I am Beeston: Tim Bassford – Creative Champion

“I was actually born in neighbouring Bramcote, but have also lived in Chester, Belfast, Athens and the more exotic region of Mapperley Top.

“We moved back to Beeston about 12 years ago, as most of our friends and family were on this side of Nottingham. We just about got settled back into the area, around the time the tram work began and the Beeston social media became full of vitriol about the major upset it was causing. The mayhem caused by the roadworks reminded me very much of Beirut in the late 80s, without as many hostage sieges. It felt like we’d returned to Beeston at a pretty eventful time.

“I run my own company (Turbine Creative) producing marketing materials (videos, animations, branding etc). I studied Fine Art then moved into graphic design and marketing from there. In the past, I’ve had the privilege of working with companies like The Walt Disney Company, The Discovery Channel and the BBC. A massive part of my work involves video production for corporate clients. As well as creating videos for clients, I also love making short films and music videos for friends.

“Beeston is clearly an awesome town to live in and only getting better. For a relatively small town is has a massive depth of cultural, historical, sporting and social strengths. Beeston has so many different characters – the beauty of the Rylands, canal side and river (love the Park Run), the social celebrations at Christmas and summer markets. The spectacular university grounds and the nightlife on the high street and Chilwell High Road. I love the brilliant range of quality bars (Berliner, Crown, The Vic’ to name a few), the awesome restaurants, and as a family we’ve been able to get involved in various local sports clubs. It really has got a perfect mix. There’s also a load of great memories for me here from when I was a kid, going to ‘Fords – the family store’ on the High Road (which felt like Harrods to a seven-year-old me) and visiting John Menzies or Woolworths with my pocket money.

“I think in this challenging time we’ve really seen the people of Beeston coming together to support and help one another. I know our neighbourhood has been able to rally around and help each there with both practical help and moral support with communal singing, clapping for the NHS, social distanced parties. Although the various Beeston social media groups attract some more polemical views, they also present a real reflection of some of the amazing things Beeston’s community are doing to support and encourage one another. The Oxjam music festival must be one of the most amazing things that the Beeston community puts on. The Beeston Film Festival also is an amazing initiative that seems to be punching well above its weight on the international film scene.

“I’ve personally been blown away by the creative community in Beeston. There are so many artists, illustrators, filmmakers, writers, musicians, craftsmen. They’re all over the place! Sometimes Beeston feels like the Brighton of the Midlands. I’ve been able to find great creative collaborators in Beeston, including my sister-in-law, Carmen Flores, who also resides in Beeston and is an accomplished violinist. We recently worked on a series of short films for the brilliant Nottingham Chamber Music Festival. These films can be seen here.

“On a slightly less cultured note, I found another creative collaboration whilst out having a few beers with the Dad’s from school at the Greyhound. We stumbled upon an incredible band called Iron Python, a tribute ‘Hair Metal Rock n Roll band’. They were the most brilliantly camp and over the top performers, I have ever seen in my life. Jumping all over the bar and pneumatically groin-thrusting a beer pump here in a bar in Beeston. A few months later I asked them to be part of a national marketing campaign I was involved in and was subsequently able to capture their energetic performance in an award-winning advertising campaign!

“Another great thing about Beeston is that it is continually evolving and surprising me with its entrepreneurialism. There are some great independent shops, small businesses and a whole bunch of people exploring new ideas and new initiatives. I think the regular influx of students ensures a certain kind of energy and the fact that many residents work at the uni, hospital or in tech of some kind, means there’s always lots to talk about at the pub (when you’re allowed to go!). Of course, I can’t finish this without a massive shout out to The Beestonian and all of those who continually promote and champion the benefits of our brilliant town.”

CF

Pet Shop Boys (and Girls)

Back in October, the Beeston Street Art Group launched a competition through the Beestonian and Beeston Updated Facebook pages, to produce a picture of your pet. Here is an updated version of that article, as there has been a couple of amendments.

The renowned and much-missed pet store Pet Mart are looking to return to Beeston in 2021 with help from Beeston Street Art. Sadly not as a physical store though, but its spirit and love of all things animal, as the Beeston Street Art group would like to invite children of all ages to paint a life-sized pet. The artworks will then be placed around Beeston in the new year for a pet hunt.

Once the street art group find a suitable wall, this will be transformed into a mural of the famous shop by Nottingham based top street artist Anna Wheelhouse, whose work can be seen at the Hocus Pocus soft play centre in Beeston and on the totem poles at Attenborough Nature Reserve. All the pictures will be judged and the best ones will be reproduced as part of this mural.

So get those paints and brushes out and get creating. The closing date has been extended to January the 4th next year, so you have more time to produce a picture of your pet, or friends’ pet if you don’t have one. The emphasis is on pets, so animals like elephants, dolphins and penguins aren’t really allowed unless you own a zoo, or it was possibly sold by Pet Mart.

If you are able, you can scan or take a mobile phone photo of your picture and email it to beestonstreetart@gmail.com. Or if you’d prefer, you can send or deliver it to Pet Mart Art, c/o 108 Denison Street, Beeston NG9 1DQ.

CF

Talking loud and clear

Despite the ongoing problems caused by the global lurgy, one Beeston lad has been determined to continue with his dream of interviewing people for his podcast company: ‘The Backboard Podcast’.

So the tables were turned when I sent Jamie Martin a list of questions about himself and his podcast idea. Firstly I asked Jamie a bit about himself and his background.

“I’m 15 and have lived in Beeston all of my life. I’ve always had an interest in helping others and gaining knowledge from them. Also seeing their perspectives on life, and opinions on certain subjects. I’ve been quite lucky to have a family so supportive, as I’m sure they are sick of me asking questions and rambling on about things. I have siblings, but they don’t have an interest in podcasting – my younger brother is definitely a football man. So am I actually, but just not as passionate as him. My mum is the MD of the Victoria Hotel in Beeston and my dad is a painter and decorator.

“This year I was meant to be going to Cambodia to help build a school, but sadly it was cancelled due to the pandemic. So for me, setting goals and achieving them is one of my main characteristics, and going to Cambodia was one of them, and next year I will achieve that goal. Talking of goals, I enjoy playing as a defender for my football team, The Attenborough Colts on a Saturday. I’ve been there since 2012.

“I started the podcasts because I was feeling a bit anxious about lockdown and realised that so many millions of others felt the same, and so I wanted to bring them some positivity and try to share my opinions and knowledge”.

Jamie’s first podcast was done on the 27th March and featured Beeston’s own Kingdom Rapper, aka Benjamin Whiteman. In the 25 minute interview, Benjamin talks about his life, music and religious beliefs.

“I see Kingdom Rapper as a great influence for the young in Beeston, as he has had bad experiences with drugs etc during his younger years, and he now spreads awareness through music. He is also a great friend and is definitely a local celebrity with an inspiring story”.

“He was doubted and criticised by his heroes, but he produced positives out of the negatives and is going to change our planet”.

I wanted to find out about Jamie’s interest in business and whether he has any business heroes, despite his young age.

“I’ve always had an interest in business. My late grandad was Neil Kelso, who was the owner of the Victoria Hotel. He introduced me into the business world and seeing him work as hard as he could and be rewarded for his hard work motivated me to do the same. As for me, it would be Elon Musk of Tesla cars fame. He was the child of divorced parents in South Africa and started coding. He sold his first game for $500 and went on to create PayPal and sell it for $1bn.

“He was criticised for his failure in the early years of SpaceX of which many of his first launches failed, but after many tries, he succeeded. This taught me the valuable lesson that I should never give up and that I should always stay humble, but ambitious. He was doubted and criticised by his heroes, but he produced positives out of the negatives and is going to change our planet”.

Being an interviewer, I wondered if Jamie had an interviewer that he admired or followed.

Well, for sure, it would be Louis Theroux. He’s an extremely intelligent man, who is always asking questions and developing his knowledge on subjects further and further and sharing what he has seen and questioned with the public. So he might not be necessarily a radio interviewer, but he asks many questions and interviews interesting people”.

Finally, I wondered if there was anyone in Beeston that Jamie would love to interview.

“Basically, everyone. For me, Beeston can’t be put into a specific person that I’d like to interview. The community is so inviting and the businesses in the heart of Beeston, are mostly family-run. They all hold their own unique touch. Hence that’s why I love Beeston. So the short answer is no because simply, I want to interview everyone!”.

Recently Jamie invested in some new recording equipment and has created his own studio, rather than using his bedroom. It’s in an old office formerly used by Castle Rock at the Victoria Hotel. 

“It’s been unused for over a decade, and I’ve completely renovated it.”

Being a web-based platform, I asked about viewing figures, and whether Jamie knew how many the broadcasts get.

“I do. We are close to 700 people to have listened to our podcasts. 27% of them live abroad, from New Guinea to Bangladesh and the USA to Peru. We have viewers in every continent except Africa for some reason, but I’m sure we will the more episodes I make. I’ve just created a tee-shirt, just to see if anyone would be interested in one. Not necessarily to make a profit, just to test the waters. So far I’ve sold 15”.

If you want to listen to the podcasts that Jamie has produced then visit his Facebook page or through the Internet platform anchor.fm.

CDF

I am Beeston: Lynne Bottomley – Enjoying Life

“I was born in Beeston on a Goose Fair Thursday, with the Beeston Boiler Company’s 5 o’clock hooter heralding my arrival. My parents both worked there, before finding other employment at the nearby university. I was educated at Charles Williams Infants, Roundhill Junior and Bramcote Hills Grammar. At the age of 12, I pulled a young boy out from Beeston Canal. It made the front page of the Evening Post.

“I had various jobs over the years, but started at Ford’s on the High Road whilst I was still at school, then moving to the Midland Bank, which is now HSBC in The Square. The next big thing in my life was to marry a soldier and moved to Germany. We lived in many locations over the years, mainly in the South, such as Hamlyn and Herford. I learnt enough of the German language to get by with the help of my German neighbours, and they in turn learned English. We also spent a couple of years in Cyprus. Whilst living there, I helped at our local thrift shop to raise money for our Brownies and Cubs, also did a sponsored parachute jump.

“On returning to the area, I got a job at Chilwell Depot. I was fortunate enough to stand in the turret of a Challenger Tank as it went round the test track. I also took an evening BTEC course at Broxtowe College to further improve my knowledge of the German language. I left the area again for several years, but my heart was set on returning to Beeston, so I could be closer to my family. I returned to Beeston almost 2 years ago and was lucky enough to find something central.

“In general I find the people of Beeston friendly and helpful. It has the amenities and good transport links I require and are within easy walking distance. The local beauty spots I will never tire of, such as Highfields. I feel I am now at home and looking forward to making new friends and acquaintances.”

CDF

The carnival is over (but only for this year)

July 11th was meant to be the day of the 15th Beeston Carnival. But due to Corvid-19, organisers Lynda & Pat Lally, made the extremely difficult decision in early May to cancel this year’s festivities. To find out how difficult this was, and history of the carnival, I contacted the dynamic duo for their thoughts on having to postpone one of the town’s most well-loved and visited events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I sent Lynda a series of questions, and here’s what she had to say…

“During my year of being mayor (2005/06), I had seen how some parts of Broxtowe were still very much communities and thought that my own hometown was losing this, and so our motto for the carnival became ‘Bringing our Community Together’. We have a come a long way in those fourteen years, from having a budget of £250 and the kindness of groups like Beeston’s Oasis Christian Centre, the Scouts, Air Cadets, and various other community-based organisations. Not forgetting Beeston Pipe Band, who performed for free to kick start the revival of the carnival in 2006. Most of these groups are still with us, and many more support the event annually. It is showcasing all the things that are great about Beeston.

“We have been through one of the boxes filled with newspaper cuttings about the carnival. It’s been an incredible 14 years and we have touched so many people’s lives and given some platform to go forward in life with, whether it be to follow their passion or just to raise the profile of a charity and raise some money for many charities in the community. After searching back, we found pictures, videos and Pathe news stories going back to the 1930s.

“Then it was a two-day event over a weekend, with band competitions and a very regal Queen being driven around on a special Bartons queen mobile! The films are on YouTube, and it’s amazing to watch. We never realised how near we were to doing things in the same vain. Beeston businesses sponsored it, bands played, local groups all came together and there was a huge walking parade which spun around Dovecote Lane. The event itself was held at the rugby ground on Ireland Avenue. The Carnival Queen’s cape was made and paid for by local businessman Walter Hayes. It was an extravagant piece, even though times were tough back then.

“I think the biggest thing for us, when reviving Beeston Carnival, was giving the chance to highlight the work that all these amazing community groups do. Mostly run by volunteers. It’s something that makes our town and our community. That, and more importantly, to make them some much-needed funds. It has always been a small team that brings such a huge annual event together and some who started with us back then, are still there holding it all together. I would like to thank them all, as without them we would not have survived for this long.

“You would think that in July we would be reasonably safe with the weather, but we have had many rainy carnival days. Most we have survived when eventually the sun came out. The one that comes to mind which nearly made us postpone was the 2007 event. After continuous rain for weeks, it didn’t stop on Carnival Day. It was touch and go as to whether we could proceed safely. But with a few stalls and groups turning up, we managed to proceed.

“As ever, the public came out to support the event and the very wet parade and entertainment in the park went ahead.

“Last years was a bad one for us, and it nearly ended Beeston Carnival for good. Pat and I, and our very capable volunteers know one thing, and that SAFETY is our main concern.

“I am immensely proud of the way we have always handled the safety of all of the carnival days. So it was with great concern when we were told that the carnival had to pay a traffic management company to manage our parade, even though most of the walking parade is on a pedestrian walkway. Roads needed to be shut off and diversions put in place. This would have caused huge traffic problems, admin fees to be paid and so it went on. There was a great deal of public support for us when it seemed the only way forward was to pay over £2000 for the very important part of the carnival to proceed. I was adamant that if the parade couldn’t proceed, the carnival wouldn’t either. But some common sense was applied, although it had its implications and our stress levels were very high. How is that Red Tape can seek to destroy wonderful community events like this? Some may argue that is necessary. I couldn’t possibly comment any further!

“2020. Well, here we are faced with another dilemma. The Corona Virus. Who could have guessed that this would stop our wonderful annual community event? Yes, it was a big decision to cancel, and we talked to our volunteers for weeks, wondering if things would improve and we could go ahead. However, we knew that eventually, we would have to make the decision to cancel, like so many other groups and organisations across the world, who have had to cancel their events.

“Who knows where we will be next year? And for all those who run events in and around our community, we can only hope that things will return to some normality, for the sake of bringing our community together once again.”

CF

The Naked Civil Servant

Last month, our very own Lulu told us what it’s like to be on the frontline in a large supermarket whilst dealing with the current pandemic, so this month, I thought I’d share my experiences of working from home. Something that I’ve never done before. I work for a large department in the Civil Service. I won’t bore you with the details, as they aren’t that exciting, and the general public seem to have little interest anyway in the ‘background boys’ that help to keep the country running.

Up until now, I have nearly always cycled that few miles into the city centre. Only occasionally using the tram or car, if I have problems with my bike, or the weather is too grim. Down University Boulevard, past the QMC, and along the canal to the office. About a half-hour ride in total, as I don’t have a particularly fast steed, and you definitely won’t see me in lycra. So I’m not really that aerodynamic. I think leaving the house for work is symbolic of earning a wage packet, so imagine my dismay when on the 17th March, an email went around informing everyone that if they can, they should take their Surface Pro home with them and work from there until further notice. Now my role entails part physical and part computer work. So for the first two weeks or so, I spent time sorting out emails, data purging, doing some online training and updating spreadsheets. It took me a few days to adjust to just spending 30 seconds going to work, rather than the 30 minutes I usually take. I was transferred to assisting on web chats, as my usual tasks have come to an end, although I’ve been going in once a month to do some tasks that can’t be done remotely. April’s visit was certainly a strange one, with going into an empty office. Walking around the city centre was weird too, as it was quite desolate at the time.

I’ve tried to discipline myself to not to get too distracted by reading books, spending time on social media and working out the next plot for Lego Nigel. There have been some distractions though in the form of our four pussy cats, as they vie for cuddles, head massages and having a full belly. Pippin is the most persistent for petting, as she keeps jumping onto my desk. I have to divert her away from the Surface Pro’s keyboard, otherwise, she might walk on it and suddenly an important database gets deleted. Virtual meetings through Teams is an interesting experience, as no one switches their cameras on. It’s like being involved in a Radio 4 afternoon play.

“It does feel like we are currently living in a former Eastern Bloc country, where there’s not much on offer and commodities are scarce.”

Although my mental health is still holding up, I would say that my physical health has gone down, as the number of steps that I do has reduced from about 20,000 a day to probably 2000. I haven’t got an accurate figure, as my Fitbit broke some time ago, and I’ve not got a replacement. Besides not cycling to work, I don’t stroll for an hour around the city centre taking photographs, like I used to. Instead, I just sit outside in the garden, having lunch and catching up on Facebook, or doing a sudoku. I know we are ‘allowed’ out, and now the rules about being outdoors have been relaxed, but it just doesn’t feel the same, and I don’t feel enthused to do it, although I have popped to Beeston on occasions. I guess if it was winter, I wouldn’t really go outside at all. This has caused my ‘muffin top’ to now become a whole doughnut, and it’s going to take a lot to shed all these extra pounds. Sleeping is a bit of a hit and miss affair for me at the moment. Not helped by binge-watching Netflix boxsets until the early hours. At least there’s no compulsion to get up early, as we can work whatever hours we like at the moment, as long as we do a full day. So that’s a benefit. My wife is still working. She’s in admin at the QMC. So she tends to wake me up as she’s heading out. Sometimes I can drop back to sleep, sometimes I can’t.

Visiting the pub doesn’t bother me, but the one thing that I do miss is not being able to have a trawl around Beeston’s fair mix of charity shops on a Saturday morning. It’s something that I look forward to doing, as I never know what I might come across, or who I might see. Shopping these days is a bit of a strange affair, with only a few open and having to queue to go in like you were going to a concert or the cinema. It does feel like we are currently living in a former Eastern Bloc country, where there’s not much on offer and commodities are scarce. Queuing up to go into Poundland seems like an oxymoron to me. At least the panic buying mentality over toilet rolls and pasta appears to have come to an end.

In a way I’ve been lucky to be still receiving a full wage, and not furloughed. In another way, I feel that I’ve missed out on all this paid free time, as I have a whole list of things that I want to do, including some DIY, gardening and sorting out stuff. I also have a heap of books to read, including some from local authors that I personally know, but have been amiss in reading their latest offering. I don’t think that I could ever be bored, as there’s always something I could find to do.

No one of course has any idea as to how long this situation is going to go on for. And what are we all going to be like mentally when it’s over? I bet there will be quite a few that will be suffering with agoraphobia and other similar problems. We’ve all become so used to dodging people now and keeping that imaginary two-metre distance apart, that we will all need reassuring that it’s OK to shake hands etc again, and you don’t have to shout over the hedge to your neighbour. It certainly will be strange going back to work, and being in an office of a hundred people, rather than sitting all alone in the house. At least I won’t have to worry about data being lost from the servers anymore.

CF

I am Beeston: Rebecca Jones – Postie

“I was born at the QMC in Nottingham, and I’m originally from Cotgrave. I have two sons, and when I had my oldest son, some 15 years ago, I moved to Mapperley, Gedling and then in the city area, where I have been for a few years now.

“I first discovered Beeston when I was training to be a nursery nurse, and went to Orchard Day Nursery for my college placement. Orchard Day Nursery is a lovely family run nursery which my school friend and I enjoyed going to. We also enjoyed exploring Beeston itself.

“I’ve been working as a postie for nearly nine years now, and certain aspects of my job have helped me with gaining more confidence. I have made lots of friends within Royal Mail, and this has helped me to get to know the people of Beeston, through the different parts of my job and being on Beeston Updated. When I started the job I knew hardly anyone from Beeston, now I feel part of the community. Now nine years later, I have friends all around Beeston and big thanks to my best friend Lisa Jones-Bragan, for her amazing support these past nine years.

“Being a postie can be an important part of the community, especially getting to know people and delivering to the elderly and those with disabilities. Checking on our regular residents can be a bit of reassurance for them. I have in the past done a welfare check on someone. As an ex carer, sometimes your gut instinct kicks in and some things can play on your mind until you get home, so I’d rather know and have peace of mind that people are ok.

“When Owen Jenkins tragically passed away in 2017, I got to see the beautiful, positive side of Beeston’s community. I delivered to the Jenkins family and got to know that they are the warmest loving family you will ever meet. I have got to know a lot of people from around Beeston now, as I have worked all around the area and further afield. Since the lockdown, I’ve felt a lovely sense of community care. One lady a few weeks ago on one of my regular walks gave me some hand sanitiser, which I really appreciated. I’ve also received a lovely Easter card and some mini eggs. I have seen several notes on doors and windows saying ‘thank you’ to the posties.

“Five years ago I fell over during a delivery, on the same week I fractured my hip, and so I was off work for three months. I had to have a titanium plate and some screws put in place. Since then I’ve done two 5k races, to raise money for Women’s Aid and Race for Life. I’ve also done a 10k run for Race for Life. Next year when the lockdown should be over, I’m hoping to do another run, this time for the OWEN (Open Water Education Network) charity, as it’s one that’s close to my heart. I try and visit every charity event that they attend, to help raise money for Owen, in his name.

“Although I don’t live in Beeston, I appreciate the opportunity of talking about myself, as I enjoy my job, working in Beeston and knowing so many lovely people”.

CF

How similar is the lockdown to life during the Second World War?

How similar is the lockdown to life during the Second World War?

To some, the Coronavirus pandemic feels like the end of the world, with the majority of shops, restaurants and pubs closed and having limited travel. But to those of a certain age, it’s a reminder of the Second World War.

Only this time the enemy is practically invisible, but the results are easily seen, with hospitals filling up with contagious patients. Food of course had to be rationed from 1939, as German U-boats were sinking UK supply ships. This led to food shortages and stockpiling. Something that we’ve all experienced, with supermarket shelves stripped bare.

This behaviour has caused food to be binned, as it’s past its sell by date. Whereas, in 1939 and indeed until 1954, every scrap of food was eaten. Yes, rationing went on for nine years after the war had ended. Not all foods were rationed at the same time. Meat was one of the first commodities to be limited, with other staples following a year or two later. But it wasn’t just food that was controlled. Movement was too, especially at night, as all lights were switched off. The Air Raid Warden would knock at your door, with that famous Dad’s Army line, “Put that light out”…

To compare life now, with that of 75 years ago, Jean Mary Barton, the granddaughter of Thomas H Barton OBE, founder of Bartons buses remotely spoke to her sister in law Barbara Barton, about her wartime experience.

“I was born in 1926 and lived firstly on Denison Street, and then to a new house on Hallams Lane in 1938. My father Carl worked very long hours on buses and lorries for his father. When he had time off, he took flying lessons at Tollerton Airport. When the war started, he was hoping to join the RAF, but at 38 he was considered too old. He was not ‘called up’ as he worked in a ‘Reserved’ occupation; transporting supplies and men. He also did Fire Duty during the evening. I had two younger brothers, and so mum had her work cut out looking after us and the house. I was tasked with keeping an eye on the boys, and it was difficult. Whilst riding our bikes, my brother Elson, rode under the back of a lorry going down School Lane. He hurt himself quite badly. mother was very cross with me”.

“I was 13 when it became obvious that war would be declared. I was going to attend boarding school at Hatfield, North London. Queenswood was recommended by a family friend. Although war started before I went, Mum said I would have to go, as she had already paid and it was expensive. I was absolutely terrified when Dad took me down with my trunk. I asked him years later how he could have taken me. He said that his children weren’t his concern, and it was up to our mother. So, when children from London were being evacuated to the country, I was going from the country to London”.

“There was a gun turret in the school grounds and it tried to pick off the planes before they dropped their bombs…”

“When we arrived, there were other girls there too, mainly daughters of officers in the Armed Forces, or politicians and other professions. Not too many were from ‘Industry’ like me, so I found it rather difficult fitting in. But as the war progressed, quite a few girls left for the country. So by 1945, only about 10 remained. We were only allowed to walk in the grounds for exercise. When the German bombers came over for the Blitz, they flew to the north of Hatfield and then turned and made a southerly run over our school to London. There was a gun turret in the school grounds and it tried to pick off the planes before they dropped their bombs. This made our school a very dangerous place to be”.

“We were not allowed to sleep in the dormitories, we had to sleep in the corridors downstairs on camp beds and I remember mice and rats running around. It was very cold too, as the windows were open and we had little heat. It was considered healthier to sleep in the cold and we were not allowed to be ill. During the school holidays, I would mostly help mother with the boys again. I felt the effects of ‘rationing’ more at home, as dad would get the most, and mum would give the boys more than me, as they were growing. We kept chickens in the garden for eggs. A local farmer ensured that Queenswood was well supplied with food”.

“My father built a very unusual air raid shelter, which I understand is still there today. He used a liquid tanker and sunk it into the ground. We had bare essentials in there, but felt safe when there was a raid over Chilwell Depot. I remember one night, incendiary bombs were dropped in the fields at the back of our house and we all came out to look after the plane had gone. It was really beautiful to see the fields all lit up. Once when the Trent was flooded, the bombers used an incorrect trajectory to Chilwell Depot and bombed Hurts Croft instead. One house was demolished, but no one was killed, as apparently the lady was warned by the ghost of her dead mother, and they hid under the kitchen table. A reconnaissance plane flew so low once, that I swear I could see the pilot. It flew towards me as I was walking up Chilwell Lane and I thought he was going to shoot me. They were charting the course from Chilwell Depot to Stanton Ironworks, so that they could bomb two targets in one run”.

“As today, all the theatres and other entertainments were closed. Shops were almost empty, and it was not until the American soldiers arrived, that fun for teenagers like me returned. They brought nylons and chocolate and they liked dancing. So they brought much needed merriment, as they were based at Wollaton Park. This went on for almost a year before they left. When I left school, I joined the Health Service. My payslips came from Nottingham Council. But that changed in 1948, when the NHS started. I worked as a Radiographer and specialised in chest conditions such as TB, which was the number 1 killer at that time. I worked for the Chest Clinic on Forest Road and the City Hospital until I retired”.

Thanks to Barbara Barton for organising and conducting the interview with Auntie Jean.

CF

I Am Beeston: Julian Baston – Garage Owner

“I was born in Beeston and went to both Round Hill and Alderman White schools. After leaving school, I did a YTS course at Chilwell Van Hire, and have been involved in repairing motors ever since”.

“In 2009 my former wife and I left for Florida in the US. I went to work for a garage that repaired police cars and fire engines. We lived in Brandon Tampa, which was a ninety-minute drive to the repair shop. I didn’t mind the distance, as it was just basically three roads. I’d just put the car in cruise control and pop on an 80s music station. But my wife was homesick, so we came home after a couple of years. I then took on a garage at Ruddington, ‘Village Motors’, and now I have ‘Smiths’, here in Chilwell, which I’ve had for four years now”.

“I’ve always liked Beeston. If I have any problems, then I just have to pick up the phone and I’ll know someone who can help me out. The tram had no real detrimental effect on my business. It’s only really the virus that’s stopped me working. I prefer working on my own anyway, so I don’t have a problem with being alone. I prefer it. Technology has taken over so much in cars now. But I’m planning to wind down and retire sometime soon anyway, so I can spend some time in Spain”.

“I’ve been disappointed at the loss of shops over the last few years, but it’s so easy to walk everywhere. Although I recently had a hip replacement, so that’s stopped me walking around the Attenborough Nature Reserve. I’m a member of the Porsche owners club, and we’ve done a few shows at Wollaton Park. I do like having weekends away with my partner Jo and visiting places like Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby”.

CF

 

Talking loud and clear

If you have ever passed by, or used the Texaco garage on Queens Road and wondered where that short pathway goes that runs between the petrol station and Papa John’s, well ponder no longer, for I have the answer. It leads to a small car park and building that belong to a company called Talk Back Studios. They have been there for 12 years now, although they have been in Beeston for over 20, having previously been based behind the Barrel pub on the High Road.

Talk Back are a small, family-run viewing studios, where market researchers come and interview groups of people about products and services and what they think of them. I have actually been there a few times myself and given my opinion on such diverse subjects as rail travel, energy company adverts and biscuits. People are recruited through external agencies and are selected by their profile, age, sex, social class etc, plus any other criteria that these companies require. It’s no use being invited to talk about nappies if you’ve never had kids.

The building itself was part of Thomas Humber’s cycle and car works, before becoming a textiles factory, then an engine workshop for a charity. There was another building in front, which was the car showroom, it’s where the petrol station stands. But it was destroyed in a fire.

The company was founded by Sue and Alan Harvey. Alan, a former marketeer with Thorntons, and Sue who ran the Merry Go Round Nursery on City Road decided to create a marketing company that would the best available in the East Midlands. And 20 years later, they have realised that dream. Their son Mike, a former photographer now manages the studio, as his parents have supposed to have ‘retired’. Although they still seem to work long hours there. Sue tends to meet and greet the respondents, while Alan makes the tea and looks after the clients’ needs. They also employ students from the university, through Unitemps to assist on an ‘as and when’ basis. While I was there a student called Chloe who is studying Public Health was assisting with the two groups that had arrived and was making sure that they got into the right room.

I met up with Mike at the studios and chatted to him at quiet times during the evening. Firstly, I asked him about the business. “We had outgrown the other building and were looking for somewhere bigger, and we came across this place. The landlord allowed us to gut the building and redesign it how we wanted it. We sandblasted the internal walls, and we have tried to keep the building’s history alive”. Reminders of the building’s cycling history can be found throughout the building, from photos of old bikes to the names of the meeting rooms. “We are also trying to be as green as we can. We’ve just about phased out single-use plastics, have installed LED lighting and will be getting a charging point for electric cars. We also had a reproduction made of the blue plaque that’s on the wall outside”. There are seven meeting rooms which can be rented during the day, as they are used during the evening for research purposes. These events tend to run from Monday to Thursday and tend to last ninety minutes to two hours.

Once you arrive, you are checked in and you sign for your fee. This could range from £30£70, depending on who the company are and what you’ll be discussing. You are then offered a drink and a snack while you wait. There are two sets of chairs, one red, one green. This designates which room you’ll be going in. The rooms have a one-way mirror so that company representatives can see what’s going on. Essential if it’s a very visual task, like arranging products in order of preference. The research is also recorded. In the past, this used to be on video cassettes. These days it is all done digitally, MP3 & MP4 and the files can be sent to the client via FTP immediately after the session. All mobile phones have to be switched off, as this can interfere with the recording equipment.

I asked Mike if they ever get any unusual requests from companies. “We’ve had a few. Once some sofas were delivered, as they were being tested by the group. We’ve also had seven toasters all working at the same time, as people were testing bread. But probably the most unusual request we get is when we have to dress the place like it is Christmas, but this can be in the middle of summer. Or in the middle of winter, we have to make the place look like you’re on a beach holiday. Sometimes even we don’t know who the client is so that we can stay impartial. But we have come across products that have been tested here.

If you want to earn some extra tax-free money, then go and sign up through some local agencies. The website for this is www. nottinghammarketresearch.co.uk

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