Bygone Rolleston Part 2

Part 2 of the recollections of “Station-ender” Mrs Glenda Richardson (Article first appeared in the Spring 2012 edition of the Rollestonian).

A stretch of ground alongside the lane (Station Road) was used for allotments (no, I never ventured in there!) and opposite the Scout Hut was the Green Pond on which houses are now built. Full of water beetles and every water creature imaginable with a covering of slimy green algae that made it impossible to see the water! The houses started again, one of which had an array of colourful sweet jars in the front window and sold ice cream for two pennies. Further along a lady kept a pet monkey on a lead and the monkey would often wear a red fez – how bizarre was that! At the first house of the New Row lived Miss Armison the Station Mistress who rode her bicycle to the Station. Opposite was the cricket field where the cows grazed during the week from Robinson’s farm which is now The Brookhouse Hotel. My father and brothers played cricket here, but there were no youth teams in those days so youngsters had to wait for dead men’s cricket boots to get a game, so my brothers moved on to Tutbury and Burton Cricket Clubs. The batsmen could hit sixes over the road into the gardens of the cottages.

Past the corner cottage, now Cherry Tree Cottage, where my father was born and in to the school where Miss Redfern, Miss Cotton and headmistress Miss Boonham , who lived on Brookside and later Anslow Lane, awaited to start the day with physical jerks, as if I needed them! When Prince Charles was born we planted a cherry tree in the girl’s playground, where the pre-school building now stands. It flowered for many years but now alas it is no more.

Sundays meant another walk to the village for Sunday School past the post office and old bakery where a mulberry bush grew outside, but now sadly disappeared. Past the Spread Eagle and the most gorgeous beech tree opposite where we could collect beech nuts in autumn, again now disappeared – who has desecrated my village in the name of progress?

Then past the Twychell (ref: Underhill) which is the footway leading on to the Croft – what a wonderful description, surely that could be preserved – I always refer to it as the Twychell but am met with disdain yet again about my bygone village!

So into the Church Room with the knobbly wooden floor and the small raffia seated chairs set out in rows. I still envisage the scene when entering the Church Room. Mrs Woolley was the Sunday School teacher and lived in the cottages next to the new vicarage. Mrs Woolley played tuneless hymns on the tuneless piano as we sang the tuneless hymns.

I took piano lessons with Mrs Jones who shared a house with Miss Ashmole on Station Road near to the junction with Walford Road. Miss Ashmole played the violin and had musical soirees with other musicians on Station Road whilst I danced outside, but they never knew that! I had to ask Miss Boonham for a day off school to take my piano examination so she asked me to bring my music to school to play the piano as the children walked out of assembly as we always walked out to the teacher playing the piano. However when I started to play no-one moved and everyone stayed to listen to the maestro play.

Mr Storer of Station Road was a retired botanist and could be seen inspecting leaves, insects whatever with a magnifying glass; he would never take a leaf from a bush. Reverend Ives Lacey was a retired vicar who was pushed around in a wicker bath-chair and handed out prayer cards.

The ground opposite our house on Dovecliff Road, where Rolleston Cricket Club is now, was a marsh where marsh-marigolds and lady-smocks grew and was impassable for most of the year. Willows were grown for commercial use in the osier beds beyond. In the dry summers my brothers would prepare a wicket to play on and who knows where the cricket bats came from! A match was arranged between the station-enders and the village youths with my father in charge, but when someone swore stumps were quickly drawn and everyone sent home. The lane to Beck’s smallholding was Wood Lane, now Private, where we caught tadpoles in jam jars in a pond at the bottom near a walnut tree. The lane gave access to the Doave (Dove) fields, the river and the railway banks where cow-slips grew and we collected lumps of coal that had fallen from trains and took them home to stoke the fires. The railway banks led to Stinyards Lane (derived from stoney garth – ref Ch. Underhill’s book The History of Rolleston) which is accessed now just past the Jinnie Inn, also Private. We passed the signal box and reached The Fleam a tributary of the Doave round the Horseshoe Bend on to the quarter-mile bridge which then led us to Marston Fields. These fields were covered with tall thistle plants by the end of the summer and were cut down with a hand scythe.

The fields around this area were used during the war years by the Home Guard for their practices where my brothers would find empty cartridges and play war games. The pill boxes still stand, one by Marston Bridge and one on the Horseshoe Bend and were situated to spot the enemy if approaching on the river! My brother recalls soldiers on a route march stopping overnight at Dovecliff where some of the soldiers slept on top of the newly cut hedges as it made a comfortable bed. The soldiers had an exercise the next morning near Wood Lane and the railway bridge where they set up their equipment to practise their skills. My brother passed by and was asked if his mother had any spare food so he went home to ask. He returned with freshly baked cake, which was very generous as she had four sons and a family of seven to feed and a soldier cut it up with his bayonet to share out.

When walking along the River Doave in the Dovecliff area we would see German soldiers swimming in the river from the opposite bank. They were from Egginton Hall where they were billeted . I believe it was used as a rehabilitation hospital for the injured soldiers. One day a soldier offered to teach me to swim but my mother quickly refused.

During the winter months we had heavy snowfalls and floods from the nearby rivers and streams that ran under the roads, so although the summer months could be idyllic with the dark lanes and only an occasional gas lamp life could be very harsh in the winters – but we survived!

The memories of the station end of the village of Rolleston far outweigh the realities of the modernised Rolleston on Dove.


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Last updated: 11 April 2012