Our proud Town Hall is at risk: time to get rid of something else instead?
80–odd years ago the people of Beeston decided that they needed a proper civic building, and as such called in an architect with a flair for art-deco who whipped up a fine building that Beeston could be proud of. As Beeston went through decades of changes in both character, demographic and political leadership the hall has been a constant. Thousands of town-changing decisions have been made in its debating chamber, marriages conducted, celebrations held. It’s part of our history. Heck, even Wikipedia deems it the most iconic thing in Beeston and uses it as its main image on its entry for the town.
So why is it now in danger of demolition?
As always, money. The current administration claim it simply isn’t worth keeping any more, and want to make a quick buck on a sale. Rumours of a shonky developer waiting in the wings are rife, so a quick sale would be a hard injection of cash. “Old buildings or services?” crows council leader, Richard Jackson. “It’s that simple a choice.”
To which we at The Beestonian reply, while smacking our heads against a brick wall, “No, no it’s not. Your failure to run a council well has led to a financial nightmare.” And then we will pull out details of a current scandal rocking the council, which is costing hundreds of thousands of YOUR council tax in legal fees and temporary staff, and point out it is THAT which is blowing a hole in the finances, not a piece of Beeston’s civic pride. We’d put the whole story here, but it would take the whole mag – check out our sister blog, www.beestonia.wordpress.com for the details.
We are facing the loss of the Town Hall due to an entirely avoidable, utterly self-inflicted wound. Perhaps the much fairer path would be to preserve the Town Hall, and get rid of the entirely inept Council Leadership before it’s not just the Town Hall, but every paving stone and local park they can find a buyer for. Save Beeston Town Hall!
Last year, we decided to cast our gaze onto the unsung heroes of Beeston.
The word ‘hero’ was everywhere last year, following the tragic death of Owen Jenkins at Beeston Weir. It got us thinking how heroism stretches wide, from those who immediately sacrificed their lives to rescue others (as Owen did) to those who understand we are all part of a community, and that community works best when we all put a little bit in.
We asked online for your nominations, and wow. They flowed in, all telling stories of people who make this great town better. From people who give a few hours a week behind a charity shop till, to those who run major campaign in the face of vast opposition, these are the people who never ask for thanks, never seek out the limelight, but just get on with doing what they do because they think its right.
We were so overwhelmed with the response we have decided to run it as a regular feature rather than a one-off. If you made a nomination and they don’t feature here, then fret not, we most likely will get them on here soon.
If you have a hero you would like to nominate, send us their name, what they do / have done, and a few words on what makes them special. Here’s our first selection:
STEWART CRAVEN; CANALSIDE HERITAGE
When we requested nominations for community heroes, we got so many emails putting Stewart forward we can’t fit all the comments on here. But here are a select few:
“He kept walking past the dilapidated and decaying lock cottages saying if only someone would do something…and then he realised that he would have to be that someone it has taken years but the Canalside Heritage Centre is now yet another of Beeston’s key attractions, and it is all down to Stewart, the man is a star…and a hero.”
“Without his unfailing commitment to this project which opened in June this year, it would never have got off the ground and I think you’ll agree the Centre is a very welcome addition to Beeston & The Rylands.”
“He’s worked tirelessly over at least the last ten years to create the Canalside Heritage Centre.”
“Been tenacious and committed, and battled hard whilst also battling some serious health issues.”
“He’s ignored those who said it could never happen, and believed in his vision creating a fantastic community facility for Beeston Rylands and beyond.”
“Even after all his work, he continues to give many hours to the project, from chairing the Trustees, to being the big man in red for our Breakfast with Santa events (shush!).”
“Stewart has created a legacy for our community and should be recognised for this.”
GRAHAM MACHIN, MIDDLE STREET RESOURCE CENTRE
“As the chair of BCR, which is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, he has spent the last few years tirelessly negotiating with Notts. County Council to ensure the continuance of Middle Street Resource Centre as a place that offers socially inclusive activities. In addition he brings his personal support qualities and values to volunteers, members, visitors and staff in whatever way he can. It would be hard to estimate the time and effort he has put into this work, which began when he was still working full time, and the kindness, wisdom and foresight he continues to bring to the Centre.”
TAMAR FEAST, WE DIG NG9
When a small area of land off a side street began to look a bit scruffy, a local decided to take actions into her own hands. Tamar Feast, who some may remember from this very magazine a few years ago, was that community hero. Where others saw a scruffy verge, she saw a tiny wildlife refuge. With the help of some willing, green-fingered volunteers, she set to work planting, adding attractive stacked-tyre planters and, in a brilliant bit of work, made a ‘bug hotel’ out of stacked pallets. Go and have a look. If insects had Trip Advisor, the reviews would be rave. Despite the seeming best intention of the council, utility companies and other less corporate vandals, this little corner of Beeston has been transformed into a beautiful, bio-diverse paradise. You’ll find it on the corner of Wilmot Lane and Barrydale Avenue. As one nominator told us:
“Every street needs a Tamar.”
Miss Madeline Redhead, of Redhead-Scott School of Dance
“She has been running a dance school for over 40 years. There are other dance studios but there are people in Beeston and surrounding areas who went there as children, then their children went and then their children went . It’s moved around but the school has been a little sung business and cultural institution for 3 generations of pupils and over 40 years. Many of her pupils have gone on to be professional dancers and to perform in professional productions. Her dance school partner is a former pupil. She’s brought pleasure to thousands of children and parents, and contributed to the local economy.”
Oh 2018, how bountiful you have been for this column, how full of oddity and absurdity in the NG9 area. Yet all our lols this issue can be traced back to one place: that place up Foster Avenue.
Yes, Broxtowe Borough Council, where the lions really do seem led by the donkeys (apologise to any Equus africanus asinus readers out there). Staff are trying to do a good job under increasingly difficult circumstances, notably the scandal we mention on the front page, while the clueless councillors who set budgets and policy flap around like startled hens.
That’s the last farmyard reference, we promise.
Top of the list of absurdities we find the defence given to knock down our Town Hall. As transparency, accountability and democracy are ground down among our elected members, the symbol of these values, the 80-year old Town Hall, looks like it too will be beneath the bulldozers soon. It’s almost too clunky a bit of symbolism: any novelist worth her salt would baulk from such ham-fisted metaphor. Is Beeston beyond satire?
“People in Eastwood don’t know where the Town Hall is” says a Councillor at a meeting, to justify getting rid of the very building they’re debating in. As an opposition councillor is quick to point out, being unacknowledged by someone in the far north of our borough is not grounds to get rid of stuff. “That’s it lads,” says the Chinese Government. “We better tear down the Forbidden City. Reduce the Terracotta Army to dust. It seems that Mrs Scroggins of Plumptre Way, NG16, seems to have overlooked our existence!”
Our MP weighs in “There are no plans to demolish the Town Hall!” she thunders in her newsletter, written hastily in the back of the Uber whizzing her between London TV studios. “FAKE NEWS”. Now, we know Anna doesn’t really get involved in stuff in Broxtowe due to the demands of life in the Leicestershire countryside, but, as each one of the thousand plus respondents to the public consultation would have seen, demolition was, errr, the third option. Fake Soubz?
“I got married there,” a sprightly elderly lady tells me while I’m manning a Save The Town Hall stall. “A long time ago,” she adds. “That must have been lovely, to marry in your home town,” I reply. “Well, it were convenient,” she replies, wistfully. “He had to get his suit back by 4, and it were near the pub.” Ahhh, Beestonians, how I adore you.
So don’t let the councillors sell what is ours, don’t let them ruin a bit of Beeston’s heritage. We need to take the bull by the horns, refuse to chicken out, don’t duck responsibility’, not look gift horses in the mouth and resist until the cows come home.
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’.
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.
An extra big helping of The Beestonian this Christmas…
It’s rolled around again, Foxie at Hallams dons her Santa Suit, the pied wagtails flutter across the Square, and poor old Beeman suffers a season of silly-string toupees and drunken snogs by post-office party drunkards. Ah, Christmas!
It’s been a year of ups and downs. We’ve seen new businesses pop up all over town, and our creative scene once again punch well above its weight. The Canalside Heritage Centre, a labour of love for the last decade, finally opened its doors. Our I Am Beeston project blossomed into a bit of an institution (look out for an exciting twist we’ll be bringing to that in the New Year). Lets Go To Beeston was relaunched. We gave Beeston its first bespoke poem, and felt a bit sad that Bartons was going –but very happy that housing will soon be springing up on its expansive brownfield site. We took on Network Rail when they threatened to close the foot-crossings into the Nature Reserve, and won (for now). Oxjam, as you will read inside, smashed all previous records.
Yet there has been sadness. We lost many great Beestonians, not least with the tragic death of Owen Jenkins in the Summer. Also much-missed are Sally Pollard, wife (and Maid Marion) of our columnist (and Robin Hood) Tim Pollard. Nobel Laureate, MRI inventor and charming Beestonian Sir Peter Mansfield; local musician and Blue Monkey ale aficionado Mikk Skinner: RIP. We’re still awaiting any concrete news on the mess that is the central Beeston Phase 2 development, despite a flurry of vague statements to the contrary.
But we’re blathering before we’ve even been properly introduced. So let’s sort that.
If you’ve picked this up at the Lights Switch On, and wonder what the dickens you’ve got possession of, welcome. We’re The Beestonian, and we’re pleased to meet you. Open me up: you’ll find stuff all about this wonderful town from Indian poets to Thai cafes; somersaulting geniuses to supermarket horrors.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll note we’ve put on a bit of weight. Don’t worry, it’s not over-indulgence of mince pies, but the fact that we had so much stuff to cram into this issue we’ve gone up to 20 pages. We just keep on growing, and we’re still free. We’ll always be free.
How do we do that? How do we act like local Santas and give you this all for free? Well, we’re ran by volunteers and our print costs are paid by our lovely local sponsors. Find them inside, and pay them a visit, and tell ‘em we sent you. And if you run a business and fancy your ad sharing space with the excellence within, we’d be delighted to have you: see inside for details.
And if you see one of our writers in the pub, and fancy buying them a drink: well, that will be the best Christmas pressie ever. Have a good ‘un!
Once again, some dolt expresses a wish for Beeston to ‘emulate West Bridgford’, presumably meaning we’ll lose all our character and be nothing but a dormitory town on the outskirts of a city, rather than a vibrant place with its own identity and character. The dolt in question is erstwhile used-car salesman Cllr. Richard Jackson, the boss of Broxtowe Borough Council and a man not exactly blessed with much of an imagination.
It’s almost like he doesn’t really care about Beeston, or indeed Broxtowe. Like he once voted to abolish the very council he runs. Nice to see you care, chief.
While that vote failed, it hasn’t stopped Wacko Jacko from his quest to destroy the council: rumours suggest that morale is at a snail’s belly low at the council, as a huge falling out rages through the council. And is it true a secret committee has been formed to investigate another secret committee, all at huge cost to council tax payers? Watch this space…
As the council infighting rages, it’s up to Beestonians to imagine the future of the town, and where better to look than our sister Facebook Page Beeston Updated? As the 11,000 members of the site well know, public toilets and shoe shops seem to occasionally dominate the conversation. Or rather, the lack of them. So here’s an idea. Why not combine the two into one handy place? Shoe and Poo anyone?
Props to our columnist Scott Bennett, who when not penning pithiness for this rag is a professional stand-up comedian, and recently was roped in to support Rob Brydon on his tour. As Brydon is his comic hero, Scott was delighted, and took along an autographed copy of Brydon’s memoir, which the craggy Welsh funster signed a few days before Scott did his first ever gig. This happened. Our hearts and cockles are duly warmed.
If you haven’t heard the podcast that Scott does with three other contributors to The Beestonian, then you really should. It’s so funny it could turn Droopy into a hyena. You’ll find it by going to http://www.scottbennettcomedy.co.uk/podcast.html . But grab a girdle first. Your sides aren’t safe from splitting.
Many of our regular readers will recall that over the last few issues, Bow Selector writer Tim Pollard’s wife Sally has been suffering from breast cancer. Sadly, Sally died in June.
Her legacy is rich, leaving not just a husband, but a daughter, Scarlett, 3. She leaves many friends, family and colleagues who were all touched by a unique soul. She leaves the world a better place than when she found it, brightening everything she touched.
Tim has subsequently raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities. To the end, Sally was a determined advocate for getting checked for breast cancer.
We offer our deepest condolences to Tim and Scarlett. We cannot even begin to imagine what such a loss is like, but we can be very sure that, alongside The Beestonian, our town wishes the best for them, and will in time remember Sally for the joy she spread, rather than the sadness of her loss.
I’d like to think I’m something of a dab hand at Top Trumps, having definitely been one of the better players at Stevenson Junior School in the early eighties.
Not many could walk away unscathed from my mastery of First Division footballers, a stack of red-faced, blue-legged men with universal awful hairstyles and expressions that bordered on the Neanderthal. Being pretty awful at most other sports, I took pride in this.
So when I find out a Top Trumps Champion is living in Beeston, I jump at the chance to interview him, and challenge him to a game. He accepts, and so I meet Alex Clements, 9, a pupil at Roundhill. We face each other at a table, and his steely gaze tells me this might not be the walkover I expected.
He selects the pack: Animals, appropriately enough, as he recently took part in The Top Trumps Championship at Chester Zoo. As he deals, he lets me know he’s been playing since he was 3, an obvious attempt to demoralise me before we even begin. I tell him that while that is young, I’ve played, on and off, for four decades. The first card goes down. He flukes a win.
He knows around six complete packs off by heart which is the key to being a Top Trumps champ.
He then flukes another, and a further seven more and I’m just about to cry ‘FIX!’ (or just cry) when I beat him as my Sumatran Orangutan has a higher Risk of Extinction rating than his rhino. ‘YES!’ I cry, punching the air. I’m very sorry the Sumatran Orangutan is disappearing because of man’s greed…but a win’s a win.
He tells me that his favourite pack is Awesome Animals, and his favourite card Scruffy the Monkey, who has a brilliant mischief rating. He knows around six complete packs off by heart, which, he tells me, is the key to being a Top Trumps champ. He gets another strong run, taking my meerkats, giraffe and aardvark. I’m in trouble now. Desperately, I try and distract him by asking him what he wants to be when he grows up. ‘A professional Top Trumps Player,’ he tells me, but is encouraged to think again by a disapproving noise from his mother. ‘Ok,’ he says, reconsidering. ‘A ninja’.
If ruthlessness is a necessary quality in ninja studies, then Alex has it, ripping through my final few cards and claiming an easy win over his shocked opponent, who can only ask if he is going to have another crack at the title next year, after coming third – better than Murray at Wimbledon and the English football team EVER – in June. ‘No, but I am going to coach other players to be good enough to make it to the finals,’ he explains. As I sit, bereft of cards, thoroughly trounced, I realise I’m in the presence of a card master, and was a fool to think I stood a chance.
Next issue: Lord Beestonia loses a game of darts to a new born.
Is Beeston in for its best summer in living memory? Of course we’d say it was, as the trumpeter of all that is ace about our town.
But check out the evidence before you dismiss this as simple hyperbole:
The Canalside Heritage Centre opens in June: see the feature on Page 3.
Oxjam returns! There was doubt on its return, but we can confirm it all kicks off with the Unplugged event on July 1st.
A week later, Beeston Carnival is back for its twelfth year.
The Street Art Festival that will be brightening up some local walls.
More beer festivals than you can drunkenly shake a stick at.
Beeston Library reopens in August after a huge refit.
The ABC Art Trail returns, showing off the best in Beeston artistic flair on the 3rd and 4th.
TONS MORE! Really. For a town of our size, we certainly punch above our own weight. The Beestonian is always keen to hear about (and subsequently promote) exciting local stuff, so don’t hesitate to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have a big project to launch, which we’ll tell you more about soon. As we now have joined the nineties and got ourselves a website, you’ll be wise to keep an eye out there: https://beestonian.com/. Now, open up this magazine and find just a slice of the talent stuffed cake that is Beestonia…
Around 550 metres to the west of the start of Ewe Lamb Lane, is the prominent natural feature known as Bob’s Rock. It is roughly located between the cemetery, to the south, and Wesley Place, to the north. This large sandstone outcrop, which commands wide views to the north over the Erewash valley, is according to Earp (1990) ‘the third largest stone in Nottinghamshire’.
In Mellor’s book ‘An address to the young folks of Stapleford, (1906), he interestingly mentions the geology of the area and of Bob’s Rock:
“In “The Geology of Stapleford and Sandiacre” Mr. J. Shipman says:—” I know of no similar area where so much work for the field geologist is crowded into such a small space.” He shows how the rocks have been shattered and displaced by faults, and pushed up or let down, “as to remind one of a patchwork quilt or Mosaic pavement.” He then refers to the millstone grit on Stony Clouds, to the Bunter pebble beds, the Waterstones, the Coal measures, the glacial drift deposits, the alluvial deposits of the Erewash, etc., all of which I am not competent to discuss, but I suggest you should form classes for the study of them.
As evidence of the glacial period, he gives a picture of the boulder clay, much Contorted, resting on crumpled-up upper keuper shales, at Wilsthorpe Brickyard, Sandiacre, in 1883. He says that “both parishes are just on the southern edge of the great Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire coalfields. North of a line drawn east and west through the north side of these villages stretch the coal measures and lower carboniferous rocks, which have been forced up into a great saddle-back, or anti-clinical ridge, now known as the Pennine Chain. South of this east and west line the new Red Sandstone strata have been faulted down two or three hundred feet.” He speaks of a deposit of drift close to Bob’s Rock resting “against an old cliff of Bunter Sandstone much fissured and weathered, which formed a sheltered nook in which the sand was deposited when the country was submerged during one of the stages of the glacial period.”
Another interesting story connected with the stone is that of John Wesley (1703-91). It is ‘supposed’ that Wesley preached at the stone in 1774.
John Wesley was an English theologian, evangelist, and founder of The Methodist religious movement. The established Anglican church was hostile to Methodism and most of the parish churches were closed to him. Wesley’s friend, the evangelist George Whitefield, was also excluded from churches and preached in the open air, in February, 1739, to a company of miners. Wesley hesitated to accept Whitefield’s earnest request to copy this bold step. Overcoming his scruples, he preached his first sermon in the open air, near Bristol, in April of that year. He was still unhappy about the idea of field preaching, and would have thought, ’till very lately,’ such a method of saving souls as ‘almost a sin.’
These open-air services were very successful; and he never again hesitated to preach in any place where an assembly could be got together, more than once using his father’s tombstone at Epworth as a pulpit. He continued for fifty years, entering churches when he was invited, taking his stand in the fields, in halls, cottages, and chapels, when the churches would not receive him.
The Wesley Place Chapel in Stapleford was built afterwards near this spot where John Wesley preached in 1774. He used the natural sandstone outcrop (Bob’s Rock) which stood next to a quarry.