Fern Road – Street Story

Cropwell Bishop Streets: — Fern Road – Part 1

Street Sign

Why is it called Fern Road: an obvious answer would be that there are ferns growing all over the place. But there aren't – it is not like the Derbyshire hills around here.

Two hundred years ago it wasn't called Fern Road, it was called Mill Hill, for good reason: there was a windmill at the top of the hill. All very logical.

So why Fern Road.

Well, in the early 1900s, the house at the top of the hill, set back on the left, was the home of a man who was a nurseryman (he sold plants etc: he didn't look after young children).

He called his business, Fern Hill Nursery.

Now, did he call it that because his house was on top of Fern Hill, or was the road called Fern Hill because a nursery called Fern Hill Nursery was at the top. (Answers to me on a postcard please).

And, even if we did find the answer, we would still have to explain why, nowadays, it is called Fern Road rather than Fern Hill.

It is interesting to note that beyond the top of the hill is Fern Cottage and Fernhill Farm but it doesn't help us to solve the mystery.

Maybe we should just accept the name as it is, and just move on. That sounds a good idea.

Onwards we go ...

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The Turn

The Turn
Cars wait for cows at The Turn (1950s)
Fern Road
This is the same scene in 2020, 70 years later.
Take away the cars and the cows and the differences are not as great as you might have thought – even the tree has the same shape – just a bit thicker.
Most humans would be very happy with that description 70 years on!
St Giles Church (1989)
Fern Road
Looking up Fern Road from The Turn (2020)
Old Post Office
This is where Nottingham Road becomes Fern Road. (2020)
The house on the right is 1 Nottingham Road. Fifty years ago, it was the village post office.
The houses beyond it are on Fern Road, starting with number 2.

Have your noticed that on streets with odd and even numbered houses, number 1 always starts on the left, and number 2 on the right.

When you look at old photographs of the village, you may notice the lack of pavements on many streets.
One early paved stretch of pavement was between the old post office and the lane opposite the church entrance. It was made with rough, limestone flags. You can see some outside the post office in the next photograph.
Old Post Office
Ann Clarke with granddaughter, Ethel, outside the Post Office at No.1 Nottingham Road in 1905.
Ann's late husband, Thomas, had been the sub-postmaster and on his death her son-in-law, John Walker, took over.
When John died in 1924, his wife, Eliza, took over and their 16-year-old son, Wilf Walker, became the postman.
In 1930, when Wilf was 22, he took over as sub-postmaster and continued in the job for the next 43 years.
He retired in 1973.
Fern Road
Fern Road bus stop (2020)
Fern Road
16 Fern Road (2020)
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Around St Giles Church

Boys Brigade 1910
Boys Brigade Band marching by the churchyard in 1910
Boys Brigade 2012
Boys Brigade Band at the same spot, 102 year later, as part of the village Celebration Weekend of 2012.
That was the wonderful summer of the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the London Olympics.
Going to a wedding at the church in 1950s
Villagers, William and Fanny Hopkinson arriving for a wedding at the Church (1950s)
Church gate today
Few will have used the same path for ceremonies of any kind during 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Old shop
The building on the right was demolished in the 1960s. Its shop window belonged to the fish & chip shop there. (1950)
Fern Road
Apart from the chip shop, what else has changed in 70 years? (2020)
St Giles Church (2020)
12 Fern Road
12 Fern Road (2020)
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The two small houses in front of the church were built in 1816. The land they occupied was described as waste land

At that time every parish had to take responsibility for the poor people living there. Monies were collected from a Poor Rate imposed on land owners in the parish.

These two houses were built to house two poor families in need of a home. Such houses were often referred to as Poorhouses.

The first occupants were Thomas Morrel and Ann Hicks and, as a result, the houses were often referred to as, Morrel Cottage and Hicks Cottage.

The larger house, Morrel’s, was built from 1600 bricks and Hicks’ from 500 bricks. The total cost of bricks and the lime was under £4.

They were demolished in the 1960s.

Fern Road in 1910s
Fern Road in 1910s
Fern Road in 1910s
Fern Road in 2020
Horse and cart 1920
Outside Hicks cottage (1920s)
Joe Parnham, roadsweeper, in 1949
Joe Parnham, road-sweeper, outside Hicks cottage (1949)
Morrel's cottage
Morrel's cottage (1920s)
site of Morrel's cottage
Where Morrel's cottage once stood (2017)
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By the School

Old School 1930s
Children posing for a photograph in front of their school (1930s)
Carnival float in 1930s
Float outside the school for some (unknown) celebration (1930s)
An early birds-eye view of Home Farm showing the fish and chip shop and the Old Manor (top left). The shop and Manor were demolished in the 1960s.
Fern Road from the church tower (1970s)
Fern Road from the church tower (1970s)
Old School 1983
The Old School 1983
Old School 1989
The Old School 1989
Old School 2004
The Old School 2004
Old School 2014
The Old School 2014
Old School 2020
The Old School 2020
Old School 2020
The Old School 2020
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Near Stockwell Lane

Fern Road
At first glance, this photo and the three that follow, appear to have been taken at about the same time. Look closer, and you will see subtle differences that prove they were not.
I think they were taken in the order shown – but probably years apart.
Fern Road in 1920s
Fern Road in 1920s
Fern Road in 1920s
Fern Road in 2020
The same view in 2020
Old School House
The Old School House. It was built in around 1882 for William Parkin, the first schoolmaster of Cropwell Bishop School, next door.
Parkin Close is named after him. (2020)
Hoeme Farm
Home Farm (2020)
22 Fern Road
22 Fern Road (2020)
Black and white cottage on Fern Road in 1950s
This is one of the oldest buildings in the village.
Notice how the end walls project high above the roof tiles. This is a sure sign that the tiles have replaced a thatched roof. The thatching, being much thicker than tiles, would have reached the top of the walls.
This photo was probably taken in the 1950s.
Cottage in 1989
This photo was taken in 1989 and shows a number of modifications since the previous photo.
Cottage in 2020
White Cottage (2020)
The Old School and the Old School House today
The Old School and the Old School House (2020)
5A Fern Road
5A Fern Road. This house was built at the same time as the other homes on Stockwell Lane of a similar style.
Because its front door faces Fern Road, its postal address is Fern Road rather than Stockwell Lane.
This is the general rule – but doesn't always hold true. There are homes in Cropwell Bishop that break it. (2020)
28 Fern Road, Dovecote House
Dovecote House: 28 Fern Road.
This house looks new – and it is – but, unusually, it was built around the walls of the former house, revamped, and then extended.
Modern, yet building on the foundations of an older home. The transformation took about two years to complete but progress was obviously hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The appearance of an established front garden has taken just a few months to complete.

Thanks to Anne Terzza, Pam Barlow and Jane Jones for their help with this article.

Tony Jarrow

Cropwell Bishop Streets: — Fern Road – Part 2

Fern Road
After Stockwell Lane, the road begins to rise and the end of Pasture Lane at the bend is in sight (2020)
Fern Road in 1920s
This is the same view long ago – probably in the 1920s.
Cropwell Bishop Surgery
Cropwell Bishop's Surgery opened in 1993. (2020)
Cropwell Bishop Surgery
Cropwell Bishop Surgery (2020)
7 Fern Road (2020)
Cropwell Bishop Surgery under snow
A cool picture of the Surgery (2012)
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A short history of Number 9

9 Fern Road in 1968
9 Fern Road – the home of the Fogg family (1968)
9 & 9A Fern Road
9 and 9A Fern Road (2020)

The above photograph was taken in 1968. The parents of Frank Fogg had lived there but by 1953 both had died and Frank inherited the property.

However, in 1967 Frank decided to have the old house demolished and have a bungalow for himself built in its place.

You can see the newly built bungalow standing behind the old house. The house was demolished later that year.

Then, in 2009, the bungalow was sold and was itself demolished to make way for the two homes that were built in 2010.

Whilst the site looks so different today, not all traces of the past have been erased. Look carefully at the photo of the new houses taken in 2020, and you will notice the dropped kerbstone remains from the time when there was a driveway to the bungalow.

Frank Fogg
Frank Fogg when he worked at the Gypsum Mine (1930s)

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The Manor House and Farm

Manor Farmhouse
The Manor in 2004. It was built in 1880 and was the Farmhouse of Manor Farm.
It was bought by David Salvin in 1915. By 1970, it had been was passed through the family to David and Pam Barlow who lived there the until the barn-conversions at their Manor Farm had been completed.
The Manor
The Manor in 2020 – but it will not look like this for long. Planning permission has been granted for the building of houses between the road and the house.
Manor Farm in 1960s
This photo was taken in the early 1960s.
In the bottom-right, you can see the old house (number 9) that was demolished in 1968
Manor Farm in 1980s
This photo was taken in the 1980s.
The old house seen in the previous picture is no longer there, but the driveway to the bungalow that replaced it, is visible.
Across the road is Manor Farm. The area where the barn stands, was later demolished to make way for the barn-conversions ( Cropwell Manor Court) that now occupy its space.
Manor Farm in 1960s
Another view of Manor Farm taken at the same time as the black & white one above (the animals haven't moved).
At the top of the photo is Pasture Lane. If you walk to the bottom of the lane, you can then follow footpaths to the old church at Colston Bassett.
Manor Farm in the late 1980s
Manor Farm, in the late 1980s. The farm now has three additional barns.
The Manor
The Manor – taken from the back garden. The house was occupied by David and Pam Barlow who also owned, and ran, Manor Farm.
The Manor in 2020
The Manor in 2020
9 and 9A Fern Road
9 & 9A Fern Road (2020)
9A Fern Road
9A Fern Road (2020)
Manor Cottage
Manor Cottage (2020)
Manor Cottage
Manor Cottage: 44 Fern Road (2020)
Became home of Pam and David Barlow (ex Rushcliffe Councillor and Mayor) after it, and other homes, were created from the old farm buildings in their Manor Farm's courtyard in the 1990s. David died in 2010.
Most people will know of Pam through her association with the Memorial Hall where, for decades, she was involved with everything that happened inside and around the Hall.
 Cropwell Manor Court
Cropwell Manor Court (2020)
 Cropwell Manor Court
Manor Cottage (2020)
 Cropwell Manor Court
Cropwell Manor Court (2020)
 Cropwell Manor Court
7 Cropwell Manor Court (2020)
The white houses
11 & 13 Fern Road.
These 8 white houses were built in 1930.
They were originally known as 1—8 Council Houses but, at a later date, then became 11—25 Fern Road. (2020)
15 to 21 Fern Road
15 to 21 Fern Road
Fern Road in the 1980s
In this photograph taken in the 1980s, you can see Frank Fogg's bungalow across the road from The Manor.
Fern Road in the 2010s
This photograph was taken in the 2010s and shows several new buildings since the previous one.
Frank Fogg's bungalow has been replaced by two houses, barn-conversions ( Cropwell Manor Court) have replaced the barn at Manor Farm, and the new Cropwell Bishop Surgery has been built.
Fern Road - looking towards the village centre
Fern Road – looking towards the village centre (2020)
20 & 25 Fern Road
23 & 25 Fern Road (2020)
Fern Road in 2020
Fern Road (2020)
Pasture Lane
Pasture Lane.
The lane leads to footpaths that continue directly to the old church at Colston Bassett (2020)
Fern Road in 1983
The view down Fern Road in 1983
Same view in 2020
37 years later, the view from the same spot: what changes can we spot.
The barn at Manor Farm has been replaced by the homes of Cropwell Manor Court; some trees have grown and some have gone; new lampposts; and the spoil heap (middle distance, left) has gone. Even a cyclist's bike and clothing has changed.
Also, compare the contours of the distant hills on the right-hand side. This is where the giant open-cast mine was dug and the field has a sunken appearance. (2020)
White houses
The white houses are now 90 years old (2020)
Fearn Hill
The view of Fern Hill from the bottom. (2020).
Strictly speaking, Fern Hill is no longer an official road-name, but because some maps and houses still retain the name, it is not surprising that many people still refer to the road at the top of the hill as Fern Hill.
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Number 46: Owthorpe Cottage

46 Fern Road
The view of 46 Fern Road from the paddock beside Pasture Lane. (2020)

Once the home of George and Dorothy Wright who lived here during the mid-20th Century when the house was called Owthorpe Cottage.

Their daughter, Jean, was born in 1925 and grew up there. In 1951 Jean married and moved to Keyworth where she had a son, Richard.

Richard has fond memories of the times he visited his grandparents at Owthorpe Cottage. He recalls them in an article he wrote, "My Grandparents – a Memory of Cropwell Bishop". Here is what he had to say:

They moved there before the Second World War and had two children, Dick and Jean.

Dick was based at Wick and died in the war. Jean, my mum, married and had me and my sister.

I have wonderful memories of Cropwell Bishop as a child. Exploring the countryside towards the gypsum tip. The Barlow's butchers shop on a Saturday mornings. Wilf, the postman, the bread man from the next village, the Barton bus into Nottingham coming down the hill.

There was the man who repaired the shoes in the village in a wonderful hut, and I remember all the excitement of the Point-to-Point races at Easter.

My grandfather worked in the Lace Trade in Nottingham and then at Cotgrave Colliery. My grandmother looked after the garden and the hens and my mum had a job as a girl in a bank in Nottingham.

She has now died, although my dad is still alive and lives in Tollerton. I now live with my family in Huddersfield. I always think back to those wonderful summer days of my childhood.

Cropwell Bishop was such a lovely place and Barlow's cows coming down the hill to be milked in the afternoon summed up its glorious tranquillity.

My mum spoke of planes from Langar flying so low over the village and all the American airmen and the village dances. I think my grandparents had lots of airmen stay with them and I also remember stories of the pig they kept and eventually had slaughtered to provide a feast of meat in war-rationed England.

When my grandmother died, my grandfather, George, went to live in Keyworth near to my mum and dad.

When in Nottingham I always have a drive past the old house, I would love to go in but perhaps the memories suffice. I remember the lady who lived in the cottage near to the house called Mrs Atter. Those cottages still survive, as does a bit of the orchard where so many apples and pears were collected.

Fond, beautiful memories."

Richard Booth

46 Fern Road in 2020
The front entrance of 46 Fern Road – named Owthorpe Cottage (2020)

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Up the hill

48 Fern Road in 2020
48 Fern Road (2020)
46 Fern Road
Owthorpe Cottage back entrance (2020)
52 Fern Road in 1930
This photo of 52 Fern Road and its occupants was taken in the 1930s.
The people in the photo are: James Rick, his wife Charlotte and, on the right, their daughter Mary – commonly known as Polly.
James Rick died in 1941 at the age of 79 and Charlotte in 1950 at the age of 88.
Polly had been married to John Hampson but he was killed in the First World War. Polly died in 1979 at the age of 86.
52 Fern Road in 2020
52 Fern Road in 2020 – modernised and enlarged
54 Fern Road
54 Fern Road
54 Fern Road
54 Fern Road
56 Fern Road
56 Fern Road
Fern Hill
Fern Hill (2020)
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The Windmill

Like almost every old village, Cropwell Bishop once had its own windmill.

The best place for one is on top of a hill and so, the top of Fern Road was the spot chosen for our windmill.

Once the windmill was built, it was only natural for people to call the place (and road), Mill Hill.

We don't know when a windmill first appeared here, but one is mentioned in records for 1686. However, since a mill between Tythby and Cropwell Butler is mentioned in records as far back as 1553, it seems likely there was also one in Cropwell Bishop in those days.

We know that in 1849, the latest version was spinning here (is 'spinning' the right word?). That year, the miller, a man named Johnson, was very lucky one day as he milled corn: he was lucky not to be killed! On that day a gale wrecked the windmill around him.

The incident may well have given Mr Johnson a fright, because by the time the mill was repaired and working again, the miller was a George Bonser. He had moved from Colston Bassett and brought along an apprentice, 14-year-old Silar North, to assist him.

That was in 1851, but in 1860 the windmill was once again making headlines. A gale blew the mill down and an apprentice miller was very lucky not to be blown to heaven with it.

Later that same year, a new corn mill opened in Cropwell Bishop, but it wasn't built on the hill, but down in the village. This was because it didn't need the wind: it was powered by steam.

The windmill on top of the hill was never repaired. That January gale on 1860 had brought over 300 years of windmilling in Cropwell Bishop to a sudden end. But if that gale hadn't stopped the windmill, it seems likely that the power of steam would have done so anyway.

In addition, local young men were probably discussing the health and safety record of the windmill during the 1850s and concluding that there were probably safer ways of earning a living – coal mining maybe.

As they sat around their pints in the Wheatsheaf, their language would, no doubt, have been rather more colourful, but their conclusion the same.

Would it be safer working in the new steam powered cornmill, they may have wondered. If you have read the street story for Mill Lane, you will know the answer to that.

The end result of this sequence of events was that "Mill Hill" would become history, and "Mill Lane" would take over its name – but it would take a long time.

The site of the Windmill
The windmill stood at the far end of this field, somewhere behind 46 Fern Road. It is a high spot and there is small level mound there.

The site of the Windmill
This 1835 map shows the location of the windmill as being where the present mound is.

The site of the Windmill
This 1788 map confirms the location of the windmill.

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Fern Hill

Fern Hill Nursery

This house was the home of Fern Hill Nursery during the 20th Century and during Second Word War, the Robinson family live here.

There were two daughters and the eldest was Jean Robinson, who was nine years old when the war started. Jean wrote down her memories of those days: here is her story,

"Memories of Cropwell Bishop in War-time".

"I was 9 years old when the war started in 1939.

One of my first memories is seeing my Mother sticking strips of brown paper on our living room window, this was to prevent splinters of glass being blown into the room in the event of a bomb exploding nearby, she also made curtains into blackout material to stop any light showing, she stitched some brightly coloured braid near the hem to make them look a little less dreary.

A big impact on our school lives was the arrival of the evacuees. Some came from Nottingham and some from Gt Yarmouth. Our little school was overcrowded so for a short while some pupils had their lessons in the Memorial Hall.

I remember two teachers who came with the children from Gt Yarmouth but later there was a shortage of teachers which made the situation difficult for Mr Kirk (Headmaster) and Miss Towle (Infant Teacher) who were the main staff.

Equipment was in short supply. Every inch of our exercise books (including the covers) had to be used and pencils worn down to the last half inch before we could ask for a replacement.

We had to carry our gas masks with us to school and occasionally had to wear them while we did lessons.

When the air raid warning sounded, the children who lived near the school were sent home. Those of us who lived further away went to friends houses. I went to Mrs Allen who lived opposite the Church.

In 1941 several bombs were dropped at Cropwell Bishop but they landed in fields so there was no damage to houses or people. However, in the same year, Cropwell Butler was bombed killing three people.

Soon after the war started an Army Searchlight Camp was established in the field on the South side of Fern Road, just over the top of what was then known as Mill Hill.

My Dad dug out an air raid shelter but we didn’t use it much as it was so cold and damp, so we took refuge under the table during air raids. Men from the village rallied to the call for Local Defence Volunteers (later called the Home Guard). My Dad joined and had to attend training sessions and manoeuvres.

There was also a band of people who acted as Air Raid Wardens and Fire Watchers, They would take turns to fire watch at night and make sure there were no lights showing.

In these days of good street lighting and brightly lit windows it is difficult to picture the village in complete darkness on a Winters evening. The 'Dig for Victory' Campaign meant that flower gardens were dug up to plant vegetables and fruit.

Word got around that all the roses were being discarded at a Nursery on the Fosse so my Dad went on his bike to collect as many as he could carry and they flowered well in our garden for years.

Living in the country was a big advantage where food was concerned. Most people grew vegetables and fruit in their gardens or on an allotment. Some people were able to keep hens or a pig. When a pig was killed basins of 'fry' would be given away.

The fields and hedgerows provided mushrooms and blackberries. Sticks would be collected for firewood and gleanings from the cornfields for feeding the hens".

Jean Robinson

Jean Robinson performing at a Variety Show at The Old School in 2014 when she was 84

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Number 58

58 Fern Road
58 Fern Road
58 Fern Road
58 Fern Road

This fine house, in a commanding position on top of the hill, played a role in the defence of the village during the Second World War.

Jean Robinson, in her story (above) about life during that War, mentioned an Army Searchlight Camp.

A large searchlight was installed on Fern Hill, in one of the fields near number 58 Fern Road, and it is understood that the Government sequestered this garage beside the house.

It seems likely, they needed somewhere safe and dry for soldiers to store tools and equipment associated with the searchlight and so the garage became part of the 'Searchlight Camp'.

The house has been occupied by members of the Heaselden family. It was Sam Heaselden who owned gypsum mines and the 'Heaselden Works' on Nottingham Road in the days when gypsum could be transported to Nottingham by canal boat. A long time ago.

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Cropwell Bishop Allotments

Over the top of Fern Hill, the pavement on the right comes to an end at a bridlepath. This wide path leads to open fields but it is not a public right-of-way.

In the 1930s it led to village allotments in a field on the left but in the following decades it eventually returned to farmland.

Apparently, a field further down the bridlepath was made good use of during the Second World War. A large tent was pitched there and the Territorial Army soldiers, who were in charge of the 'Searchlight Camp' described above, used it for their dining.

In 2009, the Cropwell Bishop Village Plan was launched and it included a proposal to establish an Allotment Site in the parish.

Because the parish council did not own any open land, it was necessary to approach local landowners in the search for a suitable site.

In the end, it was village farmer, Richard Barlow, who offered to let some of his land and it turned out that it was the same field that had been used in 1930, the one down this track.

The Cropwell Bishop Allotment Association was established in May 2010 and has maintained a healthy number of members ever since.

The lockdown of 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in an increase in interest in allotment growing. This left few vacant plots but it is anticipated that some will become available in 2021.

Weeks after opening the site, plot holders were preparing for their first crops. May 2010
In 2011 the site was opened to visitors to celebrate its first 'birthday'.
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Fern Cottage

Fern Cottage – the first house on the left as you leave the village and head towards Langar (2020)
Fern Cottage (2020)

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Once the Home of a Footballing Legend

Stuart Pearce once lived here
A Forest and England footballer once lived here (2020)

Older Nottingham Forest fans living in Cropwell Bishop, will be well aware of who once lived here.

Stuart Pearce played 401 games for Nottingham Forest over a 12-year period and, for most of that time, he lived in this house.

Brian Clough signed him from Coventry City in 1985 and he soon showed his grit determination as a Forest defender. Few opponents got past him with the ball.

He established himself as the Forest captain and it was clear to both spectators and fellow players that he did not like losing matches and demanded the same mindset of his team mates.

In spite of his 'iron man' image on the pitch (Psycho was his nickname), Stuart Pearce showed a very different side to his personality away from football.

He would generally avoid attracting attention to himself and I once saw him politely allow a person to move ahead of him in the queue at Asda without even a frown. I can only assume that the young woman did not recognise Psycho.

When a recycling lorry overturned onto the roof of his car as he drove along the Stragglethorpe Road, he was lucky to avoid death. That he escaped with only minor hand injuries and a stiff back only added to his reputation as a hard-man.

Nevertheless, it was his uncompromising defensive play, scoring ability from free kicks, and his leadership qualities on the pitch that won him praise, 78 England caps and eventually captaincy of the England team.

I believe he and his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter moved out in 1997 when he left Nottingham Forest. I am not aware of the state of the house at the time, but I expect all the electrics were in good condition.

Before he became a professional footballer, Stuart was an electrician. Even after Brian Clough signed him, so unsure was he of his footballing future that he actually included a commercial advert for his work as an electrician in the Forest match-day programme!

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Doctor in the house – at one time

"Fern Hill" – once the home, for several decades, of Doctor Hindley who worked at the Cropwell Bishop Surgery on Church Street from 1966 to 1993.
At the parish boundary of Cropwell Bishop (2020)
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Thanks to Anne Terzza, Pam Barlow, Jean Robinson, Richard Booth, Philip Johnson, Jonathan Good and Jane Jones for their help with this article.

Tony Jarrow