Collingham Village Walk

21st July 2021

A walk around the northern end of the village led by Nigel Priestley

Report by Pat Smedley

Another hot day as the July heat wave continued to make us all feel tired, lethargic and really not feeling like taking on a walk through the north end of Low Street from the All Saints’ flood markers up to The Cat Asylum. Nevertheless, I am very glad I did venture out for what proved a most entertaining tour by Nigel Priestley, following on from the last Village Walk now two years ago.

Nigel leading the way along Low St, by All Saints’ church

In the event 40 people attended, a great result as it was the first time people had met in
person following the long period of lockdown. Nigel was assisted by our new roving mic which made it very easy for people to hear his commentary. Setting off north from the church Nigel took in some of the grand houses of Colllingham where the gentry lived and where he had visited as a child including, even at the age of 10 being given a whisky by Major Peter Armitage when he visited Rutland House.

Nigel also recalled the social structure of the old village, the top hats and the flat caps. Having to make sure you sat on the right side of the church and that you addressed people in the right manner. In those days the ‘gentry’ were generous in opening up their wonderful homes to the villages on a regular basis. In North Collingham:-
The Willows
Rutland House
The Old Hall : where people reminisced about visiting the doctors surgeries and Mark gave us some insights into his investigations of his home.

We stopped to consider the Youth and Community Centre in its former role as North
Collingham Church of England Infant School which several members of the party had attended in their younger days when it served as an overspill for the National School opposite the Kings Head.

Nearing the Grey Horse Nigel pointed out the number of properties that had been engaged the malting industry. And the bowling alley of the old pub – which rumour says used to be a mortuary.

Leaving Low Street we then stopped at The Cat Asylum Brewery, Brook House, where Henry Bealby, the seventh generation to live there, recalled his family work as plough makers. The workshop has been left intact and now makes an atmospheric social venue where you can sample the historical ‘lost’ beers on offer and in the future enjoy watching some country style live theatre.

Henry Bealby and Nigel at the entrance to the Bealby workshop

Passing by the old steam mill on the High St we stopped we stopped for a while to consider the old site of the village cross – and to recall the days when bike seller Emrys (Taffy) Davies sold hundreds of every kind of bike at his shop just behind the cross. The business was taken over in the 1930s by his adopted son, Arthur Brewster who sold petrol and oil. The gentry and farmers of the village would pull up here in their desirable pre and then post war cars to be replenished with all the business being conducted on account. No need to carry any money about, just pay by cheque a couple of times a year. The Holland family owned the ‘top Holland shop’ now boarded up here – and we discussed members of this well-known family, particularly Jack Holland well remembered for his van – from which he would travel to local villages selling food from his well stocked shop!

To finish the tour we ended up at Vine Farm, now the site of the May Day village celebrations. John Wilson allowed us to view the rear view of this house which is currently being researched as it is undoubtedly much older than it appears – and was certainly a previous vicarage.

John Wilson and the group at the back of Vine Farm

Throughout the walk many people added their own memories of their younger days in
Collingham and others contributed bit of their own research. This all contributed to a
fascinating social event.

This is a very enjoyable way to savour our local heritage. The buildings in Collingham are well known to be not only beautiful, but of great historic interest. It was not just about buildings however that we learned more about the village. Nigel, a life time resident, knows all the little details about the people and families that lived in those buildings, and these stories really brought the tour to life. We hope to do a third Village Tour next year, and thank Nigel for his efforts in organising these.