Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.

Growing Up in North Worksop

The saying ‘the past is another country’ by the novelist L P Hartley is very true when looking at the tremendous physical and social changes within living memory of growing up in North Worksop. In post war Britain most children left school at the age of fifteen without needing qualifications for a good range of jobs in the area. Going to university or college at the age of eighteen, now the reality for over half our young people, would have seemed an impossible dream for most. Here are some stories that highlight those changes:

Jean and Pat were born at the Ashley Grove Nursing Home which is now the Ashley pub. For others birth was at home with a midwife attending, and often the support of family and neighbours. Lynn knows that she was born at home on Dawber Street in a snowstorm:

“My Dad was sent down to the phone box on Gateford Road to call the midwife, but the ladies on the street were sure that I would be born before the midwife arrived. The cot and other equipment had been laid away at the baby shop so one of the neighbours pulled out a drawer in the bedroom and made it into a temporary cot where I spent my first night.”

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Photo shared by Ben of himself with his two younger brothers in John Street, early 1950s.

Among the local schools attended were the two church schools: St John’s Boys on Dock Road and St John’s Girls on Eastgate. Neither are still standing – the new St John’s School is now on Raymoth Lane, but when the extension to the John’s church hall was built in 1976/77 some of the stone from the boys’ school was used in the building.

Sylvia describes how:

“One part of the old St John’s Girls still had earth toilets with wooden seats. On Ascension Day we would walk to church in a long crocodile. The highlight of that was having the afternoon off. When I came back to St John’s years later with my daughter I walked straight up to the front and sat there, as I had done for the school services. Now I know nobody sits at the front!”

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
St. John’s Girls Church of England 1950. Photograph taken at the Priory School, Holles Street. The class walked from Eastgate for cookery lessons.

Glen has happy memories of being taken with a few other boys by the headmaster of the St John’s Boys to his home in Clumber where he bred the famous Clumber Spaniels. Andrew recalls doing PE in the playground at the boys’ school and football on the field behind the Carlton Tavern. There was fierce competition between the four houses – Foljambe, Jackson, Seton and Blick.

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Class A. St John's School in 1909. From the collection of Bassetlaw Museum, Retford
Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Class 6 Stanley Street Infants School, 1920. From the collection of Bassetlaw Museum, Retford.

Others like June attended Stanley Street, now Norbridge or like Ben, Crown Street, now Redlands. Ben recollects crying on the first day at school – such a shock after being at home for five years – no nurseries or play groups then. School trips to Eyam and York were highlights, with the inevitable child being travel sick on the bus. Ben had a line to say in the Christmas play – “over the snowy hills”. The teacher eventually accepted he’d never manage the h in hills, so changed the line to “over the snowy mountains.” Nerves took over in the performance and instead of mountains out came “snowy ‘ills”!

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Crown Street / Redlands, Spring 1956.

Jean and Linda went to Sir Edmund Hillary in the mid-fifties when it opened. Pat went to a small private school called Miss Houghton’s which was in a private house on Carlton Road where Turner Road is now. She missed a lot of schooling because she caught the dreaded polio when she was six and spent months in Lodge Moor Hospital in Sheffield. Her mum described how the public health inspector came and ordered the whole house, including the drains, to be disinfected.

Up till 1962 every child who passed the 11plus went to grammar school in Retford but in 1962 Henry Hartland Grammar School was opened on Sparken Hill in Worksop. Pauline was one of the first intake there. In 1970 all the secondary schools in Worksop became comprehensive. The Bentinck, which had previously been the Secondary Modern School, now became Valley Comprehensive.

Looking back to the days without computer screens, this seemed a more innocent time where children could play outside freely being summoned only when it was time for tea or bed.

June grew up on James Street, just north of the railway.

“That area was very different then -where Turner Road is now, was an area we called “The Tip” - there were several companies there, as well as a gypsy caravan. Opposite the tech on Carlton Road were sand banks where we all played a lot. Backing onto Stanley Street School and Anston Avenue were old allotments left over from wartime. A strong childhood memory is of going frequently to the outdoor swimming baths at the Canch. We mustn’t have felt the cold. There was a lot less traffic, but it was still a challenge riding my bike into town to the fish shop and crossing Victoria Square before it had traffic lights.”

Ben remembers growing up on John Street, watching the quarry – now Godfreys Pond (Sandhill Lake) being excavated where his Dad’s and others’ allotments were.

“They hit an underground spring and so a pump house was put in. A stream ran up to it and that’s where the kids played and learnt to swim.”

The only traffic he remembers on John Street was the lorry delivering free coal to the miners’ houses, the milk float and the horse and cart selling bread.

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Photo of VE Day party on John Street.

Many of those who have shared memories with us were teenagers in the late fifties and sixties. June and Margaret recall Saturday afternoons at the Palais de Dance, which was open to young teens from thirteen to sixteen.

Sylvia remembers proper ballroom dancing at the Palais:

“But times were changing, and, in the interval, they put on the Juke Box, and we jived!”

The Palais was where many folk met their future spouses.

Coffee bars came on the scene in the sixties, and many remember Bernardino’s on Carlton Road, now a Barber’s. June remembers:

“They had a Juke Box and you got five records for one shilling.”

The youth club at St John’s Church was very popular, Jean describes:

“We used to meet on a Friday night and also after church on a Sunday evening. We really enjoyed it as it was lots of fun. I met my husband, Ian, there.”

Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
Photo of her grandfather in the band at the Palais - shared by Jane.
Thanks to a very generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can restore the “at risk” spire of our beautiful building and explore the rich heritage of our church and its community.
St. John’s Youth Group in the 1960s with Canon R. Neill.

For others their working life began at 15, or even earlier with paper rounds and Saturday jobs. They quickly became part of the adult world centring on the local pub, playing in and supporting local football teams, and going to the dog track on Claylands.