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Pete. You forgot the common appearance of The Manchester Regiment. That one always brought the cry of SCRAP IT!!. I wish I could see it most evenings now.

Talking of Ainsley Estate. My Aunt is dead now but she, my uncle and my cousin moved into 32 Northdown Road around the late 50s and while I was with my mum visiting, I would spend an hour on New Bridge watching the Mansfield Line. Another location with a pit wheel spinning in the background. Funnily Radford Pit was linked to Wollaton Pit underground.

For all you Ainsley Estate-ites, my cousin's brother was born there around 1960. He bore the nickname Peanuts through his school days.

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Ayup Pete. Was it you who once told me what happened to Model Farm near your old train bridge. I once lived in a flat almost on the site of that farm.

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Great set of postings. Bilbraborn, very interesting memories on the trainspotting, it certainly prompted a few of my own. Firbeck, I seem to remember always taking my ABC book with me, I must have been lucky that it was never lost at the time. LizzieM, thanks for your comments.

Well here goes with my next topic which is fairly long I’m afraid.


Such a variety here and I include those homemade ones that gave us as much pleasure to make as to use. Toys over the years included, Cap Guns, Whip and Top, Meccano set, Cats whisker radio, Chemistry set, John Bull printing set, Potato faces, Dinky Toys, Roller skates and as a reached my teens a Raleigh Racing bike and a Diana Air Rifle.

At about five years old and like must kids of the time I was bought a cap gun and used to play Cowboys and Indians. In the earlier days we would get dressed in Cowboy outfits and of course I always wanted to wear the Sheriffs Star. I recall that one of my first cap guns had a star on the grip and I believe because of that Lone Star made it. The chamber and barrel of the gun was released by a small lever and dropped down to reveal a spindle on which the roll of caps was placed and then threaded through to the strike plate before it was closed and locked again. The percussion hammer could be cocked for single shots and then released by the trigger or it could be operated directly by the trigger. It was always much more fun to keep pulling that trigger to get off a flurry of shots at the Indians.

The use of cap guns and rifles seemed to have a longer lasting appeal than most toys and I had a number of them over a few years. When I was older cap bombs replaced the cap guns. These were small cast iron rocket grenade shaped objects that had a plunger in them that struck the inserted cap when thrown on the ground. We would put more than one cap in the holder to make the loudest bang, of course throwing these down behind girls always seemed the most fun. We also tried out spud guns which were alright but did not the explosive power of the cap guns, you also had to carry a potato around with you which was not always convenient.

We would also make our own toys the most common of which was the bow and arrow. We would spend a long time looking for the right branch that could be cut and used to make a bow. The branch snapped from the tree was ideally the same cross section throughout its length and approximately three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It was cut to a length relative to body size, bent and twine attached tautly between the carefully cut notches at each end. The bark was stripped and the wood whittled to form the grip. Patterns were cut into the wood to personalise the bow. The arrows were completely stripped of bark, pointed at one end and notched at the other to take the twine. The flights of the arrow were cut from cardboard and coloured up before being inserted in the split end of the arrow which was then bound with string to stop it splitting any further. They were then left to dry out. The crafting of a bow and arrows could take quite a long time but the effort was worth it. Our proficiency was increased by lots of practice aiming at targets made from bits of cardboard or lino. We would have competitions to see who could shoot the arrow highest, longest or have most hits on the target. We had been warned of aiming at people and this was one piece of advice that for some reason we took notice of.

Another method of propulsion for the arrow was the sling. This was basically a length of string just longer than the arrow that was looped at one end to fit into a notch in the arrow. The string was attached, pulled taut to the arrow head and held between finger and thumb, the arm then propelled the arrow forward and the arrow head was released whilst keeping hold of the string which provided most of the impetus. These arrows had to be particularly stable and many experiments with bird feathers and cut pieces of cardboard were carried out to find the most suitable flight heads. It was amazing what accuracy was achieved.

Whip and tops were another basic toy that gave hours of enjoyment. There were basically two types of tops, a thick conical one with grooves around the head or a mushroom shaped one. The whip, a short piece of pole with string attached to the end, was used to start the top going by wrapping the string around it and giving it a hard flick of the wrist. Continually whipping it kept it spinning. It was quite an art and tops could be made to jump and move around depending on the whipping action. We used to colour the tops with chalks, which would then form various patterns as they spun.

The path leading down to our back door dropped down about four feet making the ground floor level below that of the pavement and the access road running down the side of the house to the blocks of garages. The difference in level was built up in a rockery which was at its steepest opposite the coal shed and back door. I used to spend hours playing in this rockery with my Army Dinky toys. It was ideal for forming mountain paths and ambush points and many a dinky toy was ' blown up ' and sent crashing down the ' mountain ' Fortunately Dinky toys were solidly made and I had a good collection of Scout Cars, Armoured Personnel Carriers, 25-Pounders and Army Trucks. The one that I was desperate to get when it came out was the Centurion Tank. It took quite a long time to save for it but the excitement when we finally went to the shops to buy it made the waiting worthwhile. I cannot remember the exact cost but the sum of 7/6d comes to mind and with pocket money at about 1/- a week it represented quite an outlay.

A fairly simple toy weapon that we put together was the matchstick gun. This was made from a sucker stick, matchbox and elastic bands. The sucker stick was bound vertically to the opening end of the matchbox by a number of elastic bands. An elastic band was then trailed from the front and drawn back with half a matchstick inserted between the sucker stick and the edge of the matchbox. As the pressure was released by gripping the box and pressing the palm on the lower part of the sucker stick the half a matchstick would fly out.

Oh the joys of the Lotts Chemistry Set . The contents included several test tubes, a small retort, and various small containers with chemical compounds in them. The only chemicals I remember were potassium permanganate and iron filings. It was possible to make a stink bomb by combining some of the products.

The "Galley" or catapult was everyone's favourite homemade toy as it was simple and quick to make and could be hidden away quite easily. It was also potentially the most dangerous weapon of the schoolboy arsenal. The galley was cut from a convenient forked branch, whittled and notches cut to take the thick square profiled elastic. The sling to take the stone was cut from oddments of material. We used to aim at anything in site including birds, which fortunately we never hit. Favourite targets were cans lined up on what we called the hump.

The Meccano set gave hours of enjoyment both building from the plans provided or just making up my own designs. It was one of the toys that seemed to last over the years with the continual updating of parts and bits such as a motor.

At some stage, and in common most other lads, I made a soapbox cart with some help from Dad. I have vague memories of searching the woods for any old prams or wheels that had already been thrown away and also asking around the neighbours if they had any that were not wanted. The bigger back wheels of the pram would be used for the rear wheels with smaller ones at the front. The tyres were of solid white rubber and the wheels had many spokes that had to be tightened and sometimes adjusted to get out buckles in the rims.

The basic frame of the cart was constructed out of wood and consisted of four wheels arranged on front and rear axles fixed at right angles to a longitudinal member joining them together. The base for the front axle was loosely bolted through the centre of the longitudinal member so that it would pivot to allow steering by a rope attached at each side or by the feet. The rope also acted as a handy aid to pulling the cart along, which was usually back up the hill. The back timber for the rear axle was generally wider and was fixed solid to the cross member to form a base for the seat. The seat itself was fashioned out of what timber was available. If you were lucky you could get an old timber box, traditionally one used to transport soap or more commonly a plywood chest, for use as the seat and the base for the frame. In my case the seat was just a basic flat square of wood with a bit of carpet tacked to it, it did allow me however to lay flat on my belly on the cart to hurtle off head first using my hands on the front axle to steer. The steel axles were fixed to the timber by a large number of bent over nails.

Mechanical brakes on a cart were virtually non existent although some lads did manage to incorporate the old brakes from the pram or use a piece of timber pivoting on a bolt to lever it against the tyre. This friction method of braking was at the best unreliable and at the worst dangerous as it could cause the cart to swerve violently and overturn. The best method of stopping was using your feet against the rim of the front wheels if you were sat up with legs facing forward or by dragging the shoes on the ground if you were flat on your belly with your legs trailing behind. Not many parents however agreed with this method as it did not do your shoes much good. Other methods of stopping the cart or getting out of danger included crashing in to something, turning uphill or just jumping off. I used to start rolling down the hill around about the front of our house and when reaching the end of the Green, which was fairly level, steer on to it and turn uphill. Sometimes the turn was not well executed and the cart would roll over usually resulting in one or two running repairs. The fact that the end of the journey was on grass probably saved me from serious injury on more than one occasion.

Another way of getting around was on roller skates. These had four wheels on an adjustable metal frame, leather heel and toe holds and a leather strap to tighten to the foot. I was not very good on these and spent a lot of time falling over, which reminds me of another old ointment, Germolene, a pink antiseptic cream with a distinctive smell which had to be applied on numerous occasions to my grazes.

My first bike was a Christmas present and which was I think a Raleigh Lenton Racer that had Sturmey Archer gears and was fitted with Dynamo lighting. An advert at the time advertised the bike for sale at £19-5s-0d with Dynamo lighting an optional extra for £4-8s-9d.

Not really a toy I suppose but I pestered my Mum and Dad for a Diana air rifle and would drive them mad by singing Paul Anka’s song Diana at every possible occasion. My efforts were rewarded and I had great fun setting up an indoor range for shooting air darts at a target attached to a box by the back door. I used to lie down in the dining room with my feet against the wall and shoot the length of the dining room and kitchen at the target. The pellets shot outdoors at targets in the garden were of 1.77 calibre. Once I took the rifle across to the woods and Roger and I shot at some birds that were flying around. We hit one and to see it fluttering around in obvious pain made us feel awful. We swore to never ever hurt an animal again.

Well that it for this session. Happy Memories

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I had most of those toys but my parents would never have allowed an air gun. My chemistry set was a Merit. I used to make all sorts of cranes and vehicles with my meccano set but my dad use to say we needed a squirrel to pick up all the nuts. I had all the Dinky racing cars and also the E-Type Jag and the Rolls Royce Silver Wraith.

I also made a little trolley with bits and bobs of wood and old wheels. My favourite toys were my Triang OO gauge model railway with the ubiquitous Princess Elizabeth.

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Great post glaisdalelad.

For Christmas 1962 I had a Merit Chemistry Set after seeing an older friend with one.

It came from good old Beecrofts on Pelham Street who also sold the Lotts sets and replacement chemicals.

My Merit set was quite educational but the chemicals were carefully selected to avoid too many mishaps. The Lotts chemicals however were much more exciting and provided an opportunity for more interesting experiments especially for a 12 year old.

The local chemist used to sell me dilute sulphuric acid which you might think was rather risky but these days there seems to very little you can't buy on eBay.

In August 1963 my dad wrote away to a company called Beck in Stoke Newington who advertised in Meccano magazine and bought me a huge chemistry set. It cost £10 but he always said it was the best £10 he ever spent because I later worked in Boots Labs in Beeston before going on to study chemistry at Uni. I've subsequently had a very good career as a chemist thanks to dad's investment. Bless him.

I used to love the air rifles at Goose Fair but there was no way dad would buy me one.

That scene in Saturday Night & Sunday Morning where Arthur Seaton shoots the local gossip in the backside with his air rifle makes me think of what could have been.

My friend had one but he was only allowed to use it under supervision.

Lads just love guns. My 19 year old son has bought numerous BB guns but he is yet to get me in the backside I'm happy to say.

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No I wasn't allowed in the house I lived in the shed that's why it was all decked out with electronics & all the stuff I could get from the surplus store.

When I rented #39 I had to just about remodel the place who ever lived in it before was cooking in the hall near the front door as the kitchen floor was so rotten, The landlord tried to cover it up by laying new lino but as we were eating dinner the table started being dragged across the floor as the washing machine disappeared down a hole, Front room was the same I stepped off a ladder & straight through the floorboards,

It turned out there was permanent standing water that most likely ran down the train bank and settled in the trough if you remember the driveways were sloped down from the street.

Mel Thorpe lived next to me ,There was a lady we called the witch that lived opposite you on the inside corner

Carol Rook lived in the prefab behind the bus stop on Hollington rd

Anne Silkstone lived 2 doors down from #81

Kemps almost at the top back corner of Elstree

Never knew anybody who lived in the inside part of Elstree dr except for a couple that had a Poodle

Ps if you fell in the deep lock you just climbed the lock gates . Easy. Did it a few times once in winter along with my bike. Just had to remember to check yourself for leeches

Do you remember a place called Hot Sands you could poke a stick in the ground & it would come out burning it was behind where Farrands was built. melted both my bike tires.

Hi dgbrit,

I recognise all the names you mention. I used to play with Phil Kemp and his younger brother John most days. They were both with me at BPS and later Forest Fields. Dr John Kemp became a very successful pharamacologist see:

Looks just like his dad.

The witch on the corner of Elstree Drive was Mrs Wilson.

Her husband was the lollipop man for Robert Shaw but died in the early 50s. In common with most of the Elstree Drive corner houses she had an enormous garden surrounded by a high hedge. You would very rarely find your ball if it went over the hedge and you sneaked in to recover it. There would be some compensation for a lost ball however as there were numerous apple trees laden with fruit in the summer.

Mrs Wilson's front room was unusable as her floor had rotted through. The house next to us (no 21) also had water ingress in their front room. I believe Elstree Drive was built over a spring and these houses suffered as a result.

Mrs Wilson's grandson Richard used to visit most Saturdays and I would play with him. He told me off once for trespassing in his Grandma's garden. Apparently she used to get quite distressed with all the kids going in and scrumping the apples. Very regrettable I never appreciated that as a kid.

Richard was a very keen trainspotter and his dad used to take him to places like Rugby and Tamworth. He used to show me his Ian Allen books of which I was very envious.

My mum met up with him in Nottm Co-op on Parliament St where he was working in the late 60s

My sister Marion has a picture of herself with Carol Rook at BPS taken in the early 50s.

I remember Mel Thorpe and his younger brother Craig. Craig was at High Pavement with my cousin Alan Whyley and Harold Shipman I believe!

Mel was pals with Keith Richardson who lived at no 27. Keith was very bright and was at Nottingham High School. He became something in banking. He was also brilliant at chess. He lives in Camberley and is still very active with chess.

Sorry I don't remember "hot sands". It sounds quite scary

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I had most of those toys but my parents would never have allowed an air gun. My chemistry set was a Merit. I used to make all sorts of cranes and vehicles with my meccano set but my dad use to say we needed a squirrel to pick up all the nuts. I had all the Dinky racing cars and also the E-Type Jag and the Rolls Royce Silver Wraith.

I also made a little trolley with bits and bobs of wood and old wheels. My favourite toys were my Triang OO gauge model railway with the ubiquitous Princess Elizabeth.

Mel, I could swear blind that you had a Trix Twin train set, I seem to remember trying to do a deal with you over their Standard Class 5 in the vain hope I could convert it to run on Hornby Dublo 3 rail.

Talking of which, you mentioned much earlier John Smith who lived next door to Bracebridge Drive shops, I think his father worked down Wollaton Pit, then was transferred to Cotgrave Colliery. He had an incredible Hornby Dublo 3 rail layout in the spare bedroom, it had scenery complete with a village, but the best part was that it could all be lit up at night, complete with street lamps, colour light signals and we attempted to put flickery bulbs in the carriages. I used to take some of my stuff over there to run on his tracks and built an engine shed and coaling tower out of cardboard which we also managed to light up. My only moan was later, I took over my large collection of Matchbox toys to arrange around the streets, when I asked for them back a few years on, he'd given them away to the kid next door, I wasn't impressed at the time and looking at the value of them now, many of which were in their original boxes, I'm even less impressed!

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Basfordred, I don't recall that freight, it probably ran through after home time, we weren't allowed on the train bridge at that time of night, if I hung out of my parents bedroom window I could get a glimpse of the trains through a gap in the houses at a bend in Hillbeck Crescent, but they were gone in a flash. I seem to remember a fitted freight heading in the Nottingham direction at about 6:30pm, usually pulled by a Class 5.

Mess, The Master Cutler never ran on the Radford/Trowell line in steam days, it passed through Vic on the way to Marylebone before being transferred over to the Kings Cross route, being swapped over to the Midland Main Line in 1968. The nearest named train to us ( apart from the Waverley ) was the Thames Clyde Express that ran down the Midland Main Line through Trowell, I seem to remember it was the only express that ran straight through to Trent Junction during the day at any rate. We used to sit on the footbridge at Trowell and wait for it, hoping it wouldn't be late as it was timed to come through about 4:30pm and it was a close call to get home on time for tea and avoid a clip round the ear for being late.

I can recall being taken up to the train bridge by my father when I was very young when many of the trains were pulled by Class 5's double heading with Compounds, Jubilees were not so common and the Scots didn't appear until 1960 when they started to be transferred away from the Euston lines, I remember being taken around Nottingham shed one Saturday morning by my brother and staring in awe at a gleaming 46100 Royal Scot in the roundhouse, apparently just having arrived the previous day.

I don't think that Scots Guardsman ever made an appearance down our neck of the woods, I have a photo I took of it at Willesdon Shed in 1964 when it was still operating on the West Coast Mainline and it finished it's days at Carlisle Kingmoor in 1966 by which time all our main line services, bar one, had long since been dieselised. The last service was the summer Saturday Skegness holiday train which was always hauled by a Jubilee from Leeds Holbeck and finished at the end of the summer timetable in September 1966, the day that Vic closed. Bilbraborn will tell you of our attempts to catch it from Sheffield on the last but one Saturday, our last chance of a steam trip down to Nottingham. It was always late and we sat in the buffet on Sheffield Midland, went over the bridge to catch it, only to find it had been and gone early, we were p*ssed off to say the least.

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Yes Pete just one of the less happier endings we had. I must remember to send you the poem I wrote about our round trip to and from Loughborough using the Midland Pullman going down.

Also You are right about the Master Cutler not using the Midland Line never mind the Trowell Line. It was on Midland years later when I worked at Derby Station but it still never used the Trowell Line.

I remember John Smith. He was on one of the photos you posted. I was at school with him from my first day at Glenbrook Infants. Sorry about him giving your Dinkys away.

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My memory for names has always been bad, even worse now I'm getting older, but I remember Jubes - Sandwich, Malta GC and Travancore as being quite common. As you say, Black fives were also regular visitors on the Radford Trowell branch.

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These are some of the few photographs that I took on the Radford Trowell line


45562 Alberta passing under Coventry Lane bridge summer 1966 on the Skegness summer special, I have a lovely colour slide of it I took at Trowell Junction opening up to attack the climb up to Wollaton Pit, but I can't get it on here.


A very bad photo of the down Waverely taken from the old Wollaton Brick Works level crossing.


The ARFELEVENER going the other way pulled by 46117 Welsh Guardsman taken from the other side of the crossing, you can see the planks between the rails.


The Thames Clyde Express at Trent Junction.


Scots Guardsman at Willesdon, 1964, the shed was still full of Coronation Class Pacifics in steam too.


One for Bilbraborn, Flying Scotsman passing the site of Radford Colliery, he was with me when I took this, August 1965.

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Thanks for the info and wonderful pictures Firbeck and Bilbraborn.

Not sure why I thought I'd seen the Master Cutler on the Trowell Line. Must be all the chemicals that I've had to work with over the years are starting to addle my brain. You know what they say. "If you remember the 60s you weren't there"

I had a Hornby Dublo 3-rail train set for Christmas 1958. My dad got a big box of stuff off his mate at work and I got Duchess of Montrose and Silver King with some tin plate carriages and other rolling stock, track, transformer,

signals etc. I played with it regularly until I was about 12 and the interest and chemistry and guitar took over.

When 2-rail arrived in the early sixties I had the Pullman coaches with nylon bogies. I also had a three rail (un-named) Deltic. Imagine my thrill when my dad took me to Grantham and I saw the Queen of Scots the Kings Cross Edinburgh Deltic hauled Pullman train flying through.

I think I saw it.

I did didn't I guys?

Again in 1962 a friend of a friend whose dad was very into Hornby Dublo converted all his stuff into 2-rail. I remember buying some points and other track for givaway prices. I learned a lot about electric circuits from having a train set. Later when I got into electric guitars, amplifiers, speakers and mics etc I learned a great deal more.

I had to eventually chose between electronics and chemistry when I was 16. It was the smell of the solvents that swung it but that's another story if I can remember it.

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Ayup Pete. Was it you who once told me what happened to Model Farm near your old train bridge. I once lived in a flat almost on the site of that farm.

It was a very sad story. The farm had become very run down, presumably because the land was earmarked for housing development, I gather that the old farmer lived there on his own. When we used to sit on the train bridge we hardly ever saw any vehicles going down to the farm, then one day a hearse went past heading for the farmhouse. Of course, we were quite intrigued by this, especially later when the hearse came back again with a coffin in the back so we assumed that the old boy had died. Word must have got around, though I don't recall knowing anything, except that one day my friend Ian Hutchings and I were taking his neighbour's dog for a walk along the canal bank, got to Model Farm bridge and had our collars felt by a couple of policemen. They accused us of breaking into and vandalising the farmhouse, not that we knew anything about it at all, and it took some talking to persuade the police that we were completely innocent. We were then warned off and asked to report anyone that we saw going in there, as if! Of course the next day we went straight down there to see what was happening and found crowds of youths smashing the place up, they were older than us so we dare'nt say anything. They were crazy, sitting on the roof kicking the tiles off, smashing up the inside, one lot got a rope around an RSJ and pulled it out bringing the floor down on top of one of them, how he got away with I'll never know. There were beautiful marble fireplaces in there that had been smashed to pieces, even the toilet fittings went out the window. We stayed out of it and never went back, eventually it was reduced to a smashed up shell, then the bulldozers came in and turned it to a pile of rubble, a sad end to a lovely old stone farmhouse.

I've tried to find some old photo's or history of the place but can't, does anyone know anything about it.

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Hello Mess,

Living at Clifton the north of the city seemed like a foreign country to myself and my friends.

It seems as if there was far more variety in the locos to be seen there, rather than the ones that trundled up and down the GC.

Yes Grantham was an amazing place to visit in those far off halcyon days.

It was the first mainline station that I managed to visit alone and it had a lasting impression on me that's never really gone away.

I am putting together a blog about those days, you can see it at

If you have any memories of your visits please do share them.


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I remember you telling me now Pete. I was lucky as I got plenty pics of Chilwell Dam Farm and Old Park Farm before they were demolished.

Oh by the way, I was definitely around in the 60s. And I remember a lot of it.

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Think I am getting a bit hooked on this.

MelissaJKelly, things sure have changed and although to me my childhood was great I also see what my Grandkids have so I am sure that in the future all generations will say ‘The Good Old Days’.

Bilbraborn, love the bit about your Dad saying about the squirrel collecting all the nuts up. If you used to like the Meccano Magazine there is a great site where every issue can be looked at or downloaded in PDF format the address is,

Mess, sounds as though that Chemistry set did pay off. I wonder if some of the things I did as a kid influenced my life as all that building of things kept me in good stead as I went to Uni and qualified as a Civil Engineer. I also went on to be a reasonable target rifle shooter and the crowning glory was when our Civilian Team beat a British Army one in the final of a competition in Germany.

The next saga follows


One of my first memories with regard to games we played is that the sun is shining and about ten of us are standing around in a group. To my relief my name is called and although not first out of the group I am not last. The Captains were picking their sides for the cricket match on the ' Green '. My friend Roger Dawson was on the same side and was a good bowler so I thought we stood a chance of winning.

The Green was a semi-circular area of grass just down the road from our house. It provided us with an area where we gathered and had hours of play. I suppose it was intended to be an aesthetic feature. It was definitely not intended for us kids to have fun on as the run up for bowling generally started from the 'Playing of Games is Strictly Forbidden' sign. The wicket, we only used one, was the Water Stopcock sign adjacent to the pavement. The wicket keeper had to be agile to stop the ball running onto the road behind. One run was from the wicket to a suitably placed article of clothing where you shouted "in". If you wanted two runs you could not shout "in" and had to return from the clothing to the wicket.

Of course only one player was in for batting at any time. There were many disputes as to whether "in" had been shouted before the ball had hit the appropriate wicket or clothing. A four was to the edge of the grassed area, or over the road, in one or more bounces and a six past the edge of grassed area, or over the road, without a bounce. Mainly a six would end up in one of the gardens of the houses around the Green. Anyone who was clever enough to hit a six into the brambles over the road was rewarded by having to retrieve the ball. The competition was fierce but usually fair.

French cricket was also popular. This game involves bowling the ball at the person’s legs, which act as the wicket. If the ball hits the legs the person is out. If the ball is batted away then it has to be bowled from the position it is retrieved from, for example this could be behind or at the side of the batsman and could be very close or a long way away. The batsman can twist his upper body to face the bowler but the legs cannot be moved.

With the darker nights of winter the game on the Green turned to football. We even had our own floodlight in the form of a lamppost that was conveniently on the edge of the pavement just behind the water stopcock sign. Football was great with teams of five or six battling it out between two goals formed from the usual pile of jackets. Disputes in this game were usually whether the ball was in or outside of the imaginary goal posts or crossbar. The crossbar itself seemed to vary in height in direct proportion to the size of the goalie. The thickness of the uprights was dependent on the spread of the pile of jackets. We all had our football heroes and tried to emulate them, Stanley Mathews and Tom Finney being the ones I remember. The biggest danger in the game was avoiding the sign warning us not to play games, which was approximately in the centre of the pitch. We usually played in short trousers and shirt or if we were lucky enough to own a kit in that. After a while I was a proud owner of the Forest strip.

The Captains chose the teams in the same manner as for cricket and they themselves were chosen by common assent either for their football skills or the fact that they could provide a match ball. The football was made of leather and contained a rubber bladder, the slot to insert the bladder and allow inflation had to be carefully laced to maintain the shape of the ball. The ball was religiously cleaned and coat of Dubbin applied at least once a week. Dubbin was grease made of oil and tallow used to soften and waterproof the ball. A wet soggy ball was heavy, difficult to kick and painful to head. We likewise treated our boots, which were also made of leather, and laced up to above the ankle. The smell of Dubbin is unique and I will always associate it with happy days.

Locally and on trips out the popular game of I-Spy was enhanced by the use of the News Chronicle I-Spy books which cost 6d each for the black and white version and 1/- for the colour one. There were a large number of them around, about 20 for the black and white ones and about ten of the colour ones. My favourites were Cars, Birds and Trees.

One of the other popular games played on the Green was tag. Variations on the game include throwing a ball at someone who was making every effort to avoid you. If they were hit they took over and tried to hit someone else and so on. A more energetic version of the game was by handing tag over by making physical contact.

Another and rougher version of Tag was British Bulldog. One of us was selected to play the part of the bulldog. The bulldog stood in the middle of the Green and the rest of us at one end. We would all try to run past the bulldog to the other end of the Green without being tripped or bundled over. If we were caught we became one of the bulldogs and the others would try to race back to the other end of the Green again and so on. The winner was the last one not to be caught.

Roger and I decided that we could communicate between our houses by using a length of string attached to an empty can at each end. We stretched the string taut between the landing windows of our houses and found that to our amazement we could actually talk to each other. We decided to try it from our respective bedrooms with thoughts of conversation after bedtime but found it did not work when the string is pulled round the corners of the houses.

We used to enjoy the walks to school, in particular during the early winter and those days when the snow was on the ground. One of our games on a cold misty morning was to break a length of privet from a hedge, strip off the leaves, bend it to form a loop and then collect the spider webs on them. The end result being a mesh of webs that would glisten and reflect the light from the thousands of tiny droplets of dew attached to them. Of course the days when the snow was on the ground were fantastic. As we lived on a hill we could make some very long slides in the snow to play on, they were so long and wide that at times it was a struggle to get back up to the start. We could never understand why some adults did not appreciate the fact that we had built probably the best slide in Nottingham right outside their front gate. Snowball fights were great, well planned and the ambushes against the girls particularly fearsome.

As the start of the 1956/57 football season began we started to collect the latest set of cigarette cards. We would also play games on the Green with our cigarette cards and would flick then to get nearest the water stopcock sign without touching it. The winner kept all cards flicked, the quantity of which depended on how many took part and the number of attempts allowed. We naturally only used our swaps on these occasions. The’ Famous Footballers’ cards were collected from packets of ‘Barratt’s’ sweet cigarettes which were made to look realistic by having red tips on them. Some weeks we would spend all our pocket money just on them. Although there was supposed to be an equal number of cards distributed it would seem that No 35, Tommy Taylor, had been missed from our area. It was the most sought after card and people would offer, without success, many of their swaps for it. It was months before I completed my set with that card.

I tried tennis at school and pestered Mum and Dad into buying me a racket. It was my pride and joy although I never did get to play very well. I had a few goes at school, which allowed me to miss some of the usual running or workout in the gym. I also used to have a knockabout on the green with some of the other lads. Even one of the less popular lads was allowed to join in, as he was one of the few others that had a tennis racket. My racket was a wooden framed ‘Slazenger’ and to protect it from warping I had to keep it in a press when not using it.

Another popular game near that water stopcock on the Green was that of Marbles. As far as I remember we generally played either a game with a hole in the ground or one where we used to bomb the other players marbles. With the game using the hole we would stand behind a line and each throw a marble to see who was closest to the hole and therefore who would start the game. Each player would have the same number of marbles and the first to go would throw or roll one by one his marbles at the hole. The second player would then do likewise. Of course maybe only one or two would actually get in the hole so in turn the players would then flick their own marbles to the hole. The first with all their marbles in the hole would win all the marbles in play.

Bombing was much simpler with the first player throwing one marble and then the second player tries to hit the others marble. If it misses the first player picks up one of the marbles from the place it landed and then tries again to hit the other one. The one who hits the other marble kept both. I also have vague memories of a rule where if you could span the two marbles with your hand after your throw that counted as a win.

I had five small cube shaped stones about the size of a standard dice which we called Snobs. They were made of clay and each one was a different pastel shade. The idea of the game was to throw them on the floor and throw one up in the air while picking them up one at a time, then two at a time, then three and one. Finally all five were thrown in the air and an attempt was made to catch them on the back of the hand and I recall something about the ones that were not caught were picked up between the fingers and the others thrown up and caught. In the standard game the snobs were caught in the palm of the hand but in the more difficult version they were caught on the ‘fly’ with the palm facing downwards.

As I became older I was allowed make my own way to Wollaton Park and would meet up with my Uncle John who was only a couple of years older than me and liked to be called by his nickname ‘Tats’. Together with my second cousin Graham Barnes we would often go to Wollaton Hall and in the Autumn would collect conkers to play that game. There was a big conker tree in front of the Hall but most of the conkers from the lower level did not last long. The tree usually looked the worse for wear from the hundreds of sticks that have been thrown in it to try and dislodge the conkers. We used to heave sticks as high as we could into the top but without much success. I remember that on one occasion Tats said that he knew a place but I would have to keep lookout. We walked through the stable yard where the Police horses were kept, under the arch and then right along the path at the back of the Hall to come to a fenced area on the right. Tats and Graham nipped over the fence while I keep an apprehensive eye in all directions. We were lucky it was a cold damp day and no one was about. We managed to get a good haul.

Various attempts were made to harden the conker. The most popular was to soak it in vinegar and then bake it. I found that the best method was to save and then use the previous year’s conkers in the new season. It was quite usual when we went conkering to bring home more than a hundred each. A good conker was a prized possession and all your friends, and some that were not, would want to have a go at it. You could have ten to fifteen people gathered around to watch a game involving a couple of conkers with a respectable number of victories each. It was an unwritten law that a challenge was never refused and invariably the day came when you were saddened by the loss of that fifty twoer or similar.

One of the other things that Roger and I used to ‘get up to’ was the tapping out of phone calls. We found that a call could be made by lifting the receiver and tapping the rest the same number of times as the value of digits of the telephone number to be dialled. We of course did not know who we were calling and would just say hello and then put the phone down when we had made a connection. We thought it great fun at the time but due to the tapping not always working for that particular number the likelihood of us getting the same person twice was minimal so we did not particularly think we were disturbing anyone. It was just the fun of the game in making a call without paying. The telephones were the old type that had the A & B push buttons to make a connection and get back any change.


For any of you that are rock fans my second cousin Graham Barnes, mentioned above, later changed his name and became Alvin Lee in the group ‘Ten Years After’. He made his millions in the UK and America but I lost touch with him.

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I remember you telling me now Pete. I was lucky as I got plenty pics of Chilwell Dam Farm and Old Park Farm before they were demolished.

Oh by the way, I was definitely around in the 60s. And I remember a lot of it.

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Just a quick one.

As a chemist (see my earlier post) I can tell you that the wonderful smell of dubbin is due to the presence of nitrobenzene.

This lovely smelling aromatic compound is highly toxic and is rarely used nowadays.

Whilst we're on the subject of lovely smells which is covered very well elsewhere on this site.

Who remembers Thorpit?


Very dodgy stuff (carbon tetrachloride) but smells divine.

Should add I love the sulphurous smell of steam locomtives too.

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What happened to Moor Farm. When I left Nottm in 1976 it was a thriving restaraunt, pub, disco, etc. I used to go on a Sunday night to see John Holmes present his music show as I got very pally with him when he was at Radio Nottingham. Only a few years ago I was showing my son my old haunts and found it had gone, replaced by a weird church, what happened anyone know.

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Katyjay #2

Getting back to all the different activities and games you have mentioned,and i have remembered another one,We used to find a long two pronged stick or make a

circle with a thin twig and go along the hedgerows collecting cobwebs, the winner was the one who had the most webs, in the innocence of childhood we never considered the implications of what we were doing to the poor spiders.But you live and learn and its one that i wouldn't pass on :No1:

Glaisdalelad #193, Interesting to read that we weren't the only kids to collect the Spiders Webs! Nice One!

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Glaisdalelad. You really are bringing memories back. We too had a similar sign on our green on Wigman Road. Now that I am back living there I will defend children's rights to play games there. These are family houses full of children. Let them play!!

Pete. As for Moor Farm, I remember it being a farm when you and I used to cut through the woods. In the 70s it was a much loved eating out place. However, I was a milkman at Co-op Long Eaton Dairy and I used to do overtime taking bulk orders to places like that. Not many people realised how filthy the kitchen was. I haven't been up there since Coventry Lane was rebuilt except to just actually drive along Coventry Lane.

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