Beeston Pubs of Today and Yesteryear

Renowned the world over, the great British pub is not just a place to drink beer, wine, cider or even something a little bit stronger, it is a unique social centre, very often the focus of community life in villages, towns and cities throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Pubs can be traced back to Roman taverns, through the Anglo-Saxon alehouse to the development of the tied house system in the 19th century. In 1393, King Richard II of England introduced legislation that pubs had to display a sign outdoors to make them easily visible for passing ale tasters who would assess the quality of ale sold.

Most pubs focus on offering beers, ales and similar drinks. As well, pubs often sell wines, spirits, and soft drinks, meals and snacks. The owner, tenant or manager (licensee) is known as the pub landlord or publican. Referred to as their “local” by regulars, pubs are typically chosen for their proximity to home or work. Beeston is and has for a long time been known for its great many public houses. It has been suggested that Beeston has one of the highest concentrations of pubs-per-person in the United Kingdom. The town has clearly a lot of public houses for locals to call at least one of them their “local”.

Pubs of Today

We will now turn to look at just some of Beeston’s existing pubs and have a look at a brief history of each establishment starting with The Jesse Boot. Known until very recently as The Greyhound, The Jesse Boot was built in 1741, one of the earliest owners were the Stone family who actually brewed on the premises. The present building was modernised in 1984. In the early 19th century in the days of the Industrial Revolution, it is said that Luddites called here and after raising the landlord from his bed to serve them refreshments, marched onto Nottingham to wreak their havoc. This Inn and the Durham Ox (now a Chinese Restaurant), were visited by Reform Act rioters in 1831. Having burnt down Nottingham Castle they marched to Beeston and caused the Silk Mill at Beeston the same fate.

The Last Post is a Wetherspoon’s chain pub which opened in 2000. It is situated in the building of the old Royal Mail sorting office and was adjacent to the town’s former post office. The Hop Pole is a local traditional community pub situated in Beeston. It is a very old, unspoilt pub dating back to 1870. With its lovely original beams and 2 fireplaces, this gives the pub a very warm, homely feel.

The building, on Church Street in Beeston, we now know of as The Crown probably became associated with beer sometime between about 1835 and 1841, although the building itself probably dates from about 1800. The Crown Inn traces its history back to a Mr Samuel Starr who can be recognised as the man who established the pub. He had been brewing beer on the premises since at least 1841. As a ‘common brewer’ he would have sold his beer to anyone wishing to purchase it for consumption at home.

The Victoria Hotel was built around 1839, named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) – a popular monarch who is often featured on pub signboards. The pub is situated next door to Beeston Train station and like so many Victorian establishments was built to serve the passengers who used the station. In 1971 an eccentric landlord used to keep a small zoo at the rear end of the pub, as well as a python inside!! The collection included a puma, a lion, a leopard and a baboon.

The Star Inn located on Middle Street is an old Shipstones Pub. Not many people know that it has a connection with the television show Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Unlike many other pubs or bars used in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Star Inn is an actual pub used in the show, which fans can visit and have a drink. The pub featured in ‘The Return of the Seven – Part One’ episode, when Barry and Wayne take Pippa and Linda for a quick drink. Barry forgets the time, and ends up leaving his Fiancé Hazel and ‘The Wey Ling’. Dennis and Neville turn up in the Jag, and then Bomber, in a pink Ford Cortina.

Pubs of Yesteryear

The Three Horseshoes, Middle Street, Beeston, May 1986. Photograph Credit: Reg Baker.

Quite a few of Beeston’s pubs have disappeared over time with a great majority closing in recent years. We will now look at some of these closed pubs.

The Royal Oak was situated on Villa Street, Beeston. This was a smallish Shipstones tied house in the centre of Beeston.  The Cow was situated on Middle Street, Beeston. This pub used to be called the Beech Tree Lodge and was one of the oldest pubs in Beeston. Tesco bought the pub and demolished it c. 2005 – the store was finally built 2010 and there is now a Tesco petrol station on what was the pub. The Three Horseshoes was situated on Middle Street. This was a Shipstones tied house. The pub was demolished to make way for a tram line.

Other pubs to have closed in recent years include the Prince of Wales which was located on High Road. Although the Durham Ox has not closed its doors it is no longer ran primarily as a ‘traditional pub’ and is now ran as a Polish restaurant.


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.


Beeston on the Telly: A Top Ten (well, eleven)

1. Auf Wiedersehen Pet:

Produced up the road at the Lenton Lane studios, it probably no surprise that Beeston was used for many of the suburb location shots in the show. Beeston variously doubles up for Newcastle, Birmingham and Derby (!). Beeston resident Kate told The Beestonian how she remembered the filming “They were all outside Roundhill for a day. Jimmy Nail knocked on my door and asked to use the toilet. I let him. He was some time”.

2. Van Der Valk

Der-der-der-der; der-der-der, der derder der der der…. The excellent theme tune, Eye Level reached number one in the Seventies when this TV show became a hit. The story of a cynical Dutch detective solving crime on the more salubrious streets of Amsterdam, the title character was actually a Beestonian, the renowned actor Barry Foster. Rumours that Foster Avenue was named after this son of Beeston are as yet unconfirmed.

3. Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad is often described as the best bit of telly ever made, generally by people who are obsessed with lists and will write into Q Magazine if they find some spurious


100 Best Albums of the Nineties puts their favourite obscure Indie LP at a position lowerthan they would like. But whatever, it is good, and the spin-off show Better Call Saul is also an understated masterpiece.

Set in deepest New Mexico and full of Americana you’d expect the producers to find a US band to provide the twangy, sultry guitar for the theme music, they instead got in touch with Little Barrie, a three-piece headed up by Barrie Cadogan, a through and through Beestonian and, as his name suggests, of urchin-like appearance.

4. Virtually Every Documentary in the Early Noughties

While we’re on the subject of theme music, we have to mention the majestic Bent. The electronic duo Simon and Nail hailed from Stapleford and Beeston respectively, putting out a slew of great music for a decade. Such was the excellence of their tunes they became staples as incidental music on countless shows during the time: if it wasn’t them, it would be Röyksopp or Lemon Jelly. We interviewed Simon a few years ago for The Beestonian, read it here.

Interesting fact: Bent were chosen by Michael Caine as one of his Desert Island Discs. So impressed was he by their unique sound he decided to make his own compilation of music of a similar, err, bent. This was released in 2007, and was, quite wonderfully, titled ‘Cained’.

5. Jamie Johnson


The story of a 12-year-old footballing protege with a difficult home life, this kids TV show used Beeston as its backdrop, notably filming on Hope Street, Humber Road Chippy and The Vic.


The remake may be mere slops, but the original is a stone-cold classic. Ronnie Barker delivered the performance of his life, but the ensemble cast made it what it was, cramming some of the finest talents (and Christopher Biggins) into the claustrophobic dark stone walls of Slade Prison. Yet the relationship that really endured was that between recidivistic burglar Fletcher and his naive young cellmate Godber. The father-son chemistry between the two characters, never mawkish, never overstated, made the show something else: in real life Barker, and Richard Beckinsale became good friends.

Beckinsale, of course, hailed from Beeston where he attended College House School (where he is memorialised with a blue plaque), and Alderman White. Took down tragically early -he was just 30- by a sudden heart attack, the world lost one of its finest comic actors.

Great fact: the original script drafts imagined Beckinsale’s character as a minor part, and didn’t even give him a name, merely mentioned as ‘Lag’….this later became ‘Lenny Arthur Godber’.


The Star / Drum, with classic Bartons bus besides.

Another ’80’s Central TV production, every local schoolkid would claim to have seen Michael Elphick and a mulleted Neil Morrissey pegging it around town on a motorbike. Also like Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Star was Boon’s pub of choice, renamed The Drum.  Beeston Square was also featured in episodes. Ahh, Central TV. Gave us loads of filming opportunities and, thanks to Bullseye, the highest ratio of speedboats-to -household of any major land-locked county.

8. Prisoner Cell Block H.

It is a little-known fact that our local MP Anna Soubry, who lives in Leicestershire but has an office in Beeston, was once the UK’s Prisoner Cell Block H expert. She’d regularly travel the world, giving complex lectures on the semiotics of Bea and Lizzie’s relationship, and devised the seminal work that laid the foundations for the now established academic study of Wentworth dialectics.

Her renown was such that ITV made her a regular guest on This Morning, snatching her from the fusty halls of ivy-tower academia and into the front rooms of daytime telly viewers, which saw a marked decrease in dole claimants as thousands fled to find work when she appeared.

After being called to give evidence at Home Office inquiries into the female penal system, she developed a taste for politics and successfully stood for MP, unsuccessfully campaigning for new prison walls to save money by being built of flimsy chipboard painted with a brick design.

9. Coronation Street/ Crossroads / Emmerdale


….all starred Beestonian born and bred Sherrie Hewson, who also is a regular on Benidorm, Loose Women and has even done Big Brother. Appropriately, she’s currently in panto in Nottingham, so don’t be surprised if you see her having a cheeky half down The Last Post on an afternoon.

10. This Is England / Line of Duty


While Beestonian Shane Meadows decamped to Sheffield to film the movie spin-off, he has used Beeston on of occasion as a backdrop. The stand-out, BAFTA winning performance from Wollatonian -turned-Beestonia *smatter of applause* of Vicky McClure led to her taking leading roles in Line Of Duty, the adaptation of Conrads The Secret Agent, and The Replacement. A phenomenal talent, Wollaton can do one if they think they’re having her back.

11. Beestonia: The Movie

Y’think we’d get this far without giving ourselves a plug? Don’t be daft. Filmed during the height of the tram works to show a town in transition, this epic (over 20minutes) film has baffingly not been selected for any BAFTA’s yet, but does have a cameo from a BAFTA-winning, mentioned-above Shane Meadows. Watch it, before we have to remove it from YouTube when Paramount or Disney buy the rights.

The Beeston Maltings

In 2013 Beeston lost a chunk of its heritage for ever and lost a historical industrial site.

The heritage and site in question was the former Beeston Brewery and later Beeston Maltings. The Beeston Brewery Company was formed in the late 1870s and a brewery was built in 1880 alongside the Midland Railway line between Nottingham and Derby. The company had its own railway sidings running off the mainline. The company had both malting and brewery functions on the same site. The architects were Wilson and Company and the builders were Waite, Corbould and Faulkner. It was the first brewery in England to have pneumatic maltings.

“Malt had been produced there since 1878, but closure meant not just the end of malting at Beeston, but the end of Nottinghamshire’s once extensive floor malting industry.”

An extension to the brewery was made in 1884 and a new barley store was added in 1898. In 1881 the manager was Alexander Anderson and who was replaced by Samuel Theodore Bunning in 1883. Bunning continued to manage the company until it was taken over by James Shipstone and Sons Limited in 1922. Brewing ceased and in 1924 Shipstones converted the buildings to a maltings.

In December 2000 the production of malt ceased at Beeston Maltings. It was the last floor maltings to operate in Nottinghamshire. Malt had been produced there since 1878, but closure meant not just the end of malting at Beeston, but the end of Nottinghamshire’s once extensive floor malting industry.

In 2009, plans were submitted to Broxtowe Borough Council to demolish the site to make way for 55 new homes, these plans were initially withdrawn. The Beeston and District Civic Society attempted to get the buildings listed by English Heritage. This bid was unsuccessful as well as an unsuccessful attempt to include the building within a conservation area – which would have given it a greater protection against alteration and demolition.

In 2009 a spokesman for the then current site owners Heineken – who had applied for permission to demolish the building – commented: “The maltings at Dovecote Lane have been redundant for many years. Over the last decade, the four-storey building has become unsafe and unsightly and the building has been a target for many acts of theft and vandalism, which have used up valuable police time. We believe that demolition offers the most viable way to end the constant safety and security problems associated with the building.”

Despite all the plans and campaigns to save the maltings nothing could be done to save the site. The site was deemed “unsafe” and “beyond saving”. The remaining buildings survived until 2012 when demolition started. The site was completely cleared in early 2013.


Beeston Station

Today Beeston Station is as busy as it was when it first opened in 1839. The station is still an important route into Beeston and the surrounding area for many local residents and visitors.

The station is a Grade II listed railway station on the Midland Main Line and is managed by East Midlands Trains. Being located 3.2 miles (5.1 km) south-west of Nottingham the station is also on an easy route to London only being 123 miles 22 chains (198.4 km) from the capital.

The station was built in 1839 for the Midland Counties Railway.  Services began on 4 June 1839. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway joined with the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway to form the Midland Railway. The original station was nothing more than a cottage and the growing population of Beeston needed a bigger station. In 1847 the original station was replaced with the substantially larger white brick building with ashlar trimmings which still exists. This is notable for its carved bargeboards, some remaining diagonal paned windows and the pseudo-heraldic shields with ‘MR’ and ‘1847’.

The growth of Beeston’s population in the Victorian and Edwardian periods led to substantial expansion of the station facilities. An extension containing a large booking hall, ladies’ waiting room and parcels office was added to the rear of the station building, doubling its floorspace. After the Second World War the level crossing, lattice footbridge and signal box survived until 1969 when Beeston and Stapleford Urban District Council built a road bridge (“Station Bridge”) across the railway. This was to ease traffic delays caused by the frequent closure of the level crossing. This effectively replaced the footbridge between the two platforms.

During the 1980’s with the decline of passengers using the station led to great neglect which resulted in vandalism and crime. In fact the station’s overall condition got that bad British Rail at the time proposed to completely demolish the station. However the station was saved after a local campaign was set up by the local civic society and local railway enthusiasts.  Their subsequent campaign led to the station being listed in 1987. This was followed by restoration of what remained of the 1847 building and the platform shelters. The original platform masonry survived until 2004 when the platforms were completely rebuilt. In recent years Beeston Station has seen a boost in passengers using the station and it continues to be used by local residents and visitors.

Jimmy Notts

Secret Beeston: book available now!

New Book Available From August 2017
Secret Beeston
by Frank E Earp and Joseph Earp

“The Nottinghamshire town of Beeston as we know it today began life as an Anglo-Saxon settlement close to the banks of the River Trent. By the late eighteenth century the town had developed into a thriving textile centre. The nineteenth century saw a new mix of other industries, including famous names like the Humber Works and Boots the Chemist. Over the last decade Beeston has witnessed its greatest change with the introduction of an extension to Beeston of Nottingham City’s Tram Network. Local authors and historians Frank E. Earp and Joseph Earp delve into the town’s murkier past in this unique approach to the town’s history, blending the serious with the not so serious, and seeking out its hidden secrets”.

Available from all good book shops and also available on-line. The book can also be ordered directly from Amberley Publishing:

Telephone: 01453 847800


Beeston Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beeston memories

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

In the days when I was living in Beeston, there was a gated level crossing at the end of Station Rd by the railway station, which was the only road access to the Rylands and Ericsson Telephones factory. At the other end of Beeston Station was a footbridge from the end of Dovecote Lane leading to a footpath between Ericsson’s sports field just behind the station and the factory grounds, I think that is still there.

In those days, long before electronic banking was even thought of, it was the law that all wages and salaries had to be paid in cash and every week a car went from the factory to the bank to collect the cash for payday, the next day. With something like 6000 people working there, it was a very large amount of money, all in relatively small denomination notes and coins. There were plenty of different routes from the bank to the level crossing so the run was fairly secure.

A Land Rover was used to stop the wages car, the wages were snatched and another car used for the getaway

However, at some stage a bridge was put over the railway near Boots factory and that provided an alternative route into that part of Beeston between the railway and the river. The car carrying the weekly wages for Ericsson’s had only one route from the crossing gates to the factory and one day sometime after the other route was opened, the wages car was intercepted about 100 metres or so from the factory gates. From memory, a Land Rover was used to stop the wages car, the wages were snatched and another car used for the getaway. It was a very bulky load which would have taken some time to move from one vehicle to another. I worked in the pay office and remember it took a large 4-wheel trolley to carry the cash from the car to the office where the wages were made up for payment.

The getaway car was eventually found behind Lord Trent’s bust at the midway point of University Boulevard. I don’t know whether the thieves were ever caught or whether anything was ever recovered. I do know the bank had difficulties collecting enough cash together in a short time to replace the money that had been stolen.

When I visited Beeston in about 2001, I was surprised to find the level crossing gates had gone: there is now an overpass so traffic into the Rylands area isn’t delayed.

I have just finished watching, for the umpteenth time, the movie ‘Beestonia’. The old photograph of a WW1 bus running on a ‘balloon’ of coal gas reminded me that during WW2, Barton’s did exactly the same with at least one of their single decker buses. I was only a little lad at the time, about 9 or 10 years old.

During the war, Ericsson’s built several supposedly bomb-proof shelters in the factory grounds. They were used for file storage after the war. They were reinforced concrete, with walls about a metre thick, with a sloping ramp between the outer and inner walls and inside the inner wall, stairs leading up to the different floors. There was a third wall and inside that, the rooms where people could shelter. They have obviously gone by now but I wonder what exactly happened to them. They would have been difficult to demolish.


The Hemlock Stone

The Hemlock stone is famously said to have been hurled by the devil from Castleton in Derby because the ringing of the local bells infuriated him. More recently it has been the focal point for many a folklorist happening; bonfires, firework shows and more. But resident historian, nonagenarian and rapper Eugene Cobblers thinks he can shed some light on the true origins of this fabled stone. But he could be wrong.

The clue is in the name. Hemlock. Some scientists will tell you that the stone is a result of natural erosion and the movement of tectonics, but that’s just simply not true. The answer is in local folklore. The devil really did hurl it. At least a devil of sorts. That is, in around 399 BC locals of Beeston, or Beos Tun as it was then known, and indeed all of Nottingham, were woken one balmy summer’s night by a great roar.

It was the sound of a violent earthquake which tore across the midlands, but was mistaken by the scientifically illiterate folks of the time as the roar of a devilish beast. People ran screaming for their lives, convinced they were about to be devoured by some angry pagan god or monster, and such as it was Pytheas, on his trip around Britain years later heard a great many tales from the locals of when “…the devil made the land tremble.”

Many great stones were thrown upwards from the force. One such was the hemlock stone, which was thus named after landing in a field in which the poisonous plant proliferated. There, that’s it. Simple.

The Chilwell Ghost House

Beeston’s own intrepid historian and occasional paranormal explorer, Alan Dance, tells us about some spooky goings-on on one of Chilwell’s most infamously-named streets….

If you follow the tram lines west of Bramcote Lane, you will shortly cross Ghost House Lane. If you’ve ever wondered how it got its name, it’s because at the bottom of the lane, there once stood an old cottage called the Ash Flat House. Almost 200 years ago the house became the centre of some very strange goings-on, such that many people believed it to be haunted, and thereafter it became known as the Ghost House. Not only was the house alleged to be haunted, but it was also believed that a murder had been committed there. But beyond these few brief facts, little more in the way of detail was recorded, and such written accounts as existed were rather sketchy.

This area was farmland, but in the late 1940s building work began on the Inham Nook housing estate, and the Ghost House was demolished in 1952 as the estate grew. As a child, I was always intrigued by this story of a haunted house and an unsolved murder, but when I tried to find out more details – who was involved, who was murdered and why; who was the murderer, was he ever caught and tried; and when exactly did these events happen, if they really did happen – nobody seemed to know. So, in 1996, I set out to see what I could discover.

After considerable research in old newspapers, parish registers, census returns, wills and other documents in the Nottingham Archives Office and Library, I was able to piece together a fascinating account which shed light on events which took place all those years ago, culminating in the publication in 1998 of my book The Chilwell Ghost – a New Investigation.

People came from many miles around to view the house and, hopefully, witness the strange goings-on

A newspaper report from 1850 stated that John Baguley had just died at Chilwell, confessing on his deathbed that about a quarter of a century earlier he had murdered a pedlar for his money and possessions, and buried the body. Armed with this one name and date, I was able to uncover much more evidence. This showed that the Baguley family lived at the Ash Flat House, owned by local landowner John Pearson, for whom Baguley worked. A pedlar, who regularly visited the area, had indeed gone missing in late 1827 and was never seen again. Witnesses said he intended to spend the night at the Ash Flat House and it was rumoured he was rather friendly with the family’s eldest daughter, Diana.

They were a family with a poor reputation in the village. Diana had produced three illegitimate children and in 1837, along with her sister Jane, was imprisoned for theft from two Nottingham shops. Baguley and his family were then evicted by Mr Pearson, and another family moved in. It was this family who first reported the strange happenings. They refused to stay in the house and were replaced by another family, who moved on just as quickly.

The house had become the centre of a serious outbreak of poltergeist phenomena. Unaccountable banging on the shutters, objects moving, groans and other strange noises alarmed the inhabitants to such an extent that nobody stayed for long. Many local people believed all this was connected with the murder. The story quickly spread, and it is said that people came from many miles around to view the house and, hopefully, witness the strange goings-on.

John Baguley was never brought to trial, for he died shortly after making his deathbed confession. No relatives had reported the pedlar missing, but as an itinerant, his current whereabouts may not have been known. And as he was a Scotsman, he might not have had any family nearby. All in all, he was the perfect murder victim. There was never an investigation, and in any case, the murder was committed before the existence of a police force.

But one mystery still remains, which I hope might one day be solved – what happened to the body of the pedlar? John Baguley himself claimed he buried it. But exactly where?

The above is just a brief outline of what happened, but the book contains much more information and should be of interest for anyone interested in local history, or who just likes a true-life, mystery story. It is illustrated with photographs, sketches, old maps and reproductions of old documents.

The Chilwell Ghost  – A New Investigation is published by Arundel Books, price £5.99.

Available at WH Smith in Beeston and most Nottingham bookshops.

Alan Dance

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