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  Repton - historic capital of Mercia


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The well attended May meeting was another of our interesting and popular “Display” evenings. The evening included a new innovation of two mini lectures; One by our member, Sheila Wain who has researched the Auden family, the other by David Guest who gave us an insight to the origin of the Repton Chronology and about the current investigations into the possibility of producing a more permanent copy. There were many items from our archives on show and of particular interest there was a display of photos of WW2 topics and a Family Tree of the Brown family dating back to 1766. This was recently sent to us by Penny Ellis from Thailand. Just to prove that history is always being made, there were photos of the recent parade by the Repton Royal British Legion to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their founding as well as the 60th anniversary of VE-Day.


Many of you will be aware that Ros Hudson is leaving Repton at the end of June for a new home in Axminster. Ros has an exceptional knowledge of Repton going back many, many years and has always been very kind to the History Group by allowing us to copy many of her photographs and passing information to us for our archives. We will be sorry to see her leave Repton but would like to thank her for all her help and we wish her every happiness in her new home.


Tuesday 19th July  - “The Findern Trail”. A guided walk round the interesting village of Findern. There is a limit of 25 on this trip. Please contact Alan & Gill Hiley on 01332 273445 for full details and booking. This is a free event but a minimum donation of £1.00 per head is requested for Findern Church Funds.

August – No meeting. 

Tuesday 20th September – “A Backward Glance at Childhood Games” talk by Maureen Newton.

Alan Hiley writes -Maureen is a local and family historian of many years standing. Although living in Hucknall, she knows South Derbyshire very well and has carried out research work in the area. Maureen works at the superb Erewash Museum in Ilkeston (well worth a visit) and has lectured on local and family history. Some years ago she wrote a successful book “Children in the Mines”. In her talk Maureen will bring to life all those games that you may or may not remember. These would have been played not just in Repton but in towns and villages all over the country. She may well ask for audience participation. 

Tuesday 18th October – A Display Evening with the village school logbooks and photographs from our Archives.  This is an event which is being keenly looked forward to and we wish to encourage people to come along to reminisce and also bring anything else along about the village school. We have quite a number of photographs but would like more. These do not have to be old, after all last year is already history! Many people have stories to tell about the teachers, the sports days etc. Help us to make this a memorable evening.


Out of the blue, we have received a letter from Austen Wheatcroft of Whitworth, near Rochdale who originates from Repton. Although he is 85 years old, he is remembered by quite a number of current residents.

He had been looking at our photographic book “Repton – Historic Capital of Mercia” which brought back many memories for him, saying that it seemed just like yesterday. Among the things he recalls are:

He used to help Seth Pearson the basket maker peel his “withies” (presumably the osiers) by pulling them through something like a narrow tuning fork. This was after they had been boiled to turn them brown.

He recalls taking horses to be shod at the Forge and that various tools were sharpened and re-set there.

He took corn to be ground at Repton Mill for 1/6p per hundredweight and recalls old Alf Sanders who wore an ill-fitting truss which he was forever adjusting, hence his nick name “scratch cock”. However he was a very kind man and was very proud of the mill. He showed him the workings and told him that the water wheel was 18ft in diameter and explained that the dressing of the mill stones was a fine art and very expensive.

He recalls the road to Bretby pit still had three gates across it when he was a lad and that his mother went by horse and cart to purchase coal at the pit-head for 7/6p for half a ton and then sold it on for 10/-.

He also remembers Mr Chessman giving him advice on the way to sharpen a scythe and why it had to be set for men of different height.


Don’t forget that much more information about the History Group complete with stories about Repton is available on the link from

The next edition of our Newsletter will be available at the September meeting.

A.K.19th June 2005 

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