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The High Road in Beeston

A large part of the frontage in the section of the south side of the High Road, Beeston, between Acacia Walk and Union Street, was undeveloped up to the 1920s. As such - if we set aside the north side of the Square which is perhaps a special case - it was the last section of Beeston's main shopping street that became dedicated to retail use. Here, we look at the history of its development and something about those who traded in its shops, some of whom became well known to generations of Beeston shoppers.

The appearance of most sections of the High Road in the early decades of the 20th century can be glimpsed in the many surviving postcards from that era but, perhaps because it was only partially developed at that time, this is not really the case for the section between Acacia Walk and Union Street. In fact, the view that appears at the top of this page - with detail show left - is probably the best we have. There the section appears on the right of the full picture, in the middle distance, with the trees set behind a low fence giving an indication of the still open ground that made up most of the frontage. As we will see, except for the frontage nearer to and on the corner of Union Street, which had been developed in the second half of the 19th century, this would remain the case, with horses grazing in the field, until the mid-1920s.

At the beginning of the 19th century, this section of land was part of the village core, an area of small crofts and simple homes, that had existed since early times. Having already been informally enclosed, this section of Beeston remained unchanged in terms of its ownership and internal divisions, when Beeston as a whole was enclosed in 1809. Along its north-western boundary, ran the Sawley to Nottingham turnpike which, by the mid-19th century, became what is now the High Road and had begun to develop as the community's principal shopping street.

By the 1820s, the land known as Upper Croft, on the south-west of what is now Union Street - and was in the early days of that century, New Street - had come into the ownership of John George, then a framework knitter 1. Born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in about 1772, he had married, Beeston-born Mary Hickling in 1817 2 and some time after, certainly by 1841, he was farming the land - some 19 acres in total 3. After his death in 1854, William, his second son, continued to farm the land, specialised in diary farming later in his life 4. Over the years, much of the land adjacent to Union Street was sold off for residential use, such that, by 1871 for instance, his land had been reduced to 14 acres 5.

An early example of the development of this land on its south-east edge, along Union Street, was the sale by John George, in 1818, of just over 179 square yards on the corner of what is now High Road 6. The associated frontage on High Road was eventually to be the site of the three shops we have today, nearest to Union Street but the evolution would take about seventy years. The purchaser Thomas Surplice, then described as a builder 7, began this evolution by erecting two houses on the land, possibly for the use of his family who were, by then, beginning to marry. Thomas died in 1824 8 and, in October 1833, his family sold these houses to Samuel Grose. Born in Little Hallam, Derbyshire in about 1796 9, Grose was a shoemaker who was married to Mary, the daughter of Thomas Webster, another Beeston shoemaker, and Suzanna his wife, who lived in the adjacent property 10. Samuel Grose converted the two houses into one with a sales shop and workshop - a clear move towards the development of a trading entity fronting on to the High Road, following an overall trend which was to continue on the High Road as a whole over the next 100 years. Samuel himself was to continue to live and trade there for over forty years, up to his death in 1875 11.

In January 1876, Samuel Grose's property High Road property, along with a parcel of land he had owned in Chilwell, were sold by his executor at a public auction held at the Star Inn in Beeston (See advert right 12). The purchaser was Joseph Anderson the Elder, who was then a widower but soon to marry again and move from Nottingham to live in Beeston 13. The two youngest of his eight children were to go on to be particularly prominent in Beeston life - his fifth son Joseph 14, established himself as a wine and spirit merchant and was, for many years a member of the local Council, while his youngest son, John Roger Anderson 15, an ironmonger in his early years, was a prominent member of the Beeston Local Board and the Urban Council that superceded it, for a total of over 50 years, becoming its Chairman for four of those years. He was also a County Councilor for over 50 years, a County Council Alderman and - particularly significant here - a property owner and developer.

Over the next fifteen years, the property was developed until it consisted of the block of three shops - the oldest of the three blocks of shops in the section - up to the corner of Union Street, that we see today. This redevelopment had undoubtedly been the initiative of John Roger Atkinson and, in 1890, Joseph transferred ownership of this property to him 16.

During that transition period of transition, the site had two new significant tenants, one of whom was to continue in one of the new shops and another who moved elsewhere in Beeston.

Thomas Abell was born in Higham-on-the-Hill in Leicestershire in 1832, the only son of Richard, a baker, and his wife Mary Ann (née Mottram) 17. By September 1863, when he married Catherine Mottram in Ansley, Warwickshire (née Mottram) 18, he had moved to Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Beeston, where Thomas established himself in business as a butcher 19. It seems likely that in his early years in Beeston, his shop was on the adjoining property, to the south-west of the Grose property but that he relocated to the corner of Union Street in a shop, with a slaughter house to the rear 20, which appears to predate the more comprehensive development of the site.

William Millington, Beeston's postmaster for many years, also occupied property on this site during much of the 15-year transition period. He was the son of miller, John Thomas Millington (c1825-1880) and his wife Mary (c1817-1892, née Burril), born in Newark in about 1852. In 1877 he married Clara Ellen Katherine Gaultier and settled in Beeston trading as a grocer and postmaster - in the property now under discussion - soon afterwards. Their only child, William ('Willie') Thomas Gaultier Millington, was born in Beeston in 1878 but sadly died, aged four. By 1891 they had moved the post office to the north side of what is now Beeston Square - which became known as 'Post Office Square' - to a purpose-build building, in all probability, developed for Millington by John Roger Anderson - a satisfactory arrangement for both parties, Millington getting a more suitable building and Anderson now able to go ahead with the development of this site.
On balance, it appears likely the block of three shops that stand today, originally numbered 24, 26 & 28 High Road and renumbered 58, 60 & 62 - was built about 1890. by John Roger Anderson after the original property was transferred to him by his father in that year. This block of three retail shop, with living accommodation in two upper stories is the earliest surviving building in this section of the High Road. We can now look at the ongoing history of the block, shop by shop, using the present-day street numbers :
62 High Road - as we have already seen, Thomas Abell had been operating as a butcher on the site for about 20 years by the time he became the first tenant om this shop on the corner of Union Street. As we will see, he was the first of a series of butchers to occupy the shop for much of its life, certainly up to the 1960s.

By 1908, Thomas Abell was aged 76, had been a widower for about ten years and was becoming unable to carry out work in the business which, by then, had become under the control of two of his sons, Richard Thomas Abell and George Mottram Abell. By October 1908, having developed financial difficulties, the business was sold to Herbert Johnson Ward for 40 6. a transaction that became complicated with a dispute over the ownership of a sow and seven pigs 27.

Herbert Johnson Ward was born in Yaxham, Norfolk in 1869, the eldest son of William Ward, a farmer, and his wife Harriet (née Scales) 28. By 1881, William was farming 113 acres at Swanton Morley, Norfolk, employing four men and a boy, and the family, which employed a domestic servant, was clearly well established 29. Nevertheless, at some point in the following decade, Herbert was sent - or chose to leave - to take up a position as a butcher, probably after serving an apprenticeship, in Long Eaton, Derbyshire 30. In 1896, he married Kate Jackson, the circumstances of which, given that it took place just a matter of days before the birth of their first child, may not have pleased his parents back in Norfolk. Certainly, it seems significant that, despite his traditional position as eldest son, he was excluded from proving his father's will after William died in April 1901, aged only 59. Whatever the state of the relationship, it does not appear to have hampered Herbert's progress according to his own terms. In about 1899, he had been able to establish himself in his own butcher's shop at 126 Queens Road, Beeston and, as we have seen. in 1909, he had bought Abell's long-established business and acquired the tenancy on the High Road.

By 1911, it was clear that the move to the High Road had been successful. The business had progressed, he employed staff to help prepare the meat and, within the family itself, they had been able to finance a private education, at Southwell Grammar School, for their eldest son, Herbert Jackson Ward. A daughter, Marjorie, had been born in 1897 and another son, Norman, in 1903. The war years could not have been easy and the family would have hoped for better times to follow but, it was in the 1920s when things really went wrong, triggered by the death, in December 1924 of Herbert's wife Kate, aged only 54. Less than a year later, Herbert died too, aged 56. Their eldest son, Herbert jnr, had not worked as a butcher and as Norman, their youngest son, was aged only 22, their daughter Marjorie was left to take the iniative. Her marriage, in July 1926, to John Edward Popplewell was the beginning of succesful partnership, on the personal level as well as a happy solution to the problems of the business.

Marjorie and John Edward were cousins, there mothers, Kate and Annie Maria respectively, being sisters, daughters of John Jackson and Ann Wood, John Jackson (c1825-1906) had traded succesfully as a butcher in the Nottinghamshire village of Flintham, near Newark

Research on 58-62 and 50-56 High Road continues and will appear in due course
In the meantime we continue with the story of 40-48 High Road, which appears below

40 to 48 High Road - as we have seen in our survey of the Station Road to Acacia Walk section of the High Road, Philip Wells Glover developed a very successful confectionery business there, such that, by the years leading up to the Great War, he and his family were able to live a very comfortable life, away from the shop, just below the High Road, at 38 Union Street, a smart detached home standing attractively in its own grounds. He had also embraced the latest technology - a racey motorcar, a 1912 Renault, said to be the first in the county. Click the car or here for images from this era, of the family, their home and the car.

That period of increasing affluence and stability was soon disturbed by events. Like the rest of the population, the family had to face the terrible experience of the Great War which was to change peoples' lives for ever. And, in 1917, there was a huge personal tragedy when his wife Margaret died, aged only 42, leaving three children, aged 18, 13 and 5 35. However, within a year he had married his wife's brother's widow, Heloise Ethel Pickup (née Rowell). This marriage, in August 1918 36, followed shortly by the end of the war, marked the beginning of two decades of his life, during which he was to bring considerable change to the Beeston High Road. Towards the and of that period, as we have seen, he was to bring the Woolworths building to Beeston but the changes he brought to the section of the south side of High Road, east of Acacia Walk were particularly significant, both for the Glovers personally, and for the appearance of the High Road. His development, consisting of a block of five sales shops, with two stories of living accommodation above, which replaced an open field with picket fence along the line of the road, removed the last trace of the old village from the High Road proper.

In March 1924, Glover was able to purchase the land that fronted the High Road from Lucy Emily Roberts (née Roberts), the widow of William Roberts, who had lived at Acacia House on Acacia Walk with her husband since about 1880 37. It was Roberts who had operated the prominent grocery store in Post Office Square which he had eventually sold to the Doar family. He had also been an active property investor in Beeston - including involvement in the landmark St Johns Grove development in 1878 38. Along the way, it seems, he had acquired much, if not all, of the land on the east side of Acacia Walk on which Acacia House had been built. William Roberts had died in 1917 39 and, it seems, his widow was prepared to start the disposal of assets and, in addition to the land now sold to Glover for his High Road development, also provided land to build a new home for the Glovers. Known as The Lilacs, standing immediately north of Acacia House, on Acacia Walk, it remained their home for the remainder of the lives of Glover and his wife.

The five sales shops were completed in early 1926, partially financed by a mortgage with Henry Cartright Eden, a Nottingham lace finisher 40. It seems they were an immediate success and have continued to be such over the years since - as the following study of the tenants of the years show :

40 High Road - this property, on the corner of Acacia Walk, was briefly occupied by the grocer Herbert Linacre 41 but was very soon taken over by the grocer Frank Farrands, either directly or through the company, Frank Farrands Ltd, becoming a familiar feature there for over 40 years. Frank Farrands, born in Nottingham in 1877, the son of a grocer, developed a chain of grocery shops throughout the Nottingham area in the inter-war decades 42. They were typical of the pre-self-service, pre-supermarket era, providing for housewives - as they were invariably then - from the local area who, lacking home refrigeration, typically walked to do their grocery shopping several times each week and expected and received a one-to-one personal service - and, as always, at competitive prices. Farrands' continuing success during this period shows clearly that he got it right. Frank died in 1944 before the huge changes in grocery retailing that were to have such a huge impact on the post-war High Street and it fell to the next generation to respond to these changes. It seems likely that his son, Noel Frank Farrands, born in 1919, took over the management of the company after returning from service in the 2nd World War 43 and guided the company through the changes that emerged in the grocery trade. While for a time - well into the 1950s - there was still a place for the company's neighbourhood shops and, in 1956, the company built new offices and warehouse on Wigman Road, Nottingham 44, by 1970, the company had closed down its operations, including, of course, the Beeston shop.

The next occupant was Alfred Martin Limited which opened there in 1970 as a health food shop, a new branch of a long-standing and successful enterprise. The company had been formed in 1921 by Stapleford-born Alfred Martin (1865-1937 45), one of the earliest members of the Vegetarian Society and a pioneer of vegetarian restaurants. His Savoy Cafe on South Parade, Nottingham and his Savoy Health Food Store on Exchange Walk, Nottingham were very successful concerns which were continued by his son Alfred (1897-1978) and, in turn, by his son.

Today (2017), the shop is the home of the Beeston branch of Thorntons, one of over 220 shops that offer the excellent chocolate products that were first developed by Joseph William Thornton in 1911. Now owned by the Italian chocolate maker Ferrero and based in Alfreton in Derbyshire, the company is now the largest confectionery-only parent corporation in the UK 46.

42 High Road - it appears that, in the pre-war years, this property was divided into two with a pair of entrance doors set diagonally into a small front entrance porch. The name of the first tenant of the left half was a person who became very well known in Beeston as it was here that Madge Oade 40, then the newly-married wife of Victor Oade opened a ladies hairdressing business 48 while her husband began to develop the menswear business on the corner of Station Road which became such a familiar and respected part of the High Road. It seems likely, that in these early days of their marriage, Victor and Madge also lived here, 'over the shop' 49.

In these pre-war days, the right-hand side was occupied by Jas Smith & Sons (Cleaners) Ltd who later moved next door to number 44 - where we will describe them further. The split shop can be seen in this image from the 1930s (right) on which Madge Oade's name can be seen on the left of the shop blind. and a 'Smiths - The Dyers' sign above the right of the shopfront.

After the war, Madge Oade's hairdressing business was taken over by a partnership of two daughters of George & Florence Slack 50, called 'Slack & Storrey', occupying the whole of the shop. The elder sister, Marian Slack (b. 1910), had married Bernard Kirk in 1933 but he had died, in 1941, of a perforated gastric ulcer, in a Cape Town hospital, while serving in the Royal Navy, on HMS Carnavon Castle 51. In 1945, she married a widower, Peter Reginald Rose Simson Storrey, a Chartered Accountant, who died in 1951 52. In 1953 she married widower Philip Joseph E Tussaud-Birt, then the manager of Beeston's Palladium cinema and who was also involved in the organisation of the Beeston Carnival 53. She died in 1990 54. Her sister and business partner, Evelyn Slack, was born in 1916, remained single, and died in 1979 55.

Now, in 2017, the shop is occupied by Timpsons who, as we will see, have a connection with a previous occupant.

44 High Road - The first tenant of this shop was a local man who was able to use is prowess and popularity as a professional cricketer to establish a popular business as a sports outfitter, also selling gramophones, records and portable wireless sets. Wilfred Richard Daniel Payton was born in Stapleford in 1882, the son of Joseph Henry Payton, an iron worker, and Elizabeth (née Greenway), his wife 56. At first, Wilfred followed his father as a foundry worker 57 but, after his adoption as a professional with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, he supplemented his income from that source with employment as a hosiery machine maker. His cricket career extended from 1905 to 1931, during which he performed impressively with the bat, scoring over 22,000 runs in 770 innings - including 39 hundreds, his first being 133 against the touring West Indians in 1906. He topped 1000 runs per season every year from 1921 to 1929 58. In 1908 he married Alice Lewin and they then set up home in Beeston and had three children 59, one of whom became Rev Wilfred Ernest Granville Payton (1913-1989), an RAF chaplain during the 2nd World War and honorary chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen from 1965. Also a cricketer, he played one match for Nottinghamshire against Cambridge University in 1935 - when he made double figures - won a Blue while at Cambridge, played thirteen first-class games for the Combined Services and two matches for Derbyshire in 1949. After his retirement from the RAF in 1969, he became Vicar and Rural Dean of Abingdon 60. Wilfred died at Beeston in 1943 and his wife in 1965 61

At the end of the war, the firm of Jas Smith & Sons (Cleaners), which had previously occupied half of number 42, moved the local branch of its dry cleaning and dying business here, where it continued for another 20 years or thereabouts. Nationally, this company had, in 1920, joined with Johnson Brothers, a pioneer in the dry cleaning sector with origins in Liverpool in 1817. After many changes, Johnsons the Cleaners is now part of the Timpsons group of retail service companies 62.

46 High Road - for about 30 years, up to the late 1950s, this was one of Beeston's sweet and tobacconist shops - albeit under two consecutive owners. The first, Richard Badder was a Nottingham man, born in 1881, who had previously traded as a confectioner in Peveril Street, Nottingham before he and his wife Maggie and daughter Marjorie moved to the Beeston shop as its first tenants. There they lived, over the shop, for about twenty years before retiring to live at 37 Sidney Road, Beeston, with their daughter and her husband next door at number 35.

After the war, the shop was taken over by Jessie Vincent Butt and his wife Phyllis (shown right). He was the son of a newsagent in Heanor, Derbyshire and she was the daughter of a Heanor builder. They married in 1934 and moved to Beeston after first living in Sutton-in-Ashfield where he had traded as a newsagent and general dealer. Their son was born in 1948. After living in retirement on Wheatgrass Road in Chilwell. Jessie died in 1979 followed by Phyllis in 1987.

The next tenant, Pork Farms Limited was already well established in the Nottingham area with its origins, a local pie shop named 'Pork Farms' founded in 1931, acquired by Ken Parr in the early 1940s. By the mid-1960s, Parr had developed a chain of shops - including the one in Beeston - when the business was acquired by W Garfield Weston and then acquired by its Nottingham rival TN Parr, owned by Parr's uncle. Several changes of ownership later, and the Beeston shop closed, the company continues to produce Melton Mowbray pork pies at its Nottingham site.

More recently, the shop was occupied by Leeds Building Society and now (2017) by Co-op Travel.

48 High Road - from the start, this shop was occupied by Colin Stevenson Holdich - later, as we will see, joined by his son, Colin Thomas Holdich, and as Holdich Limited - who were to continue as drapers and ladieswear retailers here for upwards of fifty years. Colin senior was born in Peterborough in 1895, the son of a draper there. As a young man, following his father's early death in 1907, he came to work as an assistant at Farmers drapery shop on South Parade in Nottingham. In 1920, he married Charlotte E Richardson and they set up home in Langar Close, Sherwood where their son, Colin Thomas Holdich, was born in 1922. By 1926, he was confident enough to take the tenancy of 48 High Road where he opened his own business. After just over five years living above the shop, the family was able to purchase one of the houses then being built on Derby Road - number 219 - and to develop a more 'normal' family and social life, including active membership of Beeston Fields Golf Club. After attending Long Eaton Grammar School, their son went to work at William Hollins & Co - 'Viyella' - then based at the iconic Viyella House on Castle Boulevard, Nottingham, to learn the trade. However, the start of war in 1939 meant that further plans for the business had to be put on hold. Colin senior became the Deputy Civil Defence Co-ordinator for the Beeston & Stapleford District and. in 1941, Colin junior joined the Royal Navy, taking him around the world on active service as a radio mechanic, first on HMS Tynwald when, in 1942, he had to swim for his life when she was torpedoed and sank within minutes, off the Algerian coast. Later, after promotion to Petty Officer, he served on HMS Indomitable based out of Sydney, Australia, later on HMS Ruler on escort duties in the Pacific and witnessed the end of the war against Japan in Tokyo Bay in September 1945.

In 1943 Colin junior had married his schooldays sweetheart, Eva Mavis Wheatley and, now after his return to civilian life in 1946, the couple were, at last, able to settle down to a more normal life. Colin joined his father in the business, the couple moved into their first house at 2 Windermere Road, Beeston and the first of their three children was born in December 1946. Now, with the younger Colin's input and enthusiasm, the High Road business was developed further, expanding to the adjoining shop at number 50/52 and a branch was opened at Canning Circus in Nottingham. In 1956 the company - Holdich Limited - was able to acquire the freehold of 48 High Road, Colin Stevenson Holdich died in 1968, followed two years later by his wife. Their son continued to trade until his retirement about ten years later. He died in 2014.

The shop is now (2017) occupied as a Caffè Nero coffee shop.

As we have seen, this block of five shops was developed by confectioner Philip Wells Glover in 1926 who moved, around the same time, with his second wife, Heloise Ethel, to live at The Lilacs on Acacia Walk, a short distance from his own shop and this development on the High Road. In the 1930s, he went on to enlarge his property portfolio by redeveloping his confectioner's shop at 36/36a High Road which became, in two stages, Beeston's Woolworths store with Glover retaining the freehold.

Glover and his first wife had had three children :

His daughter, Margaret Hilda Glover married a local man, Gordon Brown (b. 1899 Beeston), a tool maker, in 1923 and they set up home locally, apparently, for whatever reason, with minimal support from her father. A son and daughter were born to the couple in 1925 and 1928 respectively. She died, aged only 46 in 1946.

His elder son, Philip John Glover, had a long career in the Army, was commissioned as a Lieutenant with the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers while serving in North Africa in November 1943, later being promoted to Major. He married Erma Magda Wilhelmina Marie Langpat in Cologne, Germany in 1923 but they had no children. He retired to live in Norfolk where he died in 1982.

His youngest son, Eric Frederick Glover had special needs and remained, during their lifetime, in the care of his father and stepmother.

On 31 May 1940, Philip Wells Glover died 'very suddenly' at his home at the The Lilacs. Under the terms of his will, his entire estate, with a gross value of 17,082 was left to his wife who then continued to oversee the now significant holdings on the High Road, while perhaps changing the focus of her life to her sisters and her wider family. Two of her sisters came to live at The Lilacs and passed away there and when Heloise her self died on 9 September 1954, her will passed responsibility for managing her estate - now with a gross value of 35,724 - to representatives of her wider family connections. In addition to her stepson, Philip John Glover, her sister's son and her first husband's niece's husband were appointed.

Her bequests reflected this too. Both The Lilacs and the Woolworths property were left to her sister's son while 40-48 High Road was left to Philip John Glover, All bequests were subject to any indebtedness that was still outstanding and Glover's bequest was subject to his providing support for his younger brother - who also received a share, along with other members of the wider family, of the residual estate. In the event, 50 High Road was sold to its tenant to make provision for Eric Frederick Glover's ongoing special needs while ownership of 40-46 passed to Philip John Glover and continued until his death in 1982 and that of his wife in 1991 - and continues today with a direct descendant of Philip Wells Glover.

This story of the stretch of the High Road between Acacia Walk and Union Street and the life and times of those who were connected with it, will continue to be developed over the next several months.


Footnotes - (Note: the respective footnote text may now be viewed in a pop-up window by clicking on any blue, underscored note number within the main text)
Where reference is made to the Probate Calender (Index giving brief details of grant of Probate/Administration), unless specifically stated, the full will and probate documentation has not been seen.
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© David Hallam - 2017