Cropwell Bishop Streets: 44. Nottingham Road - part 2

Nottingham Road

When you drive into the village from the A46, at what point on Nottingham Road do you think of yourself as having entered the village? Is it when you pass the Cropwell Bishop sign – or maybe not until you reach the 30mph sign and the Memorial Hall?

A hundred years ago, by the time you reached this point on a summer’s evening, you would have already passed through the busiest part of the village.

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Walking down Nottingham Road

Walking down that dusty road in the early decades of the 1900s, you would probably witness a hive of activity ahead.

You might brush shoulders with chattering gypsum workers on their way home, ghostlike with their covering of white dust. And be passed by Heaselden's carts loaded with ground gypsum. And all this before you reached the Town End Canal Bridge.

You would pass by the black wooden bungalow opposite Heaselden's Works.

The black wooden bungalow
The black wooden bungalow that stood here for over 70 years opposite the black Works Shed.
The wooden bungalow in later years – now with TV (1960s)
The wooden bungalow in later years – now with TV (1960s)

Wind forward 100 years and it all looks so different but somehow retains that feeling of being an entry zone – not somewhere to stop on your way to the village.

industrial units and storage facilities
First on the left are modern industrial units and storage facilities (2020)
brick bungalow
Then comes the brick bungalow that replaced its wooden predecessor (2020)
the entrance to Smalley's Farm (2020)
And then the entrance to Smalley's Farm (2020)
Creamery building
On the other side if the road, in place of Heaselden's metal Works Shed, stands the Creamery building. It looks more attractive and is no doubt a safer and more pleasant place to work than the Works Shed on a winter's day (2020)

Continuing our walk, to reach the village centre we have to cross the Grantham Canal. No need to get our feet wet though, the Town End Bridge takes us up and over.

Town End Bridge
Approaching the Town End Bridge (1930s)

Nottingham Road
The same stretch of road today – but without the bridge (2020)

Once you reach the top of the humpback bridge, you pause and look to your right. Looking along the canal and beyond its curve – the scene is so busy, and mostly red.

Canal view
That same view today. No longer from the top of the Town End Bridge, and a very different scene from 100 years ago (2020)

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A Red Revolution in Cropwell Bishop

view from Town End Bridge in 1898
The view from Town End Bridge in 1898: what is going on?

The view from Town End Bridge would not have been obstructed by greenery as it is today. You would have faced more red than green.

Gypsum was certainly the dominant mineral output from Cropwell Bishop during the 1900s. Even in the 1800s its output was important, but it was outstripped by another mineral.

Long before the start of large-scale mining of gypsum began near the Old Mill on Kinoulton Road in 1880, there had been big factories in, and around, Cropwell Bishop.

They used miners too, but they weren't digging for white lumps of rock – they were scooping up clay. Red clay to make bricks, tiles and pipes.

It was the Grantham Canal that made these enterprises possible. For the first time in local history, heavy loads could be transported to the centre of large populations easily, quickly and profitably.

Small brickworks had existed on the outskirts on Cropwell Bishop in the early 1800s. There was one alongside the canal near the Fosse Way, the Hoe-Hill Brick and Tile Works.

It was just outside the parish of Cropwell Bishop but was certainly supplying bricks to local builder in the 1840s.

Map of Hoe-Hill Brickworks in the 1840s
Hoe-Hill Brickworks in the 1840s (1880s map)

Hoe-Hill Brickworks
Hoe-Hill Brickworks. In the 1840s, demand for bricks was so great that carts would turn up in the middle of the night to ensure they got fresh bricks, sometimes burning their hands as they loaded them fresh from the kiln. It closed in the 1850s (1870s photo)

There was once a brickyard at the other end of the village, where the canal leaves Cropwell Bishop – near the Colston Bassett Road and Blue Hill. Maps show it was a working brickyard in the 1830s but seems to have ceased not long after.

Map of brickyard near the canal on the Colston Bassett Road. (1836 map)
A brickyard was near the canal on the Colston Bassett Road. (1836 map)

Then there were the brickyards that were in the centre of Cropwell Bishop – beside the canal, of course.

There was once a small one near the Roving Bridge on Kinoulton Road, but the biggest, and most recent, brickworks, was the 'Brick, Tile and Pipe Works' opposite Canal Farm near Nottingham Road.

These were the Works that could be seen from the top of Town End Bridge.

It was owned by the Midland Brick and Mineral Company, but everyone referred to it as the Cotton Brickworks: it was owned by a William Cotton.

Map showing Cotton Brickworks
The yellow tinted, 'Brick, Tile and Pipe Works' was the William Cotton Brickworks.
The blue tinted brickworks was an older, smaller yard. (1898)

In the 1890s, the Cotton Brickworks was a thriving business and in 1898 it planned to go public. The prospectus printed for this step reveals interesting facts.

It was turning out 45,000 bricks a week and it was stated that, “an additional £500 could increase output to 75,000.” The clay reserves were thought to be sufficient for 50 years.

It is amusing to note that at this brickworks they were mining red clay and discarding the white gypsum as waste whilst, 500 metres away, over the Kinoulton Road, they were mining gypsum and discarding the clay.

Apparently, the brickworks had a great pile of "waste"; “several thousand tons of gypsum ready for grinding.”

It was stated that the company was making a profit of £3,500 p.a. and it was being sold for £23,000. Get your money back in 7 years – looks like a good investment for someone with the cash.

It is not known if William Cotton got his money but we do know that the brickworks had a life much shorter than anticipated.

Just 7 years later, Samuel Heaselden had purchased land next to the brickworks and was sinking shafts in his search for gypsum seams.

He appears to have been a smarter businessman than William Cotton: he not only sold the gypsum he mined, but also the clay (marl) that lay between the seams.

The view behind the Cotton brickworks
The view behind the Cotton brickworks. Are those the piles of "gypsum waste", I wonder. (1898)

1930s view of the remains of the Cotton brickworks
By the 1930s, the high chimney is all that remains of the Cotton brickworks. This is the view from Skylark Hill, looking towards Cropwell Bishop.

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Town End Bridge

Descending from the brow of Town End Canal Bridge on our imaginary walk, we might well have been faced, not by buildings, but by hordes of people.

A crowd of village folk, waiting outside Canal Farm for the arrival of its farmer, Joe Blades.

It was not Joe they were after, but what he might bring them. Joe Blades, not only looked after the farm, but also the village bus.

Twice a week he drove to Nottingham, and when he returned to Canal Farm at dusk, he would unload his passengers, and also any packages that village folk had arranged to be collected from the city.

Old Canal Farm today (2020)
Old Canal Farm today (2020)

Joe enjoyed a long working day. As well as looking after village folk, he also took care of canal barges. They moored up outside his farm or in the Cropwell Basin on the other side of the bridge.

He carried out any repairs that needed doing. Even the barge horses were not forgotten – they could bed down in his stables. Joe was said to be a happy character with his fingers into everything.

He would use his motor bus for day trips, but this new form of transport had yet to be perfected.

When horses had pulled the carriages, they always managed to haul their full load up every hill, but the motorbus couldn’t cope: passengers had to get out and walk up hills.

We have to thank villager and gypsum worker, Norman Sheppard, for these recollections. He recounted them to his son, Colin, in 1981.

He also recalled the remarkable feat of two Cropwell Bishop men, Bill Fogg and Gershom Hampson, one winter when the Grantham Canal was frozen over. They skated all the way to Grantham – and back again on the same day.

Nottingham Road as it drops down from Town End Bridge (1920s)
Nottingham Road as it drops down from Town End Bridge (1920s)
The same stretch of road today
The same stretch of road today (2020)
Town End Bridge (1930s)
Town End Bridge (1930s)
A Heaselden barge
A Heaselden barge. Behind, you can see the houses at the junction of Nottingham Road, including the houses known as Parkers Row (1920s)
Town End Bridge: 1920 map overlay on a 2020 satellite image
Town End Bridge: 1920 map overlay on a 2020 satellite image
Grantham Canal with Hoe Hill in the background (2020)
Grantham Canal with Hoe Hill in the background (2020)

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Memorial Hall

The Memorial Hall is a familiar part of Cropwell Bishop’s heritage but, compared to many many of our old buildings, it is relatively new.

Memorial Hall (2020)
Memorial Hall (2020)

In the early 1910s when the gypsum mines and brickworks were in full swing, the Memorial Hall hadn’t been imagined: neither had the First World War.

Eleven Cropwell Bishop men died in that War.

In March 1919, there was a public meeting to discuss proposals for a suitable memorial within the village. By the end of 1920, a Memorial Window had been installed inside St Giles Church and a Roll of Honour inside the school (now the Old School).

Even so, there was still a band of villagers who wished to see a hut or hall built within the village.

Encouraged by the moral and financial support of Mr J. N. Derbyshire, owner of the Gotham Company that mined gypsum east of Kinoulton Road, a building committee was formed in 1924. Herbert Heaselden also gave valuable financial support

Initial plans were drawn up in 1925 and fundraising for its completion began.

As part of this effort, the first Village Fete was held on 1st August 1925. The charges for admission and afternoon teas made it a successful event. A Fete, or similar event, has been held in the village most years ever since – usually at the end of July.

At that first Fete, skittles was especially popular with the prize of a pig for the winning man and a Stilton cheese for the winning woman.

Nevertheless, before they could move forward with the project, a site first had to be found for the building.

Their search ended when the present 4 acres site was bought from the Ministry of Health. The decision to build the Hall there seemed sensible: it was already an area of intense human activity.

It was on Friday 6th July 1928 that the project was given the go-ahead.

It would cost £1220 and over half of this total was raised by the people of Cropwell Bishop. They also helped keep costs down by doing a lot of the hard work themselves. Men, wives and children devoted their spare evenings to getting the job done.

Men helping to build the Memorial Hall
Men helping to build the Memorial Hall
Men helping to build the Memorial Hall
Boys helping to build the Memorial Hall
Boys helped too

Just 12 months later, in the summer of 1929, it was finished and, on the 3rd August 1929, Mrs J.N. Derbyshire officially opened the Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall shortly after it was built (1930s)
Memorial Hall shortly after it was built (1930s)

In October 1929, the Charity Commissioners were asked to become Trustees, and all organisations which were involved with or used the Hall were asked to appoint representatives to serve on the Memorial Hall Committee.

The first trustees were: Mary Elnor, Thomas Barlow, Mr Duncalf, Herbert Heaselden and William Parkin.

Tennis courts were laid out on the playing field in 1932, and electric lighting was also installed – but it would be 1938 before mains water arrived.

Anyone for tennis? (1930s)
Anyone for tennis? (1930s)

The most important date in the history of the Cropwell Bishop Memorial Hall was Wednesday 29th June 1932 when His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited the Hall.

Edward Prince of Wales visited the Hall in June 1932
Edward Prince of Wales inspects Ex-Service Men
(June 1932)
Edward Prince of Wales visited the Hall in June 1932
Prince Edward meets the people of Cropwell Bishop
(June 1932)

There was a report of the visit in the Nottingham Guardian Newspaper, in which stated:

It was a hard struggle and in the last stage the Notts Rural Community Council obtained a free grant of £190 from the Carnegie Trustees, and a loan of £150 for five years free of interest. Largely through the efforts of Alderman J. N. Derbyshire, a site was secured for a playing field as well as for the Hall.

The latter is admirably adapted to its object, and it is an asset to the village. Movable partitions enable it to be used for teas, dances, meetings, and a variety of other purposes.

A condition of the grant is that the Hall will be managed in perpetuity by a committee representative of all organised interests in the parish – social, religious and sporting.

For more information on this visit, including photographs, see the Parkin Close Street Story.

Developments continued, and 1934 saw the introduction of a cricket pitch for boys, and swings and a see-saw for the younger children of the village.

By 1935 the Memorial Hall was being used for weekly cinema shows. Then a bowling green was proposed and it was completed in August 1936

Cropwell Bishop Football Team (1933)
Cropwell Bishop Football Team (1933)

In October 1935 Mr Derbyshire generously offered to pay half of the outstanding £ 275 which was owed to the Gotham Co, if the remainder could be raised by April 30th 1936: and it was.

Women's Institute 21st birthday party at Memorial Hall in 1937
Women's Institute 21st birthday party at Memorial Hall
(21st July 1937)

The next major change didn’t occur until 1948 when Notts County Council announced it was to flatten Town Bridge and widen and re-align the road.

The widening and re-alignment of the road lead to the loss of a significant portion of land, so the Committee negotiated with the Council to have a double entry drive with wrought iron gates, and a stone wall with a stone tablet in the centre.

The wrought iron gates installed in 1948 are still there today (2020)
The wrought iron gates installed in 1948 are still there today (2020)

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The Memorial Hall Today

The Memorial Hall in June 2021: fenced off
The Memorial Hall in June 2021: fenced off

It is now almost 100 years since the Memorial Hall was built. It was built on a tight budget and is now showing its age.

For many years the Parish Council hired the Memorial Hall for its meetings and, for a brief period, had a tiny office there.

In 2006 the Parish Council decided to take out a 25-year lease on the playing field to ensure that the refurbished play equipment would be maintained to a high standard. Costs have been met from public funds.

It was at this time that the Parish Council decided to have a structural survey of the Hall carried out.

The alarming findings of the survey led to the Parish Council offering to take over the Memorial Hall with a view to demolishing it and replacing it with a larger, more sustainable building whilst retaining the iconic frontage.

The plan was to include office space for the Parish Council but leave the Memorial Hall Committee to run the new building as before.

The Memorial Hall Committee voted to reject this offer.

A few years later, when Rushcliffe Borough Council threatened to demolish the Old School building and sell the land it stood on, the Parish Council decided to buy the building. It saw it as an opportunity to save this, basically sound, building for the benefit of the community and to provide office space for itself.

It felt secure in the knowledge that such a move had the support of 82% of the residents of Cropwell Bishop (as indicated by the Parish Plan Survey of 2008).

Sadly, the Memorial Hall structure has since deteriorated further to the point where, in 2021, it was declared unsafe to enter. This is why it is now closed and fenced off.

Its future remains uncertain.

According to the Charity Commission, the declared Objective of the Memorial Hall’s Trustees is the:

“Provision and maintenance of a village hall for the use of the inhabitants of the parish of Cropwell Bishop without distinction of political religious or other opinions, including the use for meetings, lectures and classes and for other forms of recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life of the inhabitants.”

It is to be hoped that a way will be found to build the facilities expected in the 21st Century so that the committee’s noble objectives can be achieved for both current and future generations in Cropwell Bishop.

It may be that some people are reluctant to see demolished a building that was built (with the help of villager folk) in memory of those who didn’t return from the Great War of 1914-18.

In this Street Story we have seen how invigorated people were both during and after the building of the Hall. In the first 6 years they built tennis courts and bowling greens, they established clubs and put on plays, they started a cinema and a football team, and they continued having a village fete every year.

Yes, a Hall was built, which was a satisfying achievement, but, I wonder, did the feeling of optimism stem more from the spirit of togetherness brought on by working together on a great project with real meaning.

Maybe this feeling was as valuable as the building itself in helping families face up to the sorrow brought on by a terrible war.

A century later and the village will soon have to make decisions about the future of the Memorial Hall. Could it be that, once again, the process will be just as important as the bricks and mortar.

The young men who had their future stolen by the Great War, are surely best remembered by something that supports a safer, more stable future for new future generations of our village.

It is the duty of Trustees to make decisions about the future of the Hall but following recent resignations, there is currently, only one trustee – an alarming situation that is out of step with the recommendations of the Charity Commission.

In the past decade, Chris Keast has, on several occasions, asked teams of university students to put forward their ideas for a replacement Hall. Even from the few examples below, you can see that by careful design it is possible to maintain a link with the original design.

A student design that reflects some features of the original Hall (2016)
A student design that reflects some features of the original Hall (2016)
The model of a design idea (2016)
The model of a design idea (2016)
At the time this design was submitted, it was thought that the repair and refurbishment of the Hall might be a feasible option (2016)
At the time this design was submitted, it was thought that the repair and refurbishment of the Hall might be a feasible option (2016)

I wonder if a team of villagers can be formed to make the dreams of century ago come alive again on those historic 4 acres of land that we all share. They will need a clear vision and they will need drive to succeed, but it happened once, and it can happen again.

Fingers crossed.

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Town End Bridge to Kinoulton Road

Continuing our imaginary walk from Town End Bridge to the junction with Kinoulton Road takes us past a row of terrace houses that was known as Parkers Row.

Parkers Row
Parkers Row (1950s)

These homes were built in the 1860s and were occupied by workers of all kinds and their families.

The row of houses was named after the owner, Vincent Parker, who was a wealthy farmer/publican at Canal Farm. He died in 1897.

The Row was demolished in the 1960s.

Nottingham Road when the Town End Bridge stood but the Memorial Hall didn't (1910s)
Nottingham Road when the Town End Bridge stood but the Memorial Hall didn't (1910s)
The bunglow on the corner of Kinoulton Road where Parkers Row once began (2020)
The bungalow on the corner of Kinoulton Road where Parkers Row once began (2020)
The top end of Parkers Row once stood where this modern bungalow now stands (2020)
The top end of Parkers Row once stood where this modern bungalow now stands (2020)

Tony Jarrow

Note: Thanks to Anne Terzza, Pam Barlow, Tony Carter, Chris Keast and the Sheppard family for information and help. I also wish to acknowledge the value of a document by the late Rick Hickman describing the history of the Memorial Hall.

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E-Type Jaguer on Nottingham Road
This E-Type Jaguar was built 60 years ago, but only 40 years after our imaginary walk down Nottingham Road
The view beyond Kinoulton Road
The view beyond Kinoulton Road (2020)

Street Stories – where are the others?

All previously published Street Stories can be found in the Heritage page.

Click the 'Heritage' tab on the right (with mobile phones rotate screen into horizontal position or click the 'More' tab).

Tony Jarrow

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This is where we Live: Cropwell Bishop

Drone photo of Cropwell Bishop
Drone photo of Cropwell Bishop
Drone photo of Cropwell Bishop

Thanks to Colin Bryan for the photos.

A52 Road Diversion from 21st June

We will soon be undertaking utility diversion works at Bingham Road (Harlequin) junction on the A52 in Nottingham.

We will be performing utility works (gas, electric, water and telecoms) to safely move utilities in advance of our proposed main highway works.

These utility diversion works are scheduled to begin on 21 June 2021 and will be conducted primarily through daytime working.

The traffic management will remain in place 24/7.

Kanishka Varoon
A52 Nottingham Junctions Project Manager

A52 Roadworks
A52 Roadworks

Cropwell Bishop Streets: 44. Nottingham Road - part 1

Nottingham Road

Nottingham Road must always have been the most heavily used road in Cropwell Bishop: you had to travel down it to reach the Fosse Way (A46), a Roman Road, and to reach Nottingham, our nearest city.

Going in the other direction was your route to the many villages in the Vale of Belvoir.

It must be as old as any in the area and, consequently, the buildings along it some of the oldest. Even so, we now see only the latest version of numerous forerunners that stood in their place.

This street story will cover the many and varied aspects of the road, and will be quite long. We will start at the top of the hill, where it begins its drop towards the church.

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Gypsum and the Grantham Canal. There can be no doubt that these two had the biggest influence on the growth and expansion of Cropwell Bishop over the last 250 years.

Gypsum has been here, mostly hidden, for millions of years but it needed the machinery of the Industrial Revolution to mine large quantities. And it needed the Canal to easily transport it to customers for Cropwell Bishop to profit it.

Gypsum is a rare and valuable resource. Few sites in Europe could compete with the high-quality gypsum in Cropwell Bishop, and a hundred years ago, the demand from new, expanding industries for this super quality gypsum was growing – and so was its value.

But what is gypsum?

Until about 30 years ago, large, white lumps of gypsum rock could be seen everywhere around the village. They were evidence of our industrial past, but many people probably saw them as no more attractive than lumps of coal in a pit village.

Small lumps were scattered in every ploughed field, and large rocks revealed the boundaries of old mine sites. Some people had them in their garden rockery.

Cropwell Bishop gypsum rock
Cropwell Bishop gypsum rock – not so easy to spot these days

But these rocks don’t last, they are not hard and they quickly weather.

Gypsum is hydrated calcium sulfate: it is calcium sulfate that contains water. Heat it up to 200°C and it gives off 75% of this water. It is then called anhydrous calcium sulfate. Grind this ‘dry’ rock up and you get a fine white powder.

Older villager may remember this powder from their childhood: it was called plaster of Paris. Mix it with water, pour it into a flexible rubber mould, and half-an-hour later you had a small, sharply defined little animal, house or Micky Mouse. Next day, paint and varnish it and put it on the windowsill for the whole world to see.

These days, there is far more competition for the interests of children. Older folk, eager to relive their childhood, can buy complete kits online for just £14.

Any left-over plaster of Paris could, I suppose, be offered to a hospital; it has long been used with bandages to make plaster-casts for broken bones.

If this was the only use for gypsum, Cropwell Bishop would not have become as famous as it did 100 years ago.

Since the 14th Century, large lumps of gypsum were described as gypsum alabaster and used to make vases and ornaments. It is a soft rock and easy to carve – you can scratch it with your finger nail. But it will eventually dissolve in water so is no good for outdoor use. Even so, when polished, it can look like marble. It is highly likely that you have seen alabaster carvings in churches.

A century ago, the demand for ground gypsum – including the ‘undried’ form – rapidly increased as it started to play an important part in the manufacture of paper, cement, beer, paint, pottery, manures, medicines and other products.

Gypsum was formed at a time when much of the Earth was covered by seas – over 250 million years ago.

When seas dried out, they left behind the minerals dissolved in the water, including calcium sulfate, which forms gypsum.

During the hundreds of millions of years since then, continual movement of the Earth’s plates, has forced these layers underground.

Seams of gypsum exist in relatively few places in the world, but one such place is Paris (France) – hence the name, “plaster of Paris”.

In England, layers have been mined in Cumbria and Sussex, but, amazingly, there have been 6 gypsum mines within 30 miles of Cropwell Bishop

Whilst gypsum had been dug up in Cropwell Bishop for centuries, it was in the late 1800s that large-scale mining began. The initial site was down by the canal on Kinoulton Road.

In the early 1900s, mining began on sites alongside Nottingham Road. It all started when a wealthy man named Samuel Heaselden, came to live in Cropwell Bishop.

He had had a house built on Church Street, Ebenezer House, and then began buying land around the village — including fields south of where the Creamery Storage Unit now stands on Nottingham Road.

Nottingham Road
1940 map showing gypsum workings. The area tinted yellow was mined by Heaselden and Son Ltd.

In 1905 he sunk a shaft at a spot between Skylark Hill and where the Creamery’s Storage Building now stands. When the shaft was about 25m deep, he found what he was hoping for: gypsum.

In some parts of the world, gypsum seams are several metres thick, but in Cropwell Bishop they were relatively thin. Nevertheless, the gypsum that Heaselden mined was very pure — probably the finest in England.

This made the gypsum mined by Heaselden particularly valuable to the medical, paint and paper industries and the resulting high demand made it highly profitable.

The mining of gypsum was hard manual work – and dangerous. Gangs of miners would tunnel into the seams of gypsum to remove it – using explosives when necessary.

A Cropwell Bishop miner, Harold Lacey, wrote a description of his experiences at the Heaselden mine:
“Workers were lowered down the shaft in a small wooden tub (2 men at a time) by a crane”.
He left a sketch of the arrangement:

Nottingham Road

More shafts were sunk and eventually there were a total of six.

From each one radiated workings down to a depth, ranging from 14 to 30 metres, with a slope of 1 in 60 running south.

The gypsum was found in three layers, each about 25 cm thick. About 90% was of the best quality – a higher proportion than anywhere else in the country.

During the 1920s, over 70% of output was for the paper trade.

As a commercial operation, it was not enough just to mine the rocks, they had to be ‘processed’ to make the gypsum useful.

In 1909, Samuel Heaselden had a large, black, iron shed built: it acquired the name, "Heaselden Works", or just “the Works”. It stood just where the Creamery Storage Unit now stands.

In the Works, gypsum was processed in the same way as at the Cropwell Mill on Kinoulton Road — except there was no kiln for making anhydrous calcium sulfate. To find out more about Cropwell Mill, see the Kinoulton Road Street Story.

Now, everything was in place for full production.

Cropwell Bishop gypsum rock
Cropwell Bishop gypsum rock – probably the finest in the country
Cropwell Bishop gypsum rock

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Digging out the rocks

In the low tunnels underground, miners used axes and explosives to remove the white rock.

Nottingham Road
Cropwell Bishop miners, Walter Scott and Percy Dutton (1933)
Nottingham Road
Miners, Bill Parnham and Len Taylor, with the Company owner, Herbert Heaselden, behind. Herbert was the son of founder, Samuel Heaselden. (1933)

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Getting rocks to the surface

Lumps were transported in pit tubs to the shafts, where they were lifted to the surface by cranes.

Nottingham Road
Steam navvy used at Heaselden's mine to lift trucks out of the mine (1930s)
Nottingham Road
Herbert Heaselden with two children and 8 workmen at Heaselden's Works (1930s)

Shallow seams could be accessed by a sloping track instead of a shaft.

Nottingham Road
Entrance to a Cropwell Bishop gypsum mine (1910)
Nottingham Road
Steam shovel at Heaselden's quarry with 6 men (1930s)
Nottingham Road
The man on the left is holding a wooden Yard Stick, which indicates that he is a pit deputy – an underground supervisor. (1930)

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Processing the Gypsum

The tubs were then pushed on rail tracks into the Works.

Outside and inside the Works, the rocks were processed. This involved them being sorted, trimmed, cleaned and washed in hot water. Once they were dry, the final step was to grind them to a powder.

Nottingham Road
Men outside the dressing shed (1920s)
Nottingham Road
Men 'dressing' gypsum outside the Works (1920s)
Nottingham Road
Men using pick-axes in the Sorting and Cleaning Shed (1933)

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Getting gypsum to customers

Most of the Company’s output was transported by barges on the Grantham Canal. There was a wharf near to the Works – next to ‘Town End Canal Bridge’ where Nottingham Road crossed the Canal.

The basin on the north side of the bridge was wide enough for barges to turn around — essential for return trips.

Within 15 years, output was over 150 tons a week — enough to send a full barge to Nottingham every day of the week.

Heaselden advert
Clay tips from Heaselden's mine. Photo taken from the church tower in 1949
Town End Bridge (1950)

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After the mine had been working for some years, it was discovered that the material that had been removed as waste from between the layers of gypsum rock, could also be marketed.

This marl (a mixture of clay and fine grains of calcium carbonate) was found to be exceptionally good as a top dressing for cricket pitches, tennis courts, bowling greens and golf courses.

In 1925 a mill was erected specially for handling the marl and output soon reached 50 tons per week.

Heaselden advert

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Grey clay

A third useful material was also mined at the site: grey clay. This proved to be a good heat insulator and was sold for the insulation of steam boilers and pipes.

In this photo, taken from the church tower in 1949, you can see clay tips from the Heaselden mine in the far distance.

Clay tips from Heaselden's mine. Photo taken from the church tower in 1949

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The Company also operated a separate haulage business and had 13 lorries in the early 1930s, including, “the latest type of diesel and steam lorries”.

This is a photo of a Heaselden steam lorry in the 1930s.

Heaseldon steam lorry

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The Heaseldens

The expanding business of Heaselden & Son became a big employer in Cropwell Bishop: over 80 men were employed by the Company during the early decades of the 1900s.

The business became a limited company in 1927 when Samuel Heaselden’s son, Herbert, became the owner and managing director. He carried on developing all aspects of the business in the decades that followed.

Samuel Heaselden suffered ill health during his early 70s, and in 1935 he died at the age of 74.

Herbert, Mary and Samuel Heaselden (1919)
Herbert, Mary (holding baby Mary) and Samuel Heaselden (1919)
Nottingham Road
Herbert Heaselden on the right (1920s)
Samuel Heaselden and his wife, Ethel, with motorcycle and wicker sidecar (1920s)
Samuel Heaselden and his wife, Mary, with motorcycle and wicker sidecar (1920s)

Herbert Heaselden continued developing his mining and other businesses throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

Gradually, open cast mining took over from underground working and the Heaselden mining business came to an end.

Deep, open cast mining by British Gypsum continued until the late 1990’s but, by the end of the century, the mining of gypsum in Cropwell Bishop finally came to an end.

Herbert Heaselden died in 1964 at the age of 72.

Heaseldon graves
The graves of Samuel Heaselden and Mary (left) and Herbert Heaselden and Ethel (right). Behind is Ebenezer House, the family home.

You can find out more about gypsum mining in Cropwell Bishop by reading the Kinoulton Road Street Story.

You can also discover more about the Heaselden family in the Etheldene Street Story and about their home, Ebenezer House, in the Church Street Story.

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Gypsum from across the road

Even when the Heaselden mine closed and the Works shut its doors to gypsum, only to became a grain storage shed, it was not the end of gypsum mining on this side of the village.

In the 1960s, The Gotham Company dug an open-cast mine on the other side of Nottingham Road.

These photos show the view from Nottingham Road looking towards Hoe Hill. The mine was on the land between the Canal and Smalley's Farm.

The Gotham Company's mine on Nottingham Road (1960s approx)

Open cast mining on the land between the Canal and Smalley's Farm. Taken from Nottingham Road. Hoe Hill in the background. (1960s approx)
The Gotham Company's mine on Nottingham Road (1960s approx)

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Tony Jarrow

Note: Thanks to Anne Terzza, Jacques Lacey, Tony Carter and Norman Sheppard for their contributions to this article.

Substations in the Village: Western Power Explain

The installation of two new substations on Hoe View Road & behind Newberry close, are all part of a network reinforcement scheme to improve the distribution system for Cropwell Bishop as part of our obligations as distribution operator.

There are multiple contributing factors, having been assessed by our design engineer, to reach the solution – such as balancing the network, fault restoration timescales, network configuration to enable back feeding, and existing apparatus is aging/inaccessible.

As part of the reinforcement to connect these substations, the cable lay involved along the highway will be the routes shown on the outline plans below.

All excavation and reinstatement will be carried out by our contractors, Network Plus.

At present, having spoken to the technician coordinating the scheme, dates are to be confirmed, but is anticipated July/August.

Heather Pynegar
Western Power

(Thanks to Councillor Colin Bryan for obtaining this information)

Cable map

Cable map

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Jubilee Gardens

The beds in the Jubilee Garden between the church and Old School have been replanted – a task that was planned and completed by a team of village volunteers.

The geraniums and begonias, were lovingly cared for by Sue Ward over the winter and brought on in her greenhouse.

Ed and Sue spent half a day preparing the trough outside the church, removing the large cordyline which had grown too big. A much bigger task than they first thought.

The flower beds had to be cleared of their winter plantings and new liners and compost put into baskets. This was done by Pam Wregg Sue Ward and Natalie Pearson.

Plants had to be purchased – and they had to fit the chosen theme for 2021. This involved a half-day at the nurseries. Even then, they needed bringing-on in the greenhouse.

On planting-day, many hands make light work, and the volunteers were: Natalie Pearson, Pam Wregg, Pauline Tweedale, Mel Stanley, Eilleen Hepworth, Irene Skerritt, Judy Thomas, Eddie Ward and Sue Ward.

To complete the job, new turf was laid to replace the old weed-ridden grass, and this was organised by Parish Cerk, Jan Towndrow.

The volunteers are now on a watering rota for the rest of summer.

The more people who sit in, and enjoy the garden, the happier these volunteers will be.

flower planting
flower planting
flower planting
flower planting
flower planting
flower planting

Licensing Application for the Old Co-op Site: 14 Church Street

Cllr. Moore has done some investigations on our behalf this morning regarding the licensing notice that has gone up at the old Co-op site on Church Street.

It would appear that the change of use to a café/office is no longer going ahead but has been sold on or rented on to a company Esha News.

As yet no planning application has been made for change of use to a shop, but it would more than likely be passed as there was a retail unit there before.

The previous planning application had strict opening times attached to the planning application of 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

This licence application is from 6am till 11pm daily, however, this will currently be overridden by the existing planning permission in place. This does not mean they cannot apply for the licence but that they cannot currently operate outside of the times currently in place on the planning permission given for the site.

If you have any queries/concerns regarding the licencing application, please contact:

Janice Towndrow
Parish Clerk

Tythby Road Closures: REVISED


Cropwell Bishop News — Publication Soon

Covid stopped so much happening in the village, but now there is cautious optimism in the air.

Plans are afoot to restart publishing "Cropwell Bishop News" in the early summer: the first issue is already being put together.

Now is the time for anyone who wants to include an article, notice or advert, to send it to Janice Towndrow at the Old School.

Remember, a copy of the newsletter is delivered through the letterbox of every household in Cropwell Bishop, so it is the best way to keep everyone informed of what has happened, and what is going to happen.

Contact details:

Tony Jarrow