The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Robinson's Charabanc Business - Old Lenton

In Lenton Times No.5 we included a feature on Robinson's Charabanc business which could be found in the 1920s at Clayton's Wharf next to the canal just off Gregory Street, Old Lenton. The following is our digest of the article that appears in the Back Issues No.1 to 10 section.

The Fleet's in Town
Photograph courtesy of the late Herbert RobinsonSee in Lightbox Photograph courtesy of the late Herbert RobinsonSee in Lightbox At the age of 48 Henry Robinson decided he had made enough money to retire. A life of self-imposed idleness did not suit and when he successfully backed 'Grand Parade' to win the 1919 Derby he decided to invest his winnings in a new char-a-banc and hire it out for day trips. He bought Clayton's Wharf and the accompanying property in Old Lenton, resumed a former career of coal merchant and combined this with his new interest in char-a-banc hire. The combination worked very well. When the demand for fuel slackened off in the summer the workforce could switch to the char-a-bancs - come the winter it was back to the coal deliveries. In the next few years he built up the char-a-banc trade and at one point was running twelve vehicles. The story of his 'Grand Fleet' Char-a-bancs was recalled by 'Bert' Robinson, Henry Robinson's son. At the time of the article Bert was eighty eight but his memory of those early days of the char-a-bancs was as sharp as ever. (5 pages)

Photograph courtesy of John HaywoodSee in Lightbox John Haywood's family have enjoyed quite a long association with Lenton and in 2011 John gave us access to some of his family photographs. Among them was this photograph of a charabanc outing. The reason he had it was that one of the people standing in the foreground, evidently the publican at the Foxhound Inn, was his grandmother's uncle, Sid Smith, who was later the licensee of the Kean's Head on Park Road Lenton. There was no date provided with this photograph and John didn t really know where the Foxhound Inn might have been situated. So we went on to Picture the Past website to see if it had any other pictures of the Foxhound Inn. Lo and behold there was one (the one shown here) and the website provided the additional information that the Foxhound Inn was on Union Road in Nottingham and their photograph was probably taken c. 1925.

Photograph courtesy of Picture the PastSee in Lightbox When we began to compare John Haywood's photograph with the one on Picture the Past, our initial impression was that they were the same photograph. Sid Smith could be seen standing, holding the same pose, in both photographs. But once you look more carefully it is apparent that they are different photographs. We soon came to the conclusion that this was at least a two-charabanc outing from the Foxhound Inn. The photographer had remained in the same position while one charabanc and its occupants had their photograph taken and then the second charabanc took its place and a further photograph was taken of the second set of occupants. That they were taken at the same time is evidenced by the fact that some of the upstairs windows are partially open and the casement window frames are in exactly the same positions in both photographs. Then we looked more closely at the two photographs and compared them with the photographs we already had of Robinson's charabancs. They looked very similar and it could easily be imagined that Herbert Robinson is one of the drivers in the Foxhound Inn photographs. So we believe that we have pinpointed two more photographs showing Robinson's charabancs in action.

Photograph by Paul Bexon - March 2011See in Lightbox Finally we checked where Union Road was to be found in Nottingham. Unlike many old streets in the St. Ann's area it is still with us and can be found just off Huntingdon Street. We went and looked at what was to be found there today. There is a building still standing on Union Road that looks very like the one in the photograph. However there is an open space to the right of what is shown in our photograph and this may have formed a continuation of the row of properties. You can see on the present day photograph the name F.F. Allsopp bookbinders. F.F. Allsopp who were a bookbinding and stationery manufacturer are known to have sold the business to Sisson and Parker in 1910. Sisson and Parkers, who had a bookshop on Wheeler Gate, continued to occupy the Union Road premises until 1978. This would suggest that the Foxhound Inn was not in the portion of the building still standing. If anyone can shed further light on this matter we would be delighted to hear from them.

Do you have any historical information or other photographs of this business? If so, email us with the details or write to us.

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