Monday, 28 February 2011

News - Squadron history lost in blaze at HQ (Ilkeston)

AS the Air Cadets celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year so does local 348 (Ilkeston) Squadron.

The Ilkeston Squadron assembled for the first time on Friday, February 14, 1941 at the Drill Hall in Ilkeston.
The meeting was presided over by Mayor J Hoult and others present were Major T Roe, Ald FP Sudbury, councillors E Bostock and H Trueman, Messrs A Elder, SR Woods, AD Nash, T Ball, E Waterhouse (commanding officer), E Godfrey (treasurer) and J Tillett (secretary).

There was a large attendance on that first night with 150 enrolled into what was known as The Junior Department of the RAF.
The cadets were told to look for their orders in the local press, at the Town Hall and at the squadron headquarters, Ilkeston Secondary School.

Also it was decided to ask for funds to assist in the organization of the squadron.

The original squadron was disbanded in 1947 with 260 cadets enlisted.

The squadron was revived shortly after at its new headquarters on Hallcroft Road and again moved in 1983 to Dale View.

Due to a fire and the headquarters being burned down, 348 Squadron moved to its present location in the TA building in Albert Road.

Much of the history and records of the squadron were lost in the fire and we are appealing to anyone who may have stories or pictures of 348 to get in touch. The number to ring is 0115 9440848 (Tuesday or Thursday evenings).

David Tonge
Civilian Committee
348 Squadron


News - Wesley museum becomes a charity (Epworth)

EPWORTH’S Old Rectory Museum has been awarded charitable status.
Volunteers at the site in North Lincolnshire say the move will boost fundraising efforts as they seek to open the entire house to the public and restore it to how it would have looked in 1716.
Keith Rothery, treasurer and trustee at the Old Rectory, said: “When we approach organisations for donations towards the work one of the first things they ask is for is our charity number, which is why we applied for charitable status.
“It also means that when British taxpayers make a donation we can claim money back from the Government and it amounts to an extra 20p for every pound given.”
The grade I listed building was the childhood home of John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement.
Fundraising initiatives have included inviting visitors to sponsor a page in a 350-year-old book to pay for its restoration.
Contemplations Upon The History Of The New Testament – one of many old books and artefacts held at the museum – was published in 1661 and contains the signatures of several of the Wesley family.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

News - Bells to toll for bomb victims (Newark)

The bell of the second HMS Newark will toll a week today for the 41 factory workers who died when Ransome and Marles was bombed in the second world war.
The 11am chimes from the parish church will be followed by a two-minute silence, before the bell will be rung from the Town Hall steps.

It will sound once for each of the victims as their names are read out as part of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the bombing.

The names will be read by a former Mayor of Newark, Mr Chris Grant, whose father, Robert, was killed.

Ten bombs, five of which exploded, were dropped in two raids on the Northern Road factory on March 7, 1941.

Workers then came under machine-gun fire as they tried to flee.

The tribute on Saturday, March 5, organised by the Friends of Newark Cemetery, is part of three days of commemoration events, culminating, on Monday, March 7, by the unveiling of a permanent memorial to the bombing victims.

In addition to the 41 men and women killed, a further 165 people were injured.

On the Saturday and Sunday, the cemetery chapel interpretation centre will be open to the public from noon until 4.30pm, where there will be an exhibition of artefacts relating to the bombing.

Visitors can also see some of the victims’ graves.

On Monday, March 7, pupils at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Primary School will ring their school bell at 2.24pm —the time of the second raid at the bearings factory.

The children, who have been studying the bombing for a project, will read a roll of honour to remember those who died.

There will be further opportunity for the public, from 3pm to 4.30pm, to view the cemetery chapel exhibition and pay their respects at the grave-sides.

On the Monday night, the town council will honour those who died in what was Newark’s single greatest loss of life.

Relatives of the victims will be at the Town Hall for the unveiling at 6pm of a memorial — made by NSK Europe — the successors of Ransome and Marles.

The memorial, in the staircase entrance to the Town Hall, will feature a large chrome-plated bearing, of the type made at the factory, and an item of memorabilia salvaged from 1941.

The names of the people killed will appear on a plaque on the memorial.

News - Lottery boost for historic Mansfield church

MANSFIELD’S historic hidden treasure The Old Meeting House church has been awarded £175,000 of Lottery cash to fix its leaking roof.

The Unitarian chapel, set in its own grounds off Stockwell Gate, dates from 1702 and is the oldest non-conformist church in Nottinghamshire.

Its interior is steeped in history and includes three stained-glass windows designed by the company of William Morris, the world-renowned artist and designer.

This heritage has been placed under threat by the building’s leaking slate roof, with the damage from rainfall obvious from one glance at the damp ceiling and pillars.
The Rev Patrick Timperley says the church applied for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to repair the roof and discovered at Christmas that it had been successful.

“It was a wonderful Christmas present but we had to keep quiet until now,” the Rev Timperley said on Thursday.

“The people of Mansfield should see the church as something to be proud of. It is a charming building and many local people who come into the church say they cannot believe they have never been here before.”

The Old Meeting House is receiving the largest single grant in the East Midlands, but several other Grade I and II-listed buildings in Nottinghamshire are also benefiting from the fund.

Joan Bray, HLF committee member for the East Midlands, said: “We are funding 22 grants and this is the largest one.

“It is the oldest non-conformist church in the county and this is worth celebrating. You can see the real damage being done by the rain coming through the roof.”

The Old Meeting House is just a stone’s throw from the Four Seasons Centre, but most shoppers rushing past along Stockwell Gate will be unaware of the chapel’s historical importance.

It is Grade II-listed and was built 309 years ago for a dissenting congregation which had been worshipping in the town for almost 40 years before that.

Although unremarkable from the outside, stepping through the doors of the church reveals its beautiful interior.
The Morris Windows, as three of the building’s stained-glass windows are usually known, were installed between 1913 and 1929 and are considered classic examples of the Morris Company’s style with their green, wallpaper-like background.

The Act of Parliament or Tavern Clock has been ticking in the church since the early 1740s and regular members of the congregation say this oak-framed timepiece adds to the calm in the building.

Church trustee Brian Whiting (79) has been attending the chapel for 75 years.

“It is a church I have been brought up in,” he said. “It has its own open faith and has a very relaxed religious attitude. It is a very pleasant place to be.”
Architect and surveyor David Glew, in charge of the repairs, said work on the church was likely to last around four months take next year.

The HLF and English Heritage have been able to maintain their planned level of funding for places of worship this year despite the tough economic climate. Dr Anthony Streeten, regional director of English Heritage, said: “Without it many brave but struggling congregations would be faced with watching their beloved churches and chapels falling into ruin.”

News - Memorial service for bomber raid victims (Balby/Bessacarr,Doncaster)

A MEMORIAL service will be held in May to commemorate people who were killed in Doncaster’s worst air raid.

It is a victory for Cantley pensioner Margery White, who lost two relatives when a German parachute mine fell on Balby 70 years ago.

Mrs White, aged 78, has been campaigning for some form of commemoration of the event and was hoping Mayor Peter Davies would lend a sympathetic ear, after visiting the graves of those who were killed, last autumn.

The memorial service in the chapel at Rose Hill Cemetery at 11am on Monday May 9 was announced at this week’s Doncaster Council meeting.

A total of 16 people were killed when the mine exploded just after midnight on the same date in 1941.

Mrs White, of Chantry Close, Cantley, raised the matter during questions from the public at the council meeting.

Her two teenage uncles – Arthur and Alfred Nortrop – were among those killed.

A total of 73 other people were injured, including Mrs White’s grandparents. The bodies are buried in Rose Hill and Mayor Peter Davies offered his sympathy for her loss.

“I was eight years old at the time and I was a pupil at Woodfield Junior School which was damaged by the bomb blast, hence my interest in the matter.

She said: “I realise Doncaster Council is going through a difficult period financially but this anniversary could be deemed to be sufficiently significant to merit special treatment.”

Thirteen houses were blown up and more than 400 other houses were damaged by the blast – 19 of them had to be demolished.

The parachute mine landed only 38 minutes after other bombs landed in the Ellers Avenue area of Bessacarr, killing two people and injuring five more.

The dead were buried together in a row at Rose Hill Cemetery.

It was the worst single loss of life in Doncaster during the Second World War, although there were other raids aimed at the Plant Works and neighbouring Sheffield had suffered much higher casualties in late 1940.

Mrs White is also hoping schools in the area will become involved in a commemoration project.

The Mayor said he wanted to acknowledge the sacrifice made in conflicts in recent history and offered his sympathy to the families who suffered loss in 1941.

He said the service on May 9 will be open to all and he hoped to attend the event. The Vicar of Doncaster Rev Canon Dr Paul Shackerley will officiate.

Mr Davies said he hoped Mrs White would find the service a sufficient tribute to those who were killed and she thanked him for his response.

The mayor visited the graves last October for the Poppy Appeal.

News - Pit casualties to be remembered (Bilsthorpe)

PIT WORKERS who lost their lives at Bilsthorpe Colliery-including the county’s only female fatality - are to be commemorated by a monument.

A two-year campaign has led to Bilsthorpe Heritage Society winning £16,000 funding to build the 6ft stone sculpture of a miner’s lantern.

Its plinth will list the 75 people who died while working at the village pit, including Josephine Fenwick - the only woman ever killed while working at a Nottinghamshire colliery.

The plan is the result of months of research by the society, which has painstakingly trawled records and chased funding applications.

Said society chair Trevor Goodman: “We decided the time had come to at least pay tribute to the people who lost their lives.

“We’ve not got a lot in Bilsthorpe but the one thing that made the village thrive was the pit.

“After it closed everything was knocked down and now unfortunately there’s nothing really there to say we even had a pit.”

The monument will be built on a small street park at the junction of Church Street and Crompton Road in the village.

Children from Crompton View Primary School in Bilsthorpe were asked to come up with three designs for villagers to choose from, with the lamp winning approval.

Megan Spencer’s brother William will be honoured by the monument after he died in a roof collapse in the 1950s.

“I’m really pleased,” said Megan (85), who lives on The Green in the village.

“I can still remember the day he died and it will be nice to have his name there for everyone in the village and everyone who visits to see.”

William was one of four brothers who worked at the pit, losing his life aged 23 on 4th February 1953.

Added Megan: “The momument is a lovely thing to have and it will be a nice landmark for the whole village.”

The pit opened in 1927 and closed in 1996, with 14 men killed in a disaster during its sinking in 1927.

Those who died in accidents above ground will also be remembered through the monument.

Jack Staton (77) lost his brother Fred in a freak accident in November 1954.

He died in hospital aged 22, days after being hit by a bicycle in the pit car park.

“With the pit gone there’s a risk the people who lost their lives there could be forgotten,” said Jack.

“I think Fred would be pleased. The safety there was always fairly good but with pit work there was always a bit of doubt in your mind; it was more dangerous than many people imagine.”

Mrs Fenwick (36) was a sawyer at the pit who died nine days after she was buried by a pile of pit props which fell on her in the timber yard in August 1959.

She lost her fight for life in hospital after her husband George, who also worked at the pit, had helped pull her from the pile. Another worker, John Wharmby (57), was killed instantly in the tragedy.

Also remembered on the memorial will be victims of more recent accidents, including three men killed in the 1993 disaster.

A planning application has been submitted to Newark and Sherwood District Council for the landmark, which won cash from local improvement and county council schemes.

Added Trevor, who himself worked at the pit from 1965 to 1993: “It’s important to achieve this because it’s a part of our history and without these men Bilsthorpe wouldn’t even be here.”

Anyone related to a worker killed at the pit who would like to check their relative is on the monument’s list is asked to contact the society on Mansfield 871366.

Friday, 25 February 2011

News - Robin Hood and merry men gear up for festival (Edwinstowe)

ROBIN Hood will once again ride into Sherwood Forest for the biggest celebration in the world of the legendary outlaw.

The 27th annual Robin Hood Festival is held at Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and attracts fans and visitors from every corner of the globe.

The event features costumed characters at every turn, from jugglers and jesters to medieval doctors and rat catchers, whilst medieval combat displays and markets stalls recreate the atmosphere of Robin's Sherwood Forest.

The festival will take place over five days from Wednesday August 10 through to Sunday August 14 at Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre on Swinecote Road at Edwinstowe. Admission to the festival is free, with car parking costing £5 a day.

Councillor John Cottee, Cabinet Member for culture and community said: "We're excited about the plans for this year's Robin Hood Festival, not only is it great fun and a brilliant way to celebrate our local legend but gives a much needed boost to the local economy during these difficult financial times."

"Local shops, restaurants and hotels benefit from the increase of visitors to the county who come in search of the legend of Robin Hood.

"The event is popular with all age groups who enjoy the spectacle and activities in the beautiful setting of Sherwood Forest."

The event will be packed full of medieval festivities ideal for Robin Hood enthusiasts and for the whole family.
Cheer on Robin and his band of merry men during jousting contests with the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham which will take place on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

On the same afternoons watch falconry displays with majestic birds of prey sweeping through the ancient forest. As usual there will also be medieval market stalls close to the Major Oak, music and merriment at the visitor centre and costumed characters wandering the forest glades.

The full programme has yet to be confirmed, to find out the latest information visit www.nottinghamshire.


News - Third haul for treasure hunter (Newark)

Treasure-trove hunter Mr Maurice Richardson has unearthed his third haul.
Mr Richardson found a cache of Bronze Age tools buried in a field eight miles from Newark.

He found them by accidentally wandering off a track while completely immersed searching with his metal detector.

Mr Richardson, who lives in Newark, made the find while examining a field owned by a farmer he met through his tree surgery business.

The cache includes several well-preserved socket axe handles, chisels, a spear head, broken sections of swords, and unmoulded clumps of bronze.

It is believed they once belonged to a Bronze Age blacksmith with a travelling foundry who would have toured from settlement to settlement forging weapons and tools and collecting broken ones to be re-smelt into serviceable replacements.

Bronze was worth as much as gold is today and was also very heavy so smithies, fearing they could be robbed, would bury stashes near recognisable markers along their well-travelled routes and dig them up when passing by.

Mr Richardson believes this cache remained in the ground because something happened to alter the landscape between the blacksmith’s visits or, that he died before retrieving them.

“Three thousand years ago bronze would have been difficult to obtain. The tin could only come from the mines in Cornwall and the copper from Ireland,” said Mr Richardson.

“This represents the first step up from the use of flints. It was the first use of metals. Some of these items are incredible and very well preserved.

“I only found them after I wandered off the path. My head was down concentrating and then the detector went off. It was a complete accident.

“I have no idea what they are worth or whether they hold any value more than their historical worth.”

Mr Richardson sent the find to the Portable Antiques Scheme. It will then go on to the British Museum to be assessed, dated and valued.

In addition to the Bronze Age items, he found Roman brooches and around 70 coins dating from 40-48BC as well as floor tiles from a Roman villa known to have been built on the site.

If the cache is declared treasure trove, Mr Richardson will split half of its worth with the landowner and the pieces will likely be exhibited locally or nationally.

An earlier find by Mr Richardson, a 2,100-year-old torc valued at £350,000, is exhibited in the British Museum.

He also found 200 pieces of medieval, Saxon and Roman pieces in a field two miles from Newark last year.

News – Museums trust facing ‘pain’ (Museums Sheffield)

THE trust running Sheffield’s museums and galleries is expecting to have to make “painful” decisions to meet a 15% cut in council grant over the next year – but not the possible closure of the Graves Gallery.
Museums Sheffield is assessing the financial picture after councillors made clear they were not prepared to see the gallery on the top floor of the Central Library in Surrey Street shut, mothballed or moved.
Sandra Newton, who chairs the trust, said: “I am very pleased that the city council recognise the deep affection that Museums Sheffield and the people of the city, have for the Graves Gallery. Closure of the Graves would be a great loss to Sheffield.
“Museums Sheffield, however, still faces the proposed reduction of £328K – 15% – in our funding from March 31, on top of the huge savings we have already made in the past two years.
“We have been working with the council since last summer to find a way a through the challenges we all face.
“The options open to us to make this saving are very limited and all are likely to be painful in some way.”

Monday, 21 February 2011

News - Museum offers public chance to handle prehistoric axes (Nottingham)

The Nottinghamshire public are being offered a rare opportunity to handle a 50,000-year-old axe and other ancient artefacts at a local museum.

The University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology is putting on a 'Prehistory Day'on 23 February 2011, in conjunction with the BBC's Hands On History . 

Curator Clare Pickersgill said: "It's so important. When you hold an object you begin to ask different questions." 

The attraction is the only specialised archaeological museum in the region. 

"What I love about this museum are the everyday objects," said Ms Pickersgill. "These tell us so much about the everyday people like you and I. 

"Somebody said to me that this collection is a snapshot of Nottinghamshire over time. You can see how people lived over 250,000 years." 

The museum opened in 1933 with artefacts donated by Felix Oswald, including his collection from excavations at Margidunum, a Roman site found under a roundabout at Bingham in the early 1930s.

Its collection has swelled through donations from individuals, as well as finds by the Department of Archaeology at the university. 

"We have a medieval site on campus. It's the medieval village of Keighton, first found in the Second World War during the 'digging for victory'," said Ms Pickersgill. 

"It produced cooking pots and tiles for Lenton Priory in the 14th and 15th century." 

In 2010 the museum won the Nottinghamshire Heritage Museum of the Year award. 

Ms Pickersgill said the award was in recognition for their outreach work and their progress on making the collections more accessible. 

"A lot of people might think that we're just here for the students but we're here for everyone. 

"Previously there were objects in cases but no labels and the museum was not always open. Now we're open Monday to Friday, 10.00am until 4.00pm, we're free and anyone can come and look." 

The Hands on Prehistory day at The University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology, will take place on 23 February, 11.00am to 4.00pm. This event is part of the BBC's Hands On History.

Book - Fishlake - The Story of a South Yorkshire Village - the first 2000 years

From a population of around 1600 during the Middle Ages to one of around 634 in the 2000s, Fishlake is a pleasant country village with a picturesque church just a short drive from Doncaster. It may be small in size but, thankfully, there are people interested enough to record the history of such places.

So it was that “Fishlake - The Story of a South Yorkshire Village - the first 2000 years” was produced. Having spent time reading through it you certainly have to admire the dedication of the author, George Wade, for his diligence in producing such a document. Just where did he find so much information about this quiet country location?

Almost 120 pages of fascinating facts and lots of pictures give the reader a wonderful insight into the place and its inhabitants. A First World War memorial registers the names of the 11 local men killed during the conflict along with the single soldier lost in 1939 to 1945 war.

Fishlake was a long way from the terrors of the Second World War but it was brought home to residents one Friday night in November 1940 when a German bomber returning home from a raid on Sheffield jettisoned three bombs near Weathercock Farm thankfully causing no damage but leaving three craters to remind everyone just what was happening around them.

Lighter news items include the report of a three foot six inch long unidentifed snake which was killed on Mr. Hodgson’s farm and the fact that ‘children used to scour the fields and lanes for the silver strips dropped by British planes to confuse German aircraft then compete with each other to see who could make the biggest shiny ball. The same kids would also pester butcher Charlie Knowles for the pig’s bladder after the animal had been dispatched to feed the village. They dried and inflated it and used it to play football.

Other aspects of war included reports in local papers that German prisoners of war interned at Doncaster Racecourse made 100 toys for local children. Italian prisoners were also a common sight working on local farms and clearing river banks. It was noted that they seemed to be pleased they weren’t part of the battle any longer, according to the opinion of the locals.

Lots of farming tales too, then momentous news in 1956 when everyone welcomed the introduction of piped water which meant flushing toilets and bathrooms, no more rain water butts and wells!

Street lighting arrived during the sixties but the villagers were divided in their thoughts on this move forward.
Floods, drains and all aspects of life is in this account.

One particular item brings a smile; in April 1964 the burglar-proof parish strong room with fourteen inch thick walls and a heavy steel door was invaded by mice! The pesky critters ignored the barriers and over-ran the place, threatening to destroy stored priceless documents including parish records dating back to 1600. 

Ex-parish council clerk Thomas Silvester gained permission to “mouse proof” the room at his own expense - how he carried out this task is not made clear!

Whether you actually live in this small village or not, you have to wonder just where all these facts came from, when you bear in mind that this is the Second Edition of the book!

News - Mining disaster is remembered (Cadeby)

A GROUP of former miners and local historians has set up a committee to commemorate the centenary of a pit disaster.

The group plans to hold a series of events next year in honour of the 91 people who died following two explosions at Conisbrough’s Cadeby Main Colliery in 1912.

The committee is collecting information on those who died in the disaster and are asking descendents of the victims for photographs and any information they may have to help mark the anniversary.

Events being considered include an exhibition of mining memorabilia and an open air service at Denaby Cricket Ground.

The next committee meeting is at Denaby and Cadeby Miners’ Welfare on March 22 at 7pm.
Anyone wanting more information should contact Jeff Lovell on 01709 865522.

News - Town life in the picture

Several groups will display work at an exhibition showing the history and society of North Nottinghamshire.
The Life in North Nottinghamshire, Past and Present exhibition opens tomorrow at Thoresby Gallery. It runs until March 20.

Among the items on display will be photographs and stories charting the history of Ollerton and its mining heritage from the Ollerton Of Yesteryear group.

There will be a heritage information display board designed by Ollerton and Boughton Scouts and photos and information on the Ollerton St George’s Day celebrations and May Day in Edwinstowe.

Also included is a local history display from Norwell Parish History Group and costumes from the Wellow Maypole Festival.

Paintings of the area by Marie Louise Pierrepont, who lived in Thoresby Hall in the 20th Century, will be exhibited alongside the displays, as will items from the Queen’s Royal Lancers/Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum, ahead of its relocation to Thoresby in the spring.

Mrs Irene Miller, the Mayor of Ollerton and a member of Ollerton Of Yesteryear, said she was looking forward to showing the group’s work to a wider audience.

“It is something that will bring the community together with so many groups from the area having something on display,” she said.

“People from outside Ollerton are obviously not as aware of what we do and it will be nice to be able to go out and have an exhibition of our work.”

Mrs Miller will show footage of German internees at Boughton prisoner of war camp in the second world war on February 27.

The film has previously been on display at the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.

Mr Brian Bracegirdle and Mr Danny Tryner will give a talk on mining and audience members will have the chance to hold some equipment, and Mr Mick Frearson will give a talk on the railway.

Caroline Hughes, the co-ordinator of the Pierrepont Collection, said: “Our visitors at Thoresby are fascinated with the history and customs of the area. The exhibition not only showcases our exciting local history, but also reveals the incredible vitality of North Nottinghamshire.

“It highlights our keen sense of community spirit.”

News - Memorial service for 70th anniversary of factory bombs (Newark)

A MEMORIAL service is to take place to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing of a Newark factory during the Second World War.

A total of 41 people died when the Ransome and Marles factory was targeted by two German planes on Friday, March 7, 1941.

The factory made components for all three Armed Forces during the war.

The Friends of Newark Cemetery group is set to host a remembrance service on Saturday, March 5, in memory of those who died.

A two-minute silence will also take place outside Newark Town Hall at 11am.

This will be followed by the reading of the names of the 41 people killed and the tolling of the HMS Newark bell.

Children from class six at Holy Trinity Catholic Primary and Nursery School in Newark will also visit the cemetery on Monday, March 7, to lead a roll call of the 41 names and see graves of 30 of the people buried there.

The Friends of Newark Cemetery are also set to unveil a permanent memorial to the bombing victims at Newark Town Hall next month.

The permanent memorial will feature a large chrome-plated bearing – of the type still made at the factory today – and an item of memorabilia salvaged from the bombing.

News - Nottingham's caves go 3D thanks to university project

A largely unknown world is being explored under Nottingham. Erik Petersen met the people charged with exploring the city's caves. 

DAVID Walker and Julia Clarke were in the caves beneath the Paul Smith shop in Low Pavement, setting up a fairly expensive laser.

That activity has a slightly sinister sound, like maybe Sir Paul has turned Bond villain and is preparing to release a secret weapon on an unsuspecting world.

But David and Julia work for the University of Nottingham, and their laser is not of the city-levelling variety. It helps them create digital moving images of the cave, which will soon go up on the internet alongside other images that take viewers on realistic flythroughs of many of the caves under the city.

The videos are part of the Nottingham Caves Survey, the two-and-a-half-year project David, an archaeologist for the university and Trent and Peak Archaeology, leads.

"We're about halfway through the project as it stands at the moment," David said.

"If we can survey 100 caves to the standard you see on the website, that would be a good dent and a good advertisement for Nottingham's caves."

They recently surveyed cave number 50.

"That now takes us to a grand total of about 10 percent of Nottingham's known caves," Mr Walker said.
The project was never meant to survey every cave under the city. Instead, it's meant to be a baseline study, a point from which future researchers can study and build.

But they're still trying to discover as many new caves as possible. To that end, they've put the call out for people who might be living or working on top of caves. People have got in touch.

"We're getting better known, which is good," Mr Walker said.

"We're still finding out about new caves that have never been recorded before ... or ones that have been just sort of forgotten about."

There's the Peel Street caves under the Arboretum – a huge underground labyrinth of sand mines.

There's the one in Fishpond Drive, The Park. Set behind a block of 1970s flats, it's a Victorian folly or summer house set into rock. It would have been an up-market Victorian plaything. Figures of Samson and Moses are carved into a bench.

"It's a seriously ornate bit of work," David said.

Other caves, like the ones under Willoughby House, have a more utilitarian, functional look.

One of those was a cellar cave, another was converted during the war to an air raid shelter. "It still retains some of its air raid shelter paraphernalia," David explained.

"And it still has an air raid toilet. Everybody loves a toilet."

They enjoy finding that "time capsule stuff". But Victorian follies or Second World War air raid shelters aren't quite the holy grail.

"The real goal will be to find a cave that we can definitively date as being Anglo-Saxon," he said.
"But there are no caves surviving that anybody knows about."

About 10 percent of catalogued caves are demonstrably medieval.

"I guess there are probably more Victorian ones that anything else," David said. "A lot of the standing buildings in Nottingham are from that great Victorian expansion."

For many Victorian pubs and even houses, something like a cave larder was quite popular.

"As well we see in the rich folk of The Park particularly ... cutting caves for wine cellars, and for show," he said.

"People are using their environment and showing them off one way or another."

Over the years, the showing off has often stopped. Some were walled off and forgotten about. Others – ones that have more public entrances – had different problems.

They've housed the homeless, been used by drug users and generally fallen into as much a state of disrepair as a cave can fall into.

"This has been one of the problems of the caves, as it were," David said.

"They have been increasingly locked up and blocked off over time."

He would like more made of promoting the caves – perhaps with leaflets and maps.

He likes "day caves" and "night caves" – public caves that can be toured by day, and caves under pubs that can be visited at night.

Publicans and other businesspeople who have caves might be more inclined to make the not insubstantial investment of bringing them up to modern safety standards, if they thought people were going to visit.
But that's a debate for another day.

"We're still really at the early stages of pushing that end of it, pushing what comes next," David said. "But we're doing quite well at the survey part of it."

The main goal is to catalogue and help preserve the caves. But David doesn't just want to see them turned into stagnant museum pieces.

"They've been dynamic for the last 1000 years. They've changed over time," he said.
"There's no reason why they can't be used in a more interesting way."

To learn more about the Nottingham Caves Survey and see the cave videos, visit

Sunday, 20 February 2011

News - Landmark sale plans are delayed for talks (Thorne Hall)

PLANS to sell one of Thorne’s landmark buildings have been delayed after MP Caroline Flint raised concerns – angering one of the town’s councillors.

Grade Two listed Thorne Hall has not been in use since it ceased to be operated as a council housing office.
The building was due to go up for auction last week, but it was pulled from the list after it emerged council bosses wanted more time to look at options following a request for a delay by Ms Flint.

Doncaster Council director of regeneration and environment Peter Dale said: “Following a request for more time for local discussion over future options we have withdrawn Thorne Hall from sale at present.

“This is to allow for further consultation with the South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust.”

Thorne ward Coun Martin Williams is angry over the delay and wants the sale sorting out as soon as possible to avoid the building being allowed to fall into disrepair.

He is concerned it could go the same way as the former Fieldside School building in Thorne, which was demolished after years of neglect after it become disused.

He said: “I’ve been trying to sort something out with this building for the last five years.

“No one has been in to buy it in that time, and it has been empty for four or five years. The council is short of money and this would have brought some into the coffers.

“I want to see it brought back into use, and I feel this was one of the best chances of testing the market.
“It is a beautiful building overlooking the park. I don’t want it going the same way as some of the other buildings in Thorne.

“I am unhappy at Caroline Flint intervening.”

But Ms Flint said everyone was wanting the same outcome, which was to see the building brought back into use and preserved.

She said she had asked for a delay to allow herself and other groups, such as the South Yorkshire Buildings Preservation Trust, with an interest in the building to be informed and comment on the plans.

The trust was involved in restoring another historic building in Thorne, at 42 King Street, a project which won an award from the Georgian Society.

She was also concerned there had been no conservation conditions attached to the building for the sale planned for last week.

A meeting is planned to discuss the future of the building.

She said: “There are a number of buildings in Thorne of heritage value.

“There have been some very positive discussions with the council and the council chief executive Rob Vincent about how we can try to put together a plan for these buildings as part of the regeneration of Thorne.”