Repton Village 63 (or more) Years Ago

Welcome to the Repton Village History Group.

Here you will find a description of the RVHG, including a brief outline of the activities of the group and details of many of the interesting historical facts associated with this ancient community.

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As written by Lucy Harrison for Iris Bentley: 

A village of beauty when the seasons came true to time, giving of their best . The air of spring was sweet and fresh, summer hot and drowsy and the crickets would chirrup all night long. Autumns were cool and winters freezing cold. There was plenty of work for people in the village. I remember 22 farms, all worked, four cobblers, 2 blacksmiths, three wheelwrights, 2 carriers, 3 tailors, 1 brushmaker,1 basket-maker, 3 bakeries, 5 painters and decorators, 1 saddler, 1 picture framer. The miller was Mr Sanders, the stonemason Mr Taylor of Wood End, whose son Mr Laurence Taylor still carries on the business, two butchers, two joiners, Dolman Sanders and H(?) Millett, and the lamplighter Mr William Cook. 

The School houses employed a lot of villagers. In those days they were fully staffed with domestics. For each house the resident staff would be – cook, kitchen-maid, two dormitory maids, housemaid, parlour-maid and odd man. Women from the village would go cleaning from 9 till 2 for a shilling a day. The married assistant masters also employed a small staff, cook, housemaid, a nanny if there were children, and a gardener. The Repton Laundry also employed women and young girls and some came from Willington and Newton. There was no transport out of the village, only the horse bus to Willington station which started from the top of Boot Hill. It was owned by Mr Sears of the Boot Inn and driven by Mr Jack Chadwick.

People used to walk to Burton to shop, and those who worked in the breweries walked daily to and from Burton. One could go to Burton or Derby by carrier cart for 2d. but one had to sit on the floor or by the driver. For a day out for the family there were wagonettes which could be hired for a day. They were supplied by Brown, Sears or Roll Peach in Brook End There were also landaus for the gentry, for no-one owned cars in those days. There was no covering, only one large umbrella. The wagonettes seated 5 persons each side, drawn by two horses. They were hired each year for Girls’ Friendly Society and Mothers’ Meeting outings, which might be to Tutbury Castle or Ashby or Hemington.  Doctor Lindsay was the first person to own a car and one could hear it from one end of the village to the other. Doctor Cronk was taken on his rounds by horse and trap; he had a coachman, of course. Transport has travelled far since those happy contented days.

There were five grocery shops, Pattinson’s , Post Office, Taylor’s two shops, Brown’s and Nanny Watts of Wood End , Dougie Pike a fish shop and green-grocery,  herrings 1d each, bloaters 4 for 6d, cod steaks 4 for 1/4d, and one could buy a bunch of grapes for 6d.  Dougie Pike cured his own bloaters and used to hang them on a clothes-line to dry. He smoked cigarettes and always had one hanging from his lips, but it always kept at one angle whatever he was doing. Melen’s baked the loveliest bread and their cakes were supreme and they also sold sweets. Coming down to Mrs. Pearson’s shop on the Square,the shop had such a small window but it was packed full of almost everything – all kinds of clothing, shoes and hob-nail boots. No matter what one wanted  Mrs Pearson could always supply it, sometimes after a long search. She was a dressmaker and worked in a large glass-house down the garden. She taught dressmaking to girls in the village. Her father was a basket-maker and employed two men.  He grew the willows in the osier bed opposite Smith’s farm which now belongs to Mr William Pearson, his grandson. Each spring they were cut and then put to soak  in a waterhole for a short time, after which they were ready for peeling  in the [rod?]yard. This was a piece of land owned by Mr Pearson, the length of the wall in Pinfold Lane down to the

Brook, and people were employed to do the peeling  at a few pence a bundle  – and how the women worked! I have two clothes-baskets made by Pearson’s 58 years ago and handed down to me by my mother, and they are still in use. One could also buy one pennyworth of pot herbs to put in a stew . In the bunch would be 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, 2 onions and a couple of leaves off the celery stick, with a pound of stewing beef from Matthews for 6d. It made a wonderful dinner. The gasworks, managed by Mr Holmes , would sell coke for 3d a barrow load., and, from Brown’s at the Shakespeare, one could fetch ½ cwt of coal for 6d., eggs from Mr William Sanders, 13 for a shilling, and cheese from Ridgeway Farm (Goodall’s) at 4d a pound, very sharp to the lips when eaten.

Notes on this undated  manuscript, as written by Lucy Harrison and addressed to the late Miss Iris Bentley, kindly loaned by Judith Stoker, nee Bentley, to the RVHG, and transcribed by Pamela Carr:

Lucy and Les Harrison lived at “Leslue”, 110 High Street, in the Square in Repton. Iris Bentley was very active in Repton affairs, chairman of the Parish Council, district councillor, long-standing member of the W.I., to whom she spoke about her memories of old Repton. Lucy sent these notes for Iris to use in these talks: one headed ‘Sixty years ago’, another ‘Sixty-three years ago’, both  undated.

Lucy’s footnote said “Dear Iris, You can either destroy or keep these notes. They are jotted down in this manner as I intended to do the whole thing properly but never seemed to get the time.  Lucy”

We should be glad that Lucy made these notes at all, or else her memories of old Repton would have been lost for ever . It reminds us of the need to record people’s memories in their, and our, lifetimes.

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