Bygone Rolleston Part 1

Part 1 of the recollections of “Station-ender” Mrs Glenda Richardson (Article first appeared in the Autumn 2011 edition of the Rollestonian).

Born in Dovecliff Road in 1940, opposite the present Cricket Club, my outings in my pram were taken aboard the Tutbury Jinny in the guards van to Burton station for a weekly shop around the Borough Road area where the Co-operative shops were situated – the Butcher, the Baker and the Shoe Repairer all contributing to our later treats with the “divi”.

My brothers also took me out in my pram to the village where on one occasion I was sailed down the brook alongside Brookside where, of course, the inevitable happened, the pram overturned and I was deposited in the water. Of course I was rescued but then made to toddle around the adjoining fields until I had dried off before being taken home “upstationend” as though nothing had occurred. Mother never did know!

A later encounter with the perils of water came whilst my mother and I were having a picnic by the river Doave (Dove) in Marston Lane fields where we witnessed the tragic drowning of a local teenager who was swimming with his friends when he had to be rescued by an older boy. Someone ran to the railway signal box at the Marston crossing where an ambulance was summoned which soon arrived and made its way along the riverbank to the scene but it was too late and the unfortunate boy was dead. No wonder I do not like swimming!

My early years were spent at home playing in the long garden which ended overlooking the fields now owned by Blue Cross and the back of the station. In this field, on a slope, daffodils would bloom each year at a spot where a member of the Archer family had been accidentally shot. From the garden fence I was able to wave at the Tutbury Jinny as it steamed on its journey between Tutbury and Burton. The lane to Newlands Farm (now the Blue cross Centre) alongside the railway led to a footbridge locally known as Foxes Bridge, which crossed the railway line where we stood in the smutty smoke waving frantically to the train driver and the stoker and if they tooted their horn we were even more thrilled. This footbridge crossed the line to Craythorne fields where Mr Johnson on his tractor would chase us off and yet there are now public footpaths across the fields – I knew I was right to go there! The tall poplar trees along the Newlands Farm driveway were planted by the Archers, who lived at the last two houses on Dovecliff road, so that they would not be able to see the new estate which was built at the top of South Hill and round to Walford Road. There was a small siding at the station on the South Hill side where farm requirements such as sugar-beet were shunted off the track and then the local farmers would collect their requirements.

Bread and a weekly order from the Co-operative store at Stretton were delivered by horse and cart. Milk was delivered by Joe Carter from Rosemary Cottage on Rolleston Road which was a smallholding provided by the Council for injured soldiers returning from the first world War. Joe had only one leg. At the end of his round Joe called at the Spread Eagle for liquid refreshment while his horse waited outside with the cart. This was fine until he had his young grand-daughter with him when he could not go into the Spread Eagle but his horse was trained to stop and would not go past the hostelry until Joe had had his quota. I wonder how it was resolved – did the barman bring his drink out? At least he would not be in trouble with his wife Janet as he probably arrived home sober!

Joe Carter with Billy at Rosemary Cottage

Another play area was the corner of Walford Road and Fairfield Avenue before the houses were built on very rough wasteland. One day I had a nasty fall and injured my knee and shin, a kind lady bandaged me up and I was pushed home in a borrowed pushchair. I was unable to start my first day at school for six weeks - I still have the scars!

The walk to the village was along a peaceful lane, roughly a mile, but I came home for lunch so the walk was a run which was how I became athletic! Every morning as I left for school I had to take a dose of cod liver oil, which I hated. So I held it in my mouth until I reached the nearest grass verge and spat it out. Then came the dash under the dark railway bridge and the bats to dodge, so I became even more athletic. Hancock’s orchard across the lane had apples, pears and plums to scrump and was the place on Bonfire Night for roast chestnuts. At the end of the Victorian houses started the black ash footpath with a grass verge on the lane side and hedges and tiny streams that ran under the lane to the fields on the other side of the lane. Wild flowers abounded, red campion, buttercups, daisies, celandines, bindweed, deadly nightshade, ladysmocks, vetch, herb-robert, speedwell, yarrow, cranesbills, willowherb, cornflowers, thistle, knapweed, coltsfoot – I picked them all. Locating birds nests in the Spring was a joy as we watched progress through nest-building, counting eggs laid, hatching and then the empty nest.

From time to time gypsies would be in the area and would call at the houses selling their hand-made clothes pegs – two strips of wood held together at the top with a band of tin or thin metal.

On past the farm, which is now the Jinnie Inn were open fields with hawthorn bushes bent under the strain of blossom and later red berries with birds nesting and singing in the branches and rabbits playing underneath in the rabbit warrens known as “The Dell” . Haystacks, tractors and cows were being herded along the lane to and fro for milking. Mr Woolley was the road sweeper and hedge-layer for the whole village and the lanes and pavements were beautifully kept.

to be continued ...

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Last updated: 30 August 2011