February 2021

2020 a year of ups and downs – a battle World Wide and on the home front too.  In 1918, after WWI ended; Spanish Influenza ravished our world – here is an extract from the book Blidworth and the First World War (copies can still be purchased via our Facebook page or request to our email):



Our community has come together in adversity before and in 2020 there was no exception!


Attics have been raided and cleared and the society has been the happy recipient of many generous donations.

Here is to 2021 being a better year; the vaccine is here and rumblings are heard and hopefully soon life can start to begin anew – post covid19.  Until we can meet up let us entertain you with our news sheet and share the many discoveries about our villages and communities both in the distant past and the more recent past.

On the 1st January 1954 Des and Mary Williams with their daughter Terry, took the keys to their new home.  On the same day, Bob and Barbara Hardwick and their daughter Linda also had the keys to their new home.  The houses built to house miners and their families, were built by the Wimpey Building Company in Rainworth.  The “Wimpey Estate”, as it became known, was a development of housing stretching from Warsop Lane and Preston Road junction and stretching up towards the top end of Preston Road as it approached the Southwell Road West Road/ Cambridge Road junction.

George Wimpey was a British construction firm formed in 1880 and based in Hammersmith.  Amongst many constructions in London, they built the 140-acre White City Stadium complex.  Originally operated as a road surfacing contractor and after it was acquired by Godfrey Mitchell in 1919 it was developed into a construction and housebuilding firm.  In July 2007 Wimpey merged with Taylor Woodrow to create Taylor Wimpey – the builders of the new Coupe Estate, built off Warsop Lane, just above the Archer pub.

Wimpey by the early 1950s were building 18,000 local authority houses a year.  They were pre-eminent in the use of no-fines concrete construction (concrete made without sand) in high- and low-rise housing.  The end of building controls in 1954 allowed Wimpey to re-enter the private housing market.  The Wimpey estate in Rainworth was built in 1953 and amongst the first tenants to move in were the Williams and Hardwick families.

 Preston Road is the road just off Warsop Lane, shown on the map (to the right of, where the “o” of Warsop is (middle bottom edge of map).

To the right, an old photo looking down the road and up to the top of hill, intersection with Cambridge Road / Southwell Road West. 


These houses are built of concrete.  A concrete shell with an inner wall and then the cavity between the two was filled with rubble.  (Every salesman that approached us to say we could have cavity wall insulation over the years!  “Nope, said we, we don’t have a cavity”.)  The houses were either three or four bedroomed but built on the same plans; front of house had the door and three windows (2 upstairs; 1 down) and the front door had a concrete storm canopy over it with a doorstep.  The side elevation had a back door with a small window to the left and a doorstep that lined up with the gable at the top of the roof line; opposite the back door was a concrete coal bunker about 4ft high and 4.5ft wide, that had a small hole at the front from where coal could be shuffled into a coal scuttle.  The back garden was dependant on the position of the house on the respective street, some were square or long (if you were on a corner you had dual aspect and a larger patch) but all had concrete posts separating them from next door with 2 parallel wires stretch horizontally between the posts (front and back).  There were 5 windows on the back 3 upstairs and two down. 

Inside the house was the “back place” (utility area immediately on entering the back door; the kitchen, complete - with a pantry for stores and a Rayburn cooker/ boiler (similar to this) that heated the water and cooked the food (no central heating in those days) plus it also heated the kitchen and back place.  There were all the “mod cons” a gas poker for ease of lighting the Rayburn and a gas ring that was stored under the sink but brought out to heat the copper (provided) for those wash days.  Then a door led into the sitting/living room; where there was an open fireplace for heat, that had a gas tap to the right of it – to operate the gas poker when lighting the fire.  Marley tiles covered the floor, and had been laid directly onto the concrete floor.  In the corner alcove to the right of the fireplace was the door to the bottom of the stairs and the front door.  Upstairs comprised of two bedrooms to the front of the house and a bedroom, separate toilet and a bathroom to the back of the house (3-bedroom property).  An airing cupboard was on the landing between the small bedroom on the front and the bathroom on the back – which housed the hot water tank.  The flue from the Rayburn and open fire went into the chimney stack that went up the left-hand side of the stairs and this helped heat the front and back bedrooms, but didn’t really reach the bathroom and small bedroom front – they were on the corners of the house exposed to all weather, “brrrr” in winter and “phew” in summer!

My family moved into 11 Eaton Close, Rainworth on 1st January 1954, the first and only tenants (initially) of the pit house assigned to them.  Family at that time was Des and Mary, mum and dad along with sister Terry (I didn’t join them until 1956), who had previously lived at 6 The Quadrangle, Blidworth with my maternal grandparents Tom and Elsie Saville.  It was my parents first (and only) marital home.  Their best friends Bob and Barbara Hardwick, with their daughter Linda had also moved into 14 Eaton Close on the same day New Year’s Day 1954.  Although, later the Hardwick family (now with their son Robert born in 1956) moved in the 1960s when Cotgrave pit was opened, the families remained friends to this day.

I still live at Eaton Close – many family and national celebrations were held here; from the birth of children to 2020 VE Day celebrations – the house has seen it all! It’s changed with the times as have most of the houses on the original Wimpey Estate – but it’s still standing after 68years since construction! 

We will be following the development of the Wimpey estate through the eyes of Jayne, born and still living in the house you can see to the right.  Introduction of cars, central heating, buying homes under the 1980s mass selling of LA / NCB properties to sitting tenants; including many celebrations held on the street e.g., 1977 Silver Jubilee.

This is the start of developing the history of Rainworth from the earliest known settlement around Ramsden Croft; the opening of Rufford Colliery and the housing developments for local workers.  We also want to do the same for Ravenshead. 

Slow work, but with the kind donations and help from our community it is a great project to take us forward in 2021 and beyond.

We hold a large amount of material about Blidworth, due in no small respect to our founder Will Richards, and this is being added to, almost daily with the donations and finds from the 2020 lockdown

In the 1980s an environmental improvements project was carried out in Nottinghamshire by the County Council (and even now we are seeing more changes to our villages) taken from a brochure here is one development of Blidworth:


How do you remember Mansfield Road?


Let us put together the shops and business chronologically along Mansfield road.  

Here are some hints:


Nettleship’s garage (courtesy of Karen Ball) showing Karen and her elder sister around 1963-64.

Check out the cinema just above it and the shops at top of Mansfield Road.

Karen has more to share with us as her family did shoe repairs and had premises on Mansfield Road too, family name Millward.

Dunn’s who had businesses corner of dale lane and Mansfield /Main Road (opposite Forest Folk) and higher up on Mansfield Road / New Lane.

We are looking at building a timeline of Mansfield Road shops and businesses – watch this space! 


Changes are subtle sometimes; Fishnet where Dunn’s was.


The Scala Cinema used to stand above Nettleship’s garage (on the same side of road) between the garage (still there) and the shop that’s now Cutting Shop & BJs Bakery, houses stand there now.


Businesses on Mansfield road advertised in the programme; Garage 1956 H. Booth.

Remember Karen Bull – relations were shoe repairers; Millwards advert below:



Let us know who/what you remember and when that would have been.

 Papplewick pumping station, situated in open agricultural land near Ravenshead.  Built by Nottingham Water Corporation, between 1881 and 1884 to pump water from the Bunter sandstone to provide drinking water to the City of Nottingham.

Two beam engines, supplied with steam by six Lancashire boilers, were housed in gothic revival buildings. Apart from changes to the boiler grates, the equipment remained in its original form until the station was decommissioned in 1969, when it was replaced by four submersible electric pumps. 


Address: Papplewick Pumping Station     
Rigg Lane
NG15 9AJ


A Trust was formed in 1974 to conserve the site as a static museum, but the plans soon developed to include the refurbishment and regular steaming of the engines.

One of the beam engines was operated in 1975, using the only boiler that was certified to be safe at the time. Since then, the second engine has been reconditioned, and both are steamed several times a year. New visitor facilities were built in 1991, and a major restoration of the structures was completed in 2005, following a grant of £1.6 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As well as the beam engines, the site houses several other engines, which are also demonstrated on steam days.

The pumping station will be in steam on the 4th/5th April 2021 (Covid19 permitting). To attend an event, you must buy a ticket in advance. They will NOT be selling tickets at the gate. Tickets will become available usually two weeks before the event is scheduled to take place.  Check out their website:

External link opens in new tab or windowPapplewick pumping station: Industrial museum and unique wedding venue in Nottinghamshire - Visit us 

The Journey by Arthur Radford

A man will catch the bus at the Forest Folk Pub, Butlers bus to Kirkby “Larch Farm driver, please”, and hands over the tanner fare.  “What about a ticket”.  “I’m not a bobby, I’m just a driver.  Besides I need some fags.” “No wonder they’ve only got old buses,” the man thought on reaching the Little John Pub at Fishpool.  The driver gets out to fetch his fags.

When returning to the bus he opens the fags, then looks at his passengers.  “Anyone want a Woodbine?” “Yes” said two blokes.  The man thought, “What a kind driver” and the bus is comfortable anyhow.  On arriving at larch Farm, the man steps off the bus to begin his walk.  “Thank you, driver,” “Anytime,” came the reply and off to Kirkby the bus continued.  When reaching Little Rickets Lane, “I’ll make my way back to Blidworth”.

Just a short way he had travelled when a yellowhammer on the telephone wires whistled, “look at my eggs, look at my eggs and see the writing”.  The man finds the nest in a gorse bush.  “I can’t read foreign writing, besides it looks like scribble to me”.  So off he steps to more adventure, looking across the valley to Normans Hill and Thieves Wood Plantation.  In the fields there are lots of rabbits playing, looking towards the man.  They see he has no dog to chase them.  “Let’s carry on with our games.”  “I know,” said one, “let’s leapfrog”.  “Not likely said another, I don’t want any more kids.”

The man smiles as if he understood their meaning.  On reaching the crossroads he crosses over to greet the tree, Table Top.  “Hello, my friend and touches its boughs.  “I hope you will last for ever.  Everyone who passes by will notice your splendour, but it will take some tall chairs to dine off you”.  Tree sparrows had nested amongst the branches, with domed roof and comfy inside, but they wished someone would spread a table cloth upon the top to keep the rain out.

Striding on to Shipsides House he looks across the fields to Harlow Wood and thinks about Betsey Shepard.  I wish I was there to save her but the memories she left behind will live in memories for time to come. 

Now off he strides to reach the footpad, blood and guts from Little John to Fountain Dale.  On reaching this spot he rests awhile.  Down the path to the dale by Ling Farm the long field is full of night arks, the homes to many fowls.  “I’d like a few eggsto take home with me but I’ve pinched nowt yet” Then walks away from temptation. 

A passing crow calls out loud and lifts the man from his thoughts.  On reaching Cross Lane he stops to listen to the Chaffinch, but won’t take that route for the lane may be mad with him and off he strides again.  When reaching Redgate Farm the guard dog is off his chain and has not been fed yet.  “I’ll have a bite of that man’s legto tide me over,” he thinks, but the man has fashioned a stick from the hedgerow.  “Get back you brute, or you’ll feel this stick across you back.”  The dog slinks back to his kennel, “Oh well”, he thinks, “I’ll share some swill with the pigs, it’s better than nowt at all.” 

Along the lane and up the hill he looks at the water tower. “I wonder if it’s full. I’m ready for a drink.”  Then he carries on to the New Inn to have a couple of pints and a game of darts but, on leaving, he’s lost a bob to the crafty landlord.  Crossing the road to the church he glances at the grave stones, some with the mottled wear of time, some new flowers lay by one.  Someone remembers that special person whose name is inscribed upon the stone with a little sadness.  He makes his way home down the village by the pubs and chapels.  “I think I’ll have a pint in the Forest Folk to cheer me up,” but it’s closed, it’s gone three o’clock. 

So, he makes his way home to Savile Street where a friendly home awaits.  A large dinner cooked by his missus, but dried up now “Where have you been all day?” she asks.  “You need your sleep.  You’re on nights, don’t forget!”  “Give me ten minutes and a cup of tea.  Then pack me snap ready for ten o’clock.  Today I’ve learnt a lesson and the lane’s been a good teacher.”  The wife says, “Perhaps we can walk that lane together and see nature’s kindness.  Then one day you could write some lines of your journey for future folk to read.”

Here to Help during the COVID-19 Crisis Blidworth And Rainworth Fight Against Covid-19 Facebook page set up by the Blidworth and Rainworth Parish Councils; the Sherwood Forest Community Church C of E and Methodist Churches in Blidworth, as well as the Blidworth Welfare, the Head-teachers of Local Schools and the Social Action Hub (Food share and Co-op). Our purpose is to supply useful and accurate information to the community and to help the vulnerable at this time. We recognise the outstanding response that members of the community have had by making pages etc, this is just a way of consolidating all the various groups.

Contact them on the following numbers:

Rainworth Social Action Hub food share 01623 490498

Blidworth on the move for medical transport 07915929936 & 07377267643 Plus General Enquiries 07816933429 (Lines open M-Fri 8.30am - 6.30pm)

Blidworth food share at Sherwood forest community church 07907 664862




In 45 B.C., New Year’s Day is celebrated on January 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar takes effect. Soon after becoming Roman dictator, Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar was in dire need of reform.  From 1st January 1622, the Catholic Church adopted this day as the beginning of the new year.  On the 2nd January 1727, James Wolfe, British general who played a major part in the fight for Canada, was born and on the 3rd January 1924; Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Extract from Sam Clarke’s diary written in the early 19th century:

“Brimstone & treacle was duly administered to us every morning in the spring, castor oil was a potent remedy for a cough. I remember once had to take soot mixed with water for pleurisy because, forsooth John Wesley had prescribed it.

The annual pig killing took place a week before Christmas, ours would be about 24 or 25 stones, a great iron pot or cauldron would be fixed up over the fire for the scalding water (we had no copper then) the butchering process being over & the pig hung up, guesses were made by the sages as to its weight, if the head weighed 25 lbs the total weight of the pig would be 25 stones, 1 lb to the stone. The butcher would come the next morning to “cut it up”, the result would be flitches, hams, spare ribs, fat for lard & a lot of trimmings there with the liver were made up into “fries” and taken out by us to a number of people especially widows who were extremely grateful, because meat was denied them by reason of their meagre income 2/6d a week & a baker’s loaf. (Parish pay)

We had plenty of pork to last us some weeks, without buying butcher’s meat “A feast of fat things”, spare rib for Xmas dinner, what can you have better? With its usual, sage & onions & apple sauce, followed by plum pudding & mince pies.  Scraps resultant of lard, pork pies, and souse or brown were still waiting to be consumed, & how they were enjoyed! The flitches, hams, chives were covered with salt & a little saltpetre & left for 3 weeks, left to drain then hung in the Royal Academy of home “pictures” indeed “on the line”. Alas! That such scenes as these were not more common today”.

Our battle continues with Covid19 and our community is continuing the fight Together just as the villagers did in the past.

Sam Clarke wrote about the help via sick clubs that used to exist before a Dr or the NHS was set up:

“The sick societies were a great asset to the village in times of sickness and bereavement but they were economically unsound, as the members grew older, the drain upon the funds was greater than income as a great number of the younger members had left the village to take up work elsewhere, and partly due to agricultural depression, numbers dwindled till something had to be done, the land had to be mortgaged, finally what little cash was left was divided among the few remaining members. One club still remains 1929”.

An article by our chairman, Alan Higgins:

Blidworth before the NHS.

During the 18th century, several public houses in Blidworth formed themselves into clubs or friendly societies. These clubs, more commonly referred to as “Sick Clubs” were extremely well organised and kept strict financial record books that showed their particular society to be a financial and social success.

Members paid regular contributions into a fund and the aim of the Society was to provide sick pay and funeral benefit.

Founded January 3rd 1767, George Marlow of the New Inn Blidworth, situated opposite St. Mary’s Church formed a Society. The rule book, financial and special events, members names, dates of meetings etc. are all recorded and still exist to this day. The first contribution was sixpence per month, but due to inflation the subscription rose to one shilling on alternate months.

In 1769 sick pay was 5 shillings per week. Funeral benefits were set at £5. On the death of a member’s wife, he received 30 shillings, the death of a second wife, a further 30 shillings, these sums were deducted from the members own death benefits.

Around 1900 there were 5 such clubs in the village, all associated with the local inns and these “sick clubs” combined their resources to fund a club doctor. Doctor Saunders of Hucknall was chosen and he visited Blidworth, held a surgery, on Surgery Lane, each Tuesday and Friday mornings, and also visited the sick in their homes.

Some men belonged to more than one sick club, and were then better off “on the club” than at work, which led this worthy doctor to remark, “If a man belongs to one club, I can cure him. If he belongs to two, then I can do him some good. If he belongs to three, then he is incurable".

In 1923, the Newstead Colliery company began employing men at Blidworth to construct the new Colliery and these men together with the hundreds of men later employed in producing the coal, paid a compulsory amount into the company sickness scheme and thereby qualified for the services of local doctors who resided in the village. In 1924-26, the construction of the Colliery surface plant began and amongst these buildings was a medical centre. (Photo of Tommy Saville in the ambulance room, Blidworth pit – from

 booklet Welcome to Blidworth courtesy of Denzil Jones. 

A description by Michael Gallagher in his book reads as follows;

“The ambulance room is a model of what a room should be. The floors and walls are tiled, light blue and white tiles are used in the scheme, and a very pleasing and hygienic effect is produced. The equipment consists of a bath, operating table, cabinets for lint, dressings, splints etc. It contains everything that is necessary for the first aid treatment of wounds and fractures. There is also an electric water heater which may be used to obtain an instantaneous supply of hot water if required.”

Blidworth miner’s families, unofficially, used this facility, particularly in the case of emergency and Jack Wedd, the ambulance man who lived very close to the colliery was always on call both at home and at work. Jack and his wife Elizabeth were still the village first aiders until the 1950’s.

Ransom Hospital near Mansfield was developed at the turn of the 20th century as a private hospital and later became an NUM funded hospital. Set in a lovely location within Sherwood Forest, the sanatorium was renowned for its fresh air techniques with patients sleeping on the open verandas of the wards. Newstead Sanatorium near Ravenshead was opened by the Duchess of Portland in 1942, Newstead specialised in treating Tuberculosis, a worldwide pandemic in its day, and although not completely eradicated, effective vaccines and antibiotics control the infection to a large extent.

Two doctors that began treating patients in the village during the 1930’s. Doctor James Matthews with a surgery on the Crescent and Doctor Alan Spencer with a surgery on Dale Lane. Both used a surgery attached to their homes.  Doctor Spencer continued to practice in the village until retiring in the 1960’s and is remembered fondly for being a friendly character who knew most of his patients by name and in many cases was present when they were born, including yours truly. He often suggested to the parents of the newly born male children that they name the baby after himself, hence there was numerous Alan’s in the village, again, including yours truly.

I remember his waiting room on Dale Lane very well, there was no appointment system, if you were ill you simply turned up and waited your turn. The room could be full, with 20 plus people in there, all sitting on hard wooden bench seats. You made a mental note of all the faces and went in to see the doctor after everyone who was there before you. Never once did you hear anyone saying “I was here before you.” It was a system of one out, one in, while you waited for an hour or more in a room full of people coughing and sniffling.

One of the original wooden seating benches was transferred into the waiting area at the Blidworth Abbey Medical Centre, although very rarely used, today’s patients seem to prefer the softer seats whilst waiting to be electronically paged.

In the years immediately after the Second World War the priority was the welfare of the people. The Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan, was given the task of introducing a system of health for the nation, and in 1948 medical care became free and based on need rather than on ability to pay.

The NHS has constantly evolved throughout its history and today is almost unrecognisable as the service that was established 70 years ago. However, it is under significant pressure and facing perhaps its biggest challenges since it was established.

Together, we can ensure that everyone enjoys the best possible health and quality of life post-COVID.

A note in Harry Clarke’s diary written in the 1930s-1950s, entitled Gipsy Ways by Gipsy Petulingro (page 1):



Another extract from Sam’s diary, but annotated by Harry:

(When I was down Beck Lane getting bracken, I met Mr. “Neddy” Godfrey who was quite vehement and called Lloyd George for the break-up of the clubs, i.e., for bringing in the National Scheme. HC) -

John Wood, a long-time resident of Rainworth, local author/poet and a former Ranger book “A Walk Around Rainworth” – a walk, in verse of course, around natural Rainworth starting at Ell Lake on Burns Day 1987. 

“Burns day 25th January 1989 a bad storm felled many trees in the woodland including one of the large black poplar trees on the field side of the lake and sadly the winds of 1990 felled the other.”

The Battle of Burns Day 1990

Twas burns night 1990 when the wind whipped through the trees,

From the wailing of its chanter came a tune of unearthly ease,

A death toll of destruction was counted in its wake

For many fell that dreadful day in the woodland ‘round Ell Lake.

In Wobo Wood a mighty beech, with roots ripped from the ground,

Lay toppled by the claymore of the wind which ran him down,

Ailing birch had their heads lopped off, as too did proud Scots pine,

When this strong wind blew with the breath of death and eerie, awesome whines.

A crack willow line of archers were smitten by the blast

As this harbinger of death attacked them and felled them in its path,

Their bows were left unlifted, their arrows left unhewn,

In death they lay defeated on that dreadful afternoon.

Some, they fell in Birch Wood; some in the Spinney lay;

Both the dead and dying awaiting their decay.

Others lay in Marsh Wood upon the boggy ground,

While some had partly severed limbs that hung so limply down.

The battle raged on Poplar Way where the giant poplar stood,

And like his friend who fell last year, he too shed his heartwood blood,

Twisted and shattered he toppled and fell, caught by a neighbouring pine,

The storms of ’90 had taken their toll as they had in ’89.

And when the battle was over and Burns Day was many hours passed,

And the winds of destruction had moved on their way, tranquillity reigned at last,

A still, silent calm of reflection; of absent friends in the crowd,

Whom we’ll think of many years to come when the winds of destruction roar loud.

A poem by Arthur Radford, to light our way in these dark and stressful times:



The sun, earth’s star providing light and warmth for all life,

Be it creature or plant or fish in the sea,

All welcome in the morning of their turn,

As the sun shares itself with every one in the dawn of each day,

A new dawn to some but first warmth will tell them.

They are here on earth’s gifted place to see the light of life.

Some will witness drama, some joy but each will welcome the first beams of sunlight to start them on their purpose of being,

To bring new life of their kind on earth’s welcome bosom.

Here to Help during the COVID-19 Crisis Visit Blidworth And Rainworth Fight Against Covid-19 Facebook page set up by the Blidworth and Rainworth Parish Councils; the Sherwood Forest Community Church C of E and Methodist Churches in Blidworth, as well as the Blidworth Welfare, the Head-teachers of Local Schools and the Social Action Hub (Food share and Co-op). Our purpose is to supply useful and accurate information to the community and to help the vulnerable at this time. We recognise the outstanding response that members of the community have had by making pages etc, this is just a way of consolidating all the various groups.

Contact them on the following numbers:

Rainworth Social Action Hub food share 01623 490498

Blidworth on the move for medical transport 07915 929933

Blidworth food share at Sherwood forest community church 07907 664862


December 2020

At this time, when we are unable to meet up, we are putting information on our Website and Facebook page.  They have both been updated regularly.  If anyone would like to ask for some specific information you can contact us (safely) by email at the above address.

But for those members who do not have access to technology we’ve put together a News Sheet.  This will be issued into our community, as safely as we can. See a copy – pass it on SAFELY! If you would like one emailing let us know at above address.

The Holly & the Ivy – Christmas carol from the “Prayers & Hymns” book for use in schools:

“The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown;

Chorus: The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir”

The holly bears a blossom, as white as the lily flowers, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour;


The holly bears a berry, as red as any blood, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good;


The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn; and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas day in the morn;


The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all;


The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

Final chorus: 

This picture was posted on Facebook earlier this year, anyone you know?  The shepherd sitting on the front row second from the left is Paul Candlin.  This was a nativity play performed at Blidworth County Council school circa 1958/9.

Memories of Christmas when attending the Blidworth County Council School, Blidworth (now Blidworth Oaks Primary School) infants and juniors:

Beginning of December; the tree arrived in school and once in position in the main corridor, the task of decorating it began.  Each child was asked to bring a decoration they would like to put on the tree! “A wreath of greenery with bells and sparkles plus snow was what I took each year.  I still have those decorations today”.


The preparations for the Christmas Nativity play began – angels with wire halos affixed their heads and wings of white tissue paper over a wire frame hung from their shoulders; shepherds with mum’s best tea-towel on their heads, held firmly by the trusty snake snap belt; Mary and Joseph walking up and down the stage seeking a place to rest their weary heads – then the baby doll laying in a manger”.

“The last week of school was preparing for our Christmas party, we all had to take: a plate, cup, dish, cutlery on the day – to make sure it came back home your name needed to be on each item, “plasters were stuck to the bottom or around the item and our names written on the plaster”!”

“When I was at Joseph Whitaker School, I took part in several plays – but one in particular; A Christmas Mummers’ play, was brought back to mind whilst transcribing the diary of Sam Clarke.  (In Sam’s diary he wrote about a traditional mummers’ play that was performed in the village in his day.)

Mummers’ plays are “folk plays” performed by troupes of amateur actors, traditionally all male (not to dissimilar to a panto).  Generally, a play has a number of characters called on stage, two will engage in combat; the loser being revived by a doctor character.  Mumming spread from the British Isles to a number of former British colonies and is sometimes performed in the street but more usually during visits to houses and pubsThey are performed seasonally or annually – often at Christmas, Easter or on Plough Monday (Sam’s diary “An ancient custom is Plough bullocking celebrated in the evening of the second Monday in the year.  Mummers in improvised dresses used to visit people’s houses and give a little play, VIZ: 1st PB; In comes bold Tom, brave and active fellow.”)

According to Wikipedia, although the term “mummers”, has been in use since the Middle Ages, no scripts or details survive from that era and the term may have been used to describe performers of several different kinds.  The earliest evidence of mummers’ plays as they are known today is from mid- to late 18th century and should not be confused with the earlier “mystery plays”.

So, back to the Joseph Whitaker Christmas Mummers’ play; the cast -


Note the combatants Captain Slasher; Prince George; Turkish Champion – weapons swords and pistols, plus the Noble Doctor to heal the loser!  Plus, there also lurks the devil – Beelzebub!  All the shouts of “he’s behind you” or “no he isn’t” elements are present!  The character – A Clown; circled here seems a little strange, maybe? You may be forgiven to wondering what this character had to do with the play, as did I. 

You’ve guessed it – that was my character and when given the “script” and my part I was pleased to note I had nothing to say from the script and I got to wear full clown make-up! Great I thought, but no my hopes were dashed when told I needed to narrate the action throughout the play and ad-lib to create audience participation – nightmare!

But along with my fellow actors, the show must go on! 

But along with my fellow actors, the show must go on!  So, with script in hand the group performed.  The tale of the fight between the King of England and the Turkish Champion was told. 


Then with the troupe on stage they began the song: Ye gentlemen of England, we’ll have you to draw near, and mark these lines which we have said and quickly you shall hear; and quickly you shall hear with your half-pence and strong beer; and quickly we’ll come no more a-acting until a-nother year!

The winter it is coming on, dark, dirty wet and cold; and to try your good nature this night we do make bold; this night we do make bold with your ‘alfpence and strong beer; and we’ll come no more a’acting until another year……….


The cast one and all were congratulated by the audience and their teacher too:

Hope you all have a safe, happy and festive Christmas despite Covid-19.  Jayne (W)

*copies of the full play are available email External link opens in new tab or windowblidworthhistory@virginmedia.com

Christmas cards, sent as part of the traditional celebration of Christmas to convey between people a range of sentiments related to the “holiday season”.  The first modern Christmas card was illustrated by John Calcott Horsley, London in 1843.  But the first recorded Christmas cards were sent by Michael Maier to James I of England and his son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1611.

Nowadays cards can be crafted, paper, virtual but still the message is the same, conveying the sentiments of the holiday season to family and friends, both far and wide.

Early British cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favouring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring.  This year our Christmas cards will surely have us looking longingly towards spring and an end to Covid-19.

Here one of our members, Pamela Morley, shares some of her reflections with us:

“I have just got to the end of the articles that you sent to me. I have to say that I found them all fascinating! Thank you so much for sending them. You must have put a lot of hard work in.

We regularly walk from Nomanshill Wood across to Rainworth Water and sit alongside the water with a picnic. We have also walked the full length over to the L Lake. (seen a few deer along too there!) I bet there’s a good opportunity for a metal detectorist in the area then if the Romans were there!

Our little cottage on Chapel Lane (Main Rd end) of Ravenshead was originally built in 1818. (Not long after the Napoleonic war) We were part of Blidworth Parish many, many years ago. We were also just inside the old boundary of Newstead Abbeys estate long ago. We have the parchment deeds and they are interesting to read.

The old (now gone) Ebenezer Chapel was across the road from us. We had work done to the fireplace some time back and there’s still metal pins up the chimney breast which the sweep boys used when sweeping the chimney! (Yuk.). We still have the original beams in the original part of the house. A bit more was built on to it 31-32years ago by the chap we bought it off.

After moving in I recall standing at the back door of my little cottage thinking “It’s not ours...we are just the custodians for a while.” Funny how your mind sees things in an old place!

Thank you for all the information that you have put together. It’s really appreciated. I’ve passed it on to all of my family to read as I know they will be interested too

Well done! and thank you all for the work you have all put in.”

Pamela Morley.


Another member, Christine Dabbs, recently sent the following prayer to share with you all:


Dear Alan thank you for sending me all the letters I love them all, this year has been put on hold for everybody no holidays and keeping away from a lot of our family and loved ones. We moved a year ago and have a big garden so it has been great sorting it out and growing lots of veg, and what kept coming in my thoughts was a prayer Sgt Major Matthew Clay (my family) wrote, which I have at home, so I would like to share it with you.


Giving thanks to God when getting the produce of the garden.


Be pleased O Lord to accept my humble thanks for thy bountiful goodness in graciously

bestowing thy blessing on the labour of mine hands and hast spared my life to enjoy the

fruits of my labour, O that my life so spared may show forth thy praise that I may hence

forth serve thee acceptably through Jesus Christ Amen.”

Matthew Clay.


When you know his life stories and the things, he saw through his life I am so proud of this young lad who left his home and family in Blidworth for an amazing journey through his lifetime, and I will always try to keep his memory alive for local people to remember our past.


Take care and keep safe to all my friends at Blidworth Historical society and hope we can get together soon, all my best wishes Christine 'Clay' Dabbs.


Here to Help during the COVID-19 Crisis Visit Blidworth And Rainworth Fight Against Covid-19 Facebook page set up by the Blidworth and Rainworth Parish Councils; the Sherwood Forest Community Church C of E and Methodist Churches in Blidworth, as well as the Blidworth Welfare, the Head-teachers of Local Schools and the Social Action Hub (Food share and Co-op). Our purpose is to supply useful and accurate information to the community and to help the vulnerable at this time. We recognise the outstanding response that members of the community have had by making pages etc, this is just a way of consolidating all the various groups.

Contact them on the following numbers:

Rainworth Social Action Hub food share 01623 490498

Blidworth on the move for medical transport 07915 929933

Blidworth food share at Sherwood forest community church 07907 664862

"Blidworth and the First World War" is a unique work produced by John and Dale Smallwood, and is published by the Nottinghamshire Local History Association.

A superb Christmas present. Just £8 to members with free delivery to Blidworth & within 5 miles

Our Society is extremely proud to be associated with this book and consider that the many months of planning and research, not to mention the long hours spent in ensuring that the subject is covered in as much detail as is necessary to demonstrate how the First World War effected our village.

Read about how life in the Parish of Blidworth, that at the time included Fishpool, Rainworth and Blidworth Bottoms, changed during the first thirty years of the 20th century.

Such has been the demand for the book that it became necessary to place an order for a reprint and therefore copies are once again available directly from the Blidworth and District Historical & Heritage Society.

The book commemorates the local men who sacrificed their lives in the 'War to end all Wars'. It also tells of how the war might have been avoided if a shooting accident had ended in a fatality.

We glimpse life as it was through the eyes of bootmaker, Sam Clarke and hear stories about the daily life of our Parishioners. We learn that Blidworth had the first Co-operative in the country. We introduce the reader to 'Plough Bullocking' and learn the rules of 'Husky Fusky'. We also tell of the revival of the unique 'Rocking Ceremony' in St Mary's Church of the Purification.

The men who returned from the war faced great changes and some experienced severe hardships. The village became less dependent on agriculture as the mining industry developed and changed completely with the sinking of Blidworth Colliery.

The book contains over 120 pages and is richly illustrated with photographs of Blidworth Parish and its people, many of which have not been previously published.



 Sam Clarke wrote, referred to the Harvest and the Mansfield Statutes Fair in the 19th century:

“Harvest was a time when every able-bodied man & woman who could be spared sallied forth to shear the wheat with the historic sickle, barley was mown with a scythe & carted loose, and oats were a negligible quantity.  Women & children also used to glean the fields as soon as the crop had been gathered, no farmers would have dared to stop them, as they deemed it an inalienable right even as Ruth on the plains of Bethlehem.  In the Psalms we read of the JOY of harvest and truly it was a joyful pleasant and profitable period when a little extra money was earned to meet extraordinary expenses. Almost every family fed a pig for their own consumption and so the corn gleaned when threshed with a flail would be taken some windy day, chaff and all, into a field, a sheet was spread on the grass, the corn being poured steadily over the sheet, 4 or 5 feet high, the useless chaff would flee before the wind, the resultant wheat would be sent to the village windmill to be turned into flour for bread, if mixed with other corn, meal for the pig which when fattened was usually killed for Christmas or the *Rocking Blidworth Feast 1st Sunday in February.”

“Farm servants, male and female, were hired at the Mansfield Statutes Fair on the first Friday in November; they would generally walk to Mansfield then take their stand on the pavement at the bottom of Leeming Street facing the Town Hall, the girls on the Westgate side, the “Chaps” on the Church St. side waiting to be hired, after a deal of haggling on both sides, a bargain was struck , “earnest money”, or commonly called the “Fastening Penny” generally about 2/6 was given to the future employee to clinch the bargain, arrangements were made as to date to commence work, which was usually the latter end of Nov.  Leaving day was Nov. 23, Martinmas day, when their wages were paid; they would then pay their laundress for washing and mending their clothes for the year 10/- usually, cheap enough!  Shoemaker and Tailor were visited paying up, and if natives, getting measured for another rig out for the coming year.  How they managed to save anything at all was wonderful.  A weeks’ holiday!! Before were pitchforked into a new environment. Are you stopping “again?” some old greybeard would ask his equally aged and hirsute townsman, was an annual joke, “Ah! A don’t think a’shall shift this year” was the usual reply.  Mansfield Statutes is still held, but only as a Pleasure Fair. At some of the larger farms a harvest supper was provided for all those who had helped in any way, men and women, the gathering took place either in the barn or the commodious farm kitchen, after a good “tuck in” tables were cleared, songs were called for and responded to by members of the company, healths were drunk perhaps oftener than was necessary, home-brewed beer being served ad lib. Cheers for the Master and Mistress were given with gusto and wishes expressed for a bumping harvest next year. They then wended their way home as well as head and legs would permit; to begin another year’s “daily round and common task”, drab but full of infinite variety.”

Blidworth and the First World War - by John & Dale Smallwood; on behalf of the B&DH&H Society.

Forward: Our late President, Bill Richards had an incredible memory for the things he had experienced and witnessed.  The Society is grateful that his interest in local history encouraged him to delve into the Parish of Blidworth’s past and record it in one or other of the many books he wrote.  Bill was born during the Great War and was able to be part of how Blidworth changed following the conflict.  Furthermore, he was always willing to pass on his knowledge and was an inspiration to everyone who shared his interest in local history.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly. The time he spent fighting in the second World War was spoken sparingly and the event that led to him being mentioned in dispatches for bravery was a subject he totally refused to discuss or describe.  He did allow his citation to be displayed but that is as far as he was willing to go.”

For more see the book, members can borrow from our archives or you can purchase the book by emailing us at External link opens in new tab or windowblidworthhistory@virginmedia.com


It was 1920 before the village had permanent memorials to those who lost their life in the Great War.  One erected inside St Mary’s Church; along with a role of honour, and one inside the Wesleyan Chapel.

It was 95 years later that the village got a war memorial that included those that died in WWI but also WWII and also in subsequent wars.


An extract from Sam Clarke’s diary follows:


My Ancestors

John Clarke was a “stockinger” or framework knitter, he also acted as Corporal in a sort of Militia, styled the Nottinghamshire Marksmen, from which many men were drafted into the old 45th Regt; their rules and regulations I have in my possession. It is bound in parchment, quaint and curious recipes, to cure or relieve every known disease.”

Later, Sam’s own brothers James and Adam fought in WWI.  The following is a letter sent from France, where Adam was in the army:

“REPLY TO: Pt A Clarke   NO: 625121  Dec 28th 1915 6

Shorncliffe Canadian Headquarters C.T.D.

Dear Brother & Sister Niece & Nephew Just a line to let you know how I am getting along.  I have been down to Hastings since the last time I wrote.  My work has been Guard Duty all the time.  I have been going to and from Dover to Havre in France on transport & returning to Southampton with Prisoners of War.  The most miserable objects you ever saw.  There are 50 guards on each boat with fixed bayonet and ball ammunition.  I feel sometimes like having a shot at one.  I have been trying to get a pass for 6 days but I can’t get one yet.  They don’t seem very anxious in giving us a pass.  Because we are over Age for France.  I am in the best of health at present hoping that you all are the same.  We had quite a good time this Xmas.  Hoping you all had the same & wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.  From your loving Brother”,

The Society have the letters that James, who emigrated to Australia and Adam, who emigrated to Canada and they have been transcribed and are an interesting read.  Some letters were simply addressed:


Digital copies of the letters are available by emailing the society at External link opens in new tab or windowblidworthhistory@virginmedia.com


Later in WWII Harry Clarke, (Sam’s son) saw both the start and finish of that war.  Recording both the local activities of the time and commentating on the national and international events.

1939 - “Sept 3 Sun – England declared war on Germany at 11. A.M. 

We were in Chapel & Mr F Houldsworth came & told me to keep the children to the end of the service, as we were going out early.  We went out at 11.5.  The children were very impressed.  I heard one say, “Wasn’t it solemn”.  One boy wept a bit. 

We hurried home to hear Mr Chamberlain at 11.15.  The preacher was Mr Shaw, he should have stopped all day but he went home.  G. Clarke preached at night.

Sep 4

At 3 A.M. the blowers went for an air raid, but we all stopped in bed.  A lot of people got up & went to the top of Rookwood Gardens.  The blowers went again at 6 A.M. for another air raid.  I took my gas mask with me to work.  When C Kirk's bus came to take us to work, we all got inside & then we considered, as there was an air raid we had better get out, so out we came, but the blowers went in about a minute.

Sep 8

The windows on the screens are being painted black on outside.  All corners of buildings painted white.  Sandbags round offices.  Firefighting appliances everywhere.

Sep 9

Gave Mr H Clarke a marrow weight 9lbs.  Gave Mrs C Cragge one 71/2 lbs.  Mr H Clarke showed me how to grow them.”

He worked through the war at Rufford Pit.  Became an air raid warden and was certified as trained in dealing with High Explosives & incendiary bombs. He used his garden to supplement the family’s pantry and continued his excellent teachings at the Church.

June 18 Tues

“Had a certificate from the pit to say that I was trained in High Explosives & incendiary bombs.  We are learning Ambulance work now.  A soldier was on duty against the bridge at Rufford.  He stopped several cars & examined them.”

The local women setup Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), the “women in green” supported the local community and the armed forces. Making a difference to life at home and at the battle front.

Cup a tea! Blanket, or a meal.  Packages for the men at the front – knitted Balaclavas; scrap metal collection!

Page 69 of Blidworth and the First World War book, gives list of what would be in a typical parcel:

A balaclava helmet – a knitting guide was provided.

WWIIthe “women in green”, as they were known; operated canteens; evacuation; bomb shelter; first aid and emergency centres.

1938 - 1945 war work

The War Memorial on Main Street, Blidworth pictured here was dedicated on 3rd November 2007 and although originally it was to include the fallen servicemen and women of WWI, it was decided to include from WWI to Afghanistan.

The book “Remembered In Silence” by Tom Murray gives insight to the research and inauguration of this memorial – Society members may borrow the book from us (we have 2 copies) or loan it from Blidworth library.

This year, due to Covid-19, the service of remembrance will not be possible.  However, those who wish to pay their respects can lay a wreath at any time from Sunday 8th November to the 11th November. 

Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifice made by servicemen in times of war. In the United Kingdom the day was first commemorated in 1919, when it was known as Armistice Day, with two minutes silence at 11am on 11th November. The day marked the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought World War One to an end in 1918. Its name was changed to Remembrance Day after World War Two.  Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of the risks posed, the annual Remembrance Sunday March Past the Cenotaph will not take place this year.  We recognise this will be deeply disappointing for all who were due to take part and it is not a step that has been taken lightly. The Government led Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph will continue to go ahead as a closed ceremony.

Despite the changes this year, we are encouraging people across the nations to ensure Remembrance Sunday is still marked appropriately by taking part in remote and socially distanced Remembrance activity, whether that be watching the service on television or pausing for the Two Minute Silence in their home or on their doorsteps. External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.britishlegion.org.uk/




However, you show your respect to those that gave their lives so that we may live; wear a poppy bought or made or lay a wreath remember that every poppy counts!

For more information see RBL site. External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://www.poppyshop.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwISeovjf7AIVg-3tCh3oVg22EAAYASAAEgLjU_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds 






As we enter another lockdown for Covid-19, remember the above message and that there is help locally for anyone needing company, shopping, medical appointment travel etc.


Here to Help during the COVID-19 Crisis


Visit Blidworth And Rainworth Fight Against Covid-19 Facebook page

This page has been set up by the following organisations to centralise the brilliant response our community has had to fight the Coronavirus. The organisations are: the Blidworth and Rainworth Parish Councils the Sherwood Forest Community Church., C of E and Methodist Churches in Blidworth, as well as the Blidworth Welfare, the Head-teachers of Local Schools and the Social Action Hub (Foodshare and Coop). We hope that more of the local community will join us. Our purpose is to supply useful and accurate information to the community and to help the vulnerable at this time. We recognise the outstanding response that members of the community have had by making pages etc, this is just a way of consolidating all the various groups.

Or contact them on the following numbers:

Rainworth Social Action Hub food share 01623 490498

Blidworth on the move for medical transport 07915 929933

Blidworth food share at Sherwood forest community church 07907 664862

October's News Sheet

Following is an extract from Sam Clarke’s diary:

Water supply in 1888 see Kelly’s directory.   Water Supply

Little is known by the current generation of the difficulty of obtaining water in the good old days. Our well, 30yds deep served over

25 houses and was situated as the plan.


“When a new bucket or rope was needed the cost was ascertained and collected by our father and John Ashley (another shoemaker who lived across the street) from those who used the well.  It was quite a feature of our end of the village for men to foregather and draw their daily water supply, while waiting for their turn to discuss the latest news, local or otherwise. 

There were about 15 wells in the village also 6 huge stone troughs in the street at intervals that served the middle of the village, 2 of them were in the open space in front of the Black Bull a protecting wall at the back was a favourite loafing place for all and sundry. As well water was too hard to wash with, almost everybody had large tubs to hold rainwater off the house roof; in a dry summer when they were empty, we would fetch a supply from “soft water” trough half a mile away, a spring which has not failed to the present day.  

Our present water supply has been a great boon it being much easier to turn on a tap than draw from a moss covered well, poetic! To some, yes, but not a tired-out labourer who had done more of his share of work during the day for a paltry half-crown. Ern Elsom told me he had two wells where he lives (i.e. just above me in Winch’s old farm) one down the cellar. He said there was a deep well in the back yard of Holloways’ farm (i.e. the old rambling house at the top of Marriot Lane, where old Mr Collins lived) and he said his brother uncovered one down Fishpool Lane in a little 3 corner of a field, set in the hedge bottom.”

During lockdown, local veterans received contact from their regiment; SSAFA or RBL, keeping in contact and boosting moral for both veterans and serving personnel. 

This month is the 17/21st Lancers commemoration of their most famous battle – Balaclava!  

Most people will have heard of the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson:


“Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said, Into the valley of death rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade!"  was there a man dismay’d? Not tho’ the soldier knew someone had blunder’d: theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die!  Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.  

Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley’d and thunder’d; Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well. Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell 

Rode the six hundred.”

In 1759 the 17th Light Dragoons were born, following a battle in Canada.  It later was amalgamated with the 21st in 1922 to form the 17th/21st Lancers. It is most famous for riding in the front line of the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854.


The choice for a badge the Death's Head with the motto 'Or Glory' was made following the death of General Wolfe. This Motto remained unchanged, continuing as the Motto (cap badge) of The Queen's Royal Lancers.

In recognition of the Queen’s 70th Anniversary as Colonel in Chief, she granted the suffix “Queen Elizabeth’s Own” to the regiment and later the badge incorporated the crossed lances representing the 9th/12th Royal Lancers amalgamation, whilst retaining the original motto “death and glory” to be the motto today. 

Battle of Balaclava - 25th October 1854 of the 147 17th Lancers that charged, only 38 answered the roll call after the battle. For their gallant actions that day, three Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Regiment.  

Although the 17th remained in the Crimea for the rest of the campaign, they did not play a major role in any of the remaining battles, which were predominantly infantry affairs.


The Royal lancers and the Notts Yeomanry museum are at Thoresby Courtyard, Thoresby Park. It was opened on 26th July 2011 and although closed during Covid-19 has now reopened Wed, Thurs and Sunday from 19.30-4pm. Coronavirus precautions have been applied with distancing measures in place and sanitisers available. For safety reasons some hands-on attractions have been temporarily withdrawn, but there is still plenty to see and enjoy.


The 17th was present in every major conflict and the museum will give a fuller history.

Newstead Abbey, Ravenshead was formerly an Augustinian priory.  Converted to a domestic home following the dissolution of the monasteries, by order of Henry VIII.

Despite the name “abbey” it never was but in fact was a Priory.  It is best known as the ancestral home of Lord Byron.

Another family were owners of Newstead and link to our story of the 17th / 21st Lancers, earlier in this news sheet.

Dr David Livingstone met William Frederick Webb, an explorer and hunter, during Autumn of 1851.  Webb had been hunting north of Cape Town sending trophies home, and for 2 years it was feared that his party was lost or dead because no correspondence was received.  In a place called Kunman, Webb became ill with a fever and the expedition was at a standstill.  Dr Livingstone heard through the natives that a white traveller was sick some distance off and set out to search for them.  Finding Webb and his party he cured him.  The two men became very good friends and stayed together for some months, talking at great lengths about their respective families and life in England.  They agreed to meet up again should they both be in England at the same time.

William Frederick Webb inherited a considerable fortune from his uncles and his father, Frederick Webb who was a land owner and industrialist of Durham.  In his early years he received a commission in the 17th Lancers, aged 18 – served in Ireland in 1848 but later resigned his commission in favour of his younger brother Augustus.  

Captain Augustus Cavendish Webb died of his wounds at Scutari 6th November aged 22 just one week after he fell mortally wounded during the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava.

Webb continued to make a considerable profit from his properties and land.  In 1861, Mr & Mrs Webb purchased Newstead Abbey from Colonel Wildman, outbidding Queen Victoria to acquire Newstead.  Mr Webb moved his family in and set about improving Newstead; installing central heating and gas lighting amongst many things.  Mrs Webb contributed by filling the house with Byron memorabilia and entertaining guests from all over the world.  In 1864 one such guest was David Livingstone, who having returned to England for the 2nd time after exploring the Zambezi river and its tributaries, was persuaded by the Webb’s to visit Newstead.  The first of many visits, he stayed for 8 months to write his book on the Zambezi, which proved to be a literary sensation.

Speedwell and Mayflower – in July we saw the start of the epic voyage of the Pilgrims from England to the New World, and the 400th anniversary of that voyage.

Having repaired the leak on the Speedwell the ships set sail for America around the 5th August 1620.  But Speedwell sprung another leak necessitating the ships to return to Dartmouth for repairs.  Another start after these repairs put them 200 miles beyond Land’s End, early September when a third leak meant they had to abandon the Speedwell – both ships return to Plymouth and 20 Speedwell passengers joined the overcrowded Mayflower whilst the others return to Holland.

As the Mayflower waited for the wind to pick up William Bradford became especially worried saying “Our victuals will be half eaten up, I think, before we go from the coast of England; and, if our voyage last long, we shall not have a month’s victuals when we come in the country.”

Speedwell had cost time and money to refit and was said to be seaworthy –

Bradford suggested that “it’s master may have used “cunning and deceit” to abort the voyage by causing the leaks, fearing starvation and death in America”.

At last the overcrowded Mayflower was ready - this final voyage would succeed!  

September 26. 1620 the Mayflower set to sea; its passengers had been on board the entire time from early September attempts cooped up in cramped spaces.  Provisions were low.  She carried 102 passengers plus a crew of 25-30 officers and men.  


The first half of the voyage they had calm seas.  Then the weather changed with huge waves constantly crashing against the topside deck.  The physician Samuel Fuller died and was buried at sea. 

A baby was born, christened Oceanus Hopkins; one storm saw the ship drifting without hoisting the sails as the storm was so fierce, they risked losing the masts.  John Howland was swept overboard, sunk 12feet but then rescued by a crew member who threw him a rope. 

Passengers were forced to crouch in semi darkness below deck as ocean swells rose to over a hundred feet.  Holding on to wives, children and their provisions and property they made their way through October always seeking that landing and their new lives.

Thoughts of their old life in villages such as, Scrooby and Babworth must have seemed unreal and far away.


An extract from John Wood’s “A Walk Around Rainworth”



Several years ago, I was talking to Barry Maddocks in Bishop’s Hill plantation.  Barry said “I think that the chaffinch, John, looks as though an artist has flicked his brush across his pallet and a splash of all of the colours has landed on this bird” – I thought of Barry’s words as I watched chaffinches for a while after our conversation and on the 18th September 1986, I penned:”


Bird of Many Colours


Were you painted by Reuben’s?

Were you painted by Van Gogh?

Are you a product of Picasso with the colours that you’ve got?

No, you’re better than old masters,

You’re a treasure of the earth

No-one could put a price on you You’re beyond all earthly worth.


Nature was the artist who made you what you are,

She painted you in bright array

To brighten up our dreary days,

Your call of “pink”, a coloured call,

And when you sing from exposed perch

I sit without a flinch,

To look at you and listen to  My beautiful chaffinch



Friar Tucks Well Fountain Dale 2004 This card is amongst our archive and the sender remarked:

 “You will be shocked to see the state of this place.  I guess it is on private land belonging to Fountain Dale, so it is up to the owner whether it gets restored or not.”

From Facebook photos recently posted it is still in a bad state but a nice walk to take. Fountain Dale House, Rickett Lane, Blidworth,.

Fountains Dale 


Visit the home of Friar Tuck, the jovial friar, one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, mostly depicted as a fat, bald, jovial monk with a love of food and drink. We visit his holy well in Fountains Dale, believed to be the location of Robin and Friar Tuck’s first meeting. 


Friar Tuck was accomplished with bow and sword, so on hearing this from Will Scarlet, Robin felt he must have this doughty fighter in his band of outlaws. The story of their meeting, carrying each other back and forth over the still-visible moat is one of the popular myths associated with the legend. Nearby is Friar Tuck’s Cave and Fountain Dale House where Sir Walter Scott penned his most famous work ‘Ivanhoe’.



The Council for British Archaeology's Festival of Archaeology Part II - another week of events to get people engaged with and enthused about archaeology, from 24 October - 1 November.  See website for more details External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://festival.archaeologyuk.org/External link opens in new tab or window Digital and on-site activities available.




Keep safe and well.

September News Sheet:

Autumn is the transition season between summer and winter, best noticed by the colour change in leaves and the harvest.

Perhaps the most noticeable sign of autumn in the UK is the changing colours of the leaves.

By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn is always the 1st September and ending on the 30th November.

A local poet and author, Arthur Radford wrote:


“Autumn is slower now for the mother of the kids.  The four boys are after conkers and can’t wait for the chestnuts to ripen.  The three girls are learning to grow up, now another sister has been born.  Trying to walk in their mother’s high heeled shoes and lipstick their mother hardly uses, for she hardly goes out, not with this lot to keep.

The rich lady, Mrs Watson, is sitting in her study, a widow of many years, looks out of her window.  The wallflowers are still blooming, so are the geraniums.  The maid is washing the cups and saucers and the gardener is giving the privet hedge its last cut.

Mr Thomas is walking his dog Butch, down the lane, by the meadow and collecting some sloes to make into sloe gin.  He might be ragged but he knows a good thing or two.

He is chatting up the ladies, he has high hopes of finding someone to live with, all he wants is a cook, cleaner and a washer up.  I wish him the best of luck, for women are not looking for blokes in the Autumn, they’re looking for winter clothes and winter blankets to keep them warm at night and will wait till spring to look for a man- so I wish you the best of luck, Arthur” 

During lockdown many delved into attics or dark corners of their homes, seeking distraction from the boredom and confinement of Covid-19.  The treasure unearthed initiated contact with long lost relatives and friends. 

One such item was from Andrew Whitworth – his grandfather Arthur Dodsworth, worked at Blidworth Pit and was concert secretary at Blidworth Miners Welfare.  Whilst rummaging in boxes Andrew found one of his grandads’ pay slips.  Not that striking a document (but its in £ s d) but on checking the reverse for a date he discovered a signature of a very well-known lady artiste.

Sincerely yours Vera Lynn!   

It is not known how or when Arthur got the

 autograph, but being the concert secretary would have had him rubbing shoulders with many artistes giving shows at Blidworth Miners Welfare.

There is a second signature on the payslip – but we cannot interpret it – Can anyone?  

Do you know if or when Vera attended the Welfare?  Let us know either by email to External link opens in new tab or windowblidworthhistory@virginmedia.com or via our Facebook page.

As a historical society we saw our numbers on Facebook rise and the generosity of our community to share such treasures with us and the villages around was magnificent to see and feel.

Another item shared was this: 

A Walk Around Rainworth, Book 1 by John Wood.

John lives in Rainworth and has a wealth of knowledge about the Village and has written several poems, stories about it.  John has kindly given his permission for us to share his work with our Society.



“I would like to take you with me on a walk, in verse of course, around the Rainworth area.  Nature has always been a passion of mine and features strongly in my poetry and prose, as you will gather when you read on.  Our walk commences at Ell Lake.”

We now have a copy of this book donated to our archives should anyone wish to borrow it.

Ell Lake – The date was the 25th January 1987, Burn’s Day.  I was walking by the main lake at the western end and had paused awhile to watch a party of long-tailed tits tumbling in an alder when I caught a glimpse of russet from a neighbouring willow tree:


“Watching through binoculars the long-tailed tits on high;

Tumbling in alders, next falling, dim-lit sky,

I caught a glimpse of russet from a neighbouring willow tree;

A bulbous, reddish breast and black cap I could see.

He was grey across the shoulders with a white flash on his wing,

His piping note on Burn’s Day seemed a fitting note to sing.

Two females were with him in this willow next the lake,

A glorious sight in evening light, make you no mistake;

Bullfinch in all his glory in the branches upon high,

The sun had risen once again to light the evening sky,

And like the sun my heart rose too and readily did sing

As I watched in awe and wonder till the bullfinch took to wing,

Across the lake and out of sight he and the females flew

                                   And vanished in the fading light of January blue.”

We have received several requests for information that we have answered or are in the process of researching.

Elmsley Lodge search was begun and still under progress but we have had help from as far away as Australia!  Thanks Tom.





Tom’s message on Facebook “Elmsley Lodge was north of the old Rufford Pit Sidings. A rail line ran from Rufford pit up towards Clipstone. The Lodge was to the left of the railway line when looking towards Clipstone, you could get to it from a track off Eakring Road.”


Looks like a walk is needed – more to come later!

If anyone has photos, documents relating to the lodge then please let us know either via our email or Facebook Page.

Ravenshead – Following the piece in August’s news sheet we received lots of comments on Facebook of several well remembered landmarks and events.

The Hutt – a Berni Inn; can you remember it?

The Hutt is a public house located in the village of Ravenshead in Nottinghamshire, opposite Newstead Abbey. The pub was built on the site of The Royal Hutt in 1400 as part of the Newstead Estate, which was given to Sir John Byron in 1540.

Built on the site of the first building in Ravenshead, The Hutt was one of seven buildings constructed to allow the King's men to patrol the nearby forest. The Inn takes its name from the medieval spelling of the word 'Hut'. The Inn boasts a tunnel that was reputedly used by monks to get from Newstead Abbey to The Hutt. By the 17th century the pub had been turned into a coaching inn hosting merchants and travellers travelling between Nottingham and Mansfield. It is reported that at the inn they would take on some Dutch courage before setting off on the journey through 'Thieves Wood'.


"Lovely hearing all about the history! “I lived in Fishpool to become Ravenshead from 1962 - 1980 opposite The Little John Pub. I can remember Bonfire Nights on the pub field. There used to be a hunt there once a year. Whippet racing behind the old cottages.  I attended Blidworth Church school which only had 5 classes from the age of 5-11. Mr Whitworth was the Headmaster.  Then going on to Joseph Whitaker Secondary Modern School, which seemed huge after The Church School.
Also started drinking at The Hut on Nottingham Road which a cellar Bar. Very sophisticated for its day.”

The sophisticated “cellar bar” at the Hutt – which in those days was part of the Berni chain of steak houses – where you could get wine by the glass!!


The Little John, recently re-opened again with new landlords.



Extract from Sam Clarke’s diary, in which he referred to Fishpool (Ravenshead) back in his time in the 1900s; (these are his own words):

Blidworth Parish

“Blidworth Parish is off the main roads being about equi-distant from the Nottm, Southwell and Rufford Roads.  Distances: 5 miles S.E. of Mansfield, 10 miles N. of Nottingham, 8 miles W, of Southwell and 16 W. of Newark.

The Bottoms or Lower Blidworth comprising a many dilapidated old cottages, a P.M*. Chapel, (once a farm) which was well attended 50 years ago, but sad to say has now few loyal adherents.  * PM is Primitive Methodist

A spacious well-built Inn, the Fox & Hounds looks sadly out of place.  The most common name when I was a boy was Coleman, there is a gravestone facing the vicarage lawn erected to one Timothy Coleman, Blacksmith with the usual epitaph to Vulcan’s sons “My Tongs & Hammers are reclined, my bellows have lost their wind.

Fishpool or Fishpools, another hamlet so called from two large ponds which once existed and are shown on the parish award maps, there being a good spring a little higher up, the stream meandered through the Bottoms and erupted itself in Palterford pond.  This water ultimately dried up after several big waterworks were started round here. 

Old Fishpool contains about 30 houses, a chapel, an Inn “The Little John” a reminder of Sherwood Forest (also the “Robin Hood” at Rainworth).

There are a number of houses being built near Larch Farm, where by the way, a Toll has once existed.

Blidworth Proper

Blidworth Wood as it’s called, formerly formed part of Sherwood Forest, indeed there are a number of venerable oak trees, gnarled and hollow of massive proportions, identical with those in the Dukeries they must be at least 1000 years old, there is not the least doubt that Robin and his Merry Men were well acquainted with them over 700 years ago.  On the south side of the Cave pond there is a depression near the pond head where once a cave hewn out of the sandrock existed, called Robin Hood’s Cave, my father remembered it quite well, it was destroyed about the middle of the past century.”

The Council for British Archaeology's Festival of Archaeology Part II - another week of events to get people engaged with and enthused about archaeology, from 24 October - 1 November.

See website for more details External link opens in new tab or windowhttps://festival.archaeologyuk.org/

Digital and on-site activities available.

August News Sheet:

Whilst VE Day marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, many thousands of Armed Forces personnel were still involved in bitter fighting in the Far East.

Victory o

They were the soldiers who found themselves in the midst of a military disaster – and who often regarded themselves as the Forgotten Army at the end of the Second World War.

Harry Clarke wrote:

Aug 19 Sun - “Last week we had our V.J. Day for the defeat of Japan.  The headstocks were lit up some of the children had tea in the New Village in the streets.  I had only one holiday, I was on nights.  The Pits in Nottinghamshire decided to work August Bank Holiday Monday*.  I was doing the chargemans job & so had to go on at 6P.M. Sunday till 6.30 A.M. next morning, two more men should have come on at 10.30 P.M. but did not come so I was with myself all night.  Rene Clarke was talking to me today she got back from her holidays.  *nobody turned up so they couldn’t work”.



By Tom Murray


The War Memorial on Main Street, Blidworth pictured here was dedicated on 3rd November 2007 and although originally it was to include the fallen servicemen and women of WWI, it was decided to include from WWI to Afghanistan.

Tom Murray was part of the committee to get the memorial in place and carried out vital research finding those names of the lost during the actions of WWII.  He wrote and published his book and has kindly agreed to us using some of the information from it in our Society’s news.

Fighting in the Asia-Pacific took place from Hawaii to North East India.  This year we remember the contribution of all Commonwealth and Allied Forces, without whom victory and the freedoms and way of life we enjoy today would not have been possible.


The following people are some of those who died in this theatre of war:

Private Arthur Draycott – killed in action Singapore 12th February 1942

Gunner Harvey Pressley - died 2nd October 1942, Hong Kong

Signalman William C Hikin died 18th August 1943, POW on Burma-Siam railway

Trooper Eric Harrison – died 28th February 1945, Burma


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old

Age shall not wary them nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun an in the morning

We will remember them

As our cinema’s begin to open and we look forward to enjoying the big screen films of today, our thoughts go back to the time of the picture houses in Blidworth & Rainworth.

The Palace, Rainworth the popular cinema. Continuous Monday to Friday 6-10.30pm


Front stalls 6d; Back stalls 9d Circle 1/-

This programme dated 1935, 4 years before the start of WWII.

The Marines  are Coming - film 1934 - A brash marine assigned to a new post under the command of his former rival. The marine falls in love with his commanding officer's fiancée and romances her away from him…..

Adverts for various businesses in and around Rainworth:

Permanent Wave – 238 Southwell Rd East

Fancy Drapery – 182 Southwell Road

Fish & Chips – 180 Southwell Road


Chemist & Optician – Mansfield Rd

Newsagent – Mansfield Rd

Boot Repairer – Mansfield Rd

Dale Garage – Blidworth

General Dealers – Lyndhurst Ave

Pathé News was a producer of newsreels and documentaries from 1910 to 1970 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as British Pathé. Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online.

RAINWORTH – introduction 

I was born in Rainworth, still living in the house I was born in 64 years ago this year.  I learned some of the village’s history whilst at school.  I was told the village was termed a “ribbon” village, meaning that houses and shops were built along and in line with the original road that comes from Southwell to Mansfield; named Southwell Road – divided into East and West.  Later as the village developed with the Rufford Pit; public transport (train); and the need for more housing, it became a village with 5 distinct estates around the original village.

There are several sources of material depicting the development of the village from the original settlement in Roman times.  Will Richards, referenced the village in many of his books, as did Sam and Harry Clarke (Harry worked at Rufford Pit) in their diaries. 

Wikipedia records:Rainworth started as a settlement close to a Roman road that went through Mansfield and Newark, and provided access to the coalfields of Derbyshire for the Roman settlements in the area to the east of Nottinghamshire. The sheltered location and access to clean water from the River Idle (now called Rainworth Water), meant that the area was often used by travelling Romans as a camp site. In the year 617 AD, a mighty Roman warrior, Readwald, stayed at the site prior to a battle with Ethelfrith, King of Mercia. In the battle, Readwald's son, Regehere, was killed, and from that day, the area was known as Regehere's Wath (Wath being a ford or crossing point over a river). Over the years, many changes in the spelling of the name have been recorded, from the original Regehere's Wath to Reynwath by 1268, then Raynwath, and then to the present-day name of Rainworth. Rainworth Lodge was first built in 1190 as a hunting lodge. Rufus Clarke lived there in 1212 and was with King John's hunting parties in the forest. Little more is known about the village until the 16th century, when it is recorded that it was a peaceful hamlet with 13 dwellings:

•           Three Thorn Hollow Farm; (Three Thorn Hollow now named Blidworth Lane).

•           six houses in the Old Square known as Ramsden Croft;

•           The original Robin Hood Inn, then named the Sherwood Inn;(now Tesco’s)

•           the toll house, nicknamed The Inkpot; and

•           five houses on the road leading to Mansfield.

The people who lived in Rainworth were farmers or nurserymen.

Estates surrounding this original settlement:

•           Kirklington Road – pit houses for the miner’s families

•           White City – houses going up Southwell road towards Mansfield

•           Wimpey – off Warsop lane pit houses built around 1953/4

•           Geordie – below Joseph Whitaker school miners from Northumberland housing

•           Model Farm – along Lake View Farm road (bungalows and houses)

I live on the Wimpey estate – houses built of concrete to provide housing for the miners of Blidworth and Rainworth pits.  My family moved into our house on the 1st January 1954.  The first and only tenants.  Dad worked at Blidworth pit for 33years on the coal face.  I and my sister attended school at Blidworth County Council school (now Blidworth Oaks Primary school) before going to Joseph Whitaker and Sherwood Hall Grammar schools respectively.

I would like to share the village’s history with you, Jayne Williams

Rainworth pictured left, shows Southwell Road going down into the main village from Mansfield on the left is the Pumping station and, on the right, (off shot) is the Methodist Church.

Rainworth Water (previously River Idle), feeds Rufford Mill and Lake, plus  L-Lake which is part of Rainworth Lakes that are a site of special scientific interest.

The river rises in Normanshill Wood, to the north-west of Ravenshead and flows eastwards, passing under the A60 road, and to the south of Portland Training College.

Some dates and sites to explore:

1871 – train link from Mansfield to Southwell opened; station in Rainworth

1879 – elm tree planted called “Tree of Knowledge”;

1890 – first church built

1895 – pumping station built

1939 – St Simon & St Jude built

1911 – work starts at Rufford Colliery (more housing needed built along Kirklington road)

1913 – pit disaster

1914 – primary school “Heathlands” built

1924 – Python Hill school opened

1945 – Lido in disuse by end of the war

1950s – more housing needed Wimpey estate built; Council houses built Kirklington road above Python Hill school

1963 – secondary school Joseph Whitaker opened

1965 – Railway stopped; more housing to accommodate families from NE England – Geordie estate

1975 – Black Panther caught by locals and police

1993 – Rufford Colliery stopped producing coal; Welfare remains open


Ravenshead – introduction

100 years ago, Ravenshead was centred on an area called Fishpool, this name appeared on a 15th-century map.  There can still be found a signpost in Blidworth Bottoms indicating the direction of Fishpool.  This name pertaining to the fish pools of Newstead Abbey. 

Newstead Abbey, a 12th-century grade 1 listed building and ancestral home of Lord Byron, is accessed from the village. After the death of Thomas Becket, King Henry II supposedly to make up for this terrible deed gave the Canons of the Order of St Augustine the land at Ravenshead where they set up a priory, the walls of which can still be seen today. It is here that the name Ravenshead is first encountered. "Ravenshede begins at the aforesaidway which lies from Papilwyke [Papplewick] to Blydeworthe, along the hollowroad eastward which is called Thefestyghe: and this leads to the King's highway which is called Nottinghamgate."

In the Middle Ages the priory was a stopping place for pilgrims.

In 1966 the  Fishpool Hoard of 1,237 15th century gold coins, four rings and four other pieces of jewellery, and two lengths of gold chain was discovered by workmen on a building site near present day Cambourne Gardens, in Ravenshead, an area then known as “Fishpool”.

It is the largest hoard of medieval coins ever found in Britain. To judge from the dates of the coins the hoard was probably buried in haste at some time between winter 1463 and summer 1464, perhaps by someone fleeing south after the Battle of Hexham in May 1464, in the first stages of England's civil war between aristocratic factions, the War of the Roses. The British Museum assesses the face value of the hoard when deposited, about £400, would be equivalent to around £300,000 today.

As soon as we have any information as to when we can meet again we will try and contact the membership individually (please contact us to ensure we have your most up to date contact details –  by email to External link opens in new tab or windowblidworthhistory@virginmedia.com or check out both our website External link opens in new tab or windowhttp://www.blidworthhistoricalsociety.co.uk/ or Facebook page Blidworth & District Historical and Heritage Society