Jack Hibbert

Grandad’s 1933 Diary

Yesterday, I was reviewing grandad’s 1933 diary to catalogue any films he saw or books he read that year. This is because I am creating indexes of all the films he saw and books he read. However, he did not record any in 1933.

Entry Concerning Jack Hibbert

I did come across an entry relating to the death of Jack Hibbert. I found this intriguing as I had been in contact with Mark Hibbert concerning Kirkby members of the Hibbert family. At that time, I was aware of a Jack Hibbert who worked at Newcombe’s and who sadly committed suicide in May 1965, see Chapter 88. However, I was not previously aware of this other Jack Hibbert. It seems that I inadvertently overlooked him when I previously catalogued all entries from the diaries during the inter-war period.

Entry from grandad’s diary for 6 February 1933 concerning the death of Jack Hibbert

A Member of the Hibbert Family

In an email message from Mark Hibbert, he explained that he had identified two Hibberts in his family tree from Kirkby. They were both called John and were in fact uncle and nephew. Mark identified both as descendants from the sister of his great great great grandfather.

The younger John, known as Jack, was born in 1909. He was the one who had worked for Newcombe’s in Station Street, see Chapter 88.

The older John had been born in 1866. According to Mark, he lived in a large house next to St Thomas’s church. Apparently, he committed suicide in 1933 when he walked in front of a train. Mark included a partial newspaper cutting concerning the incident. This was from the Nottingham Journal of 7 February 1933, the day after grandad’s diary entry.

John Hibbert in Censuses

In 1901, a plumber John Hibbert was living at 10 Ellis Street in Kirkby with his wife Eliza Ann and three children, Jesse (b1888), Ethel (b1890) and Leonard (b1898).

By 1911, the family were living in Holly House on Cemetery Road. John was listed as a plumber builders and Jesse as a plumber. In 1921, John and Eliza Ann were living at 39 Kingsway. At this point, he was listed as a farmer dealer.

News Articles

Armed with the information provided by Mark Hibbert, I was able to identify two news articles related to the railway tragedy. The first was the article he had shared from the Nottingham Journal on 7 February 1933. The second was from the Nottingham Evening Post of the same day.

News article which appeared in the Nottingham Journal on 7 February 1933. Obtained through paid subscription to Find My Past
News article which appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post on 7 February 1933. Obtained through paid subscription to Find My Past

What Happened?

The articles described John Hibbert as a retired builder and contractor who was 66 years old who lived at 39 Kingsway. They noted he had been in ill-health for some time. Although he had been born in Skegby, he had lived in Kirkby for about 40 years. He was well-known as a builder who was described as of “a quiet and retiring nature“. He supported Notts County Cricket team.

The train involved was the 2.18 LMS train to Annesley. The articles describe the accident occurring at the “Cemetery Crossing, East Kirkby, where there is a swing gate“. On the day in question, John was seen by Albert Lee, a signalman at the Lindley’s Lane signal box. Albert had left work at around 2pm and was heading home. He reached the cemetery crossing at around 2.20pm. There, he saw Mr Hibbert on the other side of the crossing. He shouted “how are you today, Mr Hibbert“. In response, Mr Hibbert just shook his head. Albert waited for the train to pass before crossing but Mr Hibbert was struck by the train.

He sustained multiple injuries and death was considered as practically instantaneous. Both the driver and fireman witnessed what happened and the rain pulled up about 150 yards after the crossing. Apparently, “a note having a bearing on the tragedy was found on a table at the dead man’s home“.

Where Did This Happen?

Grandad recorded that this happened at the “16 acre crossing” while the news articles located this at the cemetery crossing. I knew that Kingsway Park is known locally as “the acre“. However, I did not know what “16 acres” refers to. I also knew that Kingsway Park borders Kingsway Old Cemetery. I wondered if the crossing was somewhere near there.

In a discussion on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, some contributors, such as George Roe and David Meredith, suggested that “the acre” and “16 acres” might be referring to the same thing. This led to discussion as to whether this might mean that Kingsway Park was actually 16 acres in size. Commenting on this, Alwyn Bowskill cited a 2018 Kingsway Park Management Plan produced by Ashfield District Council which gave the area of the park as nearly nine hectares, which is over 22 acres. But, Kevin Bayton commented that “the acre was 16 acres in total“.

The Kingsway Park Management Plan has a very good heritage section which says, “the park was laid out in 1930 on land sold to Kirkby in Ashfield District Council by a Miss Catherine Hodgkinson of Kirkby House. The land was to be used and maintained as a public playing field for the community. Prior to this the site was used as grazing land for horses and was known locally as ‘16 Acre Field.’ The Acre – the street at the southern end of the park takes its name from this and the park is often referred to locally as ‘the Acre’. So, the area on which Kingsway Park was developed was known previously as “16 Acre Field” and the shortened term “acre” was then applied to a road and the park itself.

Finding the Place on a Map

So, I then looked to see if there was somewhere where the old railway might have been crossed close to the cemetery and/or Kingsway Park. My 1914 and 1939 maps did not go far enough but I was able to identify the relevant area on an earlier map circa 1900.

Extract from Kirkby map circa 1900. Kingsway Old Cemetery is highlighted in a red rectangle. There is a footpath that runs to the north of the cemetery along the boundary of what became Kingsway Park. This crosses the railway and I suspect that is the site of the crossing in question, marked with a red arrow. It is of interest that the whole area is called “Acres“, marked with red oval.

Julie Hibbert shared an annotated map which confirmed that this understanding was correct. Her map also showed the routes John Hibbert and Albert Lee had walked and the route the train was taking.

Map kindly shared by Julie Hibbert which shows the route walked by John Hibbert from his home in Kingsway (purple), the route walked by Albert Lee (red) and the direction of the train (black)

Photograph of the Crossing

Alwyn Bowskill remembered the crossing from his youth and shared a photo which appears on the Steaming Back to Kirkby website and is credited to Kirkby Heritage Centre.

This photo was shared by Alwyn Bowskill on Kirkby Living Memory Heritage Centre Facebook Group. He notes that it shows the crossing in question. The photo is from the Steaming Back to Kirkby website and is said to show a Nottingham-bound passenger train at the side of Kingsway Park circa late 1940s. The photo is credited to Kirkby Heritage Centre

Memories of This Crossing

Frank Ball recalled that there had been wooden “kissing” gates at this crossing. Jonathan Evans also recalled the wooden gates. I am grateful to David Amos for responding to my email on this topic. He comments, “16 Acres Crossing is a term I’m not familiar with. I think its the foot crossing which passed over the Nottingham – Mansfield – Worksop railway line near to the Acre, now called Kingsway Park.  The railway line there was open from October 1848 to October 1970.” He shared the photo above.

The Footpath Today

The footpath that John/Jack used is still in use today. It starts opposite Bourne Avenue through a gate that has a distinctive shield on it bearing the date 1930. The path runs between Kingsway Old Cemetery and Kingsway Park before crossing through Kingsway Park itself. It crosses the line of the old railway before arriving in Ronchin Gardens, one of the roads off Lindley’s Lane.

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