Lowmoor or Low Moor Road
I have seen this road written as both Lowmoor and Low Moor Road. Both seem to be used interchangeably although one word seems more common now. On the 1939 and 1969 maps I have, it is recorded as Low Moor Road. Also, on Google, the part of the road which still exists, north of Sherwood Street is written as two words. I thought initially that Low Moor Road might have been the original form and it has become one word with usage. However, there are early examples of it being spelled as one word. In general, I have used one word except where specifically quoting places that use two words.
A Much-Changed Area
This area of Kirkby is perhaps one of those that has changed the most over time. The bottom end of Lowmoor Road has been pedestrianised and the streets that were to the north west of this – Byron Street, Prospect Street, Unity Street – were lost when the precinct, which presumably gave us Precinct Road, was built sometime prior to 1969, before it itself was demolished in 2011.
Mourning the Changes
In her book(let) “I Also Remember“, Edith Searson comments, “Now we come to a sad ending. Not only are we at the crossroads [Four Lane Ends] and the end of the shops on Low Moor Road, but sad to say, all the shops from Pond Street, the first being Briggs and Hagues, right along to Bown’s have all gone, demolished after being empty and deserted for several years, and now there is a store, which when finished, will fill the space made by the demolition of the fourteen shops and several houses. It was sad to see such a big change, and to lose the old familiar places but we accept it ‘in the name of progress’“.
Born in a Car Park?
My father, Royle Drew, was born in Prospect Street and I have recollections of visiting Kirkby as a child, standing with him in a car park, and him telling me this was where he was born although I think I was old enough to understand that he had not been born in a car park!
Bourne Primitive Methodist Chapel
It was on the corner of Prospect Street and Lowmoor Road that Bourne Primitive Methodist Chapel stood, which my family attended until it closed in the early sixties following merger with what had been the Wesleyan chapel on Diamond Avenue to form what is now Trinity Methodist Church. Edith Searson also attended this chapel. The building was used as a factory by Meridian before being demolished. Bourne chapel was named after Hugh Bourne, one of the founders of Primitive Methodism. For more details of the chapel, see Chapters 17, 31, 38, 54 and 69.
Memories of Bourne Chapel
In a discussion on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, David Jeacock noted living across the road from Bourne Chapel. He attended Sunday School there and had “a book to collect coloured religious stamps“. Dorothy Marriott nee Bradford recalled that she attended Bourne Sunday School from 1945 until the chapel closed, as did four of her brothers and her sister. They lived at 52 Edward Street. She recalled “lots of happy memories of the Whitsunday walk and the anniversary“. Bob Godley recalled choirmaster Arthur Cross. He commented that, “he also grew very tasty tomatoes in his greenhouse! I was regularly sent to buy some from him“. Shirley John noted that she and her friend Charlotte used to help Charlotte’s mum clean the church in the evening. She described them as “lovely memories“. Dorris Shirley recalled working at the chapel when it was Meridian.
Nina Grimshaw noted that her parents, William Warriner and Joyce Fletcher, were married there on 31 March 1951 or 1952. She was also one of several people interested in trying to identify the current location of the church. I find this tricky to do as that part of Kirkby has changed a lot. It is also now pedestrianised meaning it is not covered by Google Streetview. However, I think those who identify it as being where the doctor’s/Oza Pharmacy are are correct.
Neil Lancashire posted a photo of the chapel at the time it was being demolished. This same picture was posted on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group in 2021. This remined me of a news cutting mum had among her papers when she died. This was from August 1973 and related to the demolition of Bourne, see Chapter 79.
In the news article about the demolition of Bourne, former Trustee Thomas Tomlinson is quoted recalling that, for Sunday School Anniversaries, extra chairs had often been needed. In a Facebook contribution, Frank Ball recalled him saying, “I need to say a few words about T Tomlinson who was down as Superintendent [Trustee] of Bourne. A great Christian and Socialist. One of the Union men at Summit Colliery and a member of Kirkby Council in the early 60s there were at least three Union men on the Council. His house on Edward St was always open for those with problems. Later he helped run the local Cancer Research Group. A good man“.
He is referred to in a number of mum’s papers and documents. First, T Tomlinson appears as a cast member in a play called “The Third Day” which was performed at Bourne at Easter 1949, see Chapter 38. This play is significant in our family history as that news cutting is the first mention of dad in any of mum’s papers. T H Tomlinson also appears as a Council member in the 1969 Directory.
If we proceeded up Lowmoor Road, we would come to Kirkby Colliery, see Chapter 5, and the housing around it. My father grew up in one of those colliery rows, at 29 Alexandra Street. I recall visiting my grandmother there after we had moved away.
Memories of Alexandra Street
In a discussion on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Jean Halfpenny noted that she had lived at 49 Alexandra Street from when she was 15 to when she got married. She commented that both her father and his father had worked at Summit. Bear Smith noted that this house was “directly opposite my old house“.
In a comment below, Dot Clarke notes, “My family lived on Alexandra Street number 43, until 1985/1986 when my mother died. My father was Jack Town, my mother Joyce, myself Dorothy and my brother Derek. My father was a Deputy and Safety Manager at the Summit and a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade. We lived next door to Len Brown. I sang with local group The Detours under the name Wendy.“
Kirkby Colliery was known locally as Summit because it was at the highest point on the railway between Pinxton and Mansfield. The colliery was sunk by the Butterley Company in 1888 to 1890 with a third shaft, to the Blackshale seam, being sunk in 1912. It was controversially closed in July 1968. At the time of closure, it employed 2,258 men.
Most Families Had Some Connections to Mining
Given the number of people employed in mining, most families had some connections to mining and mine was no exception.
Grandad’s brother-in-law, John Smith worked at Summit. According to the 1911 census, he was a below ground onsetter, that is he was responsible for the loading and unloading of cages. The role was not without dangers. On one occasion, he was crushed between tubs and on another, in July 1914, grandad noted that “John had a narrow escape from the chair killing him”.
My paternal grandfather, Charles Drew, also worked as a miner and I assume he worked at Summit because he lived in Alexandra Street. In the 1921 census, he was listed as a colliery hewer and, in 1939, he was listed as a colliery yard labourer which implies that, at least at that time, he worked above ground.
A Dangerous Occupation
I always had known that mining was a dangerous occupation but I guess my attention was taken by the long-term respiratory conditions suffered by many miners, including my grandfather, and the major disasters that occurred. For example, in June 1915, grandad recorded that the cages had got caught at neighbouring Bentinck colliery and ten miners had been killed.
What I had not realised was that accidents causing death happened fairly frequently in the mines aside from major incidents. For example, from 1924 to 1965, 66 miners died at Summit colliery alone. Mr Martin’s death is not recorded in this list as he died before the date of the first record on that website. However, I recently came across another list on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group which notes a further 47 deaths between 1895 and 1922. This list does include William James Martin, aged 36, who died on 20 November 1914 as a result of a roof fall and kidney disease.
In September 1951, grandad noted that he was called as a juror to an inquest. This was for a young man, aged 19, who had been killed at Summit colliery. It appears that his name was Terence Ellis and he died when the roof fell in, see Chapter 59.
Memories of Summit Colliery
In a comment on the postcard on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Joan Ware noted that it was a very early picture. She continued, “my dad’s whole family, aunts, uncles, cousins etc., moved down from Goldthorpe Yorkshire to help sink the colliery shafts. We all lived on Edward Street. The area known as The Summit Rows provided housing for the workers. My dad was born in 1907 (Goldthorpe) and came to 52 Edward Street at 2yrs old. Our family lived in the same house till 1979.”
Brycaz Gascoigne commented that their father had started working at Summit in 1923 aged 14. He missed the years 1938 to 1947 when he was in the army. He was made redundant in 1969 at the age of 60. At that time, he was a ganger in “deep soft”. Brycaz notes that “I liked to walk there with him sometimes when he picked up his wages on a Friday. Bottle of milk and a bun in the canteen. Near Christmas get raffle ticket for the kids Christmas prize raffle.”
In a comment below, John Webster noted that his father was groundsman at East Kirkby Miners’ Welfare from 1954 until when the pits closed. He says, “he was responsible for the football, cricket grounds behind the Lowmoor pub used by the miners and families and the great looking bowling greens that fronted the welfare on Lowmoor Road.”
There was a discussion of this post on the Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group. In this, Frank Ball explained that most of the workings under Kirkby responsible for subsidence were from Bentinck Colliery. Most of the Summit workings went north of the town.
Steven Parr explained that there were different seams at Summit, it “was originally sunk to the top hard seam first then in 1913 a third shaft was sunk to the deep soft seam. The high main/Tupton/Three quarters and blackshale seams around the 1950s/1960s until closure“.