The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Memories
A Lenton Lad - My New 'Dad'

from Ted Marriott

Photo courtesy of Ted Marriott
Closter Street in 1976 - No. 19 is half way down on the left hand side

Mum married Jim in '46 and we left Nan's house and moved into a small terraced house at 19, Cloister Street, on the Lenton/Dunkirk border. This house had an outside toilet that froze in winter. And of course we had to move in just before the worst winter to hit Nottingham! The back yard wall overlooked the canal and over the canal was Nazareth House Convent. The neighbour in the yard was Mrs Clarke and her daughter Josie, I can't remember if there was a Mr Clarke.

The motorbike and sidecar were sold and we moved up market and became a car owning family. Very posh…we now had a 1934 Austin 7. It was blue with black spoke wheels and a white steering wheel. Within 2 hours this car was exchanged for a maroon one with a black steering wheel. Still, who cared, at least we were dry and warm when it rained.

We went to Chapel St Leonards and stayed in a bungalow for their honeymoon. It was there that I had to start calling Jim… 'Dad' or he would not answer me.

A Lenton Lad - Our New Home

Photo courtesy of Ted Marriott
'Chain Bridge'
The Nottingham Canal led to Beeston on the left and Wollaton to the right, behind the
houses on Cloister Street - No.19 would be to the right of photo.

I do remember I started to listen to the wireless more and used to listen with mum. She would often try to write the words of songs down on any piece of paper she could find, the instant a popular song was played. I looked forward to the programme 'CHILDRENS FAVOURITES' and a record called 'Sparky's Magic Piano.' It was a favourite of mine and I would be glued to the wireless set for the duration of the programme waiting for it to be played. I think mum appreciated the hour of peace I gave her while listening. It must have been while I was in this concentrated 'mode' that I developed a liking (and still do) for artistes like Glenn Miller, Vera Lynn, Jo Stafford and Ann Shelton.

When we returned home and I was back at school, for some odd reason Mick Cumberland and I decided not to return after our lunch break. We thought it more interesting going down the canal side exploring. We must have put our mothers through hell. We were missing for 5 hours. Remember, we were only five year olds. I left Mick at Claytons Bridge over the canal at Gregory St, as he hadn't far to go home, I carried on along the canal side crossing the narrow footbridge (Chain Bridge) at the junction of the Beeston and Nottingham canals. Walking toward me was a policeman and I was surprised he knew my name. He took me by the hand and we walked up to my back yard wall off the canal side .I can't remember what mum said, but she told me in later years that she threatened to let the policeman take me away if I did anything like that again. She said that the policeman told her not to frighten me with the police, I had just been on an 'adventure'…He must have been the original 'Dixon of Dock Green' (early TV series) type of bobby!

Photo courtesy of Ted Marriott
Age 6

I attended the Montpelier Road infants' school after we had settled in at Cloister St, as it was just down the road from us. In class I met up with Johnny Whitworth again and sometimes sat with him. In the playground was a brick air raid shelter and we would stand near it plane spotting. Overhead would fly squadrons of Spifires and Hurricanes and sometimes a Lancaster, Halifax, Dakota or Shackleton would make an appearance heading toward Lincolnshire airdromes.

After school, we would watch tanks on low loaders being transported by the Yanks from Chilwell Army Depot. The Dunkirk flyover of course was not then built, just a junction with Clifton Blvd and Abbey St, and the huge trucks that pulled the tanks would give a blast on their air horns as they passed. The drivers used to laugh, as the groups of children would wave, then grab at their mothers skirts as the deafening trumpets blasted out. Even when you expected it, the sound made your head cringe into your shoulders and your knees buckle.

At Cloister Street I made a new friend, Peter Selby who lived at the top of the street. We were the same age and in the bad winter of '46, we made an igloo in the middle of the street (it was a cul de sac). The snow was as high as our knees and we made snow bricks but no way could we make a roof to finish it. It stood in the road for a couple of days but one morning when we went to inspect it, we found just a pile of snow. A wagon wheel track carved a path through the snow and through our igloo. We used to have our bread, milk and coal delivered by three rounds men all with horse and carts. I reckon it was the bread man's cart that did the dirty deed, because the horse would carry on down to the end of the street and turn around without a command from the driver. He would be busy collecting the week's money from customers. Looking back, it's a good job we weren't in the igloo.

Bath time was a drag as I remember. A grey tin bath was lifted off a nail in the wall between our window and Mrs Clark's house and dragged into the kitchen. It took what seemed like an eternity to boil enough water on the gas stove in four saucepans, to half fill the thing. In winter the hot water soon went cold as the tin bath was iced over when brought into the house. I missed nannans bathroom with hot running water.

Photo courtesy of Ted Marriott
Above is the actual spot where Gerald & Johnny nearly drowned.
19, Cloister Street would probably be the middle chimney of the row.

It was during this big freeze that the canal froze. I was looking over our back wall when I saw Gerald Stevenson and Johnny Pritchet walking along the canal side. They tested the ice with a stick and deciding it was safe, stepped onto the ice and started sliding along. I watched as they walked over toward the Nazareth House side of the canal with the trees overhanging the waters edge. The ice not having formed all the way to the edge, started to sink under the weight of the two lads. Realising the danger, they tried to hurry to the opposite side only to hear an almighty crack as the sheet of ice cracked under them. I stared in disbelief as they both sank to their waists in the freezing water. Running back into the house, I blurted out what had happened and mum ran to the wall. Jim not even making any effort just mumbled what the panic was. When I got back to the wall I saw a man in army uniform running along the bank to the two lads in the water. He must have seen them from the bridge on Abbey Street.

Mum threw him our washing line prop and the lads were dragged to safety to the canal edge, just as Jim sauntered up to the wall.

"I said there was no need to panic," he muttered walking back to the house.

I don't know what mum said but she was gave him some earache for the next few minutes.

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