63. Grandad Buys a Car

Before They Had a Car

Although, between 1921 and 1931, grandad did have a motorcycle (see Chapter 18), the family did not own a car before 1955. They relied mainly on walking and cycling for local travel and on public transport and lifts, from family and friends, for longer journeys.

Grandad Had Ordered a Car in 1954

In October 1954 (see Chapter 51), grandad had ordered a Morris Minor from W J Cresswell.


I have not managed to find a motor dealer by this name in Nottinghamshire. Cresswells are an electrical contractor in Nottingham but this is probably not relevant. Creswell is a village in Derbyshire but again probably not relevant – and the spelling is different. Perhaps more relevant is that the Cresswells appear to have been a prominent family in Kirkby including in Bourne Methodist Chapel. They are mentioned in both grandad’s and mum’s diaries. Specifically, Willis J Cresswell is mentioned in the diaries and he may be relevant to this firm.

Grandad Buys a Car from Kennings

In January 1955, grandad rang Cresswells but they could not give him a date for delivery so he said he would try elsewhere. Two days later, he went to Kennings (see Chapter 110) in Clay Cross and ordered a Morris Minor De-Luxe. It arrived at the end of March 1955. Grandad noted that he paid cash, £614.15 which presumably refers to 15 shillings.

Mum and grandma in car – May 1955. Note the L plate!

Family Members as Drivers

All family members drove the car, particularly initially grandad and mum. Grandma first drove the car only after around three weeks. Initially, all the family were supervised by others including Rev Howells, and Tom Wilson, who we knew as children as Uncle Tom. Places they practiced included Alfreton, Belper, Crich, Hucknall, Kilburn, Linby, Mansfield and Papplewick. They practiced specific things, including reversing and often recorded the distance travelled, commonly 20-40 miles. Mum may have been a more confident driver than grandma. In June 1955 when they drove to Belper and Kilburn, mum noted that she drove through the towns although grandma drove a bit in the country.


In April 1955, both mum and grandma received provisional driving licences. In June 1955, grandma applied for a full licence as she had apparently held one in 1926 so did not need to sit a test. Prior to 1934, there was no driving test. After that, anyone needed to pass a test before receiving a full licence.


Both mum and grandma had a small number of driving lessons with a Mr Shaw. According to a thread on Kirkby Living Memory, Eric Shaw started what is now Kirkby in Ashfield School of Motoring in 1952.

Advert for Kirkby’s School of Motoring in the 1969 Directory

Driving Test

In June 1955, following a lesson with Mr Shaw, mum applied for her driving test. Mum was initially asked to attend for a test on 8 August. However, she had booked to be on holiday then so she phoned them and they said they would let her know. Among mum’s papers was the notification of the original test date. Mum has annotated this to say that they would let her have another card soon as they were not booking as far ahead as she wanted to. She took and passed her test on 29 August 1955 at 9.15am. She noted that her examiner had been Mr Blenkinsop.

Card asking mum to come for driving test on 8 August 1955


When grandad originally ordered the car, he converted his workshop/cabin into a garage with the help of Tom Bust. In March 1955, while grandad was waiting for the new car to arrive, he allowed L Maycock to store a new van in the garage for two weeks. In April 1955, when trying to drive the car into the garage, grandad hit a gate post bending the bumper and breaking the headlamp. Mum noted that he was upset as they had done so well before that although they had only had the car a few days. The next day, Rev Howells took the car to Kennings to have the lamp replaced. The bumper was fixed later that month.

View of 96 Welbeck Street in 1961 showing the garage conversion carried out by grandad.

Garage Adjustments

In August 1956, dad and Walter Maltby made some adjustments to the garage doors, by taking around one third of an inch off the bottom. The reason for this is not clear. Perhaps the door was sticking?

Mum Caught the Mudguard When Driving into the Garage

That same month, grandad noted that mum caught the front mudguard while driving the car into the garage. Mum does not mention this incident! This meant the car had to be taken to Mr Horberry for repair. Grandad noted that the repairs cost 15 shillings.

Mr Horberry

Mr Horberry appears to have been a mechanic in Kirkby. I cannot find a listing for him in the 1941 Kelly’s Directory. This may be because the reference is to John Edward Horberry who was born in 1930 in Mansfield and who died in Newark in 1993. I found  an advert for them from 1963 and also a later 1995 advert for MOTs. They were based at Kingsway Garage which I think may have been located here. I don’t think they are in operation anymore although there are lots of references online which imply that they are.

The Car Revolutionised Life for the Parkins

The car revolutionised life for the Parkins and provided them much more freedom to travel.

Grandma and grandad in their car on run to Ollerton in May 1955

Local Journeys Including to Chapel and Sunday School

They used the car for local journeys, including to chapel and Sunday School. They were often able to provide lifts, to and from chapel, to friends, including Mrs Bust, Mr & Mrs Deakin and Mr & Mrs Marshall.

Visiting Friends and Family Members

The Parkins also used the car to visit friends and family members, including Annie (and her new flat), Auntie Bertha & Uncle Frank, Cyril & Minnie, Jim & Renie and Roy & Kath. Mum and dad also used the car to attend Shirley Sadler’s 21st birthday party in Nottingham in September 1955.

Sick Visiting

In October 1958, grandma and grandad went in the car to visit Arthur Hill in hospital.

Between Grandma and Grandad’s and Mum and Dad’s

They also used the car between where grandma and grandad were living (Welbeck Street) and where mum and dad were living (Station Street and then Diamond Avenue) (see Chapter 70).

Picking Up and Dropping Off Friends and Family

When family and friends visited them, the Parkins also used the car to pick them up and take them home. Sometimes, this involved relatively long distances, e.g. taking Eva back to Grantham on several occasions.

Social Activities

The family also used the car to attend other social activities. In September 1955, mum and dad went with Ken and Pearl Hodges for dinner at Grange Farm in Toton (see Chapter 66) before then going onto the Playhouse in Nottingham (see Chapter 31). Also, in November that year, a group including mum, dad, grandma, Renie and Sylvia Bust went to see the Ice Pantomime “Dick Whittington” in Nottingham (see Chapter 66). In June 1957, mum and dad took Joan and Graham Hardy in the car to the Rainbow Follies outing to Nottingham for dinner at the Flying Horse (see Chapter 69) and then to the Theatre Royal (see Chapter 31).

Meeting Dad from Work in Nottingham

Sometimes, mum took the car into Nottingham to meet dad from work.

Shopping Trips

Mum and grandma, and rarely grandad, also sometimes went shopping in Carlton, Mansfield or Nottingham in the car. Occasionally, shopping trips took them further afield. In March 1957, mum, grandma, Renie and Auntie Bertha went to Crowes (see Chapter 52) in Leeds in the car.

Work and Business

The family, particularly grandad, also used the car for work- and business-related matters, including visiting his accountant, his solicitor, the bank and the Post Office. In October 1959, grandma and grandad went in the car to vote.


The family also sometimes just went for drives or “runs” going to similar places that grandad had been to between the wars including to Alton Towers, Annesley Woodhouse, Ashbourne, Belper, Bilsthorpe, Bolsover (including for the illuminations (see Chapter 66), Bull Farm Park, Buxton, Calverton (including for the lido), Chesterfield, Clowne, Clumber Park, Crich, Dovedale, Edwinstowe, Farnsfield, Golden Valley, Gunthorpe Bridge,  Hazelford Ferry, Hoveringham (including the Ferry), Hucknall, Ladybower Dam, Mansfield (including Mansfield Park), Matlock, Moorgreen, Newark, Newstead (including the abbey), Nottingham (including Trent Bridge), Old Kirkby, Ollerton, Oxton water splash, Pleasley, Riddings, Sheffield, Southwell, Sutton, Thoresby Hall, Trentham Gardens and Worksop. These places were generally within 25 miles of Kirkby but some were further afield including Alton Towers, Buxton, Dovedale, Ladybower Reservoir and Trentham Gardens.

Alton Towers circa 1960 © Jezhotwells and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Ladybower reservoir circa 2012 featuring one of the “plugholes” – these have been attracting photographers recently © Derek Henry and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Mum and dad in front of car on a run to Ollerton on Whit Sunday in May 1955
Thoresby Hall circa 2018 © Jonathan Thacker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Some of these trips included other people, such as Edna Bust, Anne & Lynne Evans, Eva, Ken & Pearl Hodges, Carole Holland, Annie Holmes, Arthur & Ella Lofthouse, Cyril & Minnie Parkin, Bertha & Frank Seville and Jim & Renie Seville.

More Distant Places

Some trips were to quite distant places. For example, in August 1955, they went to Anderby Creek in Lincolnshire (see Chapter 66). Mum noted driving all the way there and back, nearly 200 miles. According to Google, it is around 81 miles one way. The next year, in August 1956, the family went to Sutton-on-Sea for the day. Mum noted that grandma drove nearly to Newark and mum drove the rest of the way. In August 1957, when Arthur and Ella Lofthouse visited, grandma and grandad used the car to visit various places, including Cliff College (see box), Epworth, Gunthorpe and Matlock. In July 1959, mum, dad, grandma, grandad and Tricia went in the car for the day to Sutton-on-Sea and Mablethorpe.

Cliff College provides theological education and training with a focus on mission and evangelism. Historically, it was a Methodist Lay Training College. It is the place mum went to when she attended Bible School in later life.
Dad, grandad and grandma with their car. This photo is not labelled but it appears to have been taken between June and December 1956. It may have been taken in August 1956 on the day trip to Sutton-on-Sea

Other Chapels and Religious Events

Mum and dad also sometimes used the car to go to other chapels to take services, for concerts or for practices, e.g. in Annesley Woodhouse (see Chapter 54), Huthwaite (see Chapter 54), Newstead (see Chapter 54) and Stanton Hill (see Chapter 54). The trip to Huthwaite was combined with grandma and grandad visiting Roy and Kath (Evans).

Grandma used the car to attend a number of religious events beyond Bourne chapel itself. These included quarter days, e.g. at New Cross (see Chapter 54), anniversaries, e.g. at Old Kirkby (see Chapter 17) and missionary meetings in Annesley Woodhouse (see Chapter 54), Newstead (see Chapter 54), Sutton (see Chapter 54) and Willersley Castle in Cromford (see Chapter 69).

Visiting Family and Friends Some Distance from Kirkby

The family also used the car to visit family and friends who lived at some distance from Kirkby (see Chapter 66). This included Olive Holland and her family in Grantham, Bert Cirket and his family in Hastings, Marilyn Seville and her family in Driffield, the Lofthouses in Stokesley, and Dorothy, Alf and Heather Taylor in Baldersby. When family members were travelling between Grantham and Kirkby, they sometimes arranged to meet in Gunthorpe Bridge.

Family and Other Events such as Weddings and Funerals

The Parkins also used the car to attend family and other events, such as weddings (see Chapter 62) and funerals (see Chapter 65). In July 1955, grandma, grandad and grandad’s sister Eva went to a wedding in Stanton Hill in the car. In February 1957, mum and grandma went to Mrs Gent’s funeral in Golden Valley. They took Annie and Mr Shermer with them. That same month, grandad noted that mum took Cyril and Eva to his father’s funeral which was held at St Wilfred’s church. In March 1959, grandma and Eva went in the car to Arthur Evans’ (Eva’s husband’s) funeral and, in September 1959, mum drove to Uncle Frank’s funeral and his cremation at Wilford Hill.


When mum and dad got married in June 1956, they used the car to travel to their honeymoon in Torquay (see Chapter 62). This meant they were able to stay in Kenilworth the first night and were able to visit more places while in Devon. Places they visited included Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Torcross and Totnes. On their return journey, mum noted that they picked up an RAF man (who was presumably hitchhiking) and they brought him from Cirencester to Nottingham.

Dad Goes to a Course in Norwich

In January 1957, when dad had to go to a course in Norwich, mum said that she and grandad took him in the car. However, from grandad’s diary, it appears that they took him to Nottingham in the car and presumably he took the train from there. When mum went to visit him in Norwich, she went by train. Dad was away for a seven-week course but he came home most weekends by train. He also went to Norwich for a week in November 1959. When he came back, mum met him at Nottingham Victoria station.

Nottingham Victoria Station

This station was opened in 1900 but was closed in 1967. It was completely demolished apart from the clock tower which was incorporated into Victoria shopping centre. There are pictures (#35 and #36) of both the inside and outside of Victoria Station in Brian Lund’s book “Nottinghamshire Railway Stations in Old Picture Postcards”.

The Victoria Station Clock Tower as part of the station in 1903 – the image is from a postcard of the Valentines Series is in the public domain
The Victoria Station Clock Tower currently as part of Victoria Shopping Centre © Stephen Richards and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Hospital Visits

The car also proved useful for taking people to and picking them up from hospital. It also helped for other medical appointments and, when mum was pregnant, for taking medical samples to hospital. While this was particularly done for family members, such as grandad, they also helped friends in this way, e.g. Irene Hill and Reg Edwards.

Travel to and from the Shop

In April 1957, when grandad became unwell while trying to work at the shop, mum picked him up in the car to take him home. On other occasions, grandma and grandad did go to the shop in the car, particularly if something needed to be collected quickly. One example was when someone from the Coal Board came to inspect the deeds of 98 Welbeck Street and grandad had to go to the shop to collect them.

Transporting Other Items

They also used the car for taking wreaths to the cemetery and for transporting bulky items, e.g. the family’s reel-to-reel tape recorder and, in particular, for collecting coal from dad’s parents’ house.


They also sometimes used the car for grandad to go to have his hair cut, although on other occasions he went on the bus.  

Moving House

When Annie Holmes was considering moving from her house to a council flat, grandma and grandad took her to see it in the car. They also used the car to go to look at houses when mum and dad were thinking of moving from the shop. Again, they used the car when initially carrying out work at 41 Diamond Avenue before and after mum and dad moved there.

Distributing Harvest Festival Gifts

The family also used the car, along with others, to distribute gifts received at chapel for Harvest Festival.

Helping Edna Bust Clean in Heanor

In May 1959, mum and Mrs Howells, the minister’s wife, went in the car to Heanor to Edna Bust’s to help her with cleaning. Mum’s diary is not completely clear on this but it appears that the Busts may have moved from Kirkby to Heanor around this time.

The Car Required a Lot of Maintenance

The car required considerable time, effort and expense to maintain.


Both mum and grandad noted when the car was cleaned. In September 1957, grandad noted that mum and dad put polish on the car for the first time.


In July 1955, grandad noted having the car serviced at Greensmiths.


The business, Greensmith Garages of 113-121 Lowmoor Road was liquidated in 1980. There is a thread about it with a photo on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group. Now, there appears to be a private house at 113 and the remaining site appears to be open ground. There is a hand car wash operating at 115 Lowmoor Road. 

Greensmith’s advert in the 1953 Carnival programme

H Cawkhill

In May 1956, the car was serviced again but this time by H Cawkhill. I have not managed to find a business or individual by this name. However, I found Horace Cawkill who was born on 23 July 1910 and, in 1939, was listed as a driver mechanic (lorry) living in Balfour Street.

Respray at Kennings

In March 1957, they had to take the car back to Kennings as small spots had appeared on the body and they resprayed it in June 1957.

New Battery

In October 1959, grandad could not start the car with the starter so had to get a new battery. He bought a rebuilt battery for £6 7 6 (net) with the old one given in exchange. Also, he noted that the battery was guaranteed for two years. He did not note whether the car started but presumably it did!

Other Vehicles

Of course, it was not only the Parkins who had trouble with their car. In November 1958, grandad noted that, his sister, Eva and family had been coming from Grantham for tea but at Bottesford the lights went wrong so they returned home.

In December 1959, when Alf, Olive and Carole were bringing Eva to stay, they had a puncture, again near Bottesford.


Naturally, with greater use of cars, there were a growing number of road accidents, some of which had serious consequences.

Ken Blott Killed in Africa

In January 1956, mum noted that Ken Blott had been killed in a car accident in Africa. I have found some details of a Ken Blott who was in the armed forces and was killed in Kabale (in Uganda?) in 1956. It seems he was 22, had been born in Middlesbrough and his mother’s maiden name was Mothersdale.

As a result of this news, mum phoned Dorothy Lofthouse. This could mean that Ken Blott had a connection with the Lofthouses and perhaps was the Ken mentioned in Arthur Lofthouse’s letter accepting to officiate at mum and dad’s wedding (see Chapter 62).  I have not managed to establish any connection to the Lofthouses but perhaps he and Dorothy were in some kind of relationship?

Dr Lunn

In July 1956, Dr Lunn of Codnor bumped into the Parkins’ car in Carrington Street and dented the mudguard. Apparently, Dr G R Lunn was a doctor in Codnor from 1945 to 1975. He was an ex-naval officer. The impact required repairs by Mr Horberry. The repairs had cost 23 shillings. However, grandad went to see Mr Horberry and he adjusted his bill to 28 shillings. It is not clear if one of these figures is a mistake or if grandad really did ask for the bill to be increased, and if so, why? Could it be that Dr Lunn was paying and grandad wanted to bump up the price? I guess it is possible but it would be out of character for what I knew of grandad.

Grandad’s diary entries from 22 to 28 July 1956

Hit by a Coal Lorry

On 23 April 1958, grandad was driving to Sutton in Ashfield via Kirkby Cross. He had grandma in the car along with Arthur and Ella Lofthouse, who were visiting for the week. At Kirkby Cross, the car was struck at the front by a coal lorry. Mum noted that no-one was hurt but the car was badly damaged. Grandad noted that they all had to go to Kennings in Clay Cross. Someone from Kennings brought them back home in the car, which was still driveable, before then taking the car back to Kennings for repair. The car stayed at Kennings for around a week. On 30 April, someone from Kennings brought the car back. Grandma and grandad then took him back to Clay Cross before grandma drove them home.

Example of 1950s coal lorry – image licenced for re-use from Alamy

Lack of Safety Features

It is perhaps surprising that no-one was injured in the accident with the coal lorry given that the car probably did not have seatbelts and had very few safety features. While we are now used to wearing seatbelts whenever we travel in a car, many old cars did not (and do not) have seatbelts. From 1965, it became compulsory to have anchorage points for seatbelts at the front of all new cars and, from 1968, all new cars had to have front seatbelts. However, it only became compulsory to use them in 1983. Fitting rear seat belts to new cars became compulsory in 1986 and it became compulsory to use them in 1991. During the 1970s, there were high profile TV advertising campaigns aimed at getting people to use seatbelts.

Child Car Seats

There were particular issues regarding the safety of children in cars with most just being carried unrestrained sitting on someone’s knee. Although car seats had first appeared as early as the 1930s, these were only focused on restraining the child for the convenience of the parent and not on the child’s safety. The 1940s saw some adaptations so children could see out the window. But, it was only in 1962 that designs began to emerge which used seat belts and started to consider safety. Only in 2006 did it become compulsory for all children under the age of 12 (unless taller than 135cm) to use an appropriate car seat. In September 1958, when Tricia was around four months old, grandma bought her a car seat.

Example of 1960s car seat © Greg Wass and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Parking Ticket

On 29 May 1957, grandad noted that mum had taken Dorothy Lofthouse and Alf Taylor into Nottingham. She was told by a policeman that he was reporting her for having parked too long in the street. In mum’s account, she acknowledged that she had parked on Granby Street from 12noon to 3.45pm but she also noted that there was no notice of any parking restrictions. However, she did not appeal the decision and when her case came to court, at the end of June, she was fined £3. Grandad noted that she did not attend court. Her case was reported with others in the local press. The fine she received was the highest of the batch reported but no reason for this was given.

Notice of mum’s parking fine in 1957

Weather Affects Driving

Weather also sometimes affected driving. In August 1958, after grandma had attended Dorothy Lofthouse’s wedding in Shildon, she was picked up in Derby by grandad, mum and Tricia. Grandad noted that there had been a thunderstorm and “we had to run through 4”-5” of water to get to the garage”.

Friends and Family Also Bought New Cars

Grandad noted when friends or family bought cars.

Frank Lee and a Ford Consul Convertible

In July 1955, he noted that Frank Lee had a new Ford Consul convertible.

Ford Consul Convertible © Redsimon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Walter Maltby and a 1953 Morris Minor

In July 1956, Walter Maltby bought a two-door 1953 Morris Minor for £415.

Rev Howells

In October 1956, Mr Howells borrowed the Parkins’ car to go and look at another car having already sold his.

Alf and Olive (1957)

In September 1957, grandad noted, when they visited for tea with Eva and Carole, that Alf and Olive Holland had bought a car.

Reg Edwards

In May 1959, Reg Edwards came up to the house and took grandma and grandad for a run in his car. Presumably, this was a new car but grandad does not say so explicitly.

Alf and Holland and a Ford Prefect (1959)

In October 1959, Olive and Alf got a different car, a 1956 Ford Prefect.

Ford Prefect – image by Arpingstone has been released into the public domain

Other Transport

The family also used other forms of transport during this period, particularly when larger groups were involved.


Buses were hired for a number of chapel activities and outings including a concert in Swanwick in April 1955, the Sunday School outing to Wicksteed Park in June 1955, an outing to Tissington well dressings in May 1959 and a trip to Bridlington in August 1959 (see Chapter 69).

Chapel bus trip to Tissington well dressings in 1959

Dad Went to Work in Nottingham on the Bus

Dad also usually used the bus to get to work in Nottingham. Sometimes, in winter, when the weather was bad, he would go by train instead.

Bus Strike

In July 1957, grandad noted that there was a bus strike and that dad had had to go to work on the train. During that same bus strike, while mum and dad were away on holiday, Renie came to help grandma in the shop. She came by train and grandma took her home in the car. Grandad noted that the bus strike started on 20 July and ended at 12 midnight on Sunday the 28th.

Bus Route Diversion

In September 1957, grandad noted that buses and cars had had to come along Welbeck Street because of a “cave in” on Low Moor Road.

Route Change

He also noted, in February 1958, that the Midland General Buses stopped running along Welbeck Street. Midland General Buses were established by Balfour Beatty in 1920 and operated until 1969 when they became part of the National Bus Company and, in 1972, they were merged with Trent Buses and the Midland General name was no longer used. Details of the Midland services operating in 1969 are included in the Kirkby Directory of that year (p55).

Midland General bus at Ruddington Transport Heritage Centre in 2015. The B2 service ran between Ripley and Nottingham © Steve Knight and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Midland General timetable from August 1956

Bus Breakdowns

In October 1957, grandma and grandad went in the car one morning to Larch Farm to collect Ken and Pearl Hodges as their bus from Nottingham had broken down.


Trains were also used for longer journeys including to Skegness for the illuminations (see Chapter 66), to Stokesley to visit the Lofthouses including for their silver wedding anniversary (see Chapter 66), to Cleethorpes for a ladies’ trip from chapel (see Chapter 69), to Bedford to attend a funeral (see Chapter 65) and to Hastings to visit grandma’s brother Bert and his family (see Chapter 66).

Kirkby Had Three Stations

At this time, Kirkby had three railway stations. These are described in detail by Mark Ashfield in his book “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey” in a chapter entitled “We were once a three line town” (pp27-32). This book pre-dates the opening of a new railway station in Kirkby. There is also a brief description of how railways developed to support mining in Bill Clay-Dove’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield: An Interesting Township” (pp46-47).

The three stations were Kirkby Bentinck, Kirkby in Ashfield Central and Kirkby in Ashfield East. They all closed between 1962 and 1964. A new station opened at a different location in the 1990s.

Kirkby Bentinck Station

There are photographs of this station in the book “Kirkby & District from Old Photographs” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee (p55) and in “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey” by Mark Ashfield. There is a photograph in the book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Annesley in Old Picture Postcards” by David Ottewell (#33) which is said to be of Kirkby Central station in 1910. However, this seems to be of Kirkby Bentinck. Passenger services started at the station from 1893 and, until 1925, the station was called Kirkby and Pinxton. The station closed in 1963.

Kirkby Bentinck station in 1960 – image licenced for re-use from Inspire

Kirkby in Ashfield Central Station

There are pictures of the station and its garden in the book “Kirkby & District from Old Photographs” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee (p54) and in their second book “Kirkby & District: A Second Selection” (p99). It opened in 1917 and closed for regular services in 1956 with excursions continuing for a few more years. Mum had a news cutting and photo of the station garden winning a prize in 1949.

News article and photo that was in mum’s book of news cuttings. It describes how Bill Brownhill developed the garden. This is also described in some detail in Mark Ashfield’s book “Christmas Pigs and a Summer Donkey” in the chapter on the stations which is entitled “We were once a three line town”. Bill’s story is on pages 29 and 30. He was the clerk and ticket collector. Mark Ashfield notes that he only had one arm and the story was that he had lost his arm in a railway goods yard but Bill himself did not talk about this. He did voluntary work for the hospitals including raising money at the carnivals. He had travelled widely including to Spain and Russia at a time when such travelling was most unusual. But, it was as the gardener at Kirkby Central station that he was most well-known.
Kirkby Central signal box in 1960 – image licenced for re-use from Inspire
Kirkby Central station in 1955 – image licenced for re-use from Inspire

Kirkby in Ashfield East Station

This was also known as Kirkby Midland.

Station sign at the Museum of Making in Derby. It seems to be an old LMS station sign and may have come from either East Kirkby or Kirkby Bentinck station

Flying to Guernsey

When mum and dad went to Guernsey for two weeks’ holiday in July 1957, they flew from London. They went on at least one bus tour while there and, on one occasion, came back from Fermain Bay by boat (see Chapter 66).

Car Used With Other Means of Transport

The car was helpful even when making a journey using other means of transport. For example, in August 1955, when mum and dad went on holiday to Perranporth in Cornwall by train, grandad took their luggage to the station in the car (see Chapter 66).

Collecting Friends and Family from Railway Stations

They quite often collected friends and family from various railway stations, including from Chesterfield, Derby, Kirkby Bentinck, Nottingham Midland and Nottingham Victoria. Such visitors included Carole Holland, Dorothy Lofthouse & her fiancé Alf Taylor, and Arthur & Ella Lofthouse.

Chesterfield Stations

At this time, it seems there were three stations in Chesterfield. The original Midland station was replaced in 1870. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1963 and again in the 1990s. The station that was rebuilt in the nineties is the current Chesterfield station. The Grand Central station was built in 1893, closed in 1963 and was demolished in 1973. There was also a station near Market Place but this closed to passengers in 1951. So, it seems likely that the station being referred to was either the Midland or Grand Central one.

Postcard of Chesterfield Midland Station

Derby Station

Derby Station started life in 1840 as the Tripartite or Tri Junct station as it served as the station for three railways. In 1858, the station was extended and, in 1892, the frontage and offices were rebuilt. Further rebuilding was carried out between 1952 and 1954. In 1985, much of the building was demolished including the station entrance and booking hall. The entrance’s original clock was moved to the north end of the car park.   

Nottingham Midland Station

This is now just known as Nottingham station. Nottingham’s first station (Carrington Street) was opened in 1839. This was replaced by a station on the current site in 1848. This was extensively rebuilt in 1904 and the station was further remodelled between 2009 and 2014. There is a picture (#1) of the inside of the station circa 1905 in the book “Nottinghamshire Railway Stations on Old Picture Postcards” by Brian Lund.

Nottingham Midland railway station circa 2000 © Alex Foster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Different Modes of Transport for Different Legs of the Same Journey

Sometimes, when multiple people were involved, some would go one way in the car and then make the other journey in another way, e.g. by bus. On one occasion, at least, grandma travelled on the bus because Tricia wanted to! In September 1959, mum, grandma and Tricia went to the Church of Christ on Mutton Hill (see Chapter 69). Grandma was the speaker. After the service, grandma and Tricia came back on the bus as “Patricia wanted a ride in a bus”. Mum brought the car back.

Sometimes, alternative methods of transport were used without explaining the reason. Throughout this period, family members continued to make some journeys by bus, e.g. into Nottingham and to visit family members including, Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie.


There were still some occasions when family members would get a lift with someone else in their car. For example, in July 1957, grandad went by bus to get his hair cut and a Mr Hodgkinson brought him back in his car. The name is hard to read. It could be Hoddinson or Hodkinson.

Something similar happened later that same month. Grandad went to the shop on the bus and Frank Lee gave him a lift home.

In August 1957, grandad went with Bill Howlett in his car to Pinxton but does not explain why.

Similarly, in April 1958, Walter Maltby took grandad to mum and dad’s in his car. However, no specific reason is given although this was the time when grandad’s car was at Kennings being repaired after being hit by the coal lorry.

In July 1958, while Bert and Doris were visiting from Hastings, grandma and grandad went with them to visit Auntie Bertha in Bert’s car.

The next year, in September 1959, Walter Maltby took grandma in his car to see Uncle Frank and she came back by bus.

In October 1959, grandma went with Mrs Rowe in her car to Nottingham to choose Sunday School prizes.

In April 1958, John Smith, grandad’s brother-in-law, came to visit grandma and grandad while the Lofthouses were staying with them. Unfortunately, he did not feel well so his son, Len, came to collect him with his car.


With having the car, the use of bicycles appeared to decline. Grandad did refer to cycling to the shop in December 1955.


Similarly, the family seemed to walk less although grandad did refer to some walks particularly when recovering from illness. Nevertheless, the diaries make very little reference to walking or cycling during this period.