What a difference 72 year make

 Whilst transcribing Kelly’s Directory of Nottinghamshire 1936 (kindly lent to me by Margaret Auckland) it struck me how the two villages had changed in the 72 years that had elapsed since its publication. 

ASLOCKTON boasted SEVEN farmers (including TWO poultry farmers) somewhat higher than today’s figure. Only one of the farmers in 1936 farmed over 150 acres and that was Hardy Crawford whose descendants are the only resident farmers in Aslockton parish today. 

In the days before supermarkets there were certainly more local shops. Samuel Baxter & W. F. Payling and Son provided the two butcher’s shops in the village. Groceries were provided by GL Potter & Sons (who also ran the Post Office), Minnie Russell and Florence Gretton. You could even buy your drapery locally from Ethel Watts. Fresh locally made bread was also in abundance from either George Baker at Mill House on Scarrington Lane or Harold Kent from his shop on Main Street (now Cranmer News). John Cooper ran a Newsagent business from The Lilacs. 

If you needed your boots repairing you had a choice of two, James Pritchet and Charles Shepperson. Charles also repaired saddles. 

Aslockton also had a number of commercial operations; Frederick Baker was a haulage contractor operating from Abbey Lane. Harry Bates was a plumber and glazier. H Fryer & Sons operated several businesses as wireless dealers and repairers, general engineers, automobile engineers and a battery charging station (can anyone else remember ‘Accumulators’?). Wm Mee & Son also operated their coal business from the village. 

If you needed a drink, you had two public houses to choose from. Dorothy Plunkett was the landlady at the Greyhound and Dennison Widdison (how ‘posh’ does that name sound) was the landlord at the Cranmer Arms. 

Aslockton was unique (at least locally) in having a racehorse trainer, William Rippon Bissell at Cranmer House. 

Today, when everyone seems to have a mobile phone it seems strange not to have instant access to a telephone. 1936 was a different world, there were SIX private telephones in Aslockton all on the Whatton exchange, and businesses added another FIVE to the number. If you needed to make a telephone call (there were no ‘phone boxes’) the Aslockton Post Office was also a ‘Call Office’ and you could make use of the telephone there. You could send a telegram from the ‘Telegraph Office’ at the station, but that was a transmitting office only. Incoming telegraphs would be handled by Whatton Post Office. 

The shops and businesses were supported by a population of just 363. 

Just across the rive Smite, which divides the two parishes, WHATTON had a slightly smaller population of 327. Despite the smaller population Whatton had EIGHT farmers, four of whom farmed over 150 acres, probably due to the fact that Whatton was the larger parish in area at 1,754 acres compared with Aslockton’s 1,269 acres. 

Whilst not as ‘rich’ in shops are Aslockton, Whatton did have its own butcher, Percival Pride and Daisy Greasley and Ellen Summerfield were described as shopkeepers. 

Thomas Little and John Slater kept Whatton residents boots in good order as they were boot repairers. George Buxton operated as a blacksmith from the forge on the Grantham Road (now the corner of Conery Lane and the Old Grantham Road). 

Arthur Tyler was the carrier to Newark and Nottingham. Edward Richardson was a cattle cake dealer, in business in Whatton. The Greasley Brothers were carpenters. 

Running a public house in 1936 may have been as difficult as it is today. William Swingler (probably not the best name for a publican), as well as being the Landlord of the Griffins Head was also a farmer. Because of its location on the Nottingham to Grantham road, it may have been popular with visitors or those travelling between Nottingham and Grantham. It was advertised as ‘Griffin’s Head P.H. & refreshment rooms; parties catered for.’ 

William Goodacre Player was the largest landowner and it was he who planted the avenue of trees along the Grantham Road. For some reason he did not ‘like’ Whatton Church, he and the other members of the Player family are buried at Elton – a story for the future perhaps! 

Whatton only had EIGHT telephones and for some reason one was on the Bingham exchange. 

Whatton Post Office must have been a ‘hive of activity’, it was a fully fledged post office, a Money Order office, a telegraph station for both sending and receiving and a telephone exchange. 

In the 72 years since the Directory was published the population of the two parishes has risen from 690 to 1,900. All the butchers, shoe repairers and bakers have disappeared. Out of a total of twelve shops in Aslockton and Whatton in 1936 only one now survives. 

Whilst the garage and coal merchant survived into the latter quarter of the twentieth century they have now gone. The Aslockton Post Office has moved three times, but still survives. 

The Whatton Post Office and the site of the original telephone exchange is now a private house. Although a Whatton telephone exchange does exist on Dark Lane, it is actually in Aslockton Parish. 

Surprisingly, one business that still exists is that of Blacksmith, the business of George Buxton in Whatton is now long gone and the forge is now a private house. However, Gordon & David Gill now operate their Blacksmith & Farrier business from Mill Lane, Aslockton. 

The Griffins Head closed and was demolished; it was replaced by private housing in the mid 1990’s. The Old Greyhound was closed in May 2007. Today of the three pubs in 1931 only the Cranmer Arms remains open. 

Probably most telling is of the fifteen farmers who lived and farmed in the two parishes in 1936 only three resident working farmers exist today. Pasture in and around the parishes that previously provided food from the commercial production of sheep and cattle are now given over to grazing for horses.

(C)copyright 2008 – Gregg Redford

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.