I Am Beeston: Alfie Russell, Broxtowe Youth Mayor

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The #IAmBeeston project is now in its third successful year of interviewing and photographing people that either live or work or both in the NG9 area. Up to now mainly adults have been featured. But for this first special colour edition, we’ve turned our attention on a member of our younger population. Someone who aims to help and support others under the age of eighteen through their influence and involvement with Broxtowe Borough Council.

I met up with Alfie and his mum Catherine at their house and had a chat with them, in their large sunny kitchen, whilst Alfie’s younger brother Frank was watching some World Cup action. Catherine is a neighbour of mine, so I have known Alfie since he was a mere bump, which is going on for nearly fourteen years now. So I thought Alfie would be an excellent addition to the project, when Catherine told me about his important role in the community.

“Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people.”

“I’ve been the Youth Mayor for Broxtowe since November last year. I had to go through an interview process before I was selected. This means that I am also part of the Youth Parliament, and I’m looking at transport and LBGT issues. At the moment I’m currently working on life skills. Helping others to learn about finances, money etc. Also being part of the Broxtowe Youth Voice, I am helping to promote new groups at the ‘Shed’, the Beeston Youth and Community Centre.”

“I’m a pupil at Alderman White School, which enjoy going to. It’s a good school. Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people, with sports clubs, the Cubs and Scouts. I am a member of the Boys Brigade, and I help the younger boys with their activities. They usually have a subject or theme to work with. This is going towards getting my bronze in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. I also go to the Pathfinders Youth Club at Christ Church on Chilwell Road.”

“Beeston is full of friendly people, who are only to happy to help if you’re out and have a problem, like getting lost. It’s a good community. The library is very good now that it’s been updated. There are some good resources there. I like looking at all the old photographs of how Beeston used to look.”

“I think Beeston has some good shops. I buy things from lots of different places, but I especially like Poundland and WH Smiths. I like to take our dog Lenny for walks in Highfields, or down by the weir fields. We might then stop off for a drink at the Canalside Heritage Centre. I’d like to see a cinema here, as there would be somewhere else to go on my doorstep. I’d also like to see a Pizza Express. We sometimes get a tasty takeaway from the Cottage Balti.  I always like to meet my friends at the Beeman and I think the recent Street Art festival has made Beeston a lot more colourful.”

CDF

The Beestonian: It’s got nothing to do with bees.

It’s not about bees, is it?

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Well, haven’t we grown? Haven’t we blossomed?

Welcome to the new look of The Beestonian. It’s much the same mag as before, bit bigger, more colourful and with up to 28% less typos. We’ve gone a bit professional, thanks to a grant from the National Lottery. Thanks National Lottery! They gave us some funding in return for getting the issue out to more readers: so we’ve doubled our print run. Possibly it’s the first time you’ve had a copy. If so: hello!

Yet despite the changes the underlying philosophy of the magazine remains much the same as it was when we furtively first used the work photocopier to run off a load of issues back in our early days: to provide Beeston with its own magazine, written by Beestonians, read by Beestonians, about Beeston. We want to celebrate the great things about this town, build a sense of community and have a good time while we do it. Our editorial line is simple: “If it’s about Beeston, and if it’s interesting, let’s get it out there.”

And what is it we’ve found interesting lately? Well, more than we could actually put into a mere 24 pages, that’s for sure*. Yet you will find inside stories about what happens when everyone’s favourite local grocer gets rendered into Lego; Beeston’s burgeoning poetry scene; the wonder of local trees; Stumpy facts; a scientific knight; trails and streets of art; hedgehogs; comedians; parenting; local legends and all your local favourites.

None of this would be possible without a wonderful group of people who each issue go out and find stories, before bringing them back and dropping them into the big Beestonian content bucket. Others make the magazine look lovely, others find leads for us to check out and keep the webpage ticking over. We even have a paper-boy. His name is Will, and he’s great, and yes, he does accept cash tips. Thanks to them all.

We are also reliant on our advertisers to help us tick along: go and visit them and say you read about them in The Beestonian. If you run a business, drop us a line and see what we can do for you. We’re very reasonable, and very flexible. We’ll be happy to have you, provided you’re not some evil company that makes puppy-soup, or similar**. If you’d like to stock us, then we’d delighted to send the aforementioned Will over to drop you some copies off.

I’ll wrap up with a promise to you: despite our flashy new design, despite our slick professionalism, we still promise to make The Beestonian free to read; non-profit and as much a part of this wonderful creative, vibrant, often plain weird community as we can. It may not be about bees. But we’re buzzing.

LB

VILLAGE CROSS. The shaft of Beestons 14th century cross originally at the village centre cross roads near the Manor House. Found by historian Arthur Cossons and re-erected here in 1929.

The Village (or Market) Cross

Keeper of Beeston’s secret history…

Although not a War Memorial by any means, the story of Beeston’s ‘Village Cross’ is so bound-up with that of the ‘Memorial Cross’. It is no coincidence that Beeston has a ‘cross’ as it’s war memorial or that it should stand on the site that it does. Through changes to the road layout over time, the Memorial Cross now appears to stand by the side of Middle Street. In actual fact this site was once in the middle of the road at this important road-junction between Church Street, Dovecote Lane, West End and Middle Street. Here was once the geographical heart of the settlement that was to become the town of Beeston.

In Britain, over 1,000 years ago, when Christianity began to spread among the pagan Anglo Saxons, the new faith was preached to the people from a stone pillar, (‘preaching cross’) erected in the heart of the community. This was most often close to the manor house, the home of the most important member and leader of the community. Once Christianity had been establish,  a parish church was built, first in ‘wattle-and- daub’ and latter in stone. With the new church, preaching crosses became redundant and many took on a secular use as market crosses. We might add here that this is the evolution of many village crosses, however, there are a large number of market crosses purposefully erected to mark the place of village commerce.

…two of the most important buildings in the community, the Manor House and parish church are close by the site.

It is known that a village cross stood at the centre of the Middle Streets crossroads. Given the facts, it is no surprise then, to find that two of the most important buildings in the community, the Manor House and parish church are close by the site. It is suspected that Beeston’s village cross was once used as a market cross. Certainly there are clues to this effect; it is widely believed that a corn market was held nearby the site, – until the 1860s, Middle Street, from the Memorial Cross to its junction with Station Road was known as Market Street.

The cross was removed, perhaps as a hazard to road traffic, sometime in the 1850’s and the whereabouts of its remains lost until 1929. It was in that year that part of the cross was discovered built into the wall of Manor Lodge, by the headmaster at ‘Church Street Junior Boys School’,  Arthur Cossons. Cossons was an active ‘local historian’ with a passion for Beeston’s history. He recognised a large piece of masonry in the wall as being a part of the ‘shaft’ of a  medieval cross. Proud of his discovery, Cossons had the cross shaft removed to Church Street and erected by the side of the school where it stands to this day.

Did you know?

  • The shaft of the medieval cross, – marked by a Blue Plaque, – can be found on Church Street, standing between the wall of the old school building and the footpath.
  • The shaft, believed to be 14th  century, is now a ‘Grade II’ listed monument. Most of the Victorian Board School was demolished in 2005, however, the headteachers house remains.
  • A Blue Plaque, dedicated to Arthur Cossons is is attached high-up on the gable wall of this building which was his home from 1932 to 1958.

JN

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