A column written by Mr W. Bostock in the Free Press dated Friday, August 30th 1935. He reflects back on 50 years reporting with the newspaper, a witness of many changes historically covering Huthwaite.
How Time does fly! Really, I must be getting old - and yet it seems but a short spell since the night when the original proprietor and Editor of the "Free Press" first divulged to me his intentions of starting a local newspaper.
We were returning from the old Primitive Methodist Chapel, Sutton, after attending the monthly meeting of the Sunday School District Council. I then learned of all his plans as we walked down to the "Green" (Portland Square)- to catch the 101, did you say? Not in those days; not even the now obsolete wagonette, for these plied only on Saturday nights between Hucknall-under-Huthwaite and Sutton.
No, it was shanks' home, with no lamps, or even footpaths as to-day. As I trudged along I had got something to ponder over - would I be his agent? Would I report the local news? I was certainly very interested in such a project, especially as a little grist was to be added to the small wages of those days. Little did I realise, however, what I was letting myself in for if I intended keeping up the interest - which I believe I did to the best of my ability. Any way, I decided to take it on.
Eventually, out came the "Free Press" - and it was free for the first week. Fifty years ago the houses in Hucknall-under-Huthwaite were only a sprinkling as compared with to-day, so my canvass of the place was eight dozen copies. When I eventually gave up my round my sales had gone up to many hundreds, so that the "Free Press" proved to be what the founder fully expected - a success.
And what stirring times there used to be, and all were interested to see what Friday's issue had in store. I especially remember being at a meeting in the Old Schools - a listener, by the way - and presently one of the oldest good-humoured characters came waddling in, and having spotted me he called out, "Now Bostock, where am I going to sit?"
""Come and plank down besides me,"" I replied. He did so, and we had a really good opposition meeting. But the wit of this old crony and myself figured largely in the report the following Friday. He was early at my house that evening. "Han yo seen't Free Press," he asked. I told him I had, and he remarked "There'd be somebody listenin' to yo and me. We'll ha' sommat in next week," And there was.
On another occasion there was a meeting in the same school, and it was known that there were a number of individuals present for the sole purpose of carrying news. The first speaker was a sarcastic individual, and , after surveying his audience, he commenced: "Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land are ye come." For some little time he could get no further. He had touched the quick.
The next best bit on these lines that I remember was the hurrying over to the office of a well known South Normanton resident to ascertain who it was that sent the Fancy Dress Ball reports, which were inserted with pictures adapted to the various characters. Needless to say, he returned not much the wiser.
Originally the "Free Press" was one large broad-sheet - and what a back-aching job it was to get them all folded ready for distribution. One day, however, the proprietor had another surprise in store; he was going to have a folding machine, and when eventually I saw it chucking out the papers folded, I thought it was the best contrivance that I had ever seen. From our standpoint it was.
The changes which have taken place in our parish during the life of the "Free Press" have been varied and numerous, but for the purpose of this article they may be briefly summarised as follow:
The New Hucknall Colliery may be looked upon as being in its infancy; the first shaft was sunk in 1877-8, and further developments extended over a period of about seven years, during which time two others shafts were sunk.
The town gas and water supply matured near the same period. Prior to 1887 there was no medical practitioner at Huthwaite, such aid having to be obtained either from Sutton, Tibshelf or Alfreton, a surgery being provided at South Normanton. About this time the various friendly societies took up the matter and a resident practitioner was appointed.
The parish burial ground was at Sutton, the present Cemetery being opened in 1888. It may be of interest to mention that it was a real struggle to obtain sanction during the last few days of the proposed opening in time to allow of the burial of a well known lady and her newly-born child in one grave - the first interment.Old Wesleyan Church.
A year later the Wesleyan Church replaced the old one on the Market, now Mr. Hutton's premises. And here a matter of interest and unknown to many may be mentioned. In the yard in front of the old Chapel lay the remains of Eleazor Boot and his wife, Rose Hannah, the original founder of the Chapel. These remains were disinterred and taken to Blackwell Churchyard by the late Mr. Wm, Hill, Market Place.
Later saw the first instalment of the sewage filtration system, a small plant being laid down in Blackwell Road, but later on a much larger plant was installed in Common Road. The old School Managers gave place to the School Board; the old Local Board was supplanted by the Urban District Council. The Church was built in 1902, mostly of rock hewn from the New Hucknall Colliery, and in the east side tree stained-glass windows were affixed in 1913 by the late Mr. Simeon Watson J.P., and Mrs Watson in memory of their son John Henry, who died in 1891. In the same year two coloured Bantistry windows were presented by Mrs. Dodsley, of Skegby Hall. Still another window on the south side was added, being the gift of the Bible Class members to the memory of their class leader and comrades who fell in the Great War. The oak doors of the porch were in memory of Mr. William Simpson, who was churchwarden for twenty years.C.W.S Factory
In 1907 the Co-operative Wholesale Society accepted the free offer of a portion of land, but subsequently purchased a larger area from the Unwin Land Society, whereupon now stand their hosiery works.
The same year saw the change in name from Hucknall-under-Huthwaite to Huthwaite. The conditions of the Carnegie Trust were accepted by the Urban District Council after application, and the Free Library was built in 1912. The opening ceremony was performed by the late Alderman Robert Mellors, C.C., of Nottingham, and the following tablet was affixed in the entrance-hall:-
"Urban District Council of Huthwaite Public Library. This building was presented to the town of Huthwaite by Andrew Carnegie, Esq., and was opened on the 12th day of April, 1913, by Alderman R. Mellors, C.C. Councillors : Messrs, William Bostock, J.P., 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, C.C., Henry Holt and Frank Weston, Architect., Ernest W Bostock, Huthwaite; Builders, Messrs. Vallance and Blythe, Mansfield. Clerk to the Council, E. B. Hibbert, Esq., Mansfield."
The coming of the trams was looked upon as a progressive stride, the first trial trip to Huthwaite being loaded with many of the then City Fathers. What a contrast is to be found to-day. The date and number of the first public issue of tram tickets from Portland Square to Huthwaite was February 17th, 1906, P. 3320.
Immediately behind the Library is the Council's bowling-green, once a fishing pond known as the Quarry. In the winter of 1879, on a Sunday afternoon, two youths were sliding on this pond : the ice gave way and both were drowned.Once Historic Link.
Such are a few of the reminiscences connected chiefly with the life of the " Free Press. " The Welfare, Pleasure Park, Social Centre area all more recent and welcome acquisitions. The institutions that have passed are the Guardians, Overseers, old Local Board, School Board, and Urban District Council, whilst Huthwaite itself retained only as a Ward.
One historic thing, however, does remain intact - that is the old cattle compound (pinfold).
Written 26 Jan 12 Revised 31 Jan 12 © by Gary Elliott