The continuation of Station Street after Four Lane Ends, crossing what was Lowmoor Road, is Diamond Avenue. Apparently, the name originates from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Trinity Methodist Church
Trinity Methodist Church is located here and is visible from Four Lane Ends. Originally, this was a Wesleyan chapel.
Memories of Trinity Methodist Church
In a discussion on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, CarlandSuzanne Bowler noted being the first person to be a member of the new church after it was rebuilt in 2000. Rev Kay was the Minister who was from America and who returned there. They were surprised to hear that Trinity had once burned down, which was mentioned by Denise Phillips. I believe this fire was on 6 April 1963 after an earlier refurbishment. My understanding is that the choir stalls were completely destroyed but the organ was spared, see Chapter 79.
Several people recalled that they or there relatives were married at the church. These includes Sarah Wilby’s mother in 1988 and Christine Stanley in 1973.
Lynne Orrell noted that she “used to like going to the Christmas pantomimes at the church hall“. A number of people identified themselves in a photo I posted from the 1960 pantomime. These included Christine Stanley and Janice Jewsbury.
Sharon Griffiths noted that “they always had a huge Christmas tree standing outside the Church in the 1960s. It had red & gold boxes on it. I was mesmerised by this tree as a child.“
Mother and Toddler Group
Liz Molloy noted going, as a toddler, to a mother and toddler group at Trinity Methodist Church in the 1980s. She noted that, at the end of each session, “we would escape into the church part“.
Jen Thornley recalled being told that Annie Blackburn nee Shacklock was the first female lay preacher at the Methodist Chapel. She later emigrated to Australia. A memorial booklet was written about her by her son Cecil Wallace (Wally), her grandson Geoff and her granddaughter, Estelle. I obtained a copy from the National Library of Australia.
Annie Rebecca Shacklock was born in Kirkby in April 1885, the only daughter of John George and Mary Shacklock. She worked as a teacher and married Harry Blackburn on Boxing Day 1910. They had two sons Cecil Wallace (b1913) and George Everard (b1917).
In 1911, Harry and Annie emigrated to Australia. They returned to England in 1915 and Harry served in the RAF during World War 1. They returned to Australia in 1923. Annie visited Kirkby in 1937 with her son Wally. Harry died in 1947 and, at that point, Annie returned to Kirkby for a period of two years. In 1949, Annie returned to Australia. In 1950, she was appointed to the Denmark Home Mission Station in 1950. As the first woman appointed to such a role she faced opposition but overcame it becoming known as the “atom bomb of Denmark.” She died in Denmark, Western Australia in February 1955 just before she had been due to come to Kirkby for six months. Apparently, Blackburn Street in Denmark is named after her.
Ann Angel Vernon noted that, “when I think of Trinity Methodist, I think of Mrs Nutthal, she was always raising money for them.” I think this may be a reference to Christine Nuttall nee Searson. She is the daughter of Edith Searson and features extensively in family diaries as she was a friend of my mother’s, see Index of People.
A Large Room
Frank Ball recalled that Trinity “had a building almost as big as the Church at the back, used for Sunday School and Pantomimes. A large useful space.“
Sunday School Outings
Helen Jay shared a photo from a Trinity Sunday School outing from about 1972.
My Family’s Involvement in Trinity Methodist Church
My parents had relatively little involvement with Trinity Methodist Church as we left Kirkby in 1960. Grandma was involved in the early sixties before she herself moved to Norfolk in 1963. For details of our family involvement, see Chapter 79.
41 Diamond Avenue
A bit further along is where I was born, number 41 Diamond Avenue, opposite the turning to Crocus Street.
Others Who Lived at 41 Diamond Avenue
When my parents sold the house in 1960, they sold it to John and Isobel Lamb, see Chapter 76. Terri Mugglestone commented on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group that she had lived at number 41, with her three children, for three years prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. CarlandSuzanne Bowler noted that their brother, Stephen McGaulley, lived there until June 2022. In a post on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Hayley Whetton-Combe noted living there for ten years from 2005.
Living on Diamond Avenue
In Facebook discussions, a number of other people noted that they, or their friends or relatives, had lived on Diamond Avenue. For example, Megan Finney, Sharon Griffiths, Trev Ord, Christine Stanley, Samantha Swainston and Jen Thornley all noted living there. Verdun Cooke noted that some relatives, the Maidens, who were coal merchants had lived there. Lisa-Jayne Campbell noted that her best friend, Kim Knowles, had lived on Diamond Avenue. Megan Finney noted that her great grandparents and a grandparent had lived on Diamond Avenue. Barbara Johnson noted that her uncle lived on Diamond Avenue.
Michael Proffitt noted living on Diamond Avenue from 1958 to 1984 and that his parents still lived there. He recalled various businesses on Diamond Avenue including Taylor’s, the Co-op, a dentist and a coal merchant. Madeline Bragan noted living at number 64 from 2006 to 2014 and that this is the house pictured above on the corner with Crocus Street. Jan Quigley noted that her great grandmother used to live on Diamond Avenue but that the house was bulldozed and is now the site of the small car park next to the working men’s club.
Stories from Diamond Avenue
Phil Ayres commented, “From what I understand… the houses on… Diamond Avenue were built to house the growing mining population. As you go up the hill and get to roughly where 126 Diamond Ave would be, on the corner of Balfour Street, the architect built his own house there (or so I’m informed). That house has servant stairs, a serving galley in to the (then) dining room and three servants rooms up a tight second stair case from the first floor to the second floor. The architect was friends the then owners of Newstead Abbey. If you look over the garage down Balfour street you will see a gargoyle set in the wall. Within the grounds are various items ranging from more gargoyles to carved columns.“
Ceri Peat recalled living in two houses on Diamond Avenue. She notes that “we had stables at the bottom of our garden * pig stys I can remember playing in“.
Sharon Griffiths told this story, “my Mum (she’s 90) remembers her parents at 51 Diamond Ave, waking her up during the night to look through the front bedroom window to watch the soldiers marching alongside tanks down the hill. Soldiers were billeted at the Church on Diamond Ave & my Grandma used to have 2 of them over every Sunday for dinner.”
Soldiers on Diamond Avenue…
Based on the story above, and an earlier question I had been asked about a military base on Diamond Avenue, I enquired about this on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group and received a number of responses.
Christine Evans recalled that her mother “always told me the house on the corner of Balfour St and Diamond avenue (I think no 126) was taken over by the army and had soldiers or army personel billeted there during WW2, she remembered them clearly. She also used to tell me about the home guard who used to call in at her home at the waterworks on Blidworth Rd and became friends with her parents and at the end of the war they brought my grandparents a wooden mantle clock which we still had till about 15 years ago.” Bobby ‘Moore’ Buxton recalled being told it was an army hospital and then in the fifties something to do with the police. Megan Finney recalled a story of her mother “bringing home American soldiers one Sunday for a home-cooked meal as they missed their home and family when they were stationed here “.
…And Elsewhere in and around Kirkby
In the same discussion, Andrea Martin recalled that her grandmother told her that American soldiers used the Festival Hall during WW2. Others thought this was likely as the Americans built the original Kings Mill Hospital. Joan Ware noted that there are pictures about this on the wall of the hospital currently.
Philip Barber noted that his father, from London, met his mother when he was camped near Ravenhead in World War 2. He noted that they had a “very short courtship due to being shipped overseas, they married when he was demobilised, and stayed so for a few weeks off 70 years when my father passed away.” He also comments that he was not aware that soldiers had been based in Kirkby itself.
Frank Ball explained that “soldiers would have been moved around at different times. I remember tents on Kingsway Park [and soldiers] in Festival Hall (English),and Spring Factory. They would have put them where they could until they where moved on.” Michael Nixon commented that “the land between the old railway pub and the railway line back as far as the colliery sidings was a training camp and they used the old Clinic about where the Evergreens club is.” Michael Richardson commented “there was a unit of Territorials and home guard stationed in St Andrews church hall on Marlborough Rd. We found some rounds of ammunition in the grass.“
Robin Hood and a Doctor’s Surgery
In a comment on another post related to the roads intersecting Station Street, Alwyn Bowskill commented that it would be good to refer to the property which is 46 Diamond Avenue, opposite School Street, and which was once a doctor’s surgery and adorned with a Robin Hood painting. I understand that the property once housed an artist’s gallery and it was known as Robin Hood Studios Hence the mural.
Another Family Connection to Diamond Avenue
In 1925, grandad noted in his diary that “we” moved. However, he did not explain who moved, where they moved or why. As he was still unmarried, I assume that this move was with his parents.
In his diary for 1929, he gave his address as Hilly Mount, Forest Hill, Kirkby in Ashfield. Initially, I struggled to find any such address and wondered if it was some kind of joke about how hilly Kirkby was!!
Part of Diamond Avenue
However, it turns out that Forest Hill is a local name for the eastern part of Diamond Avenue. According to Gerald Lee’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield Yesterday Remembered”, Forest Hill is “the name that sticks with many of the locals” for the eastern part of Diamond Avenue (see Chapter 21, p108).
My understanding of this was perhaps confirmed by newspaper cuttings related to grandad’s mother’s death in 1930. These gave her address variously as “Hillymount”, Forest Hill, East Kirkby and Hill Mount, Diamond Avenue, East Kirkby. Based on electoral registers for 1925, grandad and his parents were living at 158 Diamond Avenue. Arthur and Eva were living at number 160. John and Olive were at number 162. John and Olive were still living with John’s father William.
Confusion Between Diamond Avenue and Victoria Road
The numbering of the houses in Diamond Avenue threw me a bit. Grandad later owned 158, 160 and 162 Victoria Road. So, I wondered if these were those houses given that Victoria Road and Diamond Avenue are essentially a continuation of each other. But, the material about Forest Hill contradicts this as that indicates the eastern part of Diamond Avenue and Victoria Road is to the west.
Were the Houses on Diamond Avenue Renumbered?
One thing I noted from the 1925 electoral register was the house numbers ended at 162 and the house between 150 and 154 was called “The Gables”. One of the houses, which is now 154, has a plaque which says “The Gable 1908”. This could mean that the houses where they lived would now be 160-164.
Grandma Moved in with Grandad and His Father When They Married in 1930
According to the electoral register in 1930, grandma moved in with grandad and his father at 158 Diamond Avenue. Arthur and Eva were at number 160 and John , Olive and Len were at number 162. 1930 was the year that grandma and grandad married, see Chapter 16. It was also the year that grandad’s mother died, see Chapter 15.
Cutting a Wardrobe in Half
From the diaries, I had worked out that grandma and grandad were living in a two-storey house somewhere as, when they had a wardrobe delivered in March 1930, grandad had to saw it (in half?) to get it upstairs! However, I had not worked out exactly where they were living then.