Lenton Times No.6 October 1991
Sherwin Road Sherwin Road is a comparatively recent name for a thoroughfare that may well be very old. Until the 1880s it was known as Birch Lane and a number of substantial properties, including Flora Cottage, could be found alongside it. Following the death of its occupant, Flora Cottage and all the associated land were sold on to developers in the 1890s, who had the property demolished and used all the land for building purposes. The story of this and other housing developments elsewhere on the street is told in this article.
One of the other imposing properties on Sherwin road was Birch House which came down in 1970 to make way for a housing development known as Mirberry Mews. This article looks at what we know about the various occupants of Birch House including a certain John Tucker, who once attempted to patent an anti-snoring device.
The Bennet-Clarks lived at Birch House from 1937 to 1945. Thomas Archibald Bennet-Clark had been appointed Professor of Botany at University College, Nottingham in 1936 and brought his family to live at Birch House in 1937. His son, Henry Bennett-Clark, who went on to become a Zoology lecturer at Oxford University, relates something of his family history and recalls his childhood spent in Lenton during the Second World War.
After the Bennet-Clarks moved to London Birch House was bought by Leonard Mitson who decided to move his chocolate making business there from premises in Mansfield Road. For the next twenty years or so Leonard Mitson proudly declared that his chocolates were 'made in the shadow of an Old World Garden Lenton Nottingham'. This article looks at both Mr. Mitson's business activities and his political career. For a number of years Leonard Mitson served as a City Councillor, to begin with as a Conservative Party nominee but later under the auspices the Labour Party.
In 1935 the Nottingham & Notts Historical Pageant and Industrial Exhibition was held in the city. The Pageant involved a large cast of local people in twice-daily performances given outside at Wollaton Park over a period of six days in June. Ken Bamford was selected to be one of Robin Hood's 'Merrie Men' and he amusingly recounts the trials and tribulations involved in mounting this event.
Following the publication of Issue No.5 we received a letter from John Attenborough in Ringwood, Hampshire. He was the person who actually started the Lenton Gregory Football Club back in 1925. He corrected a number of errors that had crept into our article and was able to tell us more about those early years including the reasons behind the initial demise of the club.
A further article on Lenton football in the 1920s is in Issue No.9.
Our sponsors were the proprietors of The Boat Inn in Old Lenton. After a page long feature on the pub as it was in 1991, we added a further two pages which recounted something of the history of this particular hostelry.
The Society's recent news section.
Editorial for this issue
We have long wanted to produce something on the chocolate factory once to be found on Sherwin Road but initially we weren't too sure how to set about the task. Leonard Mitson, its owner, had died back in the late 1960s but we supposed some of his family might still be resident in the area. We therefore contacted each 'Mitson' included in the Nottingham telephone directory but no family connection came to light. A more positive response occurred after a letter requesting information was printed in the pages of the Evening Post. As a result we were able to get in touch with Mr. Mitson's son along with a number of former employees. They provided plenty of information but no one seemed to possess any photographs of Birch House, the building that provided the base for the chocolate factory. We decided to try an earlier era. Through a circuitous route we got in touch with Henry Bennet-Clark who had spent part of his childhood living at Birch House. Not only aid he send us shots of the building but also an excellent account of his recollections of Birch House and life there during the second world war. As we delved further into the history of the building we discovered one of its previous occupants had gained mention in a recent text on the history of Victorian clothing. Naturally we had to include the story of this gentleman.
Once our accounts of Birch House and its various occupants were written up and a general history of Sherwin Road set alongside it, we found virtually the whole of the magazine was taken up with it. So in order to squeeze in a couple of other items, by way of light relief, it has been necessary to increase the size of this issue. The extra pages have cost in the region of #100 but there is no additional advertising or increase in cover price to help defray this expense. All we can do is trust that sales remain buoyant. And this is where you, dear reader, come in. If this issue does prove of interest do please recommend it to others!
Our Front Cover
Long Row 1953 with the flags flying for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Visible are the business founded by Henry Farmer and Leonard Mitson's retail outlet; two of the people featured in the issue. Photo courtesy of Nottinghamshire County Library Services.