Paul Gibbons 1950’s

A Memory of Barrow Hill

I was born in 1951 and lived for the first 2 years of my life at 241 the Blocks with my parents and Grandparents. This was a 2 up 2 down + attic house in a block of 3 situated on the bottom row of the blocks, now demolished. It had no gas or electric, only a coal fire. The bath and toilet were situated in an outside building referred to as the wash house. Hot water for the bath was provided by a copper which had to be lit several hours prior to the time the bath was to be taken.

My earliest recollection whilst living here was of the Queen’s coronation in 1953 when all the rows were covered in bunting and I went to the then senior school hall for sandwiches and cakes to celebrate. Also in this year we moved from the home of my Grandparents to 31 Brooks Road in the new houses where we remained until 1962 when we moved to Hollingwood, as my Dad was now a Staveley Works employee and where he remained at 16 Beech Street until his death in 2009.

I started at the Infant School on 1955 the teachers being Mrs Widdowson, Mrs Barrow and Miss Wills. After 3 years I moved to the Juniors which at that time was what is called today a split site, Classes J1 and J2 – Mrs Longmate and Mr Lee respectively were situated on the ground floor of the Church Hall now demolised, and the top floor was used for school assembly as the present Junior school building housed not only part of the Junior School, but Barrow Hill Senior Boys. They moved in 1959ish to a new senior school at Middlecoft and the Junior School was all then housed on the present site. Mr Godber was the Headmaster and teacher of J3 and Mrs Vessey was teacher of J4.

The school played in the local school’s football league but was never very successful due to there being more girls than boys in the school, so there was only a limited number of boys avaliable, although several of the boys did represent N.E. Derbyshire Boys, the team of the school league, one being Gerald Ramsdale who was a very talented goalkeeper. The school team played their games on the Blue Fly which was also used as the school sports ground. In 1961 the school got their own playing field situated next to what is now the Post Office which was then Ramsdale’s News Agents.

At that time the Post office was situated over the bridge towards the Devonshire Cottages in Shentalls grocery shop. Other shops in the village were Newham’s another grocery/general store and a branch of Staveley Co op. On the Blocks was Shooters Haberdashery, Clarkes grocery shop and Minnie Clayton’s chip shop.

There was the Memorial Club and pub called the Barrow Hill Hotel commonly refered to as either Teddy’s or ‘Barrow Hill bottom’. The pub fielded a football team for several years in the Chesterfield Saturday and Sunday leagues playing the home games on the Blue Fly . For many years the pub run by Tommy Rowland provided live bands at weekends and such well known local groups as The Rondos, Frank White, Mickey’s Monkeys and Shape of the Rain appeared regularly. One other local singer who was a regular was a man called JOE COCKER who went on to bigger and better things.There was also a good youth club run in the Church Hall the leaders being Ernie Bishop and his wife, Colin Weatherall , Jim Poreous and Tim Norton. This was from about 1965 as you could not go until you were 14 years old and although I had left the village by then I was always drawn back.

Growing up in Barrow Hill in the late 50’s early 60’s it seemed such a facinating place with lots of places to roam and explore; the Clay Hole, railway embankment, ‘down the line’ near the brickworks, the top field between the Blocks and New Houses where there was a park and we built dens and sledged when it snowed in winter, and Green’s field to name just a few. There did not seem the concerns there are today about where you went and when; was it a different time?

A memory shared by Paul Gibbons, on Oct 26th, 2012. Source