Beeston Memories

One of our more far-flung fans, Keith Walker from New Zealand, sometime sends us his memories of the Beeston he remembers from many decades ago. We thought we’d print some of these, and see if any of our more senior readers have similar memories…

Canon Halet was Vicar of Beeston from 1943 to 1962. He was a well-known personality, always in a cassock. Beeston Parish Church was very busy in those days and there were frequently a couple of curates sent there to assist. The church had a very active Youth Group in the late 1940s and the 1950s and when I reached my teens, I became a member. We would meet twice a week in an old building owned by the church on the right hand side of Station Rd going towards Queens Rd. I think it was somewhere near where the bus station is (or was when I visited Beeston about 16 or so years ago). I assume it’s still there.

We were a very active group. We played table tennis in winter, tennis at the courts on University Boulevard during the warmer weather, often late in the evenings; we got Ben Travers farces and other plays from the library and had lots of fun play reading. Through the Notts Education Dept. we arranged all sorts of activities such as Scottish Country Dancing. We organised bike rides: a popular destination would be Mount St Bernard’s Abbey. From time to time, the Vicar would send one of the curates to ‘organise’ us. We would listen politely to what he had to say, ignore him and continue running ourselves, I
guess we must have been a pain in the backside for Mr Halet!

I often wonder what has happened to everybody. We could be anywhere in the world if we have survived!

As we got to 18, the boys had to do their compulsory service in the Forces although some got deferral for education purposes. I joined the RAF for three years although when I was able to get home we all kept in touch through our church membership and really were able to stay together as a group. However, as time passed and we got older, some paired off and married, people moved away for work and eventually the old group was scattered.

I am sorry to say that after all these years I have forgotten far too many names, though some still linger. There was Jennifer Brown, a popular little girl; there was Jackie whose
father worked for Barton’s; the two Christines; and Arline Lee who worked at Derby Royal infirmary. My best friend was Jim Wright. He worked as a draughtsman in (I think) Stapleford after he finished school. I often wonder what has happened to everybody. We could be anywhere in the world if we have survived! I think it is likely that some of the girls could still be around Beeston but probably using different names as they married. Who knows?

A friend of mine was in Beeston about a couple of years ago and tried to find anyone from those days but was unsuccessful. It seems I could be literally the last man standing from those times. If there is anyone who remembers them, it would be good to get in contact again.

During the war my maternal grandmother, Mrs Annie Martin, lived in one of the row of houses in Chilwell between the shops at the bottom of School Lane and the Cadland pub. She was a widow and as the house was fairly large she ran it as a boarding house mostly for the wives of troops stationed. at Chilwell Depot. After the war, she moved and bought a large house on Queens Road and made it into a series of bedsits and small flats. She could be a fearsome lady and was very strict. All the cooking was done in a communal kitchen at the rear of the building accessed through her living room so she could supervise what was happening. She taught young married couples how to cook if necessary. Usually after a few months they would be happy to return home where they had more freedom! But to me she was ‘Paddy’ and I loved her dearly. When I was born, she said she wasn’t old enough to be a ‘grandma’ so she never was and chose the name ‘Paddy’. When I returned to Beeston for a visit some years ago I was surprised to find her old home had turned into St Andrews Hotel which I understand has since closed and is, I think, student accommodation for the University.

KW

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