The Living History Project

This new project has been launched to ensure we collect the memories of local people now as a resource for generations to come, and to build a picture of life in Collingham and district over the last 60 or 70 years.

We have joined forces with Collingham & District U3A Local History Research Group to collect, through conversations, the personal memories and experiences of local people, to create an invaluable record in our community archives for generations to come.

We will be asking participants…

  • What is the earliest memory you have of local life?
  • What was happening here during the Second World War?
  • Are you a ‘Baby Boomer’ with tales of your school days?
  • In what ways has farming had to adapt over the years?
  • Do you have pictures of land now occupied by 20th century houses?
  • How much did the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and Carnaby Street fashions affect Collingham?
  • What memories do you have of the High Street?
  • Is Collingham Show the same as it was years ago?
  • How did you spend your free time in the days before television?
  • How did people feel when the two old villages became one?
  • Was the traffic always like it is now?
  • Which traditions have disappeared?
  • How was the Millennium celebrated?
  • How many important events do you recall?

The first point of contact is: Nigel Priestley, 01636 892020, email: nigel.priestley10@gmail.com Alternatively, anyone interested in becoming involved could chat to a member of our team at one of the CDLHS events or U3A General Meetings, or visit us when the Archives are open and we can arrange a visit.

Jesse Boot – an Ethical Entrepreneur

10th April 2019

Sophie Clapp, the Archivist at the Boots Company was due to deliver this lecture on the 10th of April but unfortunately was unable to attend. More fortunately, she was able to ensure that we had the power point presentation and accompanying notes in time for our Chairman, Pat Smedley, to step up to the podium and to deliver a fascinating picture of a man of great character.

Jesse Boot had little in the way of early advantages except an exceptional father whom he described as “…without wealth, without money, without any business experience; his only asset was character”. John Boot moved his family to Nottingham when his health deteriorated and he had to give up his work as a farm labourer. There, he established the city’s first herbalist store, preparing and selling remedies and giving consultations, so preparing the way for a future retail empire.

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The Confessions of a Vulcan Bomber Pilot

13th March 2019

Captain Geoff Dyer’s presentation on March 13 drew one of the Society’s largest audiences; perhaps unsurprising given the local importance of the RAF. In fact, those present included other past crew members.

Given his 10,000 hours of pilot experience and his studies in aviation history, Captain Dyer was more than qualified to give a rounded and fascinating view of life behind the scenes in the RAF during the Cold War.

In 1946 it was understood that any future war would be nuclear and that the potential enemy would be Russia. Captain Dyer highlighted the enormous and rapid development during that crucial period; there were just seven years between the Lancaster and the Vulcan. The World War ll Lancaster carried around five tonnes of bombs whilst the Vulcan carried two million tonnes of TNT; and in the event that just one got through to Russia it could have wiped out Moscow.

Issues around the Vulcan’s design and its construction , as well as the responsibility of the captain for the rear crew who didn’t have the safety of ejection seats were also covered as were the experiences of being a test pilot and demonstration flying. But this presentation also had its lighter side; we heard about how the captain’s biggest responsibility was to stop the crew from misbehaving during stop-overs and how exercises over Canada provided opportunities to bring back large quantities of whisky – custom officers’ inspections were thwarted by hiding the bottles up the nose in the scanner bay.

Society members and visitors at Captain Geoff Dyer’s talk

Plants, Processions and Ran Tan Tan

6th February 2019

Presented by Jeremy Lodge

This was the intriguing title of Jeremy’s talk which followed the Society’s AGM. He opened with a reminder of just how many traditions and rural events had disappeared over the last 60 years or so. Some of these could be seen in the way village people ‘sorted out their own’. In other words, dispensing justice to local miscreants. We all know about the humiliation of the stocks, but ‘Ran Tan Tan’? Alice Bealby, recording her memories in 1960, remembered a man being punished for abusing his wife with ‘ran-tanning’ or ‘rough music’. This was when a band of villagers assembled outside a house armed with sticks and old tin cans to make a lot of noise and would sing, for example:

‘Ran Tan Tan with an old tin pan,
This man’s been beating a good woman’.

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Armistice Dinner

17th November 2018


The Society organized a formal dinner to remember the Armistice on 17th November 2018 to bring a close to our commemorative events. Over 50 people enjoyed a very good evening and a wonderful meal of roast beef carved at each table. Everyone dressed up for the occasion and following the meal poems on the Great War were read out by Marion Collins, Helena Narracott and Nigel Priestley. Well known favourite songs from the period including ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and ‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres’ were sung as a finale, with Anne Speed leading on the piano. Several hundred pounds was raised for Help for Heroes from the raffle and dinner. The final sum will be announced shortly and at our AGM.

[Afterword: the amount sent to Help for Heroes was £535.]

The Tank Tour Lecture and Film Show

7th November 2018

The Land Ships of Lincoln

On the 7th of November the Society launched its programme marking the anniversary of the Armistice in 1918, with the story of Lincoln’s role in creating the first military tanks.

A record number of members and visitors came to the Memorial Hall to hear military historian Richard Pullen and filmmaker Andrew Blow recreate the story of the ‘Land ships of Lincoln’ and how  the development of these military tanks became a major factor in saving lives in the latter half of the war.

Richard Pullen became interested in the tanks because his grandfather worked at William Foster and Co. of Lincoln from 1916. Fosters (with the help of Major Walter Wilson) were inventors and manufacturers of the world’s first tanks. Andrew Blow’s interest came from the discovery of rare 1918 film of the tanks taken on the Lincoln testing ground.

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Irregular 2 & 3

7th November 2018

The second and  third editions of ‘The Irregular’ were released  together  in November 2018 as joint WW1 Armistice editions and to coincide with our 3 day Armistice Exhibition on 9th, 10th, 11th November. As with Irregular 1, we have not limited our authors to writing just about people and happenings within our local parish boundaries, but have linked our local people and area to experiences they would have been through – such as issues prompted by ‘The Defence of the Realm Act’ – which had a direct impact on their lives.

Bringing Irregular 2 & 3 to you together has been a great feat: 2 editions, 8 new writer/researchers, 11 Authors, 24 Articles, 400 pages, 60,000 words. Plus the Trail leaflet and the Exhibition brought to you by the same core team!

Thanks to the generosity of Nottinghamshire Local History Association, it has been possible to produce larger than normal editions of The Irregular.

As usual these editions are well illustrated, mainly by images from the Society’s Archives.

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The Great War Trail

5th November 2018

The Great War Trail was devised by the Society as part of the Armistice Commemorative programme over the summer of 2018. It follows a path starting and ending in the Cooperative Car Park and taking the walker on a circular tour of High Street, South Collingham (as far as the church), along Low Street up to the Grey Horse, then back along the High Street to the car park. Along the route shops, schools, buildings of importance such as the Memorial Hall, and houses of the soldiers who left the village to fight in the Great War are pointed out, and a back story given where appropriate.  Pictures are included to enrich the walk. 

The Trail was sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund via the Collingham Parish Council. It was delivered to every household in Collingham.

While the Village Trail is centred around the Great War, its value as a heritage resource enabling villagers to understand how the village appeared 100 years ago cannot be underestimated.

TRAIL LEAFLETS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE ARCHIVE. PLEASE CONTACT THE ARCHIVIST IF YOU NEED ONE – ALTERNATIVELY A PDF VERSION CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE.

To Honour Our Heroes

3rd October 2018

The Society’s meeting of 3rd October was a double bill, telling two very different stories of travels to theatres of war where local soldiers lost their lives. Pat Pennington had a personal mission to follow in the footsteps of her late husband’s uncle, Private Michael Herbert Edmonds Colton who fell at Gallipoli, whilst Jerome Wright visited the graves and monuments commemorating the local men who were lost on the Western Front.

A Stretcher Bearer at the Doomed Campaign of Gallipoli

The name of Private Michael Herbert Edmonds Colton, stretcher bearer in July/August 1915 with the 1st Sherwood Rangers, can be seen on the Helles Memorial.  Pvt. Colton was 21 years old when he fell at Chocolate Hill.  He may have been particularly suited to caring for the injured due to his first- aid experience gained through his membership of the Scouting movement.

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