Interview by Margaret Cooper in 2000 for the “Oxton Now & Then” publication.
Colin Ashmore. Widower, Reader Emeritus, lives at Elmcroft, Oxton.
“My first connection with Oxton, was moving here as a baby. This was well before the war of course”.
“The first recording we can find of [my family] is in the records, I think 1732 when William Ashmore married Margaret Flowers. Her father kept and ran the Brickyard, which is at the bottom of Honeyknab Lane as it’s known now. The Brickyard was where the first house on the left is as you go up Honeyknab Lane. I think it’s called Lime Kiln Field on the current maps. The clay for the bricks was fetched from off the Southwell Ramper, which is called Clayhole to this day, although it’s now covered with trees. That’s at the bottom of Park Lane stretching towards Holly Lodge [on the Southwell Road]. A great place for the children to play in, that was, it was a pond when we were young”
” Initially the family came from I think Devon, and the first recorded history of the family was moving up here with the builder of Wollaton Hall. He was a plasterer who plastered these fancy cornices etc., and ceiling roses, that type of thing and from there one of them moved into Oxton. That was in 1592 I think. I’ve been here all my life”.
“The school was a two-roomed building. It had the senior class in one room, taught by the Head who sat on a raised platform of about 12” high overlooking them. Our classroom, which was slightly larger, had three teachers in it, who taught all the rest of the children from the primary up until you were old enough to move into the senior class. [Discipline] was a key thing throughout the village, and it always finished up being dished out at school. Didn’t matter where the offence was committed, unless it was a Policeman who caught you, and then he would batter you a bit about round the ear-holes with his cape or his hand or his foot if he couldn’t get the rest to you. The Policeman lived in the village”.
“[During the War], we had evacuees, and the school [numbers] went up to 78. There was a tin hut at the side of the school, which was colloquially known as the ‘old institute’, now gone to make way for the Village Hall. The institute was used as a school [since] the school was overflowing. One day a week we went just in the mornings and the following week we went just in the afternoons”.
“During the War we were allowed ten days agricultural work, which meant you went to help the farmer singling beet, which is a process of getting down on your hands and knees and pulling every one out about eight inches apart and just leaving one, and weeding or picking potatoes or whatever else the farmer wanted, usually in the back end. I remember quite well, we went to pick potatoes. We were paid sixpence a day for our labour”.
“All over the villages were orchards and one particular instance we went into the Hall orchard. The Hall in those days was occupied by Lord Charles Cavendish Bentinck who was related to the Cavendishs of Chatsworth. In the Hall grounds there was a lake which is still there and it had a boat, a small rowing boat on it, and we’d been scrumping in his orchard, [and] went down to the lake to play about with this boat. Lord Charles came out, there were four or five of us. We didn’t hear him, he shouted and shouted, and the next thing was a tremendous bang, and he’d fired a shot gun over our heads. So of course we scarpered rather quickly”.
“All the village refuse was collected and taken just to a field on the edge of Beanford Lane, right on the brow of the lane and tipped into a big hole called the sand-hole. This hole had been created by the estate workers to dig sand out to repair and build estate property”
“Elmcroft [originally the Council estate] was not built until 1952. The total population is about 549 now, give or take the odd baby. If you go back 150 years ago or perhaps a little more the village was 1000 strong, because it had the cottage industry of framework knitting, which was done at home, people had frames in their own homes. It started in Calverton and it came to Oxton and at the top of the pleasure ground (and the evidence is still there) were a lot of houses. They were in fact knitter’s cottages and eventually the trade died away because it became mechanised as opposed to being a hand industry”
” The last stockiners cottage in Oxton was the cottage that I grew up in, which was Meadow View. When we were in it, the windows were still there, five window frames wide and high off the ground so that you could get a frame underneath them. We had no hot water in the cottage, and the toilet was at the bottom of the garden, about 40 foot away”.
“Where the row of cottages is now, at the end of Work House Close [in W ater Lane], I think that’ s where the Laying In Hospital was. It’ s anyone’s guess really as to exactly where it was, but those cottages are very old and certainly there would have been a Laying In Hospital because in those days women laid in for four weeks after childbirth. In 1805 there’s a record in the Baptism Register of Oxton, of Mary Ashmore I think, having a bastard child and laying in for a month, that’s actually recorded”.
“I left school at 14 [and] went off to Nottingham. At that time living in the village was Tom and Mary Shipside. The Shipside’s had been at the Blacksmith’s, where Doughty’s now are. He took a lot of work in dealing with bicycles, and then Morris, William Morris, I think, approached Shipside’s and said, ‘would you like to be the agent for Morris Cars in Nottinghamshire’, which he did. The business began to grow. At the time I went to work for them in Nottingham they had, I think, three garages. When I got to Shipside’s [they] had the contract from the Government to do all the servicing and repair work for the American oil people who were not supposed to be in the U.K. drilling for oil. So their wagons were dark grey, no markings on them whatsoever, except standard British number plates. They were based at Eakring, and it was all hush-hush. I worked there eleven weeks and the routine was too much, too much for a boy. The pay was 15 shillings a week. I moved on from there. I started [at the stocking factory in Calverton] as a trainee stockiner, which in those days made ladies stockings, not tights, stockings which came partway up the thigh and were held on by suspenders. They were made of cotton, but we did use silk when we could get it during the war. Nylon wasn’t available to us in those days. I was there until, I joined the Royal Air Force in 1948 at seventeen and a half. I stayed in the Royal Air Force for about five and a half years”.
” I was married in 1957. I moved to Nix’s and worked there ten years. By that time we were having a second child and so I went to work at Southwell at the flour mill there, Caudwell’s Mill. It was shift work, and the money was extremely good. [I got there] first of all on a push bike, and then I bought a small motorbike, it was a moped. Then I bought myself a small motorcar. Everybody wanted a motorcar in those days”.
“The first real [voluntary] job I had in Oxton was in the Pioneers, before I went into the forces, I was a librarian. We had a library box full of books, brought to the Youth Club and members could take books out”
“In the village was a Society of which Oxton had a branch called the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows and it was what’s known today as a Friendly Society. We met once a week, they had various insurance schemes going which you paid x pence in per week and then if you were off sick you were paid so many shillings back to pay your rent, because in those days there was no sick pay. Until 1947 there were many many people who were not covered by the Lloyd George Scheme and of course, [if they] couldn’t pay the rent, [they] were thrown out. And if they were sick they very often lost their jobs. If you had a good squire in the village you were insulated, but I paid one shilling a week, which was twelve old pence a week. If I was off sick I got ten shillings a week. Well I had to pay rent in those days to the Admiral of five shillings a week, so you know when I was off sick I had five bob rent and five bob to live on”
” In 1938 I joined the [Church] choir and shortly afterwards learned to ring the bells and I became deputy stoker, and deputy clock [winder] in 1957. Prior to that we’d had a stoker and a clock winder called Tom Whitelocks, he was the village cobbler. He lost both legs in the First World War and in spite of that he climbed the tower and wound the clock twice a week and he oiled the bells and was the captain of the bells. I joined in with all this. In 1957 he began to feel his age a little bit, [so he] looked round for someone to take his place and I volunteered. In 1960 he had a stroke and so I became full time stoker, and cleaned the windows”.
“Our own Vicar, in 1968 he retired, he was the last full time Vicar of Oxton. Neil Turner [then] looked after Epperstone and Gonalston and also Lowdham Borstal. He suggested to me that perhaps I would like to become a [Lay] Reader and in the end I said ‘yes’ and we both went to see the Archdeacon of Nottingham. He said ‘yes it’s a good idea because in all honesty you’re never going to have your own Vicar again, the Parish is too small to be able to afford to pay one’. So on St. Peter’s Day, the 29th June , in this church I was licensed as a Reader”.
“The [village] shop had been gone four years [and] the post office had been closed two years. So I went and saw Juliet Mortensen and they had a cow shed in Home Farm yard that was no longer being used. There were in fact three small businesses nearby, a leather works, a joiner’s shop and the other one was a small commercial set up. I leased the building off her. I went to Woodborough who had just lost their post office, and I bought their counter and one or two more little bits to help make my post office.It was a bit of a juggling act between the church and the business so I stopped doing Reader’s work for a time. I’d had epilepsy all my life and at that stage it was beginning to manifest itself so I had to go to the consultant who said ‘if you wish me to treat you you’ll have to give your license up to drive’ so I considered that I was in need of treatment and that I had to lose the car. So I then became a Reader Emeritus. Still a reader, but retired”.
“[My] Parish Council days didn’t start until the 60’s. We had an old tin hut at the side of the schoolyard, which served as the village hall. The other part of it was still used by Doughty’s as their paint shop, it was bought from the Army after the First World War. Tom Bell who was the son of Thomas Bell & Son, Be-Ro Flour, made an offer to the village that for every pound the village raised, he would match it, pound for pound to build a village hall. So we had a meeting and invited all and sundry and the net result was that Colin came away from the meeting as Secretary of the Building Committee for this hall. So we did four years of raising funds. In the end, Tom Bell said, ‘look we’re going to be forever and the cost of building is going to outpace the cost of raising money’. I think by that time, we’d raised something in the region all-together of six and a half thousand. ‘I will give you the rest; we’ll build a village hall’. In 1963 all the formalities were done. By that time Jack Eastwood had moved into the village before he was knighted. We put out three tenders as we were bound to do and he put in a tender at cost, and so we chose him and he built it for us. Shortly afterwards he was knighted because of his work to the chicken and turkey industry. He made the chicken on the supermarket shelf available to all and sundry. Then in 1964 the village hall was opened, I was the chairman for the day, Mrs Bell opened the hall. That was in May 1964.”
” The Church is the right type and size, it’s nicely placed in that it’s central in the village. The [children] move on to the Path Finders after Sunday School, and that’s a very lively group. Most baptisms now take place within the context of the family service which is monthly, which very often they didn’t. The church service finished, people trouped out and the baptism party trooped in and the Vicar just stood there and waited ‘til one lot had gone and one lot had come in and did the baptism. We also now have a coffee morning after the family service once a month and people stop for a cup of coffee or tea or biscuits and that brings in people who don’t know each other”
“The organ was put in, in about 1863, it’s an 1850 organ built by Robson who was the organ builder for Queen Victoria”.
“There is no doubt that the Sherbrooke family by and large did quite a bit to the Church. In the nave are five hatchments which are painted. If you think of a shield on the arm of a man in war the hatchment is his coat of arms painted on to wood, what we call diagonal, but in fact a lozenge is the French word for that shape. When that particular person died his coat of arms would be carried in front of the funeral procession into church and then would stay in that church and would be put upon the wall. They are very interesting because from each hatchment you can tell the state of the person who died. For instance the one over the entrance to the chancel is Sir Henry Lowe Sherbrooke who was the Governor General of Canada in 1839. All the ones that we have are Sherbrookes. The other thing of course that we’ve got at the west end of the church, fastened on to the walls of the tower are two Royal Naval flags. One was flown on H.M.S. Tarantula by Captain Henry Graham Sherbrooke during the First World War and the second one was flown by then Captain Rupert St. Vincent Sherbrooke on H.M.S. Onslow during the Second World War on the December 1942 convoy through the northern seas to take supplies to Russia.. Captain Sherbrooke was injured and lost an eye. [Captain, later Admiral, Sherbrooke was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action]”
“The first grave stone that you can find now is 1645 and the second one is 1647”.
“The American connection, yes that’s quite interesting because a man called Scothern was a Quaker and he sailed from Oxton to join William Penn who’d gone to America and founded a state of Pennsylvania. He became so energetic in the government of the State that the family rose to pre-eminence in America”.
“In the old registers prior to the Commonwealth, when Charles lost his head, [Cromwell] and his friends took over, there is a two year gap called the ‘Commonwealth gap’ in Oxton Church registers as there is in most church registers. Prior to that all the happenings within the church baptisms, marriages, burials were all recorded in the same register, all recorded by clerks of differing literary standards too. It’s interesting to see how the names don’t alter right up until just before the railways”.
“The east window [of the Church] was put in, in 1921. It’s a window to commemorate the fallen within the Great War, the First World War. All the people of the village that fell have their names engraved on the window and the cash for that was raised by subscription round the village”.
Admiral and Mrs Sherbrooke with two choir boys, Richard Brown and Colin Ashmore 1943