Growing up in Boythorpe

From the Tenants’ Handbook

Comfort in the home, a well-kept garden and recognition of one’s share of responsibility in the maintenance and upkeep of the estate as a whole will ensure satisfaction for all.

Who lived on the estate?

Erna Alcock (A)’s grandmother lived on West Row on West Bars: she was re-housed on the estate when her house was demolished. Marion Yeldham (Y)’s family moved to the estate when her father’s employers, Negretti and Zamba, moved out of London during the war.

I remember that some people round about weren’t happy about us being given a house because we hadn’t been on the waiting list. My parents decided to stay in Chesterfield after the war because if we had gone back to London we would have been living in a house with an outside toilet. (Y)

Possibly others, particularly local authority employees, were housed there temporarily until they could find accommodation elsewhere. The first headmaster of William Rhodes Senior School was Mr Greenhough who lived on Walton Drive. He later became Borough Education Officer so it’s unlikely that he lived on Walton Drive for very long. A Mr Kerry and a Mr Murfin were residents briefly, who may have been the teachers with those names who taught at the junior school.

My father had to move into a council house in 1929 when he was employed as a foreman of the newly formed Hunloke Estate Repairs Department. No 37 Walton Crescent was a long way from my Dad’s depot on Boythorpe Mount – he used a Rudge bike to get him there. In 1937 my dad learned that Mr Newman who lived at 11 Central Avenue wished to move this was his opportunity. The rent at 37 Walton Crescent was 10s 2d and that at 11 Central Avenue was 14s 10d. The Newmans were delighted to flit and save four bob a week.

By now other estates were being built Birdholme about 1930 and St Augustines about 1932.The estates were built by private contractors and all work had to be to the required standard and inspectors or clerks of works had to be appointed, one of whom was my father. Initially problems and repairs were carried out by private contractors but eventually it was decided that this work should be done by a works department under the control of the Borough Council. Being the eldest son of Edward Silcock, my father had a wealth of building experience, and he was appointed works manager of this new department. Its base was on the left hand side of Boythorpe Mount, the entranced to William Rhodes Senior school. There were workshops and storage areas. Every year a panel of inspectors came from the Council’s audit department – one used to count every brick in the yard to see if everything was correct. The department got its first lorry in 1947. By 1948 the depot was far too small for the work involved so it was moved to the bottom of Central Avenue, adjacent to the Brampton Branch railway. The Borough Engineer’s office was moved from the Town Yard on Saltergate (where the multi-storey car park now stands) to the town hall. Some of the work of the yard was transferred to Boythorpe and the transport section to St John’s Road. The movement of the depot from Boythorpe gave an opportunity for William Rhodes senior school to be extended and the technical department was built. The highlight of the week was Friday – pay night – when all the Borough Engineer’s staff got paid. There was a long queue on Saltergate; many wives were present to ensure that they got their housekeeping money before their husbands disappeared to the nearest pub. (S)

Privet hedges formed the perimeter of the council properties which was a disadvantage for some. Being on the corner it had a long privet hedge. At number 11 (Central Avenue) it must have been about 30 yards long. It was not the cutting of the hedge that was the trouble, as my dad had a good pair of shears, but it was the clearing up afterwards. My brother and I had to collect the clippings in sacks and take them down to the orchard to burn the rubbish – a job we both detested. In the 1960s the Council decided on an open-garden policy and the privet hedges were removed. (S)

We lived at no 21 Sycamore Avenue, which was one end of row of four houses. Families from the middle two had to go round the ends of the row to get to their back door so mostly they used their front doors. You can see the privet hedges – later rhododendrons were planted in front of them. (Y)

 

The estate was built on farmland and there were several huge trees – they must have been three to four hundred years old. Initially they were left but eventually they had to come down especially the ones near to houses. There was one opposite number 4 Walton Drive: this tree was removed in 1938 and its diameter at its base was over four feet. The road was closed for a week so that it could be taken down in pieces to avoid as much damage as possible. Other trees which were further away from the houses were eventually removed after the war. (S)

My grandmother lived at 17 Walton Drive, she always said that she was one of the one of the first to move in and she had gas lighting. There were so many lights on each floor, four up and four down. (A)

When the houses were first built they had gas lighting because there were the holders on the wall but, by the time we moved in in 1932, we had electric lighting. There was no light in the lavatory and there wasn’t a two-way switch on the stairs. Someone, possibly a child, fell down the stairs and after that they installed two-way switches. We had a big stone sink in the kitchen, not very deep, which stood on legs like chimney pots. We had coin in the slot meters for gas (1d) and electricity (1s). Men used to come round to read the meters, count out the money and give some money back. We had to black-lead the stove. (L)

We didn’t have a carpet, just lino with a rug in front of the fire and on the stairs there was a runner with bare boards either side. I can’t remember any furniture in particular but we had an organ, although there wasn’t really room for it. Ann could play by ear and I imagine we had a sing song at Christmas. It was a wrench when we had to get rid of it. (L)

We used to shop for food daily: you could get what you wanted at the shops. Mrs Rhodes kept the sweet shop; Mr Rowley kept the grocer’s (I can remember standing outside and there was a mouse in the window); the Mays brothers kept the Post Office[1]; John Kelly’s parents kept the fish and chip shop (John Kelly became the coroner) and there was a Co-op shop. There was another one at the end of Hunloke Avenue where the rally shop is now and next door was Jepson’s sweet shop (now a house). There was another shop on Central Avenue, where the sandwich shop is now. It was a grocery shop and my mother used to take the grocery order there. (Y)

There was also a butcher’s shop later owned by Turner’s and then Dan Sambrook – both were brought up on the estate. (A)

There were two milk men one in the morning and the other, a different man, in the evening. My father preferred the one in the evening. To keep it fresh in the summer you had to stand the jug in a bucket of water; also you could heat it to just less than boiling point, but it didn’t keep very long neither did butter. In the pantry there was a cold slab. During the war mother used to mix the butter and the margarine because the margarine tasted awful. The meat ration was 1s 2d. How much you got depended on the price, the more expensive the less you got. Also some of it had to be taken as corned beef. My mother used to make a corned beef pie with onion and potato on the top – it tasted good. We didn’t have chicken – it was too expensive but at Christmas during the war we used to have a broiler or perhaps a rabbit. I don’t remember what we had for breakfast certainly not fried breakfasts. The Sunday roast lasted for three days and also a fish man came round. I remember just after starting school I used to take bread and lard (really I think it was dripping) for elevenses. As a treat we had two thin arrowroot biscuits (that was about the only sort there was) with butter between. For Anne’s twenty-first birthday we had a cake made of chocolate and biscuits. (L)

There were also regular delivery people. Simpson’s brought milk round in churns and measured out the milk into jugs, before the Co-op started deliveries. Also bread and greengroceries were brought round. The greengrocer had a shop on Chatsworth Road. (A)

I can remember going to Mays to pay the paper bill as my father had it delivered. Sometime later it became Joe’s. (M)

At the corner of Walton Crescent and Hunloke Avenue there was a shop off-licence called Harlow’s because Mr and Mrs Harlow ran it all through the war years until their retirement. It sold Ind Coope and Alsops beers. When my father sent me for a bottle of beer, being under 18 we would enter the beer-off which was attached to the house on the Walton Crescent end, buy the beer and Mr Harlow would have to fit a label over the cork to say that it must not be broken unless you were 18 years or over. Later in life i.e.16 etc we would buy beer and secretly drink it. If our parents had ever found out I dread to think what would have happened. (S)

We sometimes went to Harlow’s shop, where they sold their own ice-cream in potted meat jars for 2d. (L)

I remember my parents buying me an ice-cream birthday cake at the shop on Park Road. (Y)

We used to get ice-cream from the shop that’s now Walton Motors. (A)

We used to go up to the shop that’s now Walton Motors to get 4 gallons of petrol and shot of Redex for £1. That would be in the 1950s. My father had a car in 1955, the only other family with a car were the Johnsons at no 15. (Y)

According to the Tenant’s Handbook the regulations governing the erection of aerials, poles etc. were on the back of the rent card. At the time (about 1950) there was no television but when it arrived special permission was necessary before a television aerial could be erected.

The photo shows Anne standing on the Anderson shelter next to the wireless pole. The aerial was strung between the poles. We had to take the batteries to Mays, the newsagents, to be charged. (L)

In the first house on the right of Boythorpe Rise lived the Byfleets. Mr Byfleet was an engineer who worked at Markham’s and had a workshop in his garden. He made a special wooden carrier box with a handle for his wife to carry the battery accumulator which worked the family wireless set. Each family had two at this time, one in use, the other spare to be charged. I can still see Mrs Byfleet going down the Rise every Saturday morning to Watkins and Smith on Chatsworth Road next to the Red Lion pub. Mrs Byfleet would leave the battery there and bring back the newly recharged one, the cost was one shilling and the charge usually lasted the week. (S)

Permission from the Corporation was also required before a telephone could be installed; any structural damage caused by such an installation or in making good after the removal of a telephone would be repaired and the cost charged to the tenant.

There was a telephone box outside the school on Central Avenue and a police box (like a Tardis) (Y)

The only other one was a box at the top of Hunloke Avenue where there was also a clock on the top of a post because it was the end of a bus route. (A)

The only person I knew of on the estate who had a phone was Mrs Slaney, who was rather posh: she had a seat in the front garden on which you could swing to and fro. I think she was one of the ones who you didn’t dare ask for the ball back if it went into their garden. (L)

Boys played kick can. Girls played peggie – we wedged a stick between paving stones and then hit it. The winner was the one who hit it furthest. (A)

It was something like a poor man’s form of golf. We had a washing line outside house attached to lamp post and across the road for skipping and there were three balls also whip and top different games at different times of the years. (Y)

We used to play on the field where the community hall now is (A)

We weren’t allowed into the plantation (behind the houses on Sycamore Avenue and between Walton Rise and Central Avenue) and you couldn’t get through the plantation because there were gents’ toilets at the other end. (A)

We used to be able to get in from our gardens and we called it ‘The Plant’. We played there. (M)

We made up our own games: dressing up very popular. We also made up concerts. I remember singing Yankie Doodle Dandy to raise money, also making lavender bags to sell. (A)

I had a bike when I was about 15, second-hand. My mother paid 5s a week for it. I used to cycle to Tapton. My brother built his bike, a light weight racing bike. He got the bits from the bike shop Chatsworth Road

On the photo you can see the rhododendrons on the side of the road. There were lot of motor bikes. (Y)

Through-out the year the school would be taken over by a succession of crazes. Suddenly everyone seemed to have a bag or pocket full of glass marbles, otherwise known as Popties. Games were played in any available corner and this would carry on for a week or   it died out and then it could be Snobs also called Dibs, Jacks or Five stones. Shove hap’ny could follow this, played on any level desk using a six inch rule to propel a penny towards a halfpenny with the aim of scoring a goal at the other end of the said desk. This was mainly on the rainy days when we were allowed in the classroom at lunchtime. Conkers was another craze that came and went with the season. Flirting bits of small, folded, moistened (with spit) paper at an enemy in class, by using rubber bands was fun unless the master in charge spotted the culprit and then it was either the cane of 100 lines. A risk worth taking if a direct Hit was scored and then it was either the cane or 100 lines. (B)

The infant and junior schools opened in 1929, the senior school was still being built- it was completed in 1931 and the school was officially opened that year. My brother was a first pupil, having left Hipper St School in 1931. (S)

Most of the children went to William Rhodes but some went to the Catholic Schools. (A)

The infant school staff in my time consisted of Miss Mears headmistress, Mrs Kent 1st year, Miss Wade 2nd year, Miss Wray 3rd year, Mrs Burke 4th year. (S)

Obituary of Miss Mears from the Derbyshire Times September 9th 2004

Miss Kent was quite nice. On Friday afternoons you had to bring a portion of wax polish plus duster and polish your desk. She judged the desks afterwards and she awarded the ‘best dressed’ desk’s owner a special ‘dolly mix’ sweet. She kept these locked up in her cupboard, they were contained in a ‘Turkish Delight’ tin shaped like magician’ lamp. I must state I never managed to win a sweet. All the clever clogs seemed to win. (S)

The entrance to the junior school looks no different now.

The junior school staff were Mrs Peake, Miss Taylor, Miss Marsden and Mrs Murfin and the headmaster was Mr Kerry. (L)

Later junior teachers were Mr Murfin, Mr Husband (who was very keen on athletics), Mr McDowell and Miss Martin. (M)

I remember Miss Taylor’s class because we had to make slippers out of scraps and we had to sit next to a boy to help them. It was not very successful! We had a band – I played the triangle. There was a fish pond outside the infants’ school and if we were good we could go outside and look at the goldfish. We had oval shaped mats made out of something like raffia and if the weather was good we could site on them outside and do our knitting. (L)

When we were at William Rhodes, and doing arithmetic, we were told that the distance from a particular spot in the school to a particular house on Hunloke Avenue was a chain (22yards). (A)

It is a mile from the top of Boythorpe Road to the top of Foljambe Road. (Y)

In my class there were two girls from Walton which is a long way to walk but Mary Graham’s father was a doctor so he might have had a car. Wendy Brown came from Orchards Way. (Y)

I remember when the school was built Mrs Peake said it should have had a second storey because they were beginning the St Augustines Estate.  When I started at William Rhodes they were just building the nursery school classroom. We went out of the entrance on Central Avenue and round to use one of the classes in the boys’ school. (A)

The highlight of the last year of the infant school was the Pageant of the Seasons with the Rose Queen. Two were chosen, one for each performance.

I never supported Rose Queen. Miss Mears used to choose Queen Flower girl and she showed class distinction. In my year the Rose Queen was Susan Taylor whose father had a shop in town and Mary Graham whose father was a doctor. (A)

Rose Queen 1950

Dresses were stored in big container, but they were not ironed. My hair looks as though I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. I had straight hair so had to have my hair in rags the night before. (Y)

We had our hair in pipe cleaners the night before. (A and M)

I wasn’t aware of class distinction although Miss Mears had her favourites and you had to be blonde to be Rose Queen. We were conscious that some people were too poor to afford table cloths and had newspaper on the table and they didn’t have any cups so drank out of jam jars. (L)

I didn’t have blonde hair but Lorna Wilson who was Rose Queen at the same time did. Possibly I was chosen because I was the same height as Lorna. (M)

Yes there was class distinction. Miss Mears said that I couldn’t go up. I said ‘orizon’ instead of ‘horizon’ and my mother was a widow. However Mrs Peake was a friend of my mother and she said that I was perfectly capable, and in the end there were only two of us that went to St Helena and I was one of them. (A)

When William Rhodes senior school opened in 1931 the first headmaster was Mr Greenhough. In 1939 he was appointed Borough Education Officer. He was replaced by Mr Stevens. (S)

Talking of my time at William Rhodes senior school 1942-1947 it was always in a state of change, teachers came and went. Some of the male teachers were called up at the start of the war and to cover the gaps lots of female teachers were co-opted to carry out these duties. (S)

Mr Windle was the teacher for ‘A’” form geography and he was also the house master for St George. At that time the school was divided into four houses i.e. St George, St Patrick, St Andrew and St David. When you came into the school you were asked what house you wanted to be allocated to. Immediately I requested to go into St George because my brother had been in that house on joining the school in 1931.

Mr Windle’s other love was the theatre; each year he would put on and produce the annual school play. In my final year in the junior school Miss Marsden, who did the same for the junior school, put on William Tell. I was cast as Gesseler the wicked tyrant of Switzerland, which went down quite well.  Due to wartime, clothing was rationed. I had to wear a black cloak, at that time an impossibility. I came up with the idea that we could borrow the living room blackout black curtain. I wore it during the play, and when it ended I had to dash back to put the blackout up – strict fines were issued during WW II for showing a light. I got home expecting my mother to congratulate me for putting on a good show – not a bit of it. I got a severe telling off. “Your father will be home shortly and the blackout is not up.” So it was panic stations to get the curtain back in place and tea ready for dad. So much for my stage debut – it wasn’t really mentioned.

Mr Cooper taught the B forms, he was in charge of the school allotments, all the ground around the football pitch was dug up and each form had its own allotment. Periods of teaching were allotted on the school syllabus for this to be undertaken. It was run in a proper business-like fashion. All seeds and plants were purchased, loads of manure delivered etc. All products when ripe etc were sold through the garden shop. In season these were sold to the school pupils or the general public.

Two greenhouses were built, properly heated and looked after throughout the year. Shopping hours were advertised and the public would come and purchase these green grocery items, even during the four week holiday period, a volunteer roster was arranged to keep the sales going.

Weights and Measures came once a year to audit the scales and make sure they were giving the correct weight. The intention was to help the country feed itself in time of need, provided it paid its way – it certainly did that.

On some Saturdays in the summer – yes we opened on Saturday mornings – there would be a queue of a dozen Boythorpe mothers to be served.

All garden tools were checked in and out after each gardening lesson for security and safety reasons in case they ended up on some schoolboy’s father’s allotment. Mr Cooper, after school assembly each morning, would visit each class with his notebook and come out with the school’s favourite comment. “Does anyone require garden produce?” (S)

A new technical building part of the school was built on the north side of the football pitch. It was needed as at that time industry needed more apprentices. Mr Simmonds was appointed head of this facility reporting to the headmaster of William Rhodes. (S)

It was opened in 1950 and contained a chemistry lab, metal-work shop, woodwork shop and a machine drawing room.

Although there are several modern additions to the site this view remains the same.

The central main doorway onto the sports field was opened only on the annual sports day allowing the use, by the participants, of the changing rooms, showers and toilet facilities. This field was used only for athletics, running and throwing things. (B)

The facilities were used by the junior school too.

Every year trials were held on the grass here for the school sports in Queen’s Park. I never managed to get into the team! (M)

I used to run the last leg in the relay for William Rhodes. The master, Harry Husband, used to take us to the Park to practice[2]. (Sowden)

 

The school sports days were held on the cricket pitch area. I can always remember how proud we all were at the end of the day when all the children representing the schools would march round to music. [3](Southern)

 

On the top field we had cricket nets and the long jump sand pit. In the centre of the grass area lay a concrete cricket wicket! Before each match a large roll of matting had to be carried from the school building and laid out on the concrete – 24 yards long and 4’ 6” wide – it needed the strength of about eight strong lads to carry it, The speed of the ball off this matting was frightening: trying to run on it was dangerous, and stopping was even worse.

To get to the football pitches we had to walk across Hunloke Avenue to a footpath which lead through the houses until we eventually came to what we knew as ‘Foolow’. The changing room was a large wooden shed which was always inches deep in either dry or wet mud, depending upon the weather. I don’t remember many coat hooks, and so much of our clothing had to be left in piles on the floor. Didn’t that make Mother pleased when we got home. The three pitches were anything except level and what markings there were soon disappeared. During the winter month the whole area was like a swamp and taking an uphill corner with a wet soggy Case ball was enough to break a leg. Heading the ball was suicidal, left only to the brave or foolhardy! (B)

Miss Harding used to live along the road and she was a Sunday School teacher at the Parish Church; when it was time to come home there used to be a bus stop outside the church (on Church Way).Later I went with the Woodhams to the Wesley Hall on Hollis Lane. (A)

My family were not religious. I used to go to Congregational Chapel on Chatsworth Road because children in our street went there. Robinson’s had link with the church and my Dad worked at Robinsons. There was a meeting room on the other side of the rod where they showed Charlie Chaplin films. There were Sunday school trips. I remember going to Cleethorpes on the train. I think parents were glad to get rid of the children on a Sunday afternoon. (Y)

I remember catching the bus to the end of Somersall Lane walking down the lane and along the river to a field near Rye Flat to a field which had a nice bank that we could roll down. We didn’t go to church. Saint Augustines was the church for Boythorpe. My Grandma did a lot of work for that church. It was a very long walk to Saint Augustines. (A)

The annual Whit walk was very important.

Mother made all my clothes. In this photo my dress has smoking on the bodice, which was popular at the time, and I had a new pair of white sandals and socks for the Whit walk. (Y)

We all used to wear hair ribbons. (A)

Mother made a lot of my clothes – when I went to the Girls’ High School she made my gymslip and blouses. I remember a blue serge skirt, which was straight at the front and back and pleated at the sides. You couldn’t wash it, but it was attached to a cotton bib which could be washed. In the summer we wore white shoes which had to be blancoed. (L)

My mother wouldn’t let me go to the public library we went to Boots Library. (A)

We were avid readers; on a Saturday morning we used to go to town early to Thompsons from where we got our rations to see if there was anything special on offer then back home and then back to town to the library where mother borrowed books for herself, father, Ann  and Arthur as they were all working. (L)

I remember a label in front of the library books saying that if someone had an infectious disease it had to be reported so that the book could be burnt. (M)

When I was learning to ride a bike I came off just after the road had been resurfaced and I made a mess of my knees on the chippings. At that time at St Helena you had to kneel for prayers and I couldn’t because they were so painful. Today you would be off to hospital. Then you couldn’t because you couldn’t afford it. I remember my mother having to pay off the Dr’s bill a bit at a time. She also paid weekly for the District Nurse. Miss ? was the doctor. Mother also bought a stamp weekly for the District Nurse. My mother had a hysterectomy, she was really quite ill with it. She was in hospital for four weeks and, because I was only a child, I couldn’t go and visit her just wave from the door of the ward. She then spent two weeks convalescing at Brambling House. I could at least go there to see her in the gardens. We weren’t as worried about illnesses as they are today. (L)

Boythorpe’s District Nurse, Mrs Tagg lived in the first house on the left of the Rise. She rode a lady’s bike which had a carrier on the back for her medical bag etc. She was also qualified midwife and brought a lot of Boythorpe children into the world. (S)

It was ages before I went to a Christmas party as I always caught something just before Christmas – measles, German measles, chicken pox, mumps and whooping cough. (M)

The Bull Ring was surrounded by spiked railings and you were not allowed on it at all. There was grass in the middle and trees and a gate at one end. I remember my friend’s brother trying to get over the railings and getting impaled on them. (A)

On Coronation Day May 12th 1937, the school like Boythorpe and the rest of Chesterfield was highly decorated. The streets including our house were festooned with Union flags and bunting. Each schoolchild in the borough had a signed book by Alderman George Kirk, the mayor, and a coronation mug. I still possess both items. The school had a grand party on the school lawn opposite Hunloke Avenue. The Boythorpe children had an ‘organised’ party on the Holy of Holies – the Bull Ring on Walton Drive. This precious plot of land was opened by kind permission of the Chesterfield Borough Council for this festive occasion. The gates were on Walton Drive opposite the path which led to the junction of Sycamore Avenue and Boythorpe Rise. What joyous occasions they were; buns, cakes and pop, plus tea and various assortments of sandwiches plus the usual trifles etc. To be allowed onto the Bull Ring at that time was unheard of, notices were posted on the trees in the ring clearly stating that trespassers will be fined, by order of the Chesterfield Borough Council. We were all sorry when all the flags and bunting came down and life went back to normal. (S)

To mark Queen Elizabeth’s coronation we were given a book ‘Elizabeth Our Queen’ by Richard Dimbleby and a five shilling piece (a crown) in a plastic case. I had to go to St Helena to collect mine. (M)

We had a V E Party on the top of Walton Rise. There were long tables but I don’t remember much about it as I was only five. (Y)

 

Judging by the crown this is likely to be a Coronation Party in 1953. I think it was organised by people on Sycamore Avenue. (Y)

The helpers in the school hall. In the background are the distinctive doors painted green.

As I was leaving the hall one day the draught blew the door to and my hand went straight through a pane of glass – I still have a scar. (M).

We didn’t used to call it the Bull Ring – it was just the Ring. It used to have railings round it but these were taken away during the war. A big water tank stood on it (above ground) during the war and at the Central Avenue side there was an ARP post. We used to have to take turns for fire watching probably three of us at a time. Some of the houses had stirrup pumps and you used to be able to see the letters SP on the gate post. There was also a long pole with a hook on the end which was to be used to deal with incendiary devices and which had to be taken to the next person on duty. (L)

There used to be an ARP post there during the war and certain houses had stirrup pumps that everyone could use and others had ladders. (A)

Teddy Watson came from London. His father worked for Negret and Zamba, a world famous company making high precision instruments etc, vital to the production of war planes. Immediately war was declared the Air Ministry, anticipating the blitz ordered them out of London to a safer area. The Portland Works on Goyt Side were chosen; Robinsons had to vacate the works and did not get it back until 1945/6. It was heavily camouflaged and it was never removed until the works were renovated in the late 70s. Anyway Mr and Mrs Watson duly arrived in Chesterfield in 1939/40 and lived at 7 Hunloke Avenue. Teddy was an only son and was rather spoilt, being a Londoner he knew it all. He also owned a super Sun Bike, orange in colour with drop handlebars, celluloid mud guards and a three speed gear change – a real racer. It was the envy of all Boythorpe. When it became obvious about August 1945 that the war was being won Mr and Mrs Watson and the firm left Chesterfield and went back to London. We were sorry to see them go.

In June 1944 Hitler started dropping his doodlebug rockets onto the south of England and in September 1944 his ‘vengeance’ weapons the V2. So evacuation no. 2 started and trains left London to safer parts of the country. In about August 1944 the Derbyshire Times announced that a train would come into Chesterfield on the Sunday at about 4pm to the Great Central station and the public was asked to give them a welcome. The Mayor and the rest of the Council would be there to welcome them to the borough. Also buses would be laid on to take them to the various billeting points e.g. William Rhodes school for Boythorpe.

About 4pm a crowd of us were hanging about on Infirmary Road when a train belching loads of smoke and steam came out of the tunnel and pulled into the station proper. Due to wartime restrictions all railway sign boards were removed in 1939. About halfway along the train a head popped out and shouted: “Where are we?” and a voice shouted back: “Chesterfield”. The Mayor gave his usual welcoming speech on behalf of the borough. The children were given a cup of tea and a sandwich etc from the WVS and were taken to the buses to their billeting points.

Mr Stockton, who lived on Walton Drive, was a member of the Treasury Department in the Town Hall. He was responsible for the Boythorpe area. He tried his best not to split up brothers and sisters and finally succeeded in finding homes for them all. They stayed with us until the end of the war and we played our part in making them happy during their enforced stay during this sad time as their parents, friends and neighbours were being killed.

In form 3A we had one such lad, his name was a queer one, Robert German, which he did not like. At the end of the war he went back to his home in Islington and he thanked us for making him so welcome. (S)

After the war Mr Stockton, who had been the wartime billeting officer for Boythorpe, started Boythorpe Youth Club. He called a meeting in the school assembly room in June 1947 to seek support to form a youth club. The response was an eye opener, the assembly hall was full, everyone was in favour and a youth club was formed. Mr H J Stockton was leader, Mr Roy Riggott served as his deputy and Mrs Stockton acted as treasurer. I think we paid about 1s a week as subs etc. We managed to scrounge a couple of table tennis tables, a half-size snooker table etc. We met twice a week on Monday and Friday evenings 7pm – 10pm. We had a break about 9pm for a cup of tea etc. Food still being on the ration was a problem, but the ladies usually managed to find something. We had card games plus dominoes etc but darts were out – too dangerous for youthful lads. In 1947 some of the senior lads in Boythorpe were the backbone of the Youth Club which needed a strong start. (S)

The Youth Club was affiliated to the Chesterfield and District Youth Service League. When it was formed Boythorpe did not have a football pitch for its first season, the matches were played on the Old Road School pitch on Saturday afternoons. When the Foolow Estate was being built in 1947/8 the council prepared three football pitches, two alongside Grindlow Avenue, and one parallel to the cemetery boundary. They also erected a wooden structure for a changing room. It was huge, would have cost a fortune today, enough space was provided for four teams to change. So, until the Boythorpe Youth Club closed in September 1950, this was where the played the home fixtures 1st XI, 2nd XI and U 17. The outstanding teams of the time were Poolsbrook, where Eric Varley, later Chesterfield’s MP, was an outstanding right full back, Eckington, Holymoorside and Temple Normanton.

There were three really outstanding achievements for the Boythorpe Youth Club. First was when the 1stXI went to Temple Normanton and drew 5 – 5. Mr Stockton wrote to the Green ‘Un who provided a Green ‘Un ball for what it considered was the best performance of the week. Anyway the Green ‘Un editor decided that Boythorpe’s draw at Temple Normanton was the performance of the week. Considering the area covered by the paper, Sheffield, Hallamshire, N E Derbyshire, Dronfield and Chesterfield this was a remarkable achievement. Mr Stockton received a brand new Sugg’s zig zag football. We were very proud of it, it was never played with and it lived in cardboard box under Mr Stockton’s bed. Whatever happened to it we will never know.

The second achievement came in 1949 when the U-17s won the Hill Trophy beating Hollingwood 2 – 1 on the pitch at Whittington Moor. It was a Friday night match, an awful night, it poured with rain and there was high wind. The hero of the match was the Boythorpe goalkeeper, Keith Oldknow, he played a blinder, making many outstanding saves. He was carried off the pitch at the end.

The third achievement was the last cricket match we played, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was the last match of the season against Glapwell, who hadn’t lost a game all season. Our captain, Dereck Moore lost the toss and we had to field. Johnny Jepson was an outstanding left arm fast bowler. He bowled like a hero and took seven wickets and Glapwell were bowled out for 20. This was an unheard-of achievement and Glapwell were stunned. Dereck Moore had a moment of inspiration and, instead of putting in his opening batsmen, he put in number 10 and number 11, both sloggers and no real idea how to bat, i.e. Buggy Wheelhouse and Dereck’s brother, David. By swinging the bat, the ball went all over the place, with snicks, misplaced shots and good luck, 11 runs were scored off the first over. They were both out in the next over, I made 2 and Ted Smith knocked off the winning runs – we won by seven wickets. As we walked to catch the bus back to Chesterfield, a window opened and a head popped out and asked how we had got on – it was Chris Marron, Chesterfield FC’s centre forward at the time. What a write up we had in the next week’s Derbyshire Times.

The Youth Club’s end was sad. We were growing into manhood, the younger generation were not really bothered and people were becoming better off so Mr Stockton decided to pack it in. (S)

After the war, districts started Community Associations. Ours was Boythorpe, they arranged lots of activities and were quite successful. Entertainments were arranged and Thursday evening was social night. The sewing group was very active although I don’t know how much sewing was done! The members were really quite daring as they travelled to London and even stayed the night. They visited Hampton Court. (L)

For many years Harold Edson was superintendent at Boythorpe Cemetery in the gatehouse plus office at the Boythorpe Crescent end of the cemetery. I am now going to let you into a secret, which very few people know. During 1942 at the height of the war, Mrs Edson, being a relative, invited us to the house on Boythorpe Crescent. She showed us how the office worked etc. Mourners could pay a fee to have their relative’s grave looked after. We went round to the side and back of the office where a large brick building stood. She said it was intended as a mortuary: it was full of strengthened cardboard coffins. The ARP people were aware that if Chesterfield became the subject of a bombing raid by the Luftwaffe, many people would be killed and injured. Provision had to be made for this sad possibility. Something else that few people knew about, the field opposite Harlow’s beer-off, still empty today, was secretly consecrated to become a burial ground if an enemy attack happened. It was blessed in the utmost secret fashion. Very few people were in the know and Mr and Mrs Edson were sworn to secrecy. She told us in confidence, this is the first time I have told anyone about this wartime event. After the war, again in great secret, the field was deconsecrated. Hundreds of people pass this ground everyday unaware of what it might have become. Bombing Chesterfield was difficult as it was surrounded by hills. (S)

During the German Bombers’ blitz on Sheffield on Thursday 13th Dec and Sunday 16th 1940; on the Thursday mother and I slept in our shelter, my brother slept in his bedroom. He said: “If they hit our house it’s just too bad.” Even now 75 years on I can hear the drone of the bombers flying overhead on their way to inflict such terrible damage on the Steel City. When they came again on the Sunday, my mother decided that our shelter was too near to our house, so she elected to stay, along with a lot more Boythorpe residents, in the William Rhodes shelter next to the school on Central Avenue. It was a terrible night. I had severe growing pains in both my legs and felt dreadful. The shelter was heated by Valor paraffin heaters which smelt awful. We were sitting next to Mrs Cox. She kept repeating as the German bombers flew over: “It’s like the children going to school”. I don’t expect the Sheffield citizens saw it in quite that light. After dawn we made our way back home: my brother, as usual, had stopped in bed – looking back probably the best move. (S)

During the war the milk didn’t come to school in bottles and we had to take a beaker to school to drink out of. They weren’t washed properly, just rinsed out in water, and they got pretty horrible inside and the milk didn’t taste very nice. (L)

Rufford Close was built on some of the allotment opposite Hunloke Avenue. A few remain but most of the allotment holders were given new ones on a site at the south west end of the cemetery. Rufford Close contains houses and three blocks each consisting of six flats.

When my dad died in 1962, my mother left 11 Central Avenue where we had lived from 1937 to 1963, to become a tenant at no 10 Rufford Close. (S).

In about 1965, when my brother left home, we didn’t need such a big house and we went to live on Rufford Close. (Y)

Following the building of St Francis Church Hall in 1955 a youth club was formed there.

My mother used to go to whist drives there. (M)

The final buildings were the single-storey old people’s bungalows on the bull ring.

In 1978 there were plans to turn the church hall into a community centre; six years later it was in a state of disrepair. However it is still standing today.

The final buildings erected were the single-storey old people’s bungalows on the bull ring.

 

Contributors

  • Erna Alcock
  • Graham Clarke Baldwin (Typescript at Chesterfield Library)

(L) Audrey Lilley

(M) Janet Murphy

(S) Name withheld

 

[1] The Post Office closed in October 2004

[2] From “For the people of Chesterfield for ever – a short history of Queen’s Park

[3] As above