Last updated on 29 September 2023
In the past families were far more self-sufficient particularly in terms of food provisions and everyday items. Residents were also far more in tune with seasonal crops and, in order to give greater choice all year round, some items would have been preserved through bottling, salting, pickling and canning. No ready prepared meals or take-aways then!
Being a farming community and with many cottagers having small holdings, much would have been sourced locally so people were far less reliant on shops. Wealthier families would have had goods delivered to their home and others made use of carriers to gain access to items that were not available locally.
Many households would have had a few chickens in their back garden and poaching was not uncommon though it was illegal. A trawl through old archived newspapers reveals that a number of people were caught ‘snaring’ on the Tollerton Estate and fined for doing so. People would have readily walked to Plumtree, Edwalton, or West Bridgford from Tollerton to pick up what they needed, indeed some would have walked in to Nottingham City to do so. Others might have used a bicycle or a horse and trap in order to access these places. Even the smallest village shop would have stocked a range of goods from food products to household items; they were very much your local general store and what they could not stock they might order for you if you gave them sufficient notice. Local markets would have been another source of food products and other items.
There is evidence through Potter’s publication (1929), newspaper articles and other sources to suggest that Tollerton had its own mill until that fateful evening in July, 1810 when the miller carelessly discarded a match and the mill was entirely destroyed by fire along with a quantity of wheat belonging to a number of different individuals. One might therefore assume that flour and other grain products would have been fairly plentiful in the village up until this date and bread, pies and puddings could have been made with locally sourced products.
Potter (1929) also alludes to there once being a bakehouse at North End Cottages; however this claim can not currently be verified.
Foodstuff and other goods were rationed during the War. Allowances per person each week included 2oz of tea, 1s 2d worth of meat, 2oz butter, 8oz sugar. Depending on availability there was also 2- 4oz cheese, 2 – 3 pints of milk and 1 egg though dried milk was also available. Tollerton residents collected their ration books from the Rectory Room.
Many imported goods such as bananas vanished altogether. In the meantime farmers were urged to increase their output and a vigorous ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign encouraged everyone to grow vegetables in their gardens and to keep hens and rabbits to supplement their meat ration. A good rabbit stew was a familiar dish in many households!
The Women’s Insitute in Tollerton set up its own jamming kitchen and canning centre. According to memories documented by Peggy Heason, a former resident, Mr Holbrook of Manor Farm bought the WI a new gas cooker for this purpose. “The canning machine was taken from farm to farm, using the household copper in which to boil the cans and the horse troughs in which to cool them.”
Local Shops and Mobile Services
Albert Brooker, former Tollerton resident, indicated in a village newsletter article that there were no shops in the village when he and his family moved here during WW1. He said that the nearest shop was “the Post Office cum general store in Plumtree“. The latter had opened in 1904.
In that same newsletter article Margaret and Lucy Lane recalled buying household goods from a Keyworth supplier, Matt Wright, who had a hardware van. The following extract expands on this:
“He seemed to carry just about everything from crockery, saucepans, soap powder, carbolic soap, paraffin. He came every other week“.
Peggy Heason also recalls this service and mentions that he also carried pills, potions and seeds as well as Panama hats! This was not the only home delivery service as Boots in West Bridgford delivered weekly as did Burtons of Smithy Row, Nottingham. Burtons had been established in the late 1850s and, through the acquisition of further properties along the row in the late 19th century, the business grew in both size and prestige. Albert Brooker recounted in 1994 that the family got their groceries from Burtons and that often a carrier from Widmerpool collected these for them, having parked his pony and cart in the ‘Black Boy’ yard off Long Row.
Melton Road Shops
One of the first known shops was at the corner of Melton Road and Tollerton Lane where the Charde Restaurant is now located. In a village newsletter article, Dorothy Singleton recounts that the Bellamy family ran this grocer’s shop cum sweet shop, which was later taken over by the Andersens in the late 1930s. Peggy Heason, in that same article, states this shop, “was the hub of social life and people came from far and near for Mrs Andersen’s home-made ice cream“.
Next to Andersen’s shop was a butcher’s shop run by the Pickard family. Both this shop and Andersen’s offered a daily delivery service and errand boys on bicycles with large baskets on the front would deliver the goods to local homes.
In about 1947, a family by the name of Boot bought the grocery shop but they sold it a year later to new owners, possibly called Kitchener or Kitching. According to the Nottinghamshire Archive Catalogue the latter had an extension to the shop in 1950. It is thought that the Pickards and Kitcheners/Kitchings sold out to the Nottingham Co-op Society and eventually the two shops were knocked into one to form the Co-op and later self service was introduced. Dick Shepherd recalled in 1994 that at the time “this did not go down very well with the villagers so it closed down“. However other residents have positive memories of the Co-op and the convenience of having such a store in Tollerton.
The Richardson family opened the Charde Restaurant in 1971 where the Co-op had previously been located. Joan Healy of Cotgrave Road worked part-time at the Charde for some 14 years and came to know the Richardson family well. It appears that the name of this restaurant derived from the family name with the addition of an ‘e’ at the end – Richardson. Mr and Mrs Richardson lived above the restaurant and their son, Jimmy, lived just around the corner in the first bungalow on Tollerton Lane. Jimmy co-managed the restaurant with his mother, Frances.
Manuel and Dolores Francos took over this business in 1987 and, in 2007, it was transformed in to the Charde Oriental serving Chinese, Cantonese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese and English food.
The shop which is now the Post Office was run by Mrs Redgate who sold a variety of things including cakes and was later taken over by the Hall family. Iris Stirland, former Tollerton resident who came to the village in 1940, recalls this shop selling knitting wool and, for a short time later, fish and chips. In the Nottinghamshire Archive Catalogue there is reference to the conversion of a house into a shop and house in February 1940 at 45 Melton Road. By the early 1960s the Post Office Stores was run by Walter and Irene Smith who stayed for 26 years until their retirement in 1986. The Smiths had the store extended in 1962 to provide more shop space. The Post Office was run by Linda Eyrl and Sue Ballard after this and is currently managed by Parma and Stacey Somal. An Off-Sales License for beers, wines and spirits was granted in 1998.
Prior to 1940 some residents went to Plumtree to access post office services. During the war there was a sub post office at ‘The Lodge’ at the corner of Tollerton and Cotgrave Lanes run by Mrs Annie Foster and Mrs Agnes Chambers of Tollerton Lane also ran a post office from her home on Tollerton Lane.
Much earlier than this there was no post office at all in Tollerton and no postal deliveries to the village. The nearest the mail came was the Post Office on Bridlesmith Gate in Nottingham. Potter (1929) describes the Duke’s family involvement in the postal arrangements within the village during the 1800s; the entry says:
“When my father (John Duke) came to the Hall in 1810 he was first employed to take and bring letters to and from Nottingham daily, and my own occupation as a boy of 12 to 14 years of age was the same“.
There were two telephone kiosks in Tollerton and these still exist but neither is operational. One remains on Tollerton Lane, near the Church, and now displays some brief historical information about the village. The other kiosk, which was located outside the Post Office, was relocated in 2011 to Burnside Grove, outside the Parish Rooms. The Parish Council were given the option of paying £1 and keeping it as a piece of the village’s living history and it was subsequently converted to a mini library.
This photograph shows the telephone kiosk at the Post Office before it was moved.
There are a number of old style post boxes around the village, one of which is located at the bottom of Cotgrave Lane at the side of The Lodge. It is thought that this one may have been placed here around the late 1930s.
Burnside Grove Shops
The shop units on Burnside Grove were not built until 1968. Peter Brooker recalls that the supermarket here called ‘Gardiners’ was opened by Harry Wheatcroft of rose-growing fame who arrived in an open topped vintage Rolls Royce and the first 100 customers were given a free frozen chicken!
There was a butcher, greengrocer and a hairdresser located in these shop units. In 1985 C. Fielding and Son ran the butchers and David Collins the greengrocer’s shop. Ten years later the Rooke’s had the greengrocery shop and the Allens had the butcher’s, who were then selling fish and other products. Allen’s closed in 2007 and later that year Pistachio’s opened here as a coffee shop and deli. They left and Truly Scrumptious took over in 2010 and became The Secret Larder in 2014 (they have also run the Air Hostess pub across the road since October 2014).
The greengrocers became a Travel Agents then, in 2003, NG12 beauticians took over. NG12 amalgamated with the Hairdressers to become NG12 Hair and Beauty in 2014. NG12 premises were then taken over by Style Interiors for a short time and now Promotiv, a press and PR team for the automotive industry is based here.
The supermarket closed and eventually the Parish Council acquired this space in 1997 when, after alterations, it became the Parish Rooms as it is today.
Although there were some small-holdings in Tollerton and many houses had large gardens, the only allotments that existed at first were those opposite North End Cottages. These are thought to have been made available in 1921 for those who lived at North End Cottages by Alice Burnside of Tollerton Hall when the cottages were modified but this can not currently be confirmed.
A new allotment scheme was launched in Tollerton in 2009, creating 25 allotments on a patch of land on the northern edge of the village between the canal and the Gamston Lings Bar Road. Tollerton Allotment Association and those who secured allotments here were very active in cultivating fruit and vegetables and held their first open day in September 2009. The photograph below was taken at this initial open day.
All sorts of interesting things were found when the land was dug, including bits of Victorian printed plates and a number of old clay smoking pipes. In a Tollerton Allotments Blog in the Village Newsletter (2009) reference was also made to the fertility of the land since it had been where some ‘night soil’ from Nottingham had been deposited before proper mains drainage was available!
‘Make Do and Mend’
Clothing was also rationed between June 1941 and March 1949 and people were urged to ‘make do and mend’ so that clothing factories could concentrate on making items like parachutes and uniforms for the armed forces. A coupon system allowed people to buy one completely new set of clothes once a year. Each person was initially given 60 coupons a year but this was later reduced to 48 coupons. Children were allocated an extra 10 coupons to allow for the fact that they would rapidly grow out of their clothes during the year.
Tollerton residents became highly creative and made or adapted clothing in order to cope. Peggy Heason and Marjorie Mowl, her neighbour, made all sorts of things including rag rugs and adapted clothing items for another use.
Just one pair of ladies stockings required two coupons and Peggy recalled that, “Ladies painted their legs to simulate stockings, using all manner of home-made concoctions. To give the full effect the seam line was painted down the back of the leg with a darker dye”.
Meanwhile, Iris Stirland’s accounts describe how her mother made siren suits for the family and for neighbours’ children (known as jump suits or onesies today) out of adult overcoats, with a nice warm hood attached.
Tollerton once had its own doctor’s surgery. Dorothy Singleton, former Tollerton resident, recounted the following:
“Our first doctor here was Dr Russell who had a surgery in the house where our district nurse used to live, next door to the Charde. He was then joined by Dr Stevenson who, when his house and surgery were completed, went to live at the corner of Bentinck Avenue until Keyworth Health Centre was formed” in 1970.
According to the Nottinghamshire Archive Catalogue, Dr Stevenson’s surgery and house were completed in 1951. Peggy Heason also recalled how, “Dr Stevenson dispensed his own prescriptions and, in the absence of a formal appointment system, his little waiting room was one of the few village gossip stations”.
Irene Power who lived on Medina Drive tells how Dr Stevenson arrived in his pyjamas in the middle of the night when one of her children was born in 1958.
Nurses Stubbington and Campbell have also been mentioned by many with affection. Countless children born in the 1950s and 60s in Tollerton will have entered this world with the help of Nurse Mary Stubbington though they might not recall this! She was the district nurse and midwife in Keyworth and Tollerton between mid-1940s and 1969. When Dr Stevenson had his surgery in Tollerton, Mary bought a house on Melton Road near the Charde. Gradually many more mothers had their babies at home and Mary became a full-time midwife.