Understanding the Geography of this Part of Station Street
Initially, I thought that the building on the corner of Station Street and Ellis Street was 33-35 Station Street. This houses The Posh Meze Grill and Bar. However, their address is given as 1 Ellis Street.
The Posh Meze Grill and Bar
The Posh Meze Grill and Bar has been there since at least August 2021. However, in September 2020, the building looked empty. In March 2019, there was a sign up saying that the Posh Bar and Grill was “coming soon” but presumably it was delayed by COVID. In July 2018, there was a sign saying Wilbourn’s but I think this may have been an old sign showing through.
Ashfield Dry Cleaners
Wilbourn’s Garden Centre
From at least October 2008 to April 2011, Wilbourn’s Garden Centre was in the building on the corner of Station Street and Ellis Street. It must have been there for some time. Edith Searson, writing in the 1980s, referred to a garden centre there. She said, “the shop [Kirby’s] stood where the garden centre’s plants and shrubs have, until last year, been exhibited. I have been told, and I think it could be true, that this piece of land is eventually, and before too long, going to be the road leading to the new market, now in the process of being built. Anyway, we shall see in due course“.
Was it Used as an Off-Licence and/or Pet Shop?
Was this building used at some point by Wilbourn’s as an off-licence? In a comment, Mike Peat thought that it was. Mike notes that, “when Frank Wilbourne had the corner shop as an off licence – this would be 35 years ago – he was one of only four Masters of Wine in the country. This is a global organisation which was very prodigious at the time and quite difficult to get into. There is now only one listed Master of Wine in the UK.” Catherine Powell commented that it had also been a pet shop. In response to this, Mike noted that it was still an off licence until at least 1989 as “my wife and myself got married in that year, and Frank gave us some very good advice on sparkling wine for the wedding“.
Sue Hardy, in a comment on Annesley OC Heritage Extra Facebook page noted that it was a pet shop and gardening shop for Wilbournes. Catherine Jane Powell commented on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group that when she was about 10 back in the 70s, “Wilbourns had tortoise for sale in that gap round the side.” Nicola Arnold recalled buying a goldfish from Wilbourn’s pet shop in about 1995. She noted, “I think it was Alan who worked there, a lovely bloke and the fish lived about 5 years“.
A number of contributors explained that this shop was also a garden and pet shop with the off-licence at their other premises in Station Street at number 60?
Dr Waller’s House
I believe this building was previously Dr Waller’s house and this is discussed in the post on Ellis Street.
So What Happened to 33-35 Station Street?
I an grateful to Jean Harvey for first raising this issue with me in a discussion on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group. She initially mentioned that she was interested in finding out more about “the shop which either fell down oor was demolished“. She explained, “there was a house or shop where the cut through from Station Street to the [Ellis Street] car park is now. It must have happened after 1921 as I left Kirkby around 1947 but visited when older to shop there sometimes, when I saw the rubble but didn’t take much notice, so probably 1955/56 I guess.” The reference to 1921 is because I had asked if this might explain possible re-numbering of properties on Station Street between 1911 and 1921.
In the 1970s This Area Was Fenced Off
On the Kirkby-in-Ashfield Facebook Group, there is a photo of this area which shows Challans Gift Shop and Wilbourn’s Garden Centre in September 1979. Between them, is a wooden fence with possibly a gate. Jean Harvey commented on this photo saying, “where the fence is between the buildings is where the building was“.
Was This Gap Always There?
In a discussion about this on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group, Selina Brown commented that there had long been a gap here and that she had always assumed that there had been a building there. Richard Lake commented, based on the 1898 Ordnance Survey map, that there had always been “a gap of sorts here“.
However, on a map I have, which is dated 1900 but which possibly reflects earlier survey work, there is no such gap.
Nevertheless, the gap was there later on a 1939 map that I have. The layout of this part of Station Street is basically identical to that shown on the 1898 map. However, it is also clear that the gap is similar in size to the gap/alley at the side of 21 Station Street, what was National Westminster Bank. This is no longer the case. The gap in this location is much wider than the one between 21 and 23 Station Street.
I have annotated the 1939 map with building numbers. When this is done, it seems fairly clear that 33-35 are no longer there and this explains the gap.
I am grateful to Peter Anthony Cain for noting that “where the fence is [in the 1979 photo], there was a fruit and veg shop“. This reminded me that Edith Searson, in her book(let) “I Also Remember” noted that “the shop stood where the garden centre’s planst and shrubs have, until last year, been exhibited.” She identifies this shop as Kirkby’s greengrocers and it is clear from her description that this shop was gone well before the 1980s. Heather Mulholland also commented, on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, that “Mr Kirby’s fruit and veg shop was in the gap”. David Herberts noted that “the gap used to be a greengrocer“,
Confirmed by Photos
I am grateful to Frank Ball for pointing out that a photo of this part of Station Street that I had posted shows “no gap“. In going through this photo with him, he explained that the building on 1 Ellis Street had then, as now, a roof line level with the properties forming 25 to 31 Station Street. This is clearly seen on the photo. Between them is a building with a lower roof line. This was 33-35 Station Street and when this was demolished, it left the gap we have now.
I am also grateful to Alwyn Bowskill for making similar observations on a photo of Station Street looking in the opposite direction from Newcombes.
Reflections on the Gap
In a discussion on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group concerning this gap, Janet Pratt noted that the discussion was fascinating. She noted that she had “walked through the gap so many times and never even wondered about it“.
In 1941 and 1942, Jas Kirby, a fruiterer was based at 33-35 Station Street.
The business is listed as a greengrocer on Jacques’ List of Station Street retailers circa 1920-1940.
Recollections of Kirby’s
I think Mark Ashfield describes this family in “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey” (pages 21-22) but he spells the surname Kirkby and says both father and son were called Herbert. He notes that the senior man “was a character; perhaps, you might say, close to eccentricity. He was a fruiterer and greengrocer, a slight, rather sad-faced figure, invariably clad in brown smock and flat cap – on weekdays. But come Sunday (certainly in the Sunday Schools’ Anniversary season) smock and cap were exchanged for black suit, wing collar and bowler. He may have bought the bowler from his neighbour [Thomas Banks], but that is of little importance. What is worth recording is that he travelled the locality in search of Sunday School Anniversaries; and he walked to them“.
Edith Searson recalled him in her book(let) “I Also Remember“. She described him as one of the best-known shopkeepers in the town, next door to the doctor. She noted that, on Friday afternoons, he had direct deliveries of baskets of strawberries, “a lorry load of 2lb ‘chips’, direct from the fields, would arrive and be sold direct to the public from the lorry. Nothing like this had happened before, what I remember, strawberries were weighed out, loose, from a container, as many as the customer required, and could possibly be a bit mushy; who remembers as I do the thrill of the arrival of the lorry, people like me waiting in anticipation. People came from all directions for their basket of strawberries. I suppose it started a new are! (age? era?). She concluded that the strawberry trade would never be the same again.
Charles Reynard, a contributor on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, was born in 1952. He commented, “I recall Herbert Kirby’s greengrocers. To say it was basic would be an understatement. Herbert always wore a dingy brown coat, everything left the shop in a brown paper bag and in deepest winter it was warmer out in the street than in the shop. He had a lovely lady, Mrs Burton, working alongside him at some point.” Frank Ball recalled that he “used to call in from school for a penny apple ,if he had a large one going over, he would cut out the bad and you got that.“
In a comment on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group, Lisa Parnill recalled that her father-in-law lived above Kirby’s with his parents and two brothers.
Residents of 33-35 Station Street
In 1939, James, Maria and Herbert Kirby were living at number 35. James was described as a florist and fruiterer and Herbert (b1920) was described as an assistant in a fruiterer’s shop. The Kirbys were also there in 1921. James was described as a florist and fruiterer. Herbert’s middle name was given as Henry. Robert E Kirby was staying with them as a visitor. He was four years younger than James Kirby and was described as a Gas Engine Mechanic for Campbell Gas Engine Company. Perhaps he was the younger brother?
In 1939, another family were living at number 33, the Hutchinsons, including Charles E, Miriam, Sydney A H (b1932) and Bernard (b1937). There is also one closed record. Charles was a builder’s labourer and he was also an air raid warden.
In 1921, Joseph and Hilda Ashmead were living at number 33. He was described as a goods shunter on the railway for the Midland Railway Company. The name has been transcribed as Ashmead but it is not very clear on the original and could be something else.
In 1911, Frederick and Ada Rickett were living at 35 Station street with their two sons Leonard (b1889) and Rupert (b1893). Leonard was a joiner and carpenter and Rupert was an elementary school teacher. Interestingly, Frederick was described as a greengrocer.
Also, in 1911, John Sheriff and Emma Pogson were living at 33 Station street with their son George Harold (b1907). John was described as a Midland Railway Engine Stoker.
In 1901, John and Emma Franks were living at 35 Station Street with their six children, Alice (b1887), Thomas (b1888), Willis (b1890), Albert John (b1893), Claude (b1896) and Lilian (b1900). John was described as a coal miner hewer and grocer with Thomas described as a grocer’s assistant.
Also, in 1901, widow Olive Ellis was living at 33 Station Street. She was described as a dressmaker. Harry Scott was also there, as a boarder. He was described as a lace manufacturer.