Beeston is full of fascinating history. We are all aware that there used to be a private zoo in the beer garden of The Victoria, and that it was served by an MP called Seymour Cocks for over 20 years, but did you know any of these other amazing facts about the area?
You may have heard of Area 51 in the USA, the top-secret military base in Nevada. This is rumoured to store UFOs and the preserved remains of aliens that visited earth during the 1950s.
However, not many people know that Chetwynd Barracks in Chilwell was designated as the UK’s emergency equivalent back in the summer of 1998. This was in response to the early morning discovery of an extra-terrestrial near the Stone Bridge over the canal by a dog walker in the Rylands.
The space traveller was described as resembling a human, but was quite grotesque, bright red and wizened, appeared to be close to death, and only communicated in a series of groans.
He was taken to a secret location within the barracks under armed guard, where he was observed for several hours. After rehydrating, it turned out not to be an alien after all, but a badly sunburned and severely hung over man from Mansfield, who had somehow ended up naked along the canal after getting lost during a stag do in Nottingham city centre.
Several years ago the world was astonished when the remains of former king Richard the Third were unearthed in a Leicester car park.
But did you know that a discovery just as exciting was made at the same time, right here in Beeston?
During the tram construction, workers were digging up the car park where Bargain Booze once stood, when they discovered a large solid cylindrical object. Fearing it was an unexploded bomb, disposal experts were called in to defuse it. However, it wasn’t a bomb, but something else that had ‘gone off’ – several thousand years ago!
It turned out to be a coprolite, which is the academic term for fossilised excrement. So the army were sent packing, and a team from Nottingham University led by Professor Angela Todd were called in to investigate. After careful excavation, they set to work restoring it to its former glory at their lab in the Highfields campus.
It turned out to be the largest single human stool ever recorded in the UK, measuring a whopping 26 inches long by 4 and a half inches wide. Professor Todd and her team concluded that the motion was passed at some time during the stone age, by someone who enjoyed a meat-rich diet and must have been very tall.
The fossil is now on display at The British Museum, where it is categorised as exhibit 283719549. However, in a nod to the monarch discovered at the same time, it is affectionately know by museum staff as ‘Richard The Turd’.
Beeston Or Bust!
Hurts on Chilwell Road is famous the world over for supplying luxury blankets to newborn babies in the British royal family.
But did you know that another local lace factory, the long gone D. D. Mellens once produced a world record breaking bra for Beeston woman Norma Spelk?
Norma was originally born in Lenton, but lived on Wollaton Road from 1921 to 1947, and was well known in the area for having extraordinarily large breasts.
She was a celebrated performer, who had a song and dance routine that involved hauling numerous items out of her cleavage in time to the music. This included a rugby ball, a rolling pin, a string of sausages, finishing with a bottle of whisky which she would proceed to down in one.
Norma continually had to repair her undergarments due to wear and tear caused by her act, and eventually commissioned Mellens to manufacture her a purpose-built brassiere in 1937. It was confirmed by Guinness World Records to have been the largest one ever measured, and was used in publicity by local brewer Shipstones. The bra featured in an advert for their Milk Stout, each cup holding a barrel of the beer, suspended by a delivery dray crane outside The Malt Shovel on Union Street.
Norma left Beeston not long after the second world war, to pursue a career in showbiz across the pond in America, under the stage name Norma Snockers. Sadly she didn’t make it – she missed the ship she was due to catch from Liverpool after heavy storms had delayed her train, and ended up becoming a nun.
Beeston’s mysterious MP Darren Henry is on track to break the record for the least time spent in a constituency during a parliamentary term.
The Right Honourable Member for Broxtowe has only spent a total of 2 hours and 37 minutes in his patch since being elected in 2019, in order to take advantage of photo opportunities. His speedy entry and exit from the area has apparently been assisted by the driving skills of his wife Caroline, the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Notts.
The existing record is held by Sir Humphrey Frenulum-Fiske. He spent a total of 4 hours in his Surrey constituency of Lower Furtling from 1878-82, due to being trapped in a brothel for 3 hours one January evening during a particularly heavy snowstorm.