HERITAGE

Albert Ball – Nottingham's WW1 Ace Fighter Pilot

On Tuesday evening, September 19th, the Heritage Group Committee welcomed Mr. Peter Hammond to the Memorial Hall to give his talk on that famous son of Nottingham, Albert Ball.

Albert Ball

More than 30 people came to listen to the talk, and it was especially pleasing that two descendants from Albert Ball`s family were also present in the audience. Vincent Armstrong and Vanda Day are Albert's great nephew and great niece respectively.

Although it is true to say that we all know something about Albert Ball, Peter Hammond gave a comprehensive account of his early life, his developing interest and involvement in flying, and his many valiant deeds during the WW1 conflict. Peter also threw in a number of observations of Albert`s personal life, including his relationships with several members of the opposite sex!

Albert`s story was told through the many letters he wrote, mostly to his father but also to his girlfriends at the time. Peter took us through this correspondence which began when he was a schoolboy, particularly when he was a boarder at Trent College. As a student he displayed only average ability, while his main interests lay in more practical pursuits such as engineering.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Albert, aged 17, enlisted in the British Army and in his keenness to get into the action soon transferred to the North Midlands Cyclists Company. This, however, did not satisfy his thirst for real adventure over in France, and he began to take private flying lessons at Hendon Aerodrome. After some months of somewhat variable progress he finally gained his transfer to the Royal Flying Corps and became a fully-fledged pilot.

It was from this point that his skill as a fighter pilot really blossomed. In his career he flew a variety of planes, and although he liked some more than others, he achieved consistent success in combat.

Peter gave us an account of many of Albert`s missions and contact with the enemy, and although there were a number of occasions when he only just managed to limp home in badly-damaged aircraft, it was clear from his continued correspondence that he was still enjoying the action. Words such as 'ripping' and 'topping' occurred frequently in his letters home!

In the meantime, honours and tributes to his skills and achievement continued to accumulate, and in 1917 he was made an Honorary Freeman of Nottingham. In his military career promotions also followed until he received the title of Captain. It was around this time that on one of his spells of leave he met an 18-year old Flora Young and within a few months they became engaged. However, it was beginning to be clear that Albert was wearying of war, and in his last letter to his father he described himself as 'feeling like a murderer'.

It was also in May 1917 that Albert's luck finally ran out. He and his squadron encountered a number of German fighter planes near Douai. In the ensuing dogfight Albert's plane was last seen falling upside down towards the ground in a pall of black smoke. When he was found by the Germans he was badly injured and already dead

Albert Ball

Albert Ball was buried not far from where he fell, alongside other German casualties. l The Germans erected a cross over his grave in Annoeullin Cemetery, near Lille, as their tribute to this courageous pilot.

Back in England, he was posthumously awarded a VC to add to his DSO's. Other tributes soon followed, and to this day a monument to Albert Ball can be seen in the grounds of Nottingham Castle.

Albert Ball

Peter Hammond's talk was both entertaining and informative, richly illustrated by the letters from his personal collection, and it is thanks to him that his audience left having learned a great deal more about one of Nottingham's most famous sons.

Ken Shelton.

Albert Ball

Heritage: Celebration Weekend

As in previous years, the Heritage Group opened up the Parish Room for their contribution to the Celebration Weekend.

Celebration Weekend

This year, their exhibition centred on a display of the history of some of the Cropwell Village families. Family trees of several well-known families were shown, along with some interesting stories related to their lives.

Almost 60 people visited the exhibition, and the committee members in attendance were kept busy both answering questions and receiving information from the visitors.

Also on display was our collection of old household, kitchen and other items which had been in regular use in the village over the last 200 or so years. These were of great interest to old and young alike, although the younger visitors were more than a little puzzled by some of the items on display!

Overall, the exhibition proved very successful, and it helped to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining the extensive history and heritage of the village we live in today.

Ken Shelton.


Celebration Weekend
Celebration Weekend

Village Celebration Weekend

As our contribution to the Celebration Weekend we will be opening up the Parish Room on Saturday 1st July from 10am to 4pm and on Sunday 2nd July from 10am to 12noon for a new exhibition entitled ‘Village Families and Places’.

From the many families we could have included in the displays we have selected just a few to illustrate the various ways in which they have been a part of village life. Some have been landowners, some have provided employment for villagers, while others have taken prominent roles in the local church, school or parish council.

Come and take a look at the exhibits, which will include details of the family trees. Talk to the committee members who will be on hand to answer your questions. You may find that you are related to someone you never knew about!

Ken Shelton.

Nottingham's Lace-Making Heritage

On Tuesday 27th September Heritage Group members and visitors attended an illustrated talk on Nottingham`s central role in the development of the lace-making industry.

The talk was given by Dr. Amanda Briggs- Goode, who is the Head of the Department of Textiles, Fashion and Knitwear at Nottingham Trent University.

Amanda began her talk by summarising the history of lace- making in our area from its beginnings in 1589 to the present day. She told us how in the early 20th century there was as many as 60,000 people employed in all aspects of lace production. It was interesting too to learn that `Nottingham` lace can be produced anywhere in the world, since it is simply a type of lace first developed by Nottingham lace manufacturers to combine the best features of machine-made lace with handmade lace.

In the 1830`s the Nottingham lace industry received a boost when the Government of that time recognised the importance of maintaining and improving the quality of British manufactured products. In Nottingham in 1843 this initiative provided a grant to set up the School of Design in what is now Heathcote street. This proved such a success that in 1863 a new building was commissioned to house the Nottingham School of Art and Design – the Waverly Building. This familiar building still houses the School which is now incorporated into Nottingham Trent University.

After World War one, significant changes in fashion took place, which meant that far less lace was used on clothing. This prompted manufacturers to look for new applications and outlets for lace, and they turned to the School of Art and Design for ideas. The move proved so beneficial that today there is still a number of students in the Waverley Building working on new lace designs.

Of course, as Amanda told us, the heritage of lace designs, samples and books is far from forgotten and it provides a valuable resource for her students to refer to. Their archive is reputed to contain 75,000 items, ranging from the oldest - a 16th century piece of Venetian lace - to the most recent collections.

Some of these later collections have international significance. William H. Pegg was an innovative lace designer, whose collection on his death in 1946 was bought by the School for 100 guineas. After WW2 Harry Cross was famous for designing the Battle of Britain Panel, which measured 450cm by 162cm. and took three years to make. This depicted scenes from that war and led to 35 copies being made and sent to various locations, eg. Commomwealth countries, throughout the world. One copy has also been retained in the archives of Nottingham castle.

Around Nottingham, although the golden age of lace-making has long passed, there is still evidence remaining. While everyone is familiar with the imposing manufacturers` buildings in the Lace Market, a walk along Broadway still shows some evidence of lace working in the buildings in which the small shops are now located. More recently, the exterior panelling of the Contemporary Art Gallery in Weekday Cross can be seen to contain decoration which reflects traditional lace design.

Finally, Amanda said that their LACE HERE:NOW exhibition, which was on display from September 2012 to February 2013, is to be held again at some point in the not too distant future. Something to look out for!

Such an interesting talk with so much information, and Chairman David Sibley acknowledged this when giving his thanks to Dr. Briggs-Goode.

Ken Shelton.

Distant Relatives Meet

Distant relatives

Distant cousins Ken Shelton and Ray Shelton have just met for the first time here in Cropwell Bishop.

While Ken has lived in the village for just a year, Ray has lived for most of his 87 years on the south coast in Worthing.

Ray and his friend Tom made the trip up north specifically to attend a funeral in Ollerton, but took the opportunity to come over to Cropwell to meet Ken. They were also introduced to Anne Terzza and Ken`s wife Margaret, who have spent a lot of time piecing together the family history of the Sheltons of Cropwell Bishop.

Both Ken and Ray have a common ancestor from several generations back. Robert Shelton was born in 1760 and married Sarah Waite in 1783. Robert died in1809 and Sarah followed in 1818. Their headstones can still be seen standing side by side in St. Giles churchyard.

Ray was impressed with his visit and has pledged to return to the village soon to learn more about the Shelton family and their lives and times in Cropwell Bishop.

Ken Shelton.

Nottingham in the Great War

On Tuesday 17 May, and following the Heritage Group`s Annual General Meeting, the 35 members who attended the meeting enjoyed an illustrated talk by local author Carol Lovejoy Edwards.

Carol, who has recently published her book entitled "Nottingham in the Great War", presented a detailed account of how the outbreak of World War 1 affected everyone`s lives in Nottingham and the surrounding areas.

Against a background of the actions of the Suffragette Movement coupled with the Irish problem, the mood in Nottingham could only be lightened by the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1914. The royal couple stayed at Welbeck Abbey as guests of the Duke of Portland, although Carol added that his previous guests had been Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Wilhelm!

At the beginning of the war there was much for the authorities in Nottingham to consider. A Sherwood Foresters regiment due to leave for France was suddenly diverted to Ireland and the Council held a debate on whether Goose Fair should be called off. They decided that it should go ahead, but the following year the fair was indeed cancelled. Many men volunteered to go to the front, while at home with supplies affected food shortages soon developed, leading to an increase in queues, hoarding and petty crime.

Soon Nottingham had to deal with injured soldiers returning for treatment and an influx of Belgian refugees. As a result, medical and social facilities became stretched. However, there were a number of benefactors helping out and large companies such as Boots and Players also provided support, notably for the soldiers fighting at the front.

Meanwhile, in 1916, the war came to Nottingham in the shape of two Zeppelin raids. The first was ineffective, with bombs being dropped in fields outside of the city. The second, however, was more serious, with a number of hits in the Meadows area.

While the recruitment campaign saw no shortage of volunteers in the early stages, as the war progressed conscription was introduced. Carol gave examples of a number of excuses which were put forward to the conscription committee but these were rejected without exception.

In the absence of so many men, and with all employment changing to aid the war effort, Carol described how the role of women also changed significantly. While some women went off to war, the others left behind took over the mens`jobs. One notable example was the creation of the Land Army. Women also worked in the two munitions factories in Nottingham. This was a hazardous job, and many were killed in the explosion at the Chilwell shell filling factory, when 134 lives were lost. Carol told us that the victims were buried in a mass grave at St. Mary`s church in Attenborough.

Carol concluded her talk with one final fact. When the war came to an end in 1918 this did not mean that those who had been serving at the front were swiftly demobilised since peace was not officially declared until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

At the end of her talk Carol was congratulated by Chairman David Sibley for providing members with such an interesting and informative presentation.

Ken Shelton.

Snapshot of Photographic History

Last Tuesday, well known to a number of people in the audience, Sue Clayton from the Flintham Museum treated the Heritage Group to a fascinating journey through the history of photography from the earliest times to the Box Brownie and beyond.

Although faced with a howling gale, 25 brave souls battled their way to the Memorial Hall to listen Sue`s talk and were rewarded with a most interesting presentation.

Before photography, the only way to have one`s likeness reproduced was through the painting of a portrait.  But, of course , this remained almost exclusive to royalty and the aristocracy. What was needed was a way of producing  images of places and people easily and without great expense so that these became within reach of the general population, but it wasn`t until the 1800`s that this began to become a reality.

Along the way, some progress had been made.  As expected for a man before his time, Leonardo da Vinci had demonstrated how light from an image passing through a pinhole could be seen on a card on the other side, albeit upside down. The Frenchman Daguerre had devised a system to produce an image on a copper plate, but it was Henry Fox-Talbot in England who developed a method of creating a negative which then allowed multiple photographic copies to be made.

Such were these advances that by the mid 1880`s the first photographic studios were being set up, where people could get their photo taken at an affordable cost.  But, as Sue explained, this was still no easy matter. The subject, having turned up in his or her Sunday best were first of all `assessed`.

This meant that if the clothes that they were wearing were of an unsuitable colour for the photographic process, they would be asked to change into other ones held at the studio, and these were often ill-fitting and uncomfortable, They would then be led to a room at the top of the building which would be entirely constructed of glass so as to maximise the light. They would be turned to be facing the light and then be clamped into position for the exposure, which could take about 2 minutes . During this time the subject had to maintain the same expression. At this point in her talk, Sue called for a volunteer to try this out but he failed after a little over a minute!  As Sue said, this strict procedure explains why the old photographs of our ancestors have them looking so stern.

Developments then went on apace with the first photographers experimenting with different method and photographic media. Many died young, most likely through exposure to the toxic chemicals they worked with. But through their efforts modern photography was born.  Costs were reduced, the first cameras preloaded with film became available, and with exposure times dramatically reduced  taking photographs became a popular pastime. Sales of photograph albums soared, as people stored the photos they had taken,  convenient for family viewing and discussions.  Now we have entered the digital age where will this take us in the future?

Sue concluded her talk by leaving us to ponder that question, and it was only left for Ann Mansell to thank her on behalf of the audience for giving us such an absorbing presentation.  

Ken Shelton

Ann Mansell

Contact

If you would like to find out more about the activities of the Heritage Group, contact Ann Mansell (tel: 989-2770)