The journal of Collingham and District Local History Society
Telling the forgotten stories of local People, Places and Events
Having sold some 800 copies over 6 editions ‘The Irregular’ has established itself as a regular local pre -Christmas publication. In addition to providing a readable and interesting publication for our readers The Irregular was developed to encourage not only new local research and new local writers, but also to encourage any and all local researchers to publish the results of their work. And this we appear to have done. To take just one example Nottinghamshire’s Thoroton Society have listed 81 articles on Collingham in their online Bibliography. Thirty-four articles from Irregulars 1 to 5 have made it onto this list!
Irregular 6 starts with 3 articles developed from our Living History (Oral History) project, where members of our team visit and record their conversations with the older people in the village. Although all three focus on WW2 they tell very different local stories, featuring local issues and event also personal feelings that don’t usually appear in the history books. The articles were based on transcriptions that also showed the voice of each individual and some of the excitement and sadness experienced by them as children at that time.
The next article reports on our Test Pit day, which is part of our ongoing work with at John Blow School. A great day that was enjoyed by our team and the children.
Then there is an article on W.H.E Davies, a Welshman in Collingham at the turn of the century and the early 1900s. A tailor, bicycle shop owner who started selling accessories for Motor Cars – he installed a petrol pump next to the Cross in Collingham (before it was moved to its present location). He was also a keen sportsman and represented Collingham in both the football and cricket teams. As with all of our articles, this one is profusely illustrated with photographs of old Collingham and District.
Lest we forget, the next article recalls our two recent, major exhibitions – which commemorated in 2018 the Great War Armistice and in 2022 delayed WW2 VE Day. How quickly we forget the events with the hard work and excitement that they created.
Developed from the personal knowledge of the author and new accessions to our Archives the next article describes some of the occupants and servants of Rutland House on Low Street. This is followed by another profusely illustrated article, this time on Collingham Memorial Hall which includes some of the original architects drawings that we hold in our Archives.
We then enter the realms of a Mysterious Murder in Collingham in 1857 which several readers have mentioned would form a good basis for a novel – so if there are any budding novelists out there – we know who ate the pie, but who baked it?
This edition finishes with notes on the work of two of our committee and an article on the role and work of the Society as a whole, which start by showing our stand at the recent Collingham Agricultural Show. This article stresses that we welcome new members, whether you join to get free access to our talks or whether you wish to become active in some of our work we will welcome you all. Also, you do not need to be a member of the Society to write for the Irregular and if you have not written for public before then we can help you.
Irregular 6 is on sale now at Gascoignes and from Society Committee members for £5.00.
Some earlier editions are still available.
The Irregular : 5th Edition
The journal of Collingham and District Local History Society
THIS EDITION INCLUDES:
The personal war time story of a London family, four generations of whom now live in Collingham. The sometimes shocking experiences of some of the past residents of Rutland House and the history of the Grey Horse Public House.
In addition, the Society’s Archivist reveals an attempted fraud through a 1540 Collingham lease. Also included is an account of the Society’s conservation of a book that has returned to Collingham after 200 years and two crossings of the Atlantic. There are also articles on our work amongst the graves of St John the Baptist Church and some of the stories that have been revealed.
There are two articles on different aspects of a local Roman Villa which lies just across the A46 (almost opposite the Potter Hill, Station Road junction) and is threatened by the proposed Meat Rendering Plant. There is an examination of a Saxon Bridge that was discovered and blown up by the Victorians when dredging the Trent near the present Cromwell Lock. This again is an area that may soon change, this time by a less contentious Hydro-electric plant. One of the final articles reveals some of the exploits of the U3A Local History Research Group when they looked at aspects of our history as revealed by an Ordnance Survey map.
Black Sabbath Volume 4, Led Zeppelin IV and Foreigner 4 were bestselling and highly critically acclaimed albums. I won’t mention Beyonce 4, which was critically acclaimed, but is her lowest selling studio album to date at only 3.5 million. So, what about Irregular 4?
Our best yet? Yes, we think so! Over 180 ‘editorially acclaimed’ pages on a diverse range of local subjects, which include contributions from six writers, who will be new to our readers.
Anne Speed has contributed a surprising, personal and timely article based on her recent conversations with Dendle French, who sadly only saw a draft of this article before he died last November. If you are a Royalist you can read some exclusive comments on Princess Anne and the Queen Mother amongst his other stories here!
Our second article was submitted by Keith Franklin of Essex, who writes about his fond memories of being evacuated to Collingham and his subsequent holidays here in the 1940s & 50s. He stayed with the Bococks in what is now Collingham’s chip shop. The faces may be fading but his memories, gossip and fondness for Collingham remain strong.
Anne Akrill has composed a moving article based on her Uncle Bill’s letters to his mother at Potter Hill Farm, Collingham whilst he was training and in his early years as a bomber navigator in WW2. The letters and the article express many emotions, including what was for William and his friends, both the heavy burden of the job they had to do and the sense that it was also a great adventure.
One aspect of The Irregular is the exclusive nature of much that is written by accomplished or promising authors, many of whom have not been published before. If Irregular 4 were a commercial, national publication, this next article might well have “Exclusive” plastered in red on the cover. However, we are more modest than that, so you will just have to turn to page 88! There you will find a clever poem written by Di Slaney, an acclaimed, published and award winning Nottinghamshire poet (www.dislaney.com). She is also the ‘Poet in Residence’ for Nottinghamshire Local History Association, through which she announced a competitive opportunity to provide the subject for her first poem in residency. The result was that she chose ourselves and has written the excellent poem on John Barton of Holme, which will be published in her forthcoming anthology. We are proud that it was written for us and first published in Irregular 4. Following this, is a short article by Jeremy Lodge on Holme Church, which identifies the members of John Barton’s family, who are named in the poem.
In yet another exclusive, former firefighter Michael Vaughan gives a first-hand account of the fire in 1989, which led to the demolition of Morton Hall, Swinderby. Morton Hall was the home of the Torr family, which was commandeered by the RAF in 1942 for its Commando School, then by the Home Office in 1958. Jeremy Lodge then contributes another short article; this time on the almost forgotten and colourful author and traveller of the 1920s and beyond, the ‘preposterously hatted’ Rosita Forbes, who was brought up at Morton Hall. This includes an original drawing by Jean Wright.
You may recall the flooding questionnaire that was handed out at a recent meeting. The results of this survey are included in an article written by Tom Burd, which is based on a submission for his ‘A’ level coursework on perceptions on flood risk in Collingham. This is bracketed by Dr Harvey Wood’s rewrite of his essay on his first-hand experience of the flood of 2000, when he lived on the banks of the Trent at ‘The Wharf’ on Carlton Ferry Lane and a brief reminder of some of the other Collingham Floods.
It is strange how compelling and popular it has proven to be, to watch men with (and women without) knobbly knees, digging holes in people’s lawns. We couldn’t get Bernard Cribbins (look for ‘Hole in the Ground’, Bernard Cribbins on YouTube), so instead we have, at great expense, commissioned our Archaeology lead Phil Docherty to write about our recent Test Pits at Vine Farm, The Old Hall in Collingham and The Spinney, Winthorpe.
Can you identify these men? In Irregular 1 we included a picture who, we were told, was William Bacon of local Charge of the Light Brigade fame. We have also been told that the image is of local Methodist missionary Edwin Nicholson. Do you have any family or other photographs which could contribute to this discussion? Also, in Keith Franklin’s article we have a photograph from our archives, of Collingham’s High Street in the 1950s, in the centre of which is a man on a motorbike with a sidecar. On the back is written the name ‘Giggy’. Do you know who Giggy was?
And thank you to Harry Constantine for his illustration!
Irregular 2 & 3
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.
Irregular 2 opens with Pat Morgan’s and Charlie Stothard’s ‘Collingham and Brough Great War Village Trail’. The article accompanies a fold out leaflet which was separately produced and distributed. Pat has documented and located the shops and their owners, which local soldiers would have known. Charlie has identified the soldiers and many of their homes.
Bridget Castle then looks at Collingham through an initial analysis of the 1901 and 1911 census, emphasising issues such as population and occupation, and picking out some of the people highlighted in the census.
In two articles, John Forman takes a broader perspective and briefly explores some national and local issues concerning farming during the war and of course, Collingham Carrots!
Jeremy Lodge then explores the menacing international undercurrents; issues of which most people were blissfully unaware, as we drifted inexorably towards war at this time.
In contrast to the international machinations introduced by Jeremy, the people of Britain and Collingham were involved in celebrations for the 1911 Coronation of George V and the associated Celebration of Empire, illustrated in Sylvia Woodhurst’s article.
Adrian Sunman’s article describes the great changes leading up to and during the war, which saw horse, steam and petrol engine sharing our roads.
Drawing on national and local perspectives, Pat Smedley then explores key health and welfare issues of the time.
Irregular 2 closes with Keith Morgan’s continuing exploration of Collingham’s public houses, this time concentrating on the Great War period.
Irregular 3 begins with another article by Jeremy Lodge, featuring the local tradition of military volunteers (and the Irregulars from whom the journal title is in part taken) including the Boy Scouts, their role and aspect of their culture at that time.
Britain found itself at war with Germany on 4th August 1914. On 8th August the first of several variations and subsequent amendments of the far reaching ‘Defence of the Realm Act’ (DORA) was introduced. Pat Smedley covers the extent of state control prompted by the act and how it proved to be the precursor to later nationalisation of many aspects of industry and life.
Pat then follows with another article, describing the processes and pressures of volunteering, acceptance into the army and the training experienced by our future warriors experienced on their journey from Collingham civilians to soldiers in France and elsewhere.
Russ Shand then describes the work of the local military tribunals, established to challenge and decide the fate of those who did not wish to be called up, after conscription was introduced in 1916.
Janet Kelly writes of one of the great successes of the war – how we managed to move so many letters, cards and parcels so quickly, accurately and efficiently, between Britain and France during the war.
John Forman then returns with a discussion of the Heavy Draught Horse, which was so important to the farms at home and the Army on and behind the front-line.
Anne Speed looks at school life in the parish of Collingham during the war; the experiences and life of local schoolchildren and their teachers.
Russ Shand follows with an examination of local policing at that time.
Pat Morgan returns to highlight the difficulties of keeping our families fed during the war.
Bridget Castle introduces the phenomenon of embroidered ‘sweethearts’, which soldiers, sailors and airman sent to their loved ones at home.
Another logistical and organisational issue faced by the country at war, was how to care for and return the wounded home to Blighty. This issue is explored in an article by Sue Fleet.
At last the Armistice came. Sylvia Woodhurst then asks ‘did November 11th 1918 bring peace to the country?’
There was obviously much discontent during the war, one aspect of which was highlighted by a contemporary imagination of a 1919 Collingham peace procession, found in our Archives. Unfortunately the author is unknown. Jeremy has written a brief introduction on the relevance of humour in wartime and in times of strife. However the core of the article is the creativity sparked by the 1919 piece, resulting in a poem by David Scott and pictures by three of our talented local artists: Jean Wright, Harry Constantine and Ingrid Wiggins.
Finally, two lists of names commemorate the men associated with Collingham; those who fought and those who did not return. Please let us know if we have inadvertently missed anyone and please forward any biographical details and photographs, which we can copy and return to you, to the Society, care of the Collingham Archives or one of our Trustees listed elsewhere on this website.
The first edition of the Society’s Journal, ‘The Irregular’, was launched at our meeting on November 8th 2017.
This edition opens with an article written by Keith Morgan about the Royal Oak and its various owners. Keith highlights the long and illustrious history of this building as a Public House, at a time when it appears to be slowly falling into dereliction after it was purchased by the Co-Op almost a year ago.
Anne Speed then explores the 130 year history and some of the teachers at the Old School in South Collingham. The former School building is hidden away almost totally out of sight and is now a private residence. The last pupils left the School in 1962 when the present John Blow Primary School was opened.
The Society’s Archaeology lead, Phil Docherty recounts the process and what was found when a ‘Test Pit’ was recently dug in a garden off High Street in South Collingham. Artefacts found reveal that the site had been occupied continuously for at least the last 1200 years. Evidence was also found of pre-medieval post holes, which suggest that the site was occupied much earlier.
Pat Smedley explores the story behind the Crimean War gravestone in All Saints churchyard, North Collingham. She relates the likely experiences of two Collingham men and their brother-in-law in the Crimea. They were all members of the 17th Lancers and were in the vanguard of the Charge of the Light Brigade; only one of the three survived.
Jeremy Lodge recounts a conversation with a Collingham resident about her experiences of fighting in the bush against Robert Mugabe and other insurgents during the Rhodesian War, or as it is now known, the Zimbabwe War of Independence.
Christine Hasman then relates the tale of John Tom Carter, who was born and died in Collingham. In between he had a ‘shockingly turbulent’ time as a Policeman in Otley when he murdered three members of his family.
David Barker tempts us with a taster of the mystery of Elton Hall in North Collingham. You haven’t heard of it? Neither had we! So watch this space and future issues.
Jeremy returns with the story of Richard Domenichetti, whose father incidentally was one of the key people in the establishment of the Old School that Anne wrote about earlier. Richard was an Army Surgeon who witnessed some of the horrors of the Indian Mutiny.
The Journal ends with a poem on the history of South Scarle, by local actress and poet, Tina Paris of that village.
The Journal is on general sale priced at £6. It can be purchased in Collingham from Gascoignes Post Office (103 High Street). It will also be on sale at the Society’s meetings and in the Jubilee Room. When bought directly from the Society at the Jubilee Room or at our meetings, at these times only, members can claim a £1 discount on production of a current membership card. At 140 pages in A5 format we hope that you will agree that it is good value and worthy of a place on your bookshelf.
Jeremy Lodge & Anne Speed (Editors)