture joinery products to meet the needs of the company's own building contracts and also made them available for sale to the building trade in general. A new development at Spring Close was the manufacture of pre-constructed timber buildings for subsequent erection both in this country and abroad. By the 1960s the Lenton site housed one of the largest factories in Europe dedicated to the construction of timber buildings. After the war the company also based its plant depot at Spring Close. W.J. Simms, Sons & Cooke was at the forefront of the campaign to resist the siting of the QMC in Spring Close but in the late 1960s threw in the towel and accepted that the company would have to relocate elsewhere. Our article provides a brief account of what happened to the business after it vacated the Spring Close site but we have to admit our ignorance as to the company's ultimate fate.
The Textile Finishing Company (1 page)
According to Kelly's Directory by 1936 D.N. Raynor & Co. had set up as dyers within one of the Commercial Street premises. Quite what happened during the war is unclear but come 1945 D.N. Raynor & Co. appears to have metamorphosed into the Textile Finishing Company. This was was run by Ray and Dennis Raynor. They occupied a three storey building on Commercial Street although the middle floor was given over to Clearmould Plastics which Dennis Raynor ran in partnership with Frank Sisson. Our article provides a brief description of what the Textile Finishing Company got up to at Commercial Street and then continues the story after their 1971 move to alternative accommodation over in Colwick.
The Story of W. Coates & Sons (3 pages)
William Coates set up in business as a ropemaker in 1840 and established a number of ropemaking operations in the Nottingham area. Following his father's death in 1894, Herbert Coates took over the business and decided that he needed to incorporate the latest technology if he were to keep ahead of his competitors. So in 1903 he bought an industrial property in Spring Close which had additional land attached to it. Here he had a huge indoor ropewalk built and installed the most up-to-date steam-driven machinery. For reasons which are explored in the article the company was eventually forced into liquidation in the mid-1930s. Their city centre premises were closed down, the work force laid off, the Lenton premises put up for sale and most of the machinery either auctioned off or sold for scrap. In due course most of the premises were acquired by W.J. Simms, Sons & Cooke Ltd. When Herbert Coates died in 1949 W.J. Coates & Sons found themselves with little option but to sell their remaining Spring Close properties to Simms, Sons & Cooke and move elsewhere. The article concludes by bringing the story up to date and recounts how Stewart Coates, great grandson of the original founder, continues to operate the business from 10 Montpelier Road. This article is a reworked and updated version of a piece that first appeared in Issue No. 24 of The Lenton Listener [May/June 1983].
Growing up in Spring Close (2 pages)
Derrick Norris was born at No.7 Snowton Terrace in 1938. His house was situated in a row of terrace properties fronting on to Spring Close. It was to remain his home until 1960. Derrick recounts some of his childhood memories of the area and on reaching the age of eighteen something of his evenings spent in The Traveller's Rest.
Thomas F. Suffolk: Moulding Sand Merchants (1 page)
According to the local directories the firm of Thomas F. Suffolk was definitely based at Spring Close from 1916 onwards but our article suggests they were probably active here somewhat earlier than this. We offer a brief history of the Suffolk's family business and conclude that excavation of the sand, which was used in making moulds at iron foundaries, most likely ceased in the mid 1940s.
The 'Last' Residents of Spring Close (1 page)
On this page we reproduce the names of all the residents of the Spring Close area included in the electoral register for 1960. After this date the number of people listed begins to fall once the houses on Commercial Street and on part of Spring Close were vacated prior to their subsequent demolition. This list contains 217 names. We also reproduce the last entry in the electoral registers for the surviving properties on Spring Close, that of 1970, which includes just 37 residents.
The Queen's Medical Centre and Spring Close (3 pages)
Although it had long been lobbying in the corridors of power the University of Nottingham had always failed to get the necessary approval for a medical school. Success was finally achieved when it received the green light in 1964. Not only was it to get a medical school but a brand new hospital was to be built alongside it. The University had already decided that the best site for this major development was the Spring Close area and had little difficulty persuading the City Council to back its proposal. By this time most of the residential property in the Spring Close area had been demolished which meant the chief opposition to the scheme was to come from the local businesses based there. Their opposition to the proposal ensured there had to be a public enquiry. Our article describes the arguments mounted by both sides and goes on to relate how W.J. Simms, Sons & Cooke continued the fight even after the outcome of the enquiry went against them. The article concludes with the actual building of the QMC and we recall something of the financial cut backs that led to serious delays before the building was finally brought fully into use.
For more photographs of the Spring Close area, see the Lenton Gallery pages.