Well That’s Novel!

by Christopher Frost

Reading Twitter recently, a series of Tweets caught my eye by someone who goes by the handle of @Plodinnotts. They were mini reviews of books, together with how much they were bought for, and where they were purchased from. Interesting in itself of course, but what intrigued me was the fact that these Tweets were all numbered, and had reached the mindboggling figure of over 19,000, and rising. In fact, they weren’t that far off 20,000.

So who was this mysterious bookworm, and did they in fact live in a library? Well no, they don’t. The bookworm is called Nick Morrell, and he lives in a small flat in the Rylands. Made even smaller by the number of volumes piled up to the ceiling along every wall.

We arranged to meet at his flat, and upon entering, I was met, not by Nick, but a large stack of CD’s, that wouldn’t look out of place in Rob’s Records. “I didn’t know that you collected CD’s too”, I said, whilst trying to work out how many they were and if I recognised any of the artists. “It’s amazing what twenty quid online can buy”, replied Nick, as he offered me a chair in his living room. One that didn’t have any books on it.

Looking round, I was truly astonished at the amount of literature before me. Can we start with a bit about your background, and how you got into collecting? “I was born in a council house in Strelley. My dad was a manager at the big Co-op on Parliament Street. He also ran the store in Beeston. He was a reader, but mum liked things tidy, so used to throw out our books whenever she could. Dad didn’t complain about this, as he liked to keep her happy. So I would say that my habit of collecting books has been in retaliation to that. A way of fighting back. Dad used to get me annuals from work after Christmas was over. It was never the well known ones like the Beano or Rupert, but the less popular ones that never sold.”

“When I went to grammar school, they had lots of books and I had a friend whose father was a well known Professor of Law at the University of Nottingham. They lived near the QMC. I went round once and was amazed that they had their own library. I think it was then that I decided to become a collector and create a library for myself. I started off with the Penguin Classics and used to visit Jeremy & Westerman’s bookshop on Mansfield Road. This was in the early 1980s, when secondhand books were quite cheap. My uncle was also a voracious reader. So he also had an big influence on me. Especially as he used to give me books as well.”

“I then went to Newcastle University to study English. It was great there, and I got to go on University Challenge and Mastermind. For my thesis I wrote about the Karla trilogy by John Le Carre.” This is of course the series of novels about George Smiley’s hunt for KGB agents. The most famous book being ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’. “After university, I got a job also working for the Co-op. But these days I am a middle grade civil servant.”

Returning to the books. When did you start counting to find out how many you had collected? “It started around Christmas 2013. At that point I had 10,900. Of course, I’ve not read them all. I see it as a kind of art project. I like the randomness of going to charity shops, jumble sales and visiting online auctions. As you never know what you could end up with. I’ve always enjoyed going to the big jumble sale at the Wollaton Scouts. They always have lots of books left over. Enough to fill my car twice. So I’ll just buy the lot off them, which of course they are happy about.”

Do you have a favourite publisher? “Well, I’ve mentioned Penguins before, and I also like Granta. It’s because they are numbered, and it’s good to try and get the full series.” The part of one wall is full of old style Penguin books with their distinctive orange covers. Another wall holds the blue of the Pelicans, which tended to be science, history and art based paperbacks, rather than novels.

Obviously with this amount of books, aren’t you afraid of the floor collapsing, or it being a fire hazard? “The property is 110 years old, and I’ve been here over thirty three years, so I think it’s ok. Some of the walls aren’t true. I am getting someone to put up some shelves in the bedroom, as I have come home in the past and found a pile of books on the bed, as they have fallen off. I do smoke, so there’s always that risk. My biggest fear is actually having to move. Having to pack everything up. I’ve recently acquired a new landlord, so I’m hoping he will leave me alone, just like the old one did.”

“My biggest problem is lack of time to keep on top of things. I’ve got books to sort and to put with others, collections to move and some to give away. No matter how bad the book, there’s always a nugget of information in it. I’ve also got to buy a new stepladder, as my other one broke, and I can’t get to the top rows of books.”

As I am writing this, Nick has published a tweet about book 20035, entitled ‘The Quest for Corvo’. To keep up track of the books he’s tweeted about, he writes a Post-It note and sticks it inside the book. Besides books, cricket is another great love of his, having played the game a lot in his younger days.

I take his photo, bid him a farewell and depart. Reflecting on his vast collection. I can relate to him in some ways, as I like to collect things myself, and try and get the full set of something that I am collecting at the time. But I don’t think I have this compulsion so severely, although my wife may disagree with me, as she sees the quantity of Lego that I have bought since lockdown began!


I Am Beeston – Philippa Double

By Christopher Frost

“I was born in Boston in Lincolnshire and moved to Lincoln when I was six. After school, art college and a few years of working, I moved to Nottingham to study Creative Arts at Nottingham Polytechnic as a mature student. My sister was living in Beeston at that time, so I had been to the town to visit her. She was studying at the University of Nottingham, so I had spent time in the area. After I graduated, I moved to Beeston with my then partner and I already had some friends living in Beeston which was a bonus! I loved the proximity to the University Park and the ease of getting into Nottingham. I found Beeston people to be very friendly, and it was good to have the town, shops and a great chip shop so close by. There is a real feeling of community in Beeston and social media has helped that develop in recent years. In recent years I have moved to Long Eaton, but I still have that connection with Beeston through my business, which will be celebrating its 19th birthday in October.”

“After working at Nottinghamshire County Council for a number of years and then at another photography studio, I opened my business on Chilwell Road in 2002, and over the years I’ve got to know quite a lot of fellow business owners in the town, which is really positive. Chilwell Road is a great place to have a business because it’s full of small, independent businesses run by like-minded people. Sometimes we work together on promotions or competitions, and I like having the excuse to pop in to see people for a catch up! As a business community, we’ve survived the tram works and all the changes that brought, and I feel very hopeful about the town and its future. The arrival of the cinema is really positive and will help to keep Beeston a vibrant town and the arrival of new businesses is great to see.”

“One of the things I love about Beeston is that when I pop out to the Post Office or into the town for some reason, I bump into clients and it’s always nice to see people. I have lovely clients, some of whom have used Double Image services for many years. It makes me feel old when I see families who brought children for portraits when they were babies and are now doing A Levels or heading off to university.”

“The photography industry has changed beyond recognition since I started my business.At the start I used medium format, manual cameras and film and most clients wanted black and white images. This meant spending hours in the darkroom. Now I spend most of my day sitting at the computer, when I’m not taking photos of course.”

“I have been asked in recent years to take photos of the Beeston area for local businesses, which has helped me learn a bit more about Beeston and its history and to see things that I hadn’t noticed or been to before. It’s easy to just get on with life and pass things by, so to have a reason to really look at an area is an enjoyable way of learning more about it.


Checking Out is so Hard to Do

by Christopher Frost

For those of you who are of a nervous disposition, you may remember just before the pandemic struck, a large shipping container appeared next to the Lakeside Arts Centre. It was for an aural experience called Flight. A 20 minute trip on a plane in total darkness, where you may or may not have ended up dead.

The group responsible for that, Darkfield.Org have returned with another submersive audio sensory show called Eulogy. This time you have booked into a hotel, rather than being on a plane, but the experience is just as disconcerting. Why are you there? Who is the strange companion who never leaves your side? These and many other questions may or may not be answered, as you sit in a laundry trolley, in complete darkness. I don’t know what Pantone colour they would call the blackness, but mushrooms would probably grow very well in it.

I caught up with Artistic Director Glen Neath, he and his team were making the final adjustments to the world premiere of this 35 minute experience and asked him about his latest creation. “This is our fourth show. Our last was Coma in 2019, where people laid down on beds”. “So, what was the idea behind the story?” “It’s a collective dream. You are all in this hotel, being pushed around from floor to floor, by your designated chaperone”.

“How long did it take you to create?” “We started during the first Lockdown, and continued building and recording the soundtrack during that period. We’ve used 300 tracks in the show”. Of course, I had to ask about the shipping container “It’s actually a refrigerated one. It came ready padded, which helps to keep out any external sounds”.

You listen to the soundscape through headphones. The sound is so accurate, that it could be in 3D. Your chaperone whispers in your ear. So close that you could almost smell their breath. My companion sounded so sensual, that I was disappointed she was only a voice, and not someone I could have a drink with. Other voices appear and disappear without warning. So too do other noises. I’m sure I added to the soundtrack, as I yelled out several times at loud noises behind, or at the side of me.  Time seems to stand still, as you move from floor to floor, down to the bowels of the hotel.

After it had finished, I emerged blinking into the daylight. Feeling like a mole who has just moved the last bit of earth before popping its nose out from the hole in the middle of a lawn. Slightly shaken by the experience. I feel like a blind man who has listened to The Shining, but without seeing the madness of Jack Nicholson’s acting.

If you want to experience this surreal, haunting event yourself, it’s on between 22 September & the 3rd of October, then 19th October to the 31st. During the gap, it will be situated on the South Bank in London, as part of the BFI London Film Festival.


Sing, Baby Sing

by Christopher Frost

Not only is the Beestonian celebrating its tenth birthday this year, but the same number of candles have been blown out on a cake belonging to the Beeston Mum’s Choir. Unless you are a parent of a baby or toddler, you may not have heard of this local group, who get together to sing songs, whilst their offspring play to their heart’s content. I contacted Rose Norman, after seeing her post on Beeston Updated about the groups’ anniversary. She in turn contacted the choir’s musical director Sarah Taylor, who answered all my questions, and some of the choir met me for a quick photo. From the left are Kate, Rose Norman, Sarah Taylor, Emma-Jayne, Rose S and Emily.

I asked Sarah, when did the choir start, who started it and why? “The choir was created in February 2011 by myself and a good friend. We both had young babies and were missing singing in choirs, as we weren’t able to get out in the evenings to conventional choir rehearsals. I had been involved in running choirs since we were at university together and she asked if I could make us a choir where we could bring our babies, but sing for us, not for them”.

How many members do you currently have? “Membership is quite fluid, as many people join us for a few months whilst on maternity leave and then must go back to work. Others plan their return to work, so they can still sing with us, and some come back for a second (or third) time, as they have more babies! Usually, we will have between 15 and 20 singers at a rehearsal (and that means 20+ babies and toddlers). Regular numbers have gone down slightly over this past year or so as Zoom choir singing is not for everyone. We’re hoping to be back to regular in person rehearsals from September, so hopefully numbers will pick up again”.

How have you all still managed to keep going since lockdown? “We’ve kept going throughout the last 16 months online, and actually had two rehearsals per week for most of that time. One at our usual 10am time and one at 8pm, because Zoom with a toddler in the house is hard! We’ve actually managed an in-person rehearsal on Monday 19th July, just as a one off before the summer holidays. It was wonderful to be back together and to sing together again. It’s not the same being at home singing on your own”.

What sort of songs do you sing? Is there a favourite amongst the group? “The only rule we have in terms of songs is no nursery rhymes! That’s what makes us different from other singing baby groups; the singing is for the mums (but the kids do enjoy it and pick up a lot of the songs themselves). We sing a real mixture of music from classical and folk songs, to songs from the shows and the usual pop tunes. We’re usually in two or three part harmony, but everything is taught by ear, so there’s no need to be able to read music. I think if you asked the members, they would all name a different song, but our signature tune is probably ‘Bella Mamma’, which incidentally, we have just released as a virtual choir recording to mark our 10th anniversary. We sing it as a warm up at the start of every rehearsal. It’s a really simple round which sounds glorious when it’s in full flow and the words mean Beautiful Mother. Quite apt for us”.

Are dads allowed in the choir? “This is a question we keep asking ourselves. But in truth, no dads have ever asked! In theory there’s no reason fathers can’t join us. However, the music we sing is arranged for upper voices, so they might find some of it a bit high! If we did find out that we had a group of dads who wanted to join I guess I’d have to find some new music with lower parts”.

Have you ever performed in public? Any inclination to do Beeston’s Oxjam for example? “We generally do two main concerts per year, and other performances to support local events, such as at the Canalside Heritage Centre and fundraisers for OpenHouse Nottingham, the charity we support. in December 2019 we were also lucky enough to provide ‘backing vocals’ for Jonny and the Raindrops’ Christmas gigs. That was totally different for us and loads of fun. We’ve never done Oxjam. I’m not sure why but we would be keen to be involved”.

Are any members of the mum’s choir, in say the Beeston Rock Choir? “I’m not sure about Beeston Rock Choir, but we have had members who also sing with Beeston Voices. It seems to be the choir members will move on to once they can get back out in the evening”.

Where do you meet, and how often? “We generally meet on Mondays at 10am during term time in central Beeston. We need to confirm our venue for September onwards, so details will be on the choir’s Facebook page”.

If there are any new parents that like what they’ve just read, and are considering joining, then please contact the group through their Facebook page,


And as Sarah mentioned, you’ll also be able to find out where their meeting space will be when the group reconvenes in the autumn.


I Am Beeston – Dr. Donna-Marie Urbanowicz

This issue’s I Am Beeston is Dr. Donna-Marie Urbanowicz – PA for the QMC’s Centre for Spinal Studies and Surgery.

“I was born in London and moved to Beeston in 2003 to complete an MA in American Studies at The University of Nottingham. When I asked them for “good places” to locate to, the University advised me that Beeston was lovely. I was then invited to complete a Ph.D and have never left Beeston. That was 18 years ago now. This is a lovely place for my children to grow up in, and whilst I don’t feel that I have done anything interesting in my time here, I have found Beeston to be a safe environment to raise my family”.

“Beeston has a lot to offer both in terms of its local urban environment and its artisan shops and restaurants. The fact that we have such wide variety of open green spaces in close proximity is wonderful. There is Attenborough Nature Reserve, Wollaton Park and University Park to name a few and all offer a different day out depending on your wishes. Beeston also has a very active high street. Although I feel the town will suffer somewhat with the closure of Argos. There are good stores here, but where we make up for charity shops and eateries, we probably lack in a decent department store. That said, I very rarely feel the need to go into Nottingham, and now that we have the new cinema, the desire to go to the city is not necessarily there”.

“Beeston has and continues to have a real sense of community. I have lived in three different houses during my years here and have been very lucky that both neighbourhoods afforded a community spirit. There is always a friendly face and a smile to be had when you are walking through the park and when my children were really young, I was often stopped in the street for a conversation. I feel very lucky and blessed to have been assimilated into the landscape of Beeston. As an ‘outsider’, I have never been made to feel unwelcome. As a student, I was never dismissed, and as a mother, I was always impressed by the activities offered by such a small community. My children attend the Rattle and Roll nursery rhymes at the library and visited the under 5s play group at Beeston Free Church”.

“I love the fact that Beeston has an amazing array of charity shops. I wander through them on a regular basis as I love the vintage fashion look. I particularly like the 50s era with the full petticoats and cute cardigans. They tend to go with my mega crazy shoes. Sue Ryder has a vintage section that I am often scrabbling in, and many a bargain can be found in the others, if you have time for a browse. Unfortunately, this style is often hard to find, so I tend to shop on-line for my dresses. And as for my shoes…well, let’s just say they are a bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them.

It does sadden me a little, that there is a definite lack of popular clothes shops in Beeston for the more contemporary market. Considering Beeston is such a diverse town with a large cohort of students and permanent residents alike. Other than the charity shops, buying new clothes in Beeston is very limited to either Peacocks, or the supermarket own brands. It is good to see White Rose open up to attract the younger population, but it is still second-hand. I do feel Beeston would benefit dramatically if a larger well-known clothes store took the plunge and opened a branch here, especially in light of the fact that we now have a new cinema, which is very exciting and will, I have no doubt, increase the foot traffic to the local shops nearby.”

“One of my favourite things about Beeston is the switching on of the Christmas Lights. My father used to call this the “Beeston Lightbulb” and it has become a large part of our Christmas tradition. Again, times have changed and where once the rides used to be all down the high street and the fireworks were in the square, things have moved around more. It will be interesting to see what happens this year with the new cinema now taking up prime real estate. But I am sure it will still be a family fun evening. My family used to travel up from London every year for this event and we made it part of our celebrations. There has always been a wonderful atmosphere in Beeston, that I have never felt unsafe, even when walking home late at night on my own and this is probably one of the greatest achievements that Beeston can offer, safety in the community and in a town that I am proud to call my home”.


I Am Beeston – Stuart Baird – PR Guru

“I was brought up in West Yorkshire and met my wife at university. She had moved to Wollaton at age 10, when her family relocated to Nottingham from East Yorkshire, so she knew the area well. After we got married, I was working up in Manchester, but we always had our eye on Beeston, as we wanted a house where we could to walk into a town, to pubs and restaurants, get into Nottingham easily and had a real community feel. It ticked all the boxes. My job also meant I had to go to London a lot, so the rail link was perfect.

Even when we were first looking at houses, I got a good feeling about the place. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it feels ‘grounded’. It is genuinely one of the best places to live in the UK. We have some fantastic schools locally, and those who work there are so committed to providing the best they can for the children and the students. We have more than our fair share of great places to eat, not least the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the country and the pubs are not half bad as well. I have mates from the four corners of Nottingham, and when I invite them for night out, they all say, “why can’t we have all this stuff you’ve got in Beeston?”

And if I need to escape back up north to breathe Yorkshire air, visit family and go to the football, I’m 5mins from the M1.

 People from Yorkshire (and I am one of them) always think that is the friendliest place, but I know how it works up there – unless you’re one of their own, they’ll only accept you after maybe the first 30 years! We have always felt at home in Beeston. We have some incredibly intelligent, talented and creative people, but there is a sense of bonhomie, of community. Regardless of who you are, or what your background is, you will be accepted. We are blessed with living on a great street, our next-door neighbour showed us pictures of her at a street party on Enfield Street as girl during VE Day 1945 when we had the celebrations last year. She was in the same class as Paul Smith. When we had last year’s street party, everyone walked up and down the street, chatting to each other (from a safe distance). It was the one highlight of the lockdown for me. It was amazing.

 When my children were at College House (now The Lanes), the headteacher asked us for help with the (Civic Society) Richard Beckinsale blue plaque launch as at that point I was doing PR for the NHS and was used to running events. Before I knew it, Kate Beckinsale was flying in with her Hollywood director husband, alongside her ex-husband Michael Sheen and best friend David Walliams, and of course her mum and friends of Richard. We had a bit of media circus which was good fun. The highpoint was when about 200 kids, who didn’t have a clue who all these people were, spotted David Walliams and charged towards a fence, screaming like Beatles fans, to get to him!

 Recently my agency helped launch the Arc Cinema and new square which was a real privilege. Shane Meadows did a brilliant job and was so gracious with his time. Broxtowe Borough Council really need to get credit for their work on the new square. I remember the horrible car park and public toilets that used to stand there.

 We have made lifelong friends here, we have wonderful neighbours with beautiful spaces on our doorstep, our children have grown up safe and happy, what more can you want? You hear about places in London and other cities that become gentrified and price local people out. I hope it keeps grounded, while still being inspirational and a lovely place to be.”


Let’s Go, to San Francisco

During the height of flower power in 1967, Scott McKenzie released a single about going to San Francisco. It took local author Ginny Hartman 23 years to achieve this, and in an unconventional method. Wearing flowers in your hair had long gone. It was more shell suits and raving then. So how and why did Ginny make this trip from Nottingham to California? All is revealed in her new book ‘The Giant, the Dream Machine and Me’. Part travelogue, part autobiography, part adventure story and with a light dusting of romance to help things along. Written over the past year, during lockdowns, face masks and shielding.

In the summer of 1990, Ginny’s life changed, when she gave up her job with a local legal firm, and decided to be a full-time mature student at Trent University studying for a degree in the Creative Arts. A whim maybe. But it was something that she was keen to do. Whilst there, she jumped at the opportunity of becoming the first exchange student with the San Francisco State University. So, on 25th June 1990, Ginny landed in New York, but then wondered how she would eventually get to the West Coast of America with very little money. Fortunately, an old school friend called Roger Hart lived in the Big Apple, so that made the transition to Stateside living a lot easier for this mature student.

Ginny seemed to have a fair bit of luck while in the States, through the people that she met or was introduced to. One in particular had a big influence on her at the time. And in more ways than one. His name was George Bailey, an artist and at 6’ 9”, he dwarfed Ginny’s slender 5’ 4” frame. Whilst in a conversation with him, George just happened to mention that he planned to move to San Francisco, and wondered if it might be a good idea for them to travel together, by car, rather than Greyhound bus or fly there, as both of them were quite poor, as Ginny only had her student grant to live on, and a small salary that she had earned from working for a short while in Roger’s office.

Ginny heard from George a few weeks later, saying that he had found a 1977 Dodge Station Wagon, that was for sale for $600. The Dream Machine. They paid half each, and so the road trip began. Ginny then realised that there were going to be two major problems with driving in the States. The first one being that she had never driven a vehicle on the ‘wrong’ side of the road before, and the other, was the size difference between her and George and having to keep moving the cars’ bench seat, every time there was a change of driver. The first problem was overcome by just driving on the long straight road of Route 6, and the latter by Ginny sitting on a booster seat made from foam rubber, so she could reach the pedals. This also doubled up as a mattress, as they slept under the stars, with just the odd night in a motel as a treat. And so started the 3500 mile journey from Pennsylvania to San Francisco. They passed through such states as Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, The Rocky Mountains, Utah, Nevada, before finally reaching California about ten days later, and the sight of the Pacific Ocean.

The book itself isn’t that long. Ginny Hartman isn’t Jack Kerouac or Bill Bryson. But then she doesn’t aim to be. But what Ginny does write about, she does in an interesting and honest way and with a certain amount of wry humour. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It makes for a nice gentle, afternoon read. Sitting outside and imagining that the vast plains of America are at the end of the garden. It’s illustrated with some 35 photos that Ginny took during her time there. She took hundreds with her trusty Pentax, as photography was part of her course, and before the time of digital cameras. So those 36 frames had to count.

But of course the main theme of the story is about how two strangers from the opposing edges of the Atlantic, could develop such a close relationship as quickly as the days and miles went by.  Especially as George believed that he was gay.  As an epilogue to the story, Ginny is planning to meet up with George in Palm Springs, just as soon as it is safe for her to travel. Not by car this time, but by aeroplane. It will be the first time in over 30 years that they have seen each other.

So, did Ginny leave her heart in San Francisco? You’ll just have to buy the book to find out. And when you do, you’ll also be helping the Broxtowe Women’s Project, as Ginny will be donating £1 to them for each book that’s sold. At the time of writing, ’The Giant, The Dream Machine and Me’ can be purchased locally from Two Little Magpies, Iguazu and very shortly the Canalside Heritage Centre. Also from Ginny herself; ginnyhartman6@gmail.com and of course Amazon.


Beeston’s Beautiful Classics

For a short period of time, Beeston built cars. Not on the grand scale of Dagenham, Cowley or Sunderland, but more of a cottage industry. Humber Works, on Humber Road between 1901 & 1908, and Middlebridge Scimitar on Lilac Grove, 1988 – 1995. All gone now of course, but their history lives on. If you want to see old vehicles these days, there’s Bartons in Chilwell, where you can see a number of their old buses and associated vehicles on Heritage Days or when they put on one of their Sunday markets. Or there’s the annual Autokrama at Wollaton Park, where a huge number of period vehicles are on display, usually in the summer sun. If you’re lucky, you can spot an old car on the streets of Beeston. I saw one the other day. A mid 70s Ford Granada. It got me thinking; I wonder how many vintage vehicles there are in the area?  So I put a message on Beeston Updated’s Facebook page, to see what response I might get.

I had some replies telling me about their vehicles. Carrying on with the Barton theme, here’s ‘Beauty’, a 1933 Riley Open Tourer, which has been in the Barton family for 48 years. Jeanie’s mum Barbara spoke to me about it. “We got the car from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, as my late husband Elson wanted to be Bertie Wooster. I was invited out for the day on a ‘date’, which was to ‘look’ at a vintage car. The plan was to have a look and then go for a nice meal on the way back. We arrived at a smallholding in the countryside and were led to a barn where the Riley was stored. The car was dark green and although most of the bodywork was visible, the seats inside were covered with straw and chickens were standing on the footboards and bonnet!  They quickly fluttered away as we approached, and the owner quickly discarded the majority of the straw to reveal the very dirty seats.

A deal was struck and to my astonishment, I was ‘offered’ the chance of being towed back!  I recklessly agreed and a piece of polythene was placed on the seat for me to sit on.  I was given a large white handkerchief to hold and was told to wave it if I had any problems. We did a few miles and then I smelt burning. I waved the hankie and we slowed to a halt.  Being rather nervous, I had been braking rather a lot and the smell was coming from the brake discs which were very hot!  After they had cooled down, I was told not to use the brakes unless considered absolutely necessary! We set off again and reached the “Rose Cottage” restaurant. We sat down to a lovely meal and a much needed drink, before setting off again for Beeston”.

Jim Goodinson lives on a canal boat in the Rylands. He currently owns three classic cars; a 1961 Ford Popular, a Hillman Minx from 1963 and a 1988 Ford Fiesta. I met him on Canalside by his boat, with the nice smell of burning wood emanating from the stove and asked him about his small collection of vehicles. “I’ve had the Pop for about six years now. I saw it on Ebay, but just missed out. The winner didn’t go through with it, and as I was the second chance bidder, it was offered to me. I had to collect it from Sandy in Bedfordshire. It’s done 68,000 miles. Classic cars tend not to do that many miles in a year. That’s why we get cheaper insurance. She’s called ‘Bertha’. I’ve kept her in the original condition. As I prefer it that way”.

“I got the Hillman from a friend who lives in Bingham. We used to see each other at car shows. He kept pestering me to buy it. In the end I did. ‘Hilda’ has only done 11,000 miles. It’s beige and cream. It’s not here at the moment. It’s stored at a garage in Beeston. Do you know what, the biggest cost to owning a vehicle isn’t insurance, but storage.

Lastly Jim talked about the red Fiesta that’s parked in front of the black Ford. “It was my son’s and he wanted me to buy it. He’s made a few changes to it. Different tyres, lights etc. I might change it back. I’ve got all the old parts in the lock up. She’s called Phyllis.”

Noticing Jim’s accent, I ask if he comes from Bolton. “Yes. I was a centre lathe turner for nine years during the 70s. Most people think I come from Yorkshire. So you did well to spot it”. I of course asked if he knew Fred Dibnah the famous TV steeplejack and traction engine driver. “Yes, I knew him. Sometimes I made parts for him. He lived just down the road from me”.

The sun starts to set as I said goodbye to Jim, who’s waiting for his son to arrive for tea. I think it’s great that people strive to keep old vehicles on the road and find it exciting to see one, rather than the usual homogenous looking cars that are produced now.

If you would like to see your vehicle in a follow up article, then please do get in touch. I’d be interested in featuring any road vehicle made up until the late 1980s.


I am Beeston: Ron Neighbour

“I am originally from Birmingham and came to Beeston on the Easter Bank Holiday in 1964, to view a business which was for sale on the High Road. I was pleased to see the road packed with shoppers and many small independent businesses supplying a wide range of goods. So, I bought the butchery business from G Eddowes.

“Beeston and the High Road have proved to be a great place to work and live, with many amenities within walking distance.

“Having had the pleasure of serving many Beeston residents over many years, I don’t believe that you would find better people anywhere.

“Kind, amicable and with a fun sense of humour. I remember once asking a customer how they cook their meat. They said; “Until smoke comes out of the oven.

“I believe that many Beeston residents today would love to be able to go back to personal face to face shopping at small independent shops and be served by a smiling assistant.

“But alas time moves on”.


I am Beeston: Jamil Ahmed – Postmaster

“I grew up as a migrant child in greater Manchester. We lived in some of the poorer areas of Manchester. At the age of 10, my father got a job in Nottingham and we made the big move from Manchester to Sneinton. I went to Greenwood School which later became the Nottingham Academy. We moved to Beeston in 1994, as it was a friendly area and also well known for good amenities.

“In 2013, an opportunity arose to buy the local post office on Broadgate. I decided to take this opportunity, as I wanted a change from my previous job. Living in Beeston and having a business in Beeston, allowed me to stay connected with my local community and allowed me to contribute to the local area. It also helped me to gain knowledge of the local community. The post office plays an important part when it comes to serving the local community, and I don’t just mean the products and services that it offers, but from helping customers with non-postal related issues to conversing with some of the elderly and vulnerable customers who don’t have anyone to talk to, but love coming into the post office to have a chat. I often see the majority of my customers in and around Beeston, and some of them I know so well, that I have built up a good relationship, that even when they move out of the area they still come back to use my post office.

“What I like about Beeston, is that it’s very lively with the university and there are many prominent businesses around. A lot of green spaces such as university park and Rylands. Beeston is very diverse and very friendly and I think that’s what makes the town so unique. Most people are very relaxed and this creates a great atmosphere. Since 1991 the town centre has been transformed a few times. The old shops such McDonald’s, Superdrug, Be Wise and many others have all gone. But the construction of Tesco’s and now the new cinema bring new opportunities. Not forgetting the tram.

“One thing I have done is the development of two derelict commercial properties on Chilwell Road and transformed them into a modern retail premise and two flats.  My brother and I bought the shops back in October 2015. They were derelict and completely ruined and so we spent most weekends and evenings fixing it up. The work took us 18 months in total. These were featured on the TV series ‘Homes Under the Hammer’. I had great fun doing the show, and the episode was aired in 2017. After that, it was nice to get recognised around Beeston when shopping and at work. It still turns up on daytime TV, and someone will say that I’ve been on TV again”.

“There are so many funny stories that have happened at the post office. If I had to pick one it would be when a student came in and handed me an item, unpacked, and with no address on it. They simply walked out whilst I was walking back to the serving counter. Another one is that someone once posted a parcel, and then three years later he received it back and he asked me why. 

“I’m proud to say that as a sub-postmaster, I enjoy serving the local community and I hope the local community will give me the opportunity to serve them. I would ask everyone who reads this article to use their local post office and encourage friends and family to use theirs. Post offices are run by individual Postmasters, and we rely on the customers’ footfall to keep us open. We offer a wide range of services such as postal services (Royal Mail and Parcel Force worldwide), local collect services, currency exchange, travel insurance, DVLA services, passport check and send and many more. We also sell greeting cards, stationery, toys, gifts and household items. You can even drop off your dry cleaning.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the lovely people of Beeston for making it such a great place to live.