Superintendent saw red when his beloved car turned yellow


IN about 1962, one of the senior officers at Derby Borough Police was Superintendent Shipton, known to all of us as “Shippo”, writes John Loach.
He was the proud owner of a chocolate brown Austin A45 saloon.
It was his pride and joy and he had it cleaned most days by the cadet, or whoever was available, in the garage.
On one particular afternoon, while parading for duty for the 2pm till 10pm shift, Shippo strode into the parade room.
He spoke to the inspector in charge of the parade. If I remember right, it was Inspector Frank Ward.
Shippo said: “Inspector, when you have finished your briefing, I want you to assemble the men outside in the yard.
“I have arranged for a demonstration of the latest technology to assist with the arrest of any person who contemplates robbery.” Continue reading

The night that I nicked woman for smashing into cash box of public phone


Former Derby Borough police officer John Louch, of Mackworth, recalls  more  anecdotes from when he was a young constable working in Derby during the 1960s.

A POLICEMAN, particularly one who is young in service, always relishes arresting a person committing a criminal offence, such as theft, burglary or robbery.
And it is especially pleasing to catch that person in the act of committing such a crime.
If inquiries had to be made into such a crime then, in Derby Borough Police, this was the job of the CID officers who, in those days, liked to keep things quite close to their chests.
Therefore, for a young officer in uniform, to solve a crime meant that he had to come to the notice of the CID.
Catching someone in the act, however, did not occur very often.
Therefore, it was quite a bit of luck, one Friday night in the early 1960s, when I was on my Velocette motorcycle patrolling in the Slack Lane area of Derby.
It would have been about 11.30pm and I was stationary, sitting in the shadows somewhere near  to Hawke Street. Continue reading

Sweet shop run by my mum has now been changed into houses


Further memories of the New Zealand area and its long-gone corner shops have been sent to Bygones. Jane Goddard reports.

WHEN Phil Garner read Jill Brownsword’s recent reminiscences about the New Zealand area of Derby, he was transported back to his teenage years.
Many memories of those early years in the late 1950s and early 1960s came flooding back as he read about the shops and businesses frequented by Mrs Brownsword.
Mr Garner, who now lives in Littleover, said: “I spent most of my teens in Surrey Street as my mum kept a sweets and tobacco shop there. It must have been the one described in Mrs Brownsword’s article as being kept by the Misses Kaye, as it was next door to Mrs Jennings’ wool shop at the top of the street.
“Obviously, Mrs Brownsword’s memories are from an earlier period. My mum’s name was Millie Garner. Continue reading

My schoolboy memories of railway tracks at High Peak


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Kenneth Homer, of Belper, shares some childhood memories.

AS a schoolboy living in Ambergate at the time, I used to cycle to High Peak Junction on the Cromford and High Peak Railway to watch the wagons going up and down Sheep Pasture incline.
This is now where the High Peak Trail starts.
The wagon in the photograph has just arrived at this point after descending the incline on the end of a wire rope.
It would probably have been loaded at the quarry at Middleton by Wirksworth.
The weight of its lowering would have pulled empty wagons back up the incline, assisted by a winding winch at the top, near Black Rocks, originally powered by a steam beam engine before  later being converted to electric.
After the wagon was unhitched from the cable by the waiting workman, it was then taken to a sidings by a small steam tank engine, which, in turn, brought back more empties for the next run. Continue reading

I didn’t like being around children, so school was like a double life sentence

Writer Philip Whiteland, of Doveridge, shares early memories of his school days in Burton.

IN my last column, I was bemoaning the fact that the uncles in my family (and it was always  uncles for some reason)  used to say: “You should enjoy your school years, Philip, they’re the happiest days of your life”. 
My views on school didn’t really change dramatically from when I was five – and they were pretty dismal then.
About three weeks into my formal education, I apparently decided that I didn’t want to participate any more.
I can actually remember something about this and I think the problem was that I suddenly realised I was stuck at school until I was at least 15.
As this seemed like a double life sentence, with no chance of remission, I determined that they could stick this idea. 
It wasn’t school per se that I didn’t like. I quite enjoyed learning new things and being creative. I just wasn’t all that keen on other children, particularly in any number. Continue reading

Carl saw more swelling rice than fighting while on board


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Royal Navy veteran Carl Whitby, of Mickleover, talks to Jane Goddard about his service in the Far East during the Second World War.

WHEN he thinks about all those who did not come back from the Far East campaign during the Second World War, Carl Whitby knows that he is a very lucky man.

During more than two years with the Royal Navy stationed in the Tropics, he saw no fighting and the most critical incident his ship had to deal with was swelling rice in its hold!

Even at the age of 89, Carl’s memories of those long-gone days are as sharp as if they had happened yesterday.

And he treasures these rare photographs taken during his time sailing between the likes of India, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma.

Born in Canal Street, Derby, in 1923, Carl attended Ashbourne Road and Kedleston Road Schools before following the well-worn path of many Derby lads in those days to become an apprentice at the Loco Works.

He was signed on as an apprentice fitter and turner in November 1937. When the war started, his job was on the list of reserved occupations so it was not until 1943, aged 19, that Carl volunteered for the Navy. Continue reading

‘My grandfather drove the last tramcar to make its way through streets of city’


These two rather grainy images, taken from the Derby Telegraph, record an important date in the city’s public transport history. Jane Goddard reports.

A RECENT story, recalling the introduction of  electric tramcars to the streets of Derby in 1904, proved of more than passing interest to reader Patricia Elliott.
For Mrs Elliott’s grandfather, William Spencer, was given the very special honour, some 30 years later, of driving the very last tramcar service on its final journey before  they were replaced by a new mode of transport.
Mrs Elliott, of Mickleover, explained: “Seeing Mr Redfern’s photograph and article reminded me of an article my own family had discovered some time ago.
“It was about the last tramcar in Derby and was published on Tuesday, July 3, 1934. It reported that my maternal grandfather, William Spencer, was given the honour of taking charge of the last tramcar journey on its way back to the depot on Osmaston Road.
“He was accompanied by the Mayor of Derby, Alderman H Slaney.
“My mother, Hilda Brassinton, who is now 97, can still remember polishing the buttons and number 33 on William’s uniform before the big day. Continue reading

Father set up butcher’s shop in our front room after losing job


Readers continue to send in  memories of the New Zealand area of Derby. Jane Goddard reports.

MENTION of long-gone corner shops always seems to spark many memories among our readers and this has certainly proved to be the case with Jill Brownsword’s recent recollections about the New Zealand area of Derby.
James Sharp is the latest  to write in with his own memories. He clearly remembers most of the shops mentioned by Jill in her article and has included some more details about some of the businesses which used to be located in Langley Street.

Mr Sharp, who now lives in Allestree, said: “I was born in Langley Street, at number 12, which  was the butcher’s shop mentioned by Jill, then run by Jack Hughes. Mr Hughes bought the shop from my father, Fred Sharp, who started the business in 1931-32. Continue reading

Memories are prompted of the Burma Star Association Club


Recent mention of Burma Star Association veterans prompted Doreen Turnbull to search through her photograph albums. Jane Goddard reports.

George Wilkins playing the drums at the Burma Star club in Charnwood Street, Derby. Who is the man playing the piano?

REGULAR visits to Derby’s Burma Star Association Club were part and parcel of Doreen Turnbull’s life.
Doreen, nee Wilkins, and her eight brothers and sisters would be taken to the club on Charnwood Street by their dad, George.
George, a Second World War veteran who served in Burma, was a drummer who played at the club along with a pianist whom Doreen thinks was called Ken.
Doreen, of Spondon, said: “My dad took me for many years. We would all have a great sing-song.
“Then, later in life, we all still went with my dad and took our own children with us.
“They are all grown up and married now, with children of their own, but they still remember our visits to the club.
“One of the names that stands out from those days was Arthur Mellor. He was a close friend of my dad’s.
“There was also Jack and Florrie Beech, from the West End of Derby, and Danny Barlow and Bill Belchere.
“My dad often talked to us about his time in Burma when he returned home from the war.
“He told us what they had all gone through out there. It must have been terrible, especially for the ones who came back without their comrades.
“He told us that he had a pet monkey in Burma, which he called Nelly. We wanted him to bring it back with him but he said he couldn’t because the monkey wanted to stay with its family.
“My dad caught malaria while he was out there. He had bouts of it when he came back and I remember how awful it was seeing his suffering.
“But it must have been heart-breaking for people whose loved ones never returned. They will always be remembered.
“My older sister and myself got a white sheet to put up at the window for dad for when he came back saying ‘Welcome Home Daddy’. Of course, the day he came home, we hadn’t finished the embroidery but he still said it was beautiful.

“Before dad went to Burma he would tell us to get under the table when the air raid sirens sounded.
“He would tell us the siren was warning us that the German planes were saying,  ‘We are coming, we are coming’.
“Then the all-clear would sound and he would say, ‘The enemy is saying we are going, we are going, you can come out now’.”

Visiting a graveyard with Gran was like a trip to the sweet shop


Helen Clark, of Ockbrook and Borrowash Historical and Archaeological Society, tells the story of life-long Borrowash resident Joan Millband – the latest person to commit their memories to the group’s ongoing Unexamined Lives project.

JOAN Millband has lived in Borrowash all her life but is not planning on being buried there. This is despite the fact that she is no stranger to cemeteries; a graveyard visit was as integral to her childhood as a trip to the sweet shop.

Joan aged five.

These visits did, however, have some plus points. She said: “I like to read headstones. You can learn a lot from headstones, can’t you?”

But on balance, Joan could have done without the regular pilgrimages to Nottingham Road Cemetery.

“I used to have to go up winter, summer, rain and snow, with my Gran and my Auntie Annie Boothwaite and take these damn flowers,” Joan remembered.
“I used to have to go and get the water and take it back.”

Any flowers left over after family graves had been decorated would be placed on the  grave of an unknown boy.

Joan explained: “The ground wasn’t consecrated where he was. The Boys’ Brigade or someone from the chapel made a wooden cross for it and there was a jam jar.

“I used to go and put my little bits and pieces in it. It was just a mound of earth. Continue reading