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LANDshapes Oral Histories

The full Oral History recordings are kindly being hosted by East Midlands Oral History Archive. To listen to the recordings please follow the links below which will take you directly to the recordings.

To find out more about East Midlands Oral History Archive visit their website at http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/

Finding the Oral Histories in the LANDshapes Archive

Visit the LANDshapes archive and type Oral History in the Text Search box, then click the search button below. All of the Oral Histories currently in the archive will be displayed. Click on the title to see more detail.

The following link will take you directly to the Text Search page in the archive LANDshapes Archive Text Search....

Denis BakerDenis Baker

Hear how Denis Baker's still got his marbles! Denis fondly remembers his life in the Coalville area, and recalls happy memories of his childhood - when the "industrial moonscape" of the "inevitable colliery waste and railways" offered "a fantastic opportunity" for a young Coalville lad to play. From camping out in the hawthorn spinney behind the "Juncy" to long summer days exploring the natural beauty of Charnwood Forest, Denis's memories offer a whole new perspective of Coalville and the surrounding area. A well-known and respected local historian, Denis shows his 'cheeky' self, sharing stories of local gangs, the 'Forest Road Gang' and the 'Oxford Street Gang', and of 'selling back' tennis balls to the more afluent members of local society. Denis's enthusiasm for the future of the "new woodland environment" allied to his fantastic knowledge of local history is infectious!

Horace SankeyHorace Sankey

"I only moved a mile in all me life"... Horace Sankey - a local man through and through. Horace tells us about his lifelong input into the local political scene and diverts the listener with anecdotes about his time as a district, parish and county councillor, as well as an active participant in the National Union of Mineworkers. He talks about the dereliction and subsequent regeneration of the Swadlincote and Ashby Woulds areas. In this colourful recording Horace tells us of his memories of his childhood days playing in the fields in Overseal, his interest in social history, the Ashby canal, railway system and clay industry.

Robin NeilsonRobin Neilson

" if someone walks into my office with some crazy idea, my first reaction is 'Yes', until I can find some reason why not" Robin Neilson's family have been at Catton since 1405, but Robin is no stick in the mud traditionalist! Since moving to the sadly run-down ancestral home of Catton Hall at the age of 9 Robin has seen a lot of changes. In this recording he tells us about the necessary economic diversification of the estate that has proved such an exciting challenge. Detailing some of the changes that have occurred in farming in recent years Robin tells us how Catton was one of the first National Forest Tender Schemes, and talks eloquently of future hopes and plans for Catton Hall. However Robin keeps a 'weather eye' on the past too, reminding us about the settlement at Catton mentioned in Domesday Book, and the mysterious 'lost manor' that predates the present Hall.

Tim AdkinTim Adkin

Listen as British Trust for Conservation Volunteers area manager Tim takes you to a place that "they always claimed was the smallest parish in England" and explains how he learned about forestry and old fashioned threshing machines as a young lad growing up in Charnwood. No wonder then, that after of a stint in the Air Force Tim decided that he wanted a job in conservation..."I just didn't have any choice, it was in the blood". Wholeheartedly supporting good conservation management Tim conveys a sense of excitement at the possibilities for the future of the Forest, you might come away from this recording looking for links to a 'coppice craft' workshop or setting off to discover why a field might have been named 'The Stew'. Fancy some pottery made by a Monk - then perhaps you might set off for a visit to Mount St Bernard's Abbey, "still the same" as Tim remembers from childhood visits - "still excellent farmers, still excellent farm managers, it's almost kept in time".

Steve GardnerSteve Gardner

"an alien place, Burton-on-Trent" thought the young policeman Steve Gardner, but Steve soon settled in both in Burton and at Barton-under-Needwood, which introduced him to a lifelong hobby....listen to Steve talk about how he came to "find a great sense of belonging in Barton" and about how his interest in local history grew, coming to fruition in his fascinating book 'Under the Needwood Tree, and the sequel 'Life and times in Barton, a second glance into the history of Barton'. Hear Steve speak enthusiastically and informatively about the history of Barton in depth, its people, industries, and accent. Find out about high days and holidays and local myths and legends including the story of Henry Whapples who was rumoured to have survived the sinking of the Titanic. Finally, hear more about that hobby of Steve's...The Tug of War as Steve tells us about the gold medals won by his team in Rochester, USA, at the world championships in 2004.

JOHN & PEARL BAKERJohn & Pearl Baker

What was it like to grow up in the Swadlincote area during the first half of the 20th century? Listen to John & Pearl Baker's memories of childhood homes without indoor toilets or running water. John tells us about his first job in the pipeyards and how his wife Pearl, introduced him to Eatough's shoe factory where he worked for almost 40 years. John and Pearl share memories of childhood walks to Bretby and fondly recall their 'courting days' there. Listen to reminiscences of high days and holidays including the Easter Fair at Gresley Common, the August Bank Holiday Fair at the Swadlincote Engine Ground, the Whitsuntide Carnival and the Moira Wakes. John & Pearl have witnessed many changes in the local landscape during over 90 years of life in The National Forest area, and they both agree that the creation of the Forest has brought about "a marvellous improvement all round" in areas that used to be covered in the scars of old mine and clay holes.

Monica HudsonMonica Hudson

Monica Hudson talks about her earliest memories of life in the Swadlincote area of The National Forest, recalling the "yellowish swirling smog" from the Potteries' salt glazing and coal-fired smoke from "every chimney that worked". Monica tells us of her family's long association with the mining industry through the almost 400 years of service given by her father, grandfather, husband and other male family members. Find out about the health hazards and dangerous working conditions faced by miners - many of the men would "spit over the hedge" to get rid of the black dust in their lungs!.You will hear the warmth in Monica's voice as she reacalls the fascinating story of her grandfather's roses and how 'fire damp' kept them blooming regardless of the time of year, and how 'the menfolk' would spend a lot of time in gardens and allotments. "Sharpes toilets are all over the world" ....but what's Sharpes....Listen to Monica and find out more.

Gordon BeardsleyGordon Beardsley

Can you remember when a bomb dropped on Melbourne? Gordon Beardsley talks about his life in the Melbourne area of The National Forest. 'Planes seem to provide a thought provoking link in this recording, from the Luftwaffe to the passenger airliner that you can hear passing overhead. Gordon relates his memories of the effects of war on the area and talks of the time that a bomb was dropped on Melbourne killing 9 people. He recalls how his school was made into a gas cleansing centre "there were several classrooms filled with showers - so if they [the Luftwaffe] ever did drop gas we could get showered off". Listen to memories of Melbourne's well-known market gardening industry and hear a strange tale of 'serendipity' when Oral Historian Roger Kitchen discovers that he is staying that night in Gordon's old home!

Steve HodsonSteve Hodson

Needwood - a quiet area untouched by modern changes?....Steve Hodson reminds us "there are a lot of large estates round this area", but that doesn't mean there hasn't been change. Listen to Steve explain about the difference between tied and rented houses, and how changes in agricultural practices have had an affect on the property market. Steve shares with us his pleasure seeing the changes The National Forest is bringing up 'Under the Needwood Tree'. Talking of his work in fencing, tree felling and hedging, he tells us about the landscape changes he has noticed in other areas of The National Forest, how some of the coal board sites around Burton-on-Trent have been transformed through planting and how he sees The National Forest developing over the next 20 years. Acrobatic hares and ancient oaks?... Well yes, but you have to make a living too, so Steve tells us about rearing pheasant, hunting and shooting, and the dwindling market for lower quality timbers.

Marjorie CalowMarjorie Calow

"So he didn't have a stock of coffins?" Listen, as Marjorie Calow talks about her childhood in Melbourne and her father's "sideline" as an undertaker. Recalling Mrs Barton "who lived just up the road" and "used to do the laying out" Marjorie's description of life in Melbourne before the Second World War might shock some younger listeners - the 'familiarity' with death that used to be the norm has all but disappeared today. But it's not at all morbid, far from it! Marjorie fondly recollects how her father had to check that the Vicar had 'remembered' that there was a funeral booked! Thoughts of long summer days will be evoked by Marjorie's memories of Melbourne strawberries, childhood walks to places such as Robin Wood and Seven Spouts Farm, and new walks along some of The National Forest's dedicated footpaths.

Rev. Len HaynesRev. Len Haynes

Growing up at Clock Mill ‘…on the Measham to Leicester road halfway between Measham and Swepston’ Len Haynes fondly remembers his childhood in the home that was owned by his family since 1873. Len tells us how his grand parents moved there and restored the mill to its ‘original use’. Listen, as he recalls ‘listening to the tick, tick, tick’ of the water wheel and explains how one of his favourite childhood jobs was delivering the ground flour by horse and dray – a time when flour cost ‘a shilling a hundred weight’.
Find out what ‘Deadna, the Big Deadna, the Plough Deadna and the Little Deadna’ are and discover why farm horses were replaced with ‘Fergies’. Learn about the differences in farming practices since its mechanisation ‘That was the most noticeable thing on the farm that you could see in the war’ and hear the fascinating story of how a crop of Flax cured Big Deadna’s wireworm problem!
Finally, discover how, at the age of 51, Len became an ordained clergyman, a calling which still keeps him very busy despite being retired and hear why he thinks that The National Forest ‘Is wonderful’.

Christine & Arthur KennedyChristine & Arthur Kennedy

Christine & Arthur Kennedy reminisce about their memories of the Barton-under-Needwood area of The National Forest. From the first days when they moved to Barton from Birmingham, Christine tells us about the fun of the 'new' Pancake Race and the excitement of the age old 'Bonfire Night' celebrations. Recalling the "real, real Bartonians" who she has met and talked to since moving to Barton. "Miss Gilmour....first Lady to become a Parish Councillor... a formidable lady" Christine's enthusiasm for Barton is unmistakable as is Arthur’s enthusiasm for the heritage of the area. Listen to Arthur and Christine relate the story of King Henry VII's visit to Needwood Forest and hear them talk about the improvements that they have witnessed in The National Forest in recent years.

Stephen SaundersStephen Saunders

In this fascinating recording meet Steve Saunders, a Coalville lad who really knows his landscape. An archaeologist from an early age, Steve talks of his enthusiasm for nature and history ‘Whenever I could get out, I did get out and just roamed’. Discover how to identify different pottery styles, learn about midden scatter, bell pits and derricks and find out what the Romans got up to in the North West Leicestershire / South Derbyshire areas. Hear about Steve’s saddle quern ‘….it’s 5000 years old’, and an Acheulean hand axe found in Snibston ‘that’s as old as anything that’s been made in Britain, 500,000 years old’ and which was ‘…found by somebody out walking his dog’. Share in Steve’s love for the history and heritage of his area as he says ‘I think people ought to realise how much this district, in different ways….has contributed to things like the war efforts in the amount of coal and corn and wheat they’ve grown. They really did…push the boat out and that meant a lot of sacrifice on the landscape….Things like standing stones and barrows, they just got hammered and ploughed out an pulled down’. And hear about Steve’s favourite place ‘It’s got everything .. …Neolithic…Bronze Age…moot sites…..a sacred landscape littered with beaker burials and barrows….it’s just an incredible landscape’.

John HodgettsJohn Hodgetts

Hear about how "the love of a woman" brought John Hodgetts to the farm near Yoxall he has carefully nurtured through many changes. From changes in consumer demand to foot and mouth disease, life has certainly required a flexible and innovative attitude from John and his wife. Those who suffered in the 1999/2000 outbreak will empathise with John as he recalls how close they came to 'loosing everything' during the 1970/71 outbreak. John's closeness to his land becomes apparent as he tells us about his ability to 'read the weather', which he describes as having evolved intuitively over a period of years, he discusses changes in weather patterns remembering in particular the severe weather of 1962/3.

Fr. John Paul SandersonFr. John Paul Sanderson

Getting a "clip round the ear" at the age of twelve didn't put this Monk off of his vocation! But Father John Paul Sanderson may never have come to Mount St Bernard Abbey if a friend hadn't "got fed up" with him talking about his feelings towards the monastic way of life and arranged a visit! John Paul explains the origins of the abbey and the Cistercian Order to which he belongs ..."just quite normal people you know", but this is no simple story of peace and prayers, the 'community' had many adventures across the world before they could begin to farm their Forest acres....not an easy task among the "wild heath and moors" of Charnwood, where the brothers had to take stones out of the ground as they ploughed the rocky landscape to "build walls and start to make fields on the property". Hard workers with a belief in manual labour in addition to study and prayer, John Paul often gets to be outside, he explains that he feels a great sense of communion "out there walking in the woods". Listen as John Paul explains how the monks used to converse in sign language - in the old days Mount St Bernard was a completely silent community. And what was that about a 'communal coffin'......

Cath ColemanCath Coleman

Young-at-heart Cath Coleman moved from Edingale to Catton Hall at the age of 14 where she worked as a housemaid for 36 years. Listen to Cath’s fascinating story of life ‘in service’ as she remembers living in servants’ quarters at the “top o’ the ‘all, top of the ‘ouse” and warmly recalls other members of staff such as Nellie who was the “…lady’s maid as well as ‘ead ‘ousemaid”. Hear Cath’s story unfold as she tells us of Christmases past “…There’d be the farm workers, the game staff, the chauffers, the gardeners, highest staff all come together Christmas and ‘ave a party and wist drive …and you’d ‘ave a Christmas present give you. T’d be a Christmas tree with…the presents around’ and listen to her memories of spring cleaning at Catton Hall which she describes as a “big job…you could be three days on one room”. Finally, Cath talks of her lifelong love for Catton, listing some of the friends and colleagues who have happily stayed as she says “…we’ve all stayed ‘ere. Just ‘cause we’ve liked bein’ ‘ere”.

Betty ApplebyBetty ‘ Apple’ Appleby

Right back where she began in Barton-Under-Needwood, 'Bartonian' Betty 'Apple' Appleby gives Oral Historian Roger Kitchen and LANDshapes Community Officer Lucy Ashworth a grounding in chicken genetics during their discussion in her kitchen. "It took me two or three years to get a good muff" recalls Apple. Learn to tell the difference between your Transylvanian Naked Necks and your Faverolles, and meet Sally - the house chicken. 87 year old Apple summons up Kathy, her cake swapping friend, and recalls how "both sides of this road was oak trees, elm ..... it was pitch black in the winter and there was no tarmac", and in the end, nature lover Apple wants her ashes to be scattered in the fields where she walked as a child.

Francis GearyFrancis Geary

Imagine children playing where cars now scream along the M1, where a horse called 'Captain' used to give 3 boys a lift to the field before ploughing. Francis Geary the ex 'bowser boy' tells us about climbing around Tigermoth 'planes until two o'clock in the morning and diving "under the table" when a stray wartime bomb went off nearby ... "all the bums sticking out from underneath this table"..."it was quite a laugh really".On his bike as a twelve year old paper boy Francis used to cycle daily from Ratby to Groby, Newtown Linford and Woodhouse Eaves, often delivering telegrams to the WAFF's and WAC's at the wartime airbase. Recalling how Newtown Lane used to be a lonely stretch with no houses, Francis pictures for us some of the changes that have happened in the landscape around the Ratby area in the last 60 years. Do you find yourself quoting the age old refrain, 'kids wouldn't have acted like that in my day' well perhaps things haven't changed that much as you'll find out when Francis 'confesses' to getting "chucked out the Scouts for fighting".

John HaywoodJohn Haywood

If you live in Burton do you know that you are floating on artesian wells? Listen in as John Hayward explains about the waters of Burton in this enlightening and entertaining testimony, sharing his memories about and hopes for Burton-on-Trent - England's premier brewing town. Smell the mash 'going in' as you walk around Burton in your imagination, 'see' through John's eyes the smoke billowing out of the chimneys and steam coming from the brewery coppers, dodge the steam engines in the High Street resplendent in their brewery livery colours. Find out about Groby's Knob and meet the mighty one-armed gate keeper. You won't fail to find an enthusiasm for Burton or its future in John's life, as he says himself "I've been in Burton all my life....and I've no intention of leaving cos I enjoy it.... I get very disappointed, annoyed, if people knock Burton...it's a great town".

Ernie SuttonErnie Sutton

Growing up between the wars, Ernie Sutton remembers his granddad carting coal for 7 shillings and 6 pence a ton, and playing with friends "round the backs" or in Spittle Wood - but not too late or the dog would get his tea! Part of a close-knit community Ernie and his friends would congregate around the 'first street lamp', climbing up and swinging on the 'handlebars' at the top - until the day when an exasperated householder opened the bedroom window and threw out the contents of the "gazunda"! Follow teenager Ernie meeting the evacuees that came to Linton during the war years, especially Alice, who he first met when she was an 8 year old evacuee - and with whom he is still in contact, and Joan the girl from Birmingham that he "had a right crush on". Ernie gives as a crash course in the local dialect, a whistlestop tour of 'old' Linton and a 'window' into Linton life pre-1945. Having been away working for 24 years Ernie has certainly noticed some changes!

Harry WhitworthHarry Whitworth

Born and bred a Woodville lad, Harry Whitworth’s story begins on his Granny’s farm, where he lives today ‘I was actually born where I am now. This was my Granny’s farm’. Harry tells us about Dorothy Porton’s dancing school in Box (Woodville) where he would dance on a Tuesday evening for 'one and a tanner', he remembers the ‘best of the years, after the war. You hadna got to lock your door, you could walk the roads, there were no fear of anybody getting owt on yer'...except of course for the Roggin Row gang in Swad! Find out about ‘Fobbin’ in the Sandholes, and discover what a Shonky is and how to find Gobbins.
Listen as Harry warmly recalls the camaraderie of working in Granville Pit and tells us of ‘the only time I were ever frit’ when he was involved in a collapse at the coal face. Hear about Harry’s love of mining despite the fact that 'You wanna well paid duck'. Learn about the Pit ponies who Harry describes as ‘characters’ and meet Dime, the pit pony with a very special talent!

Ken BetteridgeKen Betteridge

In this absorbing recording Ken Betteridge takes us back to a slower pace of life, to Saturday mornings in Moira when (before they were allowed out to play) the local miners kids had to take their dad's picks down to the furnace "to 'ave 'em sharpened" ready for work at the pit face. After that the young Ken would go out to play "on the road 'cause there were hardly any traffic". Reminiscing about washing day and the sheets drying in front of the fire where his mother's "big wooden mangle" used to sit, Ken "wonders what some of the youngsters would think if they'd got that lot facin' them now!" Making his own amusement Ken and his friends went 'mushrooming' and 'nesting' down Lords Lane and Blackfordby Lane End. Share with Ken his sorrow at the loss of the yearly 'pilgrimage' to the bluebell wood near the railway bridge on Willesley Lane, destroyed by the coming of open cast mining, Ken laments that he won't be around to see the present planting mature. Hear more about 'Wakes Week' and oh yes find out where Ken and his companions 'went a courting'!

Maurice WestMaurice West

In this absorbing recording listen to Maurice West as he talks of his life and experiences as a miner. Born in Burton-on-Trent, Maurice was taken to live in Coton Park as a “Babe in arms” and says that Coton Park was then known as ‘Strip and at it’ because “…if you were from outside Coton Park, you wouldn’t have dare walk through because the kids used to have you, the parents would have you”!. Share Maurice’s happy memories of playing cricket at ‘Top Field’ and learning to swim as a child “We used to rock the brook up, leave it for a couple of hours…three hours…go home and have a jam sandwich and then, when we got back, it would be deep enough to swim in”.
Join Maurice down the pit as he recalls the camaraderie of living and working in a close-knit mining community; learn about what an ‘Ossenter’ did and find out about bat-picking and ring-dragging. Discover the dangers of “Chucking a length on” and hear about the “Little Demons” that helped the process. Find out why Maurice says that “There weren’t a more gaseous pit than Cadley” and listen as he talks about the pit closures saying that he feels “Sad. Sad because it were a way of life and it were my way of life….you’ll never get the comradeship that you had at a pit, even now. If I’m in Swad ‘Hey up you. How are you’? you know? ‘Wish Cadley were open again’. And I still get that….Loved my job…loved it”

Gordon FoddyGordon Foddy

From New York to Palestine and back…but this New York is 'Forest style'! Meet Gordon Foddy who will take you egg collecting and 'clicking' and might question "En enny onya ot yersens?". Gordon will introduce you to the Melbourne Wakes - a local tradition that can still be experienced should you visit Melbourne in October, and the poltergeist of the Old Mill Pool. Find out about Ticknall's very own VC hero John Smith. These days Melbourne is a fairly idyllic 'country' village, but Gordon remembers a time when it sang to a different tune, listen to memories of shoe making, the Marlborough Engineering Factory (now a supermarket), and the swish of parachute silk! Changes have been many, not least of which is the fact that he no longer has to wash in a tin bath in front of the fire!

Bernice HallBernice Hall

Step back in time with Bernice Hall as she reminisces about her life in Donisthorpe. Recalling her earliest memory Bernice says “….I can just remember the strike in ’26 because I used to go with me dad somewhere picking coal. He used to take me in the barrow and then bring the coal back….I would only be three and a half or so when the strike was on in ‘26”, and recalls the poverty of the 1930s as she says “I’ve seen my mum cry when she’s tried reckon up…. “
Wonderfully warm and witty, Bernice says of herself “Well I’m a funny woman so it doesn’t matter what you ask me cos I dunna tek no notice!”
Find out why a pig was put on a wall at Stone Row and why it was later moved to Brodribb’s wall in Moira! Discover why Bernice says that telly is “….the worst thing that ever happened” and learn about ‘Monkey parading’ and ‘Tipplers’. Finally listen closely as Bernice gives Oral Historian Roger Kitchen a crash course in the ‘old South Derbyshire’ dialect when she asks “Ay up me duck…ho you goin’ on”?, “Is it wefty todae, are you goin’ on wesh”? “Are you goin’ wom”? adding “….as I say, if ya have to talk reet, ya have to talk reet, cos folk canna understand ya – you know what I mean – like –if you say, ‘Boiler’s bost’ – they can’t understand – ‘bost’ means it’s burst – and that sort of thing!” And what was ‘Moira Lob’?

John OaklandJohn Oakland

Born in Nottinghamshire, John Oakland talks of his love for the Charnwood area and how he ‘fell in love with it when I saw it’. Listen as John tells us of his lifelong passion for gardening, despite the often strenuous work in his own garden which is a part of The National Garden Scheme ‘…if you’re a gardener you can’t stand still…it’s a non stop thing’. Learn about the octogenarian rhododendrons and azaleas that are 'Mostly still there in full maturity, some of them flowering’. Hear John talk about the joys of bee keeping which he describes as ‘…a very gentle hobby’, find out why his bees had to make a ‘6 mile trip up the road to Belton’ and discover why John says that he hasn’t ‘…got a lot of respect for squirrels…’ but has a lot of respect ‘…for the old fox’.

Harry HinesHarry Hines

Join mining engineer turned boat builder Harry Hines down by the canal as he talks of his memories of life in The National Forest and his work in boat building, which began as a hobby making canoes. Finding the right site for a boat building business was certainly a challenge! In 1973 Harry discovered a site which he describes as “….derelict. Anybody, any builder who had any rubbish to tip, this is where he tipped it….builders’ rubble all over the site which we had to get rid of eventually”. When the site was being developed some interesting archaeological discoveries were made including an ‘eel rake “….the boatmen used to catch eels for food….Quite a lot of glass bottles, base of an old cast-iron oil lamp and a lot of shoes and boots for some reason, which we never did find out why!”. Talking of the increasing popularity in boat ownership Harry explains “The number of boats on the canals these days are far more than in the days of the working boats. People talk about the era of the working boats being the highlight of the canals. It’s not. There’s far more boats today than ever there was in those days. It’s very…very, very popular”.
Differences in the way that narrow boats have been designed and equipped in the last 30 years have been dramatic “There was no such thing as central heating. All boats we built had fridges and showers whereas a lot of boats….didn’t. A lot of boats have got dual drive, electric drive….and they also drive other things on the boat as well….microwaves…computers…These days anything you want”.
Hear about the rumoured bag of golden guineas which was lost in the canal and the story of the ghostly policeman who reputedly still haunts the area!

Baz ForghamBaz Forgham

A career in the National Coal Board as a draughtsman based at the grand surroundings of Coleorton Hall followed hard on the heels of a childhood full of train spotting and learning about natural history for Baz Forgham. Baz's love of natural history grew through early expeditions on his bike which took him from his home near Coalville to local towns such as Tamworth, Derby and Leicester. After being "superseded by computers" in 1987, Baz became an unpaid full time naturalist with a passion for 'all things feathered'. Baz tells us enthusiastically about the Ravens breeding in the area "for the first time in over a hundred years". Find out about Dimminsdale and Kelham Bridge nature reserves - and the intricacies of creating a 'wader scrape', along with many other local wildlife 'gems' in this fascinating recording.....but watch out for 'big cats'!

John BonnettJohn Bonnett

A born 'Burtonian' John Bonnett tells us how his grandfather moved to Burton from the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border to work in the famous brewing industry, married a local girl and stayed to raise a family. John's fascinating personal insights and expert knowledge lead us on a audio tour through some of the ancient 'mysteries' of brewing such as the Saladin turner and Jacob's Ladder. But it wasn't all beer and skittles....John tell us how men who worked in the 'maltings' all of their lives risked getting 'the miners disease', of silicosis, and how might you feel 'the morning after the night before' getting "inside the big vats" to "clean them out with wire wool? Victorian innovation and modern mechanisation have changed the industry since John's grandfather laboured in the maltings, but all of the by-products are still used. Find out about how even the tiny sprouts on the grain are used, hear John explain about the age old craft of Cooping and the Burton Union System......oh and then, of course, there's Marmite!

Norman ClarkNorman Clark

In this absorbing recording discover why an 8 year old Norman Clark used to ‘skive off’ from school and how he came to work with German prisoners of war in 1944. Listen as Norman talks of his days at Calke Abbey (the third generation of his family to do so), his recollections of the people and events which have shaped his memories and hear about his first marital home that had ‘No services whatsoever…no electricity, oil lamps’ or even candles!
Hear Norman tell the riveting story of how the Ashby Show was held at Calke in 1965 ‘Now that was when my life changed – it was a hectic 12 months….getting ready for the show that was coming in ’65 – a lot of activity’. Find out about his ‘magical’ place at Calke ‘I always enjoyed sitting at the top of he park above the meadow piece….it is in the top of the park, right on the edge where the medieval oaks start….to be in Calke Park at night is magical’ ….and who was the intriguingly named Agathis Pegg?

Bill BentleyBill Bentley

In this absorbing recording, meet ‘Country bloke’ and lifelong fisherman Bill Bentley who will teach you how to tickle trout and explain the dying art of dry-stone walling and the equipment needed for the job “…just hammer and chisel that’s all. And wireless… stop you from going nuts!”
Happy-go-lucky Bill recalls that he “…used to ring bell and blow the organ at Calke Abbey…Calke Church…that was when I was young…Mrs. Molesey used to give me a shilling every Sunday”. Listen as Bill talks of his memories of the impact of war on Melbourne “…I can remember the bombs dropping in Melbourne here. They dropped one or two in Melbourne Pool. I can remember a landmine dropping, that was over the back on Sam Hollingworth’s farm. That knocked a hole in the ground – ooh you coulda put a lorry in it” and go back in time with Bill as he remembers the VJ day celebrations in 1946 “…We had a big do like for VJ day, we had a big bonfire and course we’d been cleaning ground and we took all the trees off and we made a hell of a fire and, ooh ah, we had a good time”.
Hear Bill’s recollections of life on the farm “…we were two mile from a phone, two mile from a letter box….two mile from everything – well it wasn’t quite two mile from the pub!” and discover why he calls himself “…a bit of a chicken really!” and says “I’ve had one of the most fantastic lives anybody could ever have. I’ve enjoyed me life….and I’ve been one of the happiest blokes you’ll ever meet in your life”

Edna HughesEdna Hughes

In this captivating recording meet a remarkable lady from Ibstock. Edna Hughes well remembers playing games such as “…tick, snobs and hopscotch…down Meadow Row” and going ‘door knocking’”[We] tied two doors together and knock each door”. One of eight children, Edna recalls “Me mum used to have two or three washing days a week cos there’s that big a family – and it used to be the dolly pegs and tubs – no electric washer…it were a hard life I tell yer – and you had to pull your weight”. Listen to Edna’s memories as she reminisces about her teen years and how she spent her weekends with her friend Edie Whitby “Saturdays and Sunday – it all depended – you know, mostly Saturday night, cos you hadn’t got money to go anywhere – pictures or anywhere, so that’s where we used to go, down Ibstock – monkey parading” and find out more about her job as a platelayer for British Rail during the war “We used to walk…from Ellistown Pit down to Thornton Bridge – and we used to go putting sleepers in…we used to do all the maintenance – taking the plates off, oiling them, putting them back…and do the whole length both ways…I was never so happy as I were when I went on the railway”.

Vera HammondsVera Hammonds

In this captivating recording listen to Vera Hammonds as she takes us back in time to a slower, gentler pace of life. Born in 1916, Ibstock lass Vera says that “I was born in one war and got married the first week in the next”.
Listen as Vera recalls her earliest memory of walking “….across the field to the allotment” to take her father’s lunch “I had to walk right down Grange Road, across the fields there, across the Overton Road to some other fields and these fields were actually off the Hinkley Road” and recollects “Conkering with the lads”, making daisy chains, walking by the “Battram Plank” and picking turnips for lunch. At the age of 14 Vera and her friends would congregate on Ibstock High Street but she remembers that “You were scuffed out by the sergeant…” for hanging around in doorways! Hear Vera’s reminiscences of her courting days “….down Locker’s Lane, then it was called Lovers’ Lane cos everybody used to go round there…” and her memories of going “Blackberrying when the blackberries were out…This was either made into blackberry and apple jam, blackberry and apple pudding, also blackberry vinegar…” and of making Elderberry wine and “…dandelion flower wine….used to have to break the heads off dandelions and take them home” - despite never having touched a drop in her life!
And discover who the Ibstock ‘Ranters’ were.

Celia & Roger MilesCelia & Roger Miles

Bagworth born Celia and Roger Miles have known each other since childhood. Celia remembers some of the places where she played games as a child such as “Snobs” and “Sound your holler” at places like ‘Sammy’s Brook’ and ‘Black Lane’ in what she describes as a “Wonderful” childhood.
Hear Roger and Celia talking affectionately about the village they love and about the changes in Bagworth which was once called ‘the dying village’ “….it’s a very old village…Saxon…it was so diminished by subsidence – whole rows of houses were demolished, unfit to live in, too badly damaged. A lot of people who didn’t want to leave had lived [in Bagworth] all their married lives….A lot of broken hearts….people really did think…the village was going to die altogether”.
Celia and Roger’s son is the fourth generation of the family to farm in Bagworth. Talking about some of the changes in farming Roger, who remembers milking the cow and churning butter by hand, explains that “…One of the biggest differences is the fact that it was so physical. Everything was man-handled you see. Now it’s pretty well mechanised”.
In the end, the couple say that they would like their ashes to be scattered in their own fields, a special place for both of them “Down near a pond, just down here…Somebody’s already had their ashes spread down there…a neighbour…and she loved the walks around here…her husband put a seat there…with a little plaque on it, and scattered her ashes”.

Glenna NewboldGlenna Newbold

Did you know that New York and California are closer than you think? Melbourne songbird Glenna Newbold explains “Everybody calls it New York and you don’t question it”.
Hear Glenna recall her memories of Melbourne during the war, what it was like having to take her gas mask to school and the time that bombs were dropped on Melbourne. Join Glenna as she remembers long country walks with her family to places such as Robin’s Wood and hear about the winter of 1947 “…terrible snows, dreadful travelling conditions. I would sometimes get home at quarter to nine at night, having finished work about quarter past five”. Learn about the Melbourne Opera Company and listen as Glenna discusses Melbourne’s history of market gardening “...at one time there were between eighty and a hundred market gardeners in Melbourne…There are three now. …It would be in the…1950s…that the decline started and some of those market gardeners had been going for about a hundred years”. Describing changes she’s witnessed in the area over the years Glenna says “I think the major changes have been the amount of land that used to be market gardening land, the demise of the market gardeners and then that land developed….Lots of development in Melbourne, which I know people need houses, but it was sad to see those fields go”. Discover why you can’t go round Sir Henry’s Lane anymore…and what are Snobs?

Dorothy LawrenceDorothy Lawrence

Share memories of life in Belton with Dorothy Lawrence as she recalls the places that she played as a child “….We were just happy to be in the fields together – there was marvellous wildflowers then that I still remember….and the old Charnwood canal…continued right through to Osgathorpe…there were little tunnels made for the cattle to go over the bridges in these fields and I can remember playing in them”. Listen to Dorothy’s recollections of the 1953 Coronation “Oh, it was marvellous…we had a race round the village…we all dressed, there was a fancy dress thing…” and hear about one regular Belton event that’s become a tradition “…the Maypole – yes they still dance round the Maypole, oh that’s very much to the fore that is”. And listen to Dorothy talking about when Belton first got electricity and her memories of the water that was pumped in from Breedon “…it was piped to the farms and the water itself was absolutely hard – it was filled with lime, you see, because it is limestone the quarry at Breedon – and some days if you had a glass of water it would be just like Andrews Liver Salts – it would be fizzing”.