Local Historians

Times Past

William Clay-Dove 1919-1990

Born in Sutton where his family settled over four hundred years before. Williams main interests may have been among genealogy, while he was a Nottinghamshire society member and part time lecturer in local history. Bill Clay-Dove released several works, including a set of books pictorially covering our district localities 'in Times Past'. But our town always held more interest, only relating our anciently tied secondary village.

The Huthwaite community did therefore warmly welcome this contribution. Published February 1989 in two parts by the Chad newspaper. (noted now a year before he died)

Huthwaite and its History 1989

Part 2 Dated 16th February 1989

The pioneer of Wesleyanism in Huthwaite was a man named Eleazor Boot, born in 1774. He became converted in 1807, founded a chapel at Hardstoft, and then at Huthwaite, the first place of meeting being in the Royal Oak Yard on Blackwell Road, apparently known as Workhouse Yard. The first chapel, sited on a corner of the market place, was built in 1815 at a cost of £262 1s. 2d., the first sermon being preached by Daniel Taylor of Mansfield.

This served until 1890 and the present church on Sutton Road was opened on 6th June, of that year by the Rev C H Kelly. In 1902 a Sunday School was built at the rear, opening on to Old Fall Street. The aggregate cost of this being £2,500. Jubilee services were held in 1939 when a reconstructed organ was opened and dedicated, while in 1958 thanksgiving services were held to celebrate 150 years of the church’s ministry.

Eleazor Boot died in 1861 at the age of 87 and was buried with his wife in the old chapel yard. However, in 1890 after the building of the new chapel and the old place being required for other uses, their remains were removed and interred in Blackwell churchyard.

He was reputed to be rather strict with the more youthful members of his congregation if they misbehaved. A story is told that they got their own back by staying away and pushing live sparrows through the chapel door during the services. These apparently hovered around the candles with which the chapel was lighted. It seems the candles had to be snuffed and sparrows caught before order could be restored.

Difficulties arose in 1849 when several members of the Wesleyan Chapel were crossed off the class lists by Eleazer Boot for non-payment of dues. This caused a split led by John Tagg, and the group met in a house on Common Road. This was the home of Micah Sutton, one of the dissenters.

The society increased and moved to an abandoned framesmith’s shop in Hopkins Yard, where they continued to worship until 1856. Thus the Free Church was born. They purchased some land in Main Street and erected a chapel which was opened on 23rd November, 1856. This was styled the Free Wesleyan Church and the date stone has since been built into the new entrance hall.

The opening services were conducted by William Bott, of Wrexham. This chapel (opposite the Co-operative Society shop) later became the ‘Gem’ picture palace, a garage for a local bus proprietor and is now made into two semi-detached houses.

In February 1857, shortly after the opening, the society organised a great revival which brought in many converts and the work continued to prosper in the following years. In October 1880, the society purchased land in Sherwood Street and began to plan a larger building which had become necessary to accommodate the members. The land cost £100 and the new building which consisted of the present chapel and two vestries, cost £750. They raised a loan of £400 from two Mansfield tradesmen and the signatures to the mortgage included John Tagg, who had now become a farmer, seven framework knitters, a miner, a signalman and a labourer. It was witnessed by Joseph Sharpe, a school master.

In 1891, the Sunday School buildings were added and the choir and organ gallery erected in the chapel at a cost of £400. While in 1903 the organ was installed at the cost of £180. It is interesting to note that in 1891, when the foundation stones of the new Sunday School were laid, the proceeds of the day amounted to over £120. Centenary celebrations took place in 1984 after considerable alterations and the church was reopened on 9th June, 1984. The service was conducted by Sister Gwen Bell and a sermon preached by the Rev Christopher Edwards.

The Wesleyan Free Church became a member of the United Methodist Free Church, which was formed in 1857. In 1907 the Free Church united with the Methodist New Connexion and the Bible Christians to become the United Methodist Church. In 1932 the United Methodist, the Primitive Methodist and the Wesleyan Church united to become the Methodist Church.

Much more could doubtless be written concerning the churches of Huthwaite and of the many individuals who laboured for them. An absolutely detailed account is not possible within the confines of a newspaper article. Perhaps therefore, with Ecclesiaticus it may suffice to say.

"There be of those that have left a name behind them, that their praise be reported. And some there be, which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been.
But these were merciful men whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are with the covenant.
Their seed shall remain for ever and their glory shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth for evermore."

The population of Huthwaite about 1800 was in the region of 500 which increased to 929 at the 1831 census. By 1851 it was 1,154 and due probably to the rise of the coal industry in this area by 1891 the figure was 3,022.

New Hucknall Colliery was opened in 1878 and by 1900 was employing 1,500 men. The story of our local collieries is indeed a subject in itself and has been admirably and successfully recorded by Dr A R Griffin. Many readers will no doubt be familiar with his ‘Mining in the East Midlands’ and other notable works.

In 1811 the road was made from Sutton straight through to the Blackwell boundary and although a good deal of the mud disappeared the old name of ‘Dirty Hucknall’ still clung.

In 1831 25 residents were described as farmers, George Allsop was a joiner, John Barnes a shoemaker, Samuel Bower kept the Portland Arms, a public house called the ‘Colonel Wildman’ was kept by J Burrows and Jane Chambers kept the Swan. William Heath a corn miller, John Machon, land agent, John Stendall a baker, and John Mellors, colliery owner.

These pits were certainly turning out coal, but apparently not with the approved appliances, for one reads that the men were lowered down the shafts by chains, and the pit donkeys swung out each evening by the same means.

Framework knitting was also much in evidence, and in 1869 William Hill, a framesmith also acted as sub-postmaster and George Jennings was the schoolmaster. A windmill stood in the vicinity of Mill Lane and a story is told that after a very calm summer during which the mill had to stand idle, the wind blew heavily one Sunday morning. The miller set the machinery in motion in spite of the warnings of his friends that no good would come from milling on the Sabbath Day, and as he stood watching the revolving sails and gloating over the amount of work being done, one of the arms dropped off and killed him.   The same evening the Vicar of Sutton referred to the tragedy in his sermon, quoting from the fourth commandment.

The affairs of Huthwaite were originally administered by Sutton Parish Vestry and later by the Local Board established in 1866. However, in 1894 with the establishment of urban district councils Huthwaite became a separate entity.   The first chairman of its council was S W Betts, who in 1896 was followed by T C Birkhead.

Within this sphere many well-known local men of Huthwaite served their day and generation.
Limited space precludes a full list, but to name a few who may still be remembered - C H Coupe, J Fox, J Ensor, W G Hancock, J Thompson, W Bostock, E H Lowe, F Weston, T Goodhall, M Betts, J Wright, H A Simpson, J Davies, F C Sowter and J Iball. In 1935 the United District Council of Sutton-in-Ashfield was formed, including Huthwaite, Skegby and Teversal.

The factory of S W Betts provided some local labour to a limited degree, but in 1906 negotiations took place for the building of the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s premises and a site of four and a half acres was purchased from what was known as the ‘Unwin Land Society.’

This Society was formed in 1903 and the members were Mr Godfrey Bostock (secretary), Messrs A Taylor (chairman), M Betts, G Farnsworth, S Oxley, and Mr Whittingham, solicitor of Nottingham. They were in fact a group of far sighted men thinking of the future of industry and employment in the place.

Plans for the factory were prepared by Mr F L Harris of Manchester, the Society’s architect, and it was estimated that employment would be provided for 400 people. As is now well known, the project proved to be of great advantage to Huthwaite folk.

Huthwaite Library was built in 1912 and opened by Ald Robert Mellors, of Nottingham. It was one of the Carnegie Libraries and in the entrance hall a tablet recording the event was affixed. Present also were Councillors William Bostock, JP, George Farnsworth, Edwin H Lowe, George Adlington, James Fox, Benjamin Smith, John Blood, Thomas Goodall, Abraham Taylor, Matthew Betts, Elliott Gower, Matthew Taylor, Charles H Coupe, County Councillors Henry Holt and Frank Weston. Architect Ernest W Bostock. The builders were Messrs Vallance and Blythe, of Mansfield, and the clerk to the council was E B Hibbert.

Regarded as yet another progressive move was the extension of the tram lines from Sutton to Huthwaite. The first trip was made by the councillors from Portland Square to Huthwaite and the date of the first issue of tram tickets was 17th February, 1906.

Huthwaite folk of today will inevitably retain many memories and anecdotes of the past and much more could probably be written. When studying local history, conversation with various people is essential, and I must therefore pay tribute to the interest and knowledge of Mr R H Purseglove of Huthwaite Road, Sutton for the kindness he extended to me.

While not being a fully comprehensive study of the village, I trust this brief history will whet appetites and to some extent please those who fairly recently have said, "Why don’t you write something about Huthwaite?"


Written 24 Jan 12 Revised 24 Jan 12 © by Gary Elliott