End of World War Two
This period followed on immediately from the events of the Second World War.
This was marked, on Saturday 8 June 1946, with Victory Day. Grandad noted that his shop was closed for the day. Events took place mainly in London. These included a military parade and a firework display.
Following the war, Raymond Way obtained a car which had reportedly been owned by Hermann Goering. This toured the country raising funds for charity. In April 1946, mum and grandad went to see this in Mansfield. Both noted this in their diaries.
I was surprised by one thing. Not only did some rationing continue after the war, but some rationing only started after the end of the war.
Boots and Shoes Rationing
In May 1948, grandad noted that the number of coupons needed to buy adult footwear halved. Also, buying footwear for children no longer required coupons. He noted that, as a result, they were very busy in the shop. In July 1948, boots and shoes came off coupons completely.
Restoration of Petrol for Private Motoring
Also, in June 1948, grandad noted the restoration of petrol for private motoring.
In April 1949, both mum and grandad noted that sweets came off points. However, grandad noted that they went back on points in August 1949. It seems rationing was reintroduced as demand greatly outstripped supply. Sweets finally only came off rationing in 1953.
British Double Summer Time Again!
Another thing that I thought had been limited to wartime was the use of British Double Summer Time. Indeed, in July 1945, the clocks went back by an hour to revert to British Summer Time. They then went back again, in October 1945. As a result, the country was back on GMT for the first time since 1940. However, on 12 April 1947, grandad noted that they put the clock on another hour to revert to British Double Summer Time. The clocks went back to summer time on 10 August 1947. They went back to GMT on 2 November 1947.
No General Elections
There were no general elections during this period. There had been one in 1945. The next one would not be until 1950.
County Council Elections
There were local elections though. In March 1946, grandad recorded the results of County Council elections. I also found a news article with these results. He noted that, for East Ward, Marshall received 2,208 votes and Bird 880. According to the news article, J A Marshall was the Labour candidate and Enos A Bird, an independent candidate. It also showed that Enos Bird had been the sitting councillor.
For West Ward, he noted that Eggleshaw had received 1,912 votes and Musters 667. I found these names difficult to read in his diary. I thought the winner’s name looked like Egglebus! From the news article, I found out that it was A Eggleshaw who was the Labour candidate. Similarly, I found the other name difficult to read and thought it looked like Minsters. From the news article, I found out that it was Lt-Col J N Chaworth-Musters an independent candidate.
Urban District Council Elections
In April 1946, grandad noted that there had been further council elections for Kirkby in Ashfield Urban District Council, and that all 17 seats returned Labour. A newspaper article from the time explains that this involved five Labour gains from independents and one from a Communist.
In May 1949, grandad noted again that there had been Council elections and that all the Labour members were returned. From a news article at the time, it seems there were only two independent candidates in Kirkby in this election although there were four Communist candidates in East Ward. The Labour candidates in West Ward were returned unopposed.
There are some details of the Urban District of Kirkby-in-Ashfield in the 1969 Kirkby Directory (p39). It was constituted in 1896 and, initially, each ward had five councillors. This increased to seven for East Ward in 1910. There are also some details in Bill Clay-Dove’s book, “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: An Interesting Township” (from p40).
A Royal Wedding
There were a number of significant royal events during this period. In November 1947, grandad noted that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were married and that the service had been broadcast. He did not specify whether this had been on both radio and television or whether he had listened to or watched it. Mum also noted this event in her diary and that she had a day off school. Also among mum’s papers was a fairly extensive scrapbook with notes and news cuttings about the wedding and the subsequent birth of Prince Charles.
A Royal Silver Wedding
In April 1948, mum noted the King and Queen’s silver wedding anniversary and that they had half a day’s holiday from school.
Birth of Prince Charles
One notable omission from the diaries is that neither mentions the birth of Prince Charles on 14 November 1948. I was surprised by this. However, his birth was covered extensively in mum’s scrapbook which also covered Princess Elizabeth’s wedding.
On 28 June 1949, Princess Elizabeth visited Nottingham. This was part of the city’s 500 year celebrations. Again, mum had a day off school and she spent the whole day in her hammock! The next day, Princess Elizabeth visited Mansfield to lay the foundation for Portland Training College.
In January 1949, mum noted that the “chief man” on “Palace of Varieties” died and she named him as Mr Nosmo King. It appears that this refers to the variety artist, H Vernon Watson, who performed as a “blackface comedian” under the name of Nosmo King on Palace of Varieties, a fortnightly vaudeville show on BBC Radio.
However, according to Wikipedia, he died in 1952. While there are many references to his date of death being 1952, there are some which support mum’s note that he died in 1949. He was from Thorney near Peterborough and the Peterborough Archives note that, “Mr Watson died at his home in Chelsea on January 13th 1949. His funeral was held at Thorney Abbey and he is buried at Thorney cemetery, with ‘Nosmo King’ on his headstone.” Mum would have been pleased to know that she was right and Wikipedia was wrong! However, I am also sure that she would not have questioned her own rectitude for one moment!
Severe Weather Events
There were a number of severe weather events during this period. The winter of 1946-47 was particularly harsh. There were several cold spells stretching from late January through to mid-March and these affected mum’s ability to get to school (see Chapter 39). When the thaw finally came, this resulted in severe flooding in many areas, as noted by grandad. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a severe heatwave in the summer of 1949. It was the warmest year on record until 1990. In July 1949, grandad recorded a temperature of 84 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 29 degrees Celsius) in the sitting room. However, he noted the next day that the heatwave broke with thunder and lightning for three to four hours.
Whirlwind in Elstow
In May 1949, mum noted a much more local weather event, namely that a whirlwind had hit the village of Elstow. This caused considerable damage including to roofs and uprooting trees. Mum stuck a small newspaper cutting of the event into her diary entry for the day. I found a more detailed account from the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 20 May 1949. The worst-affected area was from the Red Lion pub to the school. Apparently, an 80-year-old Mrs Cirket was alone in one of the houses at the time. I think this is probably referring to Ruth Cirket.
Burnden Park Disaster
In March 1946, grandad noted that there had been a crowd crush at the football ground in Bolton at a cup game against Stoke. He noted that 33 people had been trampled to death and around 500 injured. The match was the FA Cup sixth round tie between Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City at Burnden Park. A terrible crowd crush occurred which resulted in the deaths recorded by grandad. This was the worst stadium-related disaster in the UK until the Ibrox Park disaster in 1971.
At the time, people simply paid on the day at the turnstiles to go in and facilities were basic. There was little or no regulation of crowd size. It was estimated that the crowd was more than 85,000 people and that it was spread unevenly around the ground. What is perhaps surprising and shocking is that, although the game was stopped, it was allowed to resume and conclude with those who had died lain along the touchline and covered in coats.
During this period, grandad noted seeing a number of local cricket matches in Kingsway Park which he referred to as “the acre”. Teams he watched included Annesley, Baptist Boys’ Brigade, Council officials, Council workmen, East Kirkby, East Kirkby Boy Scouts, Kirkby Bentinck (see box), Kirkby Park (see box), Kirkby Urban and District Council, Kirkby Urban Road and Nuncargate.
|One of the matches between Kirkby Park and Kirkby Bentinck was said to be for the Payne Cup but I have not found any details of this. However, it appears that there was a local football competition by the same name in the 1960s and 70s. In Mark Ashfield’s book “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey”, there is a chapter (pp43-46) on local cricket focusing particularly on the Kirkby Park team.|
In August 1947, grandad noted going “over the hall” to see greyhound coursing. This has been illegal in the UK since 2004.
The Boat Race
In March 1949, mum noted that she had listened to the University Boat Race. She noted that it was the 94th race and Cambridge had won 51 times to Oxford’s 43. She also noted that it was a very close race with Cambridge winning by just ¼ of a length.
In March 1949, the Grand National and the Boat Race were on the same day. Mum noted listening to the Grand National which was won by the outsider, Russian Hero. Only 11 of 43 horses finished the race.
New Paving Slabs
The diaries noted a number of very local events and developments. In April 1946, grandad noted that new paving slabs had been laid in front of the shop by men from the Council.
Trent Buses – New Timetable and A Damaged Window
In June 1947, grandad noted that there was a new Trent Bus route running through Kirkby. This was a service between Nottingham and Chesterfield and it came along Diamond Avenue in Kirkby. In March the following year, both he and mum noted that one of their shop windows had been broken and they both blamed a Trent Bus for this (see Chapter 37).
In the week between 18 and 22 July 1947, grandad noted that, “Papplewick Dam was being filled in”. I am not quite sure what work he was referring to but it seems that this dam was part of a series of reservoirs and channels constructed in the eighteenth century for the cotton processing activities in the area. It is now part of a nature reserve, Moor Pond Woods.
On 23 December 1949, grandad noted that the Council had set up a Christmas tree at the bottom of Forest Street.