from Ted Marriott
1950s - The 'Prom' at the bottom of Abbey Bridge
A popular meeting place for the teenagers of Lenton was the 'Prom'. This triangle of land sat between the junction of Castle Blvd, Sherwin Rd, Willoughby St. and Abbey Bridge. It was an area with chestnut and sycamore trees and a couple of benches. By the road at the bottom of Willoughby St, opposite Grove Rd, were a police box, electric substation, toilet block and the general meeting place, the tram shed. This was a sturdy built shelter for tram passengers in days gone by. This area was the perfect place for youngsters to be as we were far enough from neighbours and shops, and so did not bother anyone.
The Tram Shed
It was in this shelter one night that Pete Bradley and I were passing time doing nothing, when a copper came out of the police box to carry on his patrol.
"Quick officer, there's a fish being battered over there", Pete said pointing toward the chip shop across the road. We both burst out laughing but the big burly copper stopped, turned and slapped Pete across the face with his gloved hand.
"Don't be so cheeky…go on…. move on", he growled daring us to argue or complain.
The Tram Shed at the bottom of Willoughby Street.
A Police Box is on the far left, an electricity sub-station
and gentleman's toilets behind.
Needless to say, we moved on, Pete rubbing his face in stunned silence. So where did we go? Outside Taylor's shop. We just could not win.
A Ride in a Police Car
I also remember a time when Pete and I were exploring the caves and tunnels in the Park area near the Castle. We had taken candles with us and also explored the caves under the demolished houses at Broad Marsh, where the shopping centre now stands. It was while walking home that we stood the candle on top of a post box and burnt a piece of string. A snooty old biddy came out of her house and demanded to know what we were doing. We cheekily told her where to go and carried on walking towards home. We were looking forward to seeing an act at the Empire, an old theatre in Nottingham that evening. The man was called Peter Brough and his dummy, Archie Andrews
This act was popular on the radio of all places, for years. The strangest thing about it was that it was a ventriloquist act. ON RADIO!!!
As we came out of Park Rd towards the prom a police car stopped us and demanded to know what we had been up to. We told him and he made us sit in the back seat while he radioed in. I looked at Pete and we both shrugged our shoulders not knowing why we were there. Then it became clear listening to the talk on the transmitter. The old biddy had phoned the police telling them we had put burning paper in the post box. We had to sit in the car while a post office van was sent round to check the said box for fire damage. The police car could not get to the Park the way we had come, as there were stumps in the road to stop traffic going into the private estate. The only other two entrances were off Derby Rd or under the Castle rock at the other end of Castle Blvd. A reply came back that there was not any damage to any mail in the box, just candle wax on the box top. The copper insisted he would take us home just to tell our parents what had occurred. WHY? We hadn't done anything except be cheeky to a nosey old snob from the Park.
Jim was far from happy when he saw the copper and the car outside the front door, neighbours looking on. He was ready for going out and told me I was not to go to the theatre that night as a punishment.
"Punishment for what?" I argued.
"Don't argue with me", he threatened. So I didn't
Pete called for me that evening and I told him that I was grounded, and so missed the show.
Another event concerning Pete Bradley and myself was recalled at a reunion we had in 2003. The event had completely slipped my mind, but on being reminded, it came back in every detail. It happened when we were out with our air pistols, shooting at anything on a tip near the canal. We came across a dumped tanker lorry and climbed onto the top of the tanker part. After a while, we got bored and Pete pulled back the metal inspection door. Looking into the cavernous empty tank, Pete lowered himself in. As soon as his head disappeared below, I leaned across, slammed the door shut, and drew the bolt across. Pete started panicking and banged on the door shouting for me to let him out. I lay across the door laughing when I felt something hard pushed into my side through a hole at the side of the door. Before I had time to look I heard Pete's pistol go off and a searing pain shot into the flesh at my waist. I gave an almighty yelp and fell off the tanker to the ground holding my side. Pete was still screaming for me to let him out as I lay on the floor writhing in agony.
"You've shot me," I yelped rolling on the ground.
"Serves you right", came back the unsympathetic reply. "Now get me out of here".
I clambered back and unlocked the door. Pete burst out like a Jack in a Box and sat there red faced and flustered .I lifted my shirt and inspected the wound. My jacket had cushioned the pellet, but it still nicked my skin and left a tiny red hole and a large red bruise. I still have the tiny scar 47 years later.
The day we had waited years for, finally came around. Our last day at school everyone in the class had got himself a job and eagerly awaited our exempt school papers. A tradition was to go round all the teachers and get their autographs and we were no exception, only we had an ulterior motive. While a group occupied a particular teacher one of us would sneak his leather strap out of his desk drawer and shove it down our trousers. We collected 4 straps and when Foxy the woodwork teacher was out of his class we chopped them up on his guillotine and put them in a paper bag.
Jock Gallagher was the last classroom on our way out and we all piled in to shake his hand in a last farewell. As usual while distracted, the paper bag was placed into a drawer in his desk with the dismembered body of his faithful Charlie inside. Oh what we would have given to see his face on discovering what we had done.
The school broke up for the Christmas holidays on Christmas Eve I think it was, in 1955. I was to begin my new job at Weldon and Wilkinson the hosiery finishers on Rawson St, New Basford on the 28th December, and so no fortnight's holiday for me. I didn't have a clue what the job entailed as I only applied for it because it was advertised as an apprenticeship. Mum told me to always try for a trade when job-hunting, as it was 'something to fall back on'. Jim never lifted a finger to point me in the right direction, no suggestions of who or where to apply for jobs, nothing. Mum would always look in the paper to see if I had missed anything. I had applied for joinery, plumbing and mechanics apprenticeships. Even Pete Bradley had tried to get me into his chosen career at a printing firm, all to no avail. I must admit that when I got negative replies to my letters I went on to seek different trades. What I needed was more determination to go for the trade of my choice and apply to more companies, but as a school leaver at 15 years old, I did not have the guidance needed. I wanted to follow my dad, Ted, into joinery and applied for a job at Norris', under the Abbey Bridge, but there were no vacancies. I was to find out 45 years later that this was where Ted served his apprenticeship.